When was the last time you were watching primetime TV and a pop-up ad scrolled on the bottom of the screen? You were just sitting there trying to enjoy a football game or CSI, and all of a sudden an infographic with moving images started dancing around like a mini-film being shown, advertising other events that are happening at that station (most likely the show that’s coming on after the game). This here is digital disruption. No, it’s not that you’re being “disrupted.” It means that advancements in digital technology have disrupted the way TV functions—that TV, as we know it, has changed because of the internet. And of course, the internet isn’t just changing TV—it’s altering everything else as well.
No one is more aware of this rapidly changing world than the AEC, since we’re the ones making all the changes. We’re the ones building and reconstructing roads, revitalizing cities with efficient and sustainable infrastructure, pushing the limits of technology and its real-life application on our lives. But the digital world is also changing the way we do practically everything, most importantly, the way we take in information. Now that people can record their shows with a DVR, they fast-forward through the commercials; people quickly click off an annoying pop-up ad or block them entirely. These changes mean that marketing and advertising in the digital world must evolve, and this is also digital disruption—when digital technologies fundamentally change the way business works and functions.
What Does This Mean for the Future of Marketing in the AEC?
Now, this is actually a complicated question because the AEC’s audience is both niche and the general public. It’s a niche audience in that it’s comprised of people who are interested in science and technology, but it’s also the general public—anyone who owns a home who would like to build an addition, or dig a well; government agencies who have municipal projects, corporations or small businesses looking to expand office space. So an AEC firm with a truly successful marketing strategy is able to communicate with all of these people effectively, which is easier said than done and takes a team effort. It takes a willingness to look at what’s not working and make appropriate changes.
What Not To Do
The days of devoting a firm’s advertising budget to a half-page ad in the Sunday edition of the local newspaper are over. Not that you still can’t put aside a little money for print advertising—there are probably still a few people that read the paper believe it or not. But it’s certainly no longer the focus. So, where is the focus? The answer: where your current and potential clients are.
Two Magic Words: Email Marketing
In the digital age, all businesses, AEC firms included, must maintain consistent relationships with their existing and potential customers through digital media: blogs, webinars, podcasts, Facebook, Twitter and any other social network appropriate for your service. The goal is to keep clients aware of your existence, so when they do need work done, you’re the team they call.
Recently Cosential announced that email marketing was performing well in BETA, and that it’s going to be integrated into the software. Now, if there is any place your clients are, it’s in front of their computers. So you’d be crazy not to take advantage of this. Think about it: you get an email from a company. Let’s say, Groupon, for example. Even if you delete that email, there’s that second you have to take to do it, and in that second you’re reminded, “Oh yeah, Groupon.” And then you’ll go throughout your day.
But it does get logged into the back of your memory. The next time you’re thinking of getting a massage, who will you look up?
Don’t let digital disruption disrupt your business. Evolve and change, much like the technology you apply to your work.