Technology is changing the way consumers everywhere do business. The internet makes it easier to search for companies and research them while social media is revolutionizing the way that consumers share their experiences and connect with businesses. These changes affect the way the smartest and most successful companies do business across the board - the AEC industry (architecture, engineering and construction) is no exception.
Going forward, 2017 is sure to be a banner year for these changes. Here are some of the trends that are expected to impact AEC marketing most in the year ahead.
A recent study from the Construction Marketing Association found that nearly 97 percent of AEC companies are going to increase their spending on marketing in 2017, and their aim is more traditional than most people would suspect. Almost 79 percent are going to looking toward beefing up their public relations efforts in the coming year. In other words, expect to see more AEC companies launching campaigns to try and connect with potential customers. Online campaigns that involve content marketing are bound to be popular but there will also be more AEC efforts in print and media campaigns.
The Construction Marketing Association also reports that almost 93 percent of AEC companies are planning to increase their website development efforts over the next 12 months. "Remember, potential customers are doing their due diligence before finally deciding on hiring a construction firm," explains the Construction Marketing Association. "Give them the tools to answer their existing and future questions. Develop useful content and make it available for your target market." AEC companies can get a hint on where to start by looking at the questions customers are asking and designing content for their respective websites that answers those questions.
To date, many AEC companies have treated proposals as a function of the sales department. In 2017, this direction is expected to shift. Businesses in the AEC industry need to switch their focus to be more proactive. "While proposals play a crucial role in helping get new business, a firm's approach to marketing shouldn't be proposal-centric or entirely limited to proposals. As the industry continues to evolve, a growing emphasis needs to be placed on non-proposal marketing activities," writes Circle Studio. "In 2017, look for ways that marketing can proactively support your firm's business development efforts by reaching, engaging and nurturing prospects and clients alike before the RFP is issued."
AEC companies are also seeing a need to refine their brand images in 2017. For companies that have been doing things the same way since forever, a brand refresh may be required, but for those that are building a reputation, the focus in going to be on shaping their brands. For instance, an architecture firm that specializes in low-story office buildings may be able to design taller structures or residences, but they will start removing those examples from their online presence so that customers see them as a specialist instead of a general architect-for-hire company.
Email marketing is another trend that is expected to impact AEC marketing in 2017. The Construction Marketing Association reports that 75 percent of firms in the industry are planning to increase their spending in this area. While social media and content marketing certainly should play a role in the modern AEC company's marketing strategy, email is still the easiest way to make a direct connection with clients and potential customers. It also provides an opportunity to present highly targeted information in a personalized format.