Thought Leadership in the AEC Industries
As professional services marketers know well, it’s not only what you do, but how you market it, that builds more business. And while you may have a strong design portfolio that demonstrates your track record with particular project types, it’s also essential to generate a variety of high-level, content-focused activities to get your firm noticed. Thought leadership is key to this.
While most architecture, engineering, and construction companies trumpet the unique challenges of their recently completed projects, it’s even better to think forward about key trends that are changing the industry. Particularly in these days, the leading AEC firms are selling big ideas. Instead of talking about their latest multifamily residential building, they’re talking about the future of housing. Instead of touting their most recent hospital, they’re talking about the patient experience.
There is good reasoning behind this approach. Professional services firms do not sell products, or even services: instead, they are selling a promise that they can meet their clients’ goals, overcome their challenges, and achieve their aspirations (what they “want,” not what they “must have”). That’s why thought leadership is so critical for AEC firms, because it gives you the opportunity to forefront your vision, expertise, and knowledge in ways that put your firm ahead of the proverbial pack.
If you’re not engaged in any kind of thought leadership—or even if you are—here’s the first of four quick tips that will get you moving on the right track.
First: Define your terms
Thought leaders are professional experts who are ready to answer the biggest questions and highlight important trends from the AEC industries and/or their clients’ businesses. If your firm works in different sectors, you can promote multiple topics simultaneously, each targeted to a particular audience. This could be a new system or practice that helps colleagues to work more efficiently or cutting-edge research that has wide impact across many disciplines and project types.
Even though AEC professionals work in teams, thought leadership is driven by individual experts. And, while thought leadership boosts the reputation of those individuals, their collective knowledge contributes to and enhances your firm’s reputation as a whole.
Say tuned for our next tip—generating compelling content—in an upcoming Chronicle post.
This article, written by Tami Hausman, was originally published in SMPS/The Marketer magazine.