All Anyone Wants Is An UNFAIR ADVANTAGE!

I have been working in this industry for quite a few years and I am still amazed at the length of time it takes industry decision-makers to realize that just because it has always been done a certain way, does NOT mean it is right today. Times they are a changin’. It is time to get on the bandwagon, step up to the plate and create an unfair advantage over the competition.

In an industry whose primary measurement of a “job well done” is the relationships it develops with the services it provides, are you positioned for that next job? In a level playing field…what are you going to do to win that next project? Are you ready…is your team ready?

“successful companies do not abandon their marketing strategies in a recession; they adapt them” – John Quelch

Two years ago the industry’s biggest challenge was finding qualified staff. Today it is trying to maintain the backlog necessary to hold onto the staff that they already have. These hard economic times have taken its toll and left us with depleted marketing resources, and an increasing demand to respond to new business requests.

Over the past 12 months we have seen the average number of proposals submitted on a project jump from 8 to more than 25. The average shortlist has gone from 3-4 firms to sometimes 6-8 and more firms. Owners are looking for that competitive edge. Do you have it?

In 2009, as Marketing Director for a large international commercial construction management firm, I put out more than 64 proposals. That equates to just over one proposal a week. Coupled with the miscellaneous other responsibilities that the Marketing Director of a firm oversees, this has all the ear markings of a disaster waiting to happen. Would you not agree? What I am finding as I am talking to fellow peers in the industry, is that this is more the norm than the exception.

This economic situation has not only taken its toll on the number of qualified projects on the market to pursue, it has drained the resources needed to pursue what projects are out there. It is time to think “outside the box”. When you find yourself competing against 10 other firms equally matched for one project, what is going to tip the scale in your favor and get you to the shortlist table?

Perception. Do you have the team and the reputation to create the perception needed to win the next project? How are you communicating your message to reinforce the perception received by your clients or prospects? Do you have a strategy? Is the entire team communicating the same message? These are all questions you should be asking.

In the AEC environment, we don’t sell a product; we sell a service, resulting in an end product (a building). Therefore, it stands to reason that our marketing tools should center on the items that promote that “service”. Too many AEC firms utilize the end product, the building, to sell their services. Granted, the building carries the sizzle for proposals, presentations, etc. The fact of the matter is that the tools of the trade should be the reference letters, testimonials and case studies that demonstrate the service provided. They should resonate the perception of the owner and how he felt the product was delivered. Perception is a feeling. You can’t argue with a feeling, either you leave the client feeling like his needs were met or not. If not, how do you change that feeling? Do you know how to turn that feeling around?

DAVNA Enterprises delves daily into consulting and training AEC firms in the art of marketing to create perception. We believe that the art of creating perception is all inclusive of every communication means available whether verbal, visual, subconsciously, etc… Not all individuals receive information the same way. As the saying goes…it takes a whole community to create a perception and one person to tear it down. If the client is truly sold on the service your firm has provided, engage his assistance in getting the word out. Ask for a video testimonial to include in future presentations and proposals or ask that he speak on your behalf at your next presentation. The key is to ASK!

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