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How AEC Firms Can Build Market Awareness
A Systematic Approach


As a former retail  advertising  agency owner, my experience in planning, negotiating, and placing TV, radio, digital , and print advertising campaigns has  helped me to be a better B2B marketer. This experience has benefited our current A/E/C clients as well as my own firm. Here's how.

A primary objective that clients have when they ask us to redesign their website or improve their marketing planning and communications is to help them build market awareness. This is similar to a broadcast media campaign. The client wants to build awareness of their brand, retail locations, or service offerings. So as a media buyer I would:

  1. Develop a profile of the client's target audience
  2. Determine where this audience is likely to see a message (which stations, channels, mediums serve our target audience)
  3. Develop a media buying plan 
  4. Help develop creative messaging for the identified audience
  5. Negotiate and place the schedules
  6. Repeat the process based on past success. 

This is really not much different than what we need to do in the A/E/C world. The important similarity is that it is a process. A systematic one at that. Like a broadcast schedule, A/E/C marketing and business development efforts must:

  1. Identify their audience (both markets and who are the decision makers)
  2. Look for where these folks are likely to see their message
  3. Develop an exposure plan
  4. Develop communications
  5. Execute the plan
  6. 6Repeat the process based on past success

This process is visually represented by our approach graphic. 

This process is meant to be an ongoing process rather than an implement and then stop approach. Our goal is to build momentum in overall market awareness, leads, and eventually sales. This is not direct response. This is a long game view of business development. We want to build awareness so that our clients are already a known entity when they submit a proposal. This also increases opportunities in the private sector by not missing out on opportunities. if our clients are "known" then they have a much better chance of being invited to participate in the proposal process. 


Reaching Out

Let's focus on steps 5 and 6 above. We know who our audience is, where they are, and have great communications ready. But we do not have unlimited amounts of time or budget to be everywhere at the same time. Again, this is similar to a broadcast buy where you can choose to saturate an entire market across all media, saturate a particular media option, saturate a specific time period on a particular media option, or have a small presence on all media. 

As A/E/C marketers we aren't selecting radio stations or TV networks, we are choosing between direct emails, direct mail, in-bound marketing efforts, phone solicitations, tradeshows, industry publications, special events, social media, and networking opportunities. Each one of these has a time and actual monetary cost. So do we saturate all or do we choose specific options and try to saturate these? Or do we have a small presence on all options.

The answer is time a budget dependent. If you have unlimited amounts of both, you might want to saturate all. If there are time and budget constraints, choose option 2 and own that medium. 


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