I was pretty much oblivious to paper.li, the free tool you can use to publish a newspaper. I may have seen one - didn't think much of it.
About 18 months ago I had the idea to add a hashtag or two to my Twitter posts, @Architekwiki. I guess I am the last person to 'get' hashtags. I never use them to find info. Well apparently I am in the minority. Adding hashtags got my tweets found, favorited and re-tweeted! And that is how I found out more about paper.li because Architekwiki started appearing in other people's newspapers. That was good for the ego until I realized that the editor of the newspaper probably didn't know he had added Architekwiki. His newspaper found my hashtag and pulled me in.
I Use Wordle
The 'architecture' word cloud that you see here was created using Wordle. Wordle is a free Java app that works on any computer using Java - pretty much every computer. There are several other sources that you can use, just search for 'word cloud'. Wordle does what I am looking for. Here's a little background on Word Clouds before I explain how I made this one and give you my ideas for how you can use Word Clouds.
What They Are - Same Idea As Map Names
As you can see from the example above, word clouds are an arrangement of words where the frequency of use is designated by the relative size of the word. Maps use this same idea when they show cities with larger populations with larger names.
10 Years Old In Present Form
Using the size of a word or name to represent relative size has been around for several hundred years; but word clouds like this one are only ten years old or so. When word clouds, or tag clouds as they are also known, appeared about 2004, they represented the frequency that a word or tag appeared in a document, website, blog, etc. This took some serious programming to pull off. Now you can do it with an app using almost anything as your input.
Two years ago on September 27, 2012 Architekwiki went live with almost no content and zero readers. Today we are doing a little better; and most importantly our stats are getting better all the time.
So I am going to celebrate with cake and ice cream!!! You have my permission to splurge, too (just this once)!
AND - EVERYONE GETS A PRESENT!
I can't recall who told me about HootSuite, but it was likely a post on TechCrunch. I used to be an avid reader of their posts. Anyway I tried it, then set it aside, and then picked it up again and, now, I use it constantly - the free account, that is. My blogging process uses HootSuite as an integral part. I work out a concept/outline in Inkflow. Then I use iA Writer to write it up. Cut and paste from Writer into Weebly where I add formatting. Publish the article. Grab the URL and post to Google+. IFTTT sees the RSS update and posts to LinkedIn and Facebook. I go back to Writer and turn out some tweets. Cut and paste the tweets, with URL added, into HootSuite to post them at the selected times. Rinse and repeat. So I use HootSuite almost every day.
Being able to schedule all the tweets about the new article at one time is a real time-saver and makes my process achievable in one to two work sessions a day. Somewhere along the way I heard about Buffer and ignored it because I had HootSuite. This past week I read a post about the best blogging tools, and Buffer was mentioned. So I checked it out again, thinking "what do they know that I don't". So I signed up for the free account and started kicking the tires.
I didn't work enough at developing a blog to see any results when I had my firm. This points up the fact that it is a long range project. The sooner you start the sooner you get results. My first blogs were on Blogger and later Tumblr. I was attracted to the 'free' part of the equation. Both are good blogging platforms. Blogger, a Google offering, lends itself a bit more to text and has more features. Tumblr shows off photos better, which I think the many users of Tumblr would agree with. WordPress, which I have not used, seems to be very popular these days, so it's worth investigating. They all work a lot like developing a website - pick a theme that will control fonts, colors, and organization of the page, then start adding content. It is pretty easy. Of course, a service like Weebly* includes a blog, which makes the integration tighter. However you can always link to your third-party blog in your menu system if blogging isn't part of your website's capabilities.
I have confessed to being “distracted” when it comes to Business Development. My favorite tool for overcoming the distracted-ness is a contact management tool developed by 37signals called Highrise.* The thing I like about Highrise is that with the minimum of effort you can track the development of a relationship with a prospect. I blind copy or forward my emails into the prospect’s page, set tasks for making the next contact or the needed follow-up, and add notes from meetings and phone calls. I end up with a chronology of all my interactions. With just a few minutes a day, which works much better for me than once a week, I am able to keep all my efforts moving forward.
The four main features I use in Highrise are Contacts, Tasks, Cases and Deals.
Contacts: individuals or organizations that you want to manage a relationship with
Tasks: TO-DOs related to contacts or other efforts, say, your website. You can get notified by email or SMS when due.
Cases: this is a way to pull together multiple contacts to make it easier to manage the effort to win a potential project where several people are influencers. Perhaps members of a board or building committee...
Deals: once a project is formed, you can use a Deal to track RFPs, interviews, value of the fee, wins and loses.
Check this all out at their website.
I am not particularly good at the key skill that every architectural firm must have - SELLING. You might have the same problem that I do. I have always had to wear too many hats, and one of those other hats always seemed to 'need me' more than sales. Being an introvert doesn't help either. Nevertheless, I have learned tons about how you are supposed to do it; and I have a pretty good track record when it's crunch time.
My preferred strategy, which happens to fit my personality, is to:
One of our largest projects was a private high school that took 7 years to get to the point of getting hired. Then, I helped the Owner put together an RFP process to meet oversight requirements. Needless to say, with what I had learned about them and the project in 7 years, we were the obvious choice - even over a couple of alums.
There Isn't Any One Way To Go About Sales
How tall does a sign need to be to be readable from a mile away? I needed to know that because a regional airline we were designing a hangar for wanted a sign readable from the terminal across the airfield. Luckily hangars are big. We needed a spot that would accommodate a 25' long x 12' high 6-letter logo - 'Comair'.
Font Size vs Distance
I had been vaguely aware of the relationship between font size and distance. I knew from past experience that 10" letters worked well on schools, but that was about it. I think I found a rule of thumb in Graphic Standards; and, once we had a graphic, we verified the suitability with the sign manufacturer.
Signage Rules Of Thumb
Architects and Facebook
You may have noticed that I have a poll running. Take a sec and vote. Polldaddy is embedded in Weeby and is pretty easy to use. I think the actual free Polldaddy account is even easier, and it has the benefit of offering a few more features - like quizzes! Take my Masonry Expert Quiz below to learn a bit about masonry and see how Polldaddy works/looks. BTW there are several themes/color schemes for your polls, surveys and quizzes.
How did you do?
The ideal follow-through on your fee calculation efforts would be to capture all the key parameters of the fee and project. Put this data in a table for future reference when you are proposing the next fee. Strictly speaking this is not necessary, but there will be many times that you wish you had this information. Besides this table, keep a copy of your calculations in one folder for easy research when you have a similar project or client under consideration.
I recommend setting up the table as a spreadsheet. Place each fee proposal on a row and use the columns to capture the data. The spreadsheet will let you sort the proposals by any column or even filter out proposals that are not relevant.
Here is a master listing of column headings you might consider, but just use the ones that pertain to your type of work.
You may never need to print this table, so don’t worry about how wide it is getting, but use ’word wrap’ and vertical column headings if you prefer. If you do need to print it, use 11x17 in landscape or your plotter.
As you can see from the list, not all information that you want to have is available when you are working on the proposal. Fill in what you know right after you complete the proposal. Then update any blanks in the table the next time you work on a new proposal.
Over time I think you can see just how valuable this information will be.
Every profession has terms that are specific to it. Jargon. Jargon within the profession can have a clarifying effect and can often be a shorthand for more wordy concepts. So jargon has a worthwhile effect WITHIN the profession where everyone understands what is meant.
A profession’s jargon when used with the public or with clients has the opposite effect - obfuscation, confusion. It doesn't matter whether you intend to make it difficult to be understood, or if it is unintentional. The result is the same. You have chosen (intentionally or not) to rely on the authority of your role as a specialist instead of making yourself clear. I think that this comes across as arrogance. I think it is another way of saying, "Just trust me." Trust is earned, jargon gets in the way of trust.
Everyone has experience with obfuscation. You are in the minority if you don't find it at least annoying.
Why would you choose to NOT be understood? I can think of one or two scenarios, but they are outweighed by many more that are not very attractive.
What if you think in jargon? Well, that clears up your motives for using it, but you are still left with poor communication and lack of understanding.
Whenever you need agreement, jargon works against you. Even if you get the agreement, the client has an escape hatch - "I didn't know that's what we agreed to" or "I don't remember discussing that".
You can tell that I am not a fan of jargon. I don't think it is just me. If it sounds better when you use jargon, I think it is because the jargon conceals the weakness of the idea(s). Do we want weak ideas? I don't.
But let's go back to the trust issue. I have heard it said that there are two things you must demonstrate to win a design job - technical competence and trustworthiness that you will deliver on your promises. For many clients judging technical competence depends on past experience. Have you done this before or not? But all clients can judge trustworthiness. They do it all the time. So I think jargon lets you down in the exact scenario where you are really depending on it to make you look like a good choice.
Lack of understanding (jargon) and trustworthiness travel in different circles.
Using a survey as a marketing tactic is an interesting idea I heard about from a university development director. He uses a survey to ask for prospect's help in determining what is important for the university and ends up knowing what is important to them. He then looks for opportunities to focus on what is important to them.
For instance he would ask prospects to rank 8 initiatives in order of importance. (These initiatives are plans that his development department is working on.) Then months later he can use their ranking to go back to them and tell them about what was happening on that issue. And perhaps win their financial support.
This approach accomplishes two important things. First, you are gaining an insight into what your prospect's interests are, which can inform your approach to them in the future. Second, you are creating a basis for interaction before a project is launched. Asking for help is a well-known tactic for building a relationship. A third benefit is that the process offers an additional opportunity to remind your prospect that you exist.
My development department friend asks for an appointment and does the survey in person, taking notes. That is a very powerful way to implement this tactic. However, the time and attention this requires might not work in every case. Plan B is an electronic survey distributed by email. Survey Monkey is a free (and easy) survey tool you could use. There are others.
You should keep the survey brief and state up front how many questions and how long it will take. Make it as brief as you can while still getting some useful feedback. Below is an example/sample survey. Feel free to use these questions as-is or customize to suit yourself. Each of the first four questions offer the same choices to choose from.
We once surveyed all of our past clients about their experience with us. The feedback caused us to make some improvements. You might consider that use of a survey, too. Or you could make it part of your project closeout. Or make it an annual event.
orig post date Dec 2012
There are four Value Propositions for any business:
1. Best quality.
Richard Branson once said that being the best at something is a pretty good business model, and I agree. Think of brands that set a standard, like Louisville baseball bats, Benjamin Moore paints, and Stradivarius violins. You don't have to be a sports nut to have heard of the 125-year history of the Louisville Slugger, nor do you have to be a classical music aficionado to have heard of the legendary Stradivarius violins. Brands that set standards are sometimes luxury brands, but not necessarily. You don't need luxury to set a best-in-class standard. Brands like Benjamin Moore define quality in their categories. That's an enviable position and a value proposition that works.
2. Best bang for the buck.
Recessionary woes have amplified the fact that some consumers will always buy on price. Best-in-class value doesn't always mean lowest price, however, but rather the best quality-to-price ratio. Jet Blue is a good example of a company that, though it may not offer the cheapest or best in comfort travel, does a good job of communicating its value relative to its price point. Dell, Chipotle, Ikea, and Toyota are other good examples of best-in-class value, and their value propositions have been sustainable through the years. Incidentally, the founder of Ikea, Ingvar Kamprad, has regularly traded places with Bill Gates on various world's richest lists.
3. Luxury and aspiration.
On the other end of the spectrum from bang-for-buck players are luxury providers that promise the experience of a wealthy lifestyle to aspirational consumers. Ralph Lauren is one of the masters of a lifestyle luxury brand; others are Rolex, BMW, and Hermes. While the luxury segment was hurt during the downturn, it is almost certain that as the economy rebounds that customers will return to luxury goods as their discretionary spending increases.
One of the most attractive value propositions we have seen and studied are the "must-haves." These include basic goods — certain foods, for instance. During my prior work with Thomson Reuters, we often talked about "must-have" content that business professionals could not do their jobs without. The critical legal information and tools WestLaw provides to lawyers are an example. As long as there are legal cases, there will be a need for legal information. It does not mean there will not be competition, but if the category you are pursuing is must-have, then the market leaders will have a great prize to share.
Lifted from an article titled "Value Propositions That Work", by Anthony Tjan on the HBR Blog Network.
orig post date OCT 2012
What does marketing mean for an architect?
The classic answer is : "Marketing is what you do to make the phone ring."
The short answer is "name recognition".
The long answer is "recognition as an expert in a type of building or service".
How does Social Media fit in?
First let's be clear that we are talking about Marketing, not Sales.
Social Media is not a Sales tool. Unfortunately, you are more likely to reach 'influencers' with Social Media - not the decision-maker (who is not likely to make a decision based on a tweet). So we are definitely talking about the short and long answers describing marketing, and mostly the long answer - building recognition as an expert.
With Social Media your content can be pushed out to a wider audience than you might reach with email or waiting for an organic searches to find your website or blog. But your credibility is tied to publishing.
The timeline or stream of Social Media means that posts must be made regularly, measured in hours rather than days to be effective.
The interesting thing about Social Media is that your ’reach’ goes beyond your immediate audience (Followers, Likes, Connections, Circles). By reach I mean all the people who ultimately are exposed to your information. If you send an email to 100 people, they all get the email. That is the strength of email. A few may forward it to others. So your audience was 100, but your reach was maybe 105. Interestingly the people who received the forwarded email are more likely to pay attention to it because the act of forwarding it acts like a recommendation. The reach with Social Media can be many times greater than email and enjoys the same ’recommendation’ aspect.
Here’s how reach works with the four main Social Media services. In each case we assume your audience and everyone else's is 100. And remember that it is much easier to share the information with Social Media than it is to forward an email.
The key way to avoid going over budget is to have a realistic budget in the first place. There are 10 issues that your budget must address in order to be realistic. Those ten key issues are:
1. PROJECT COSTS VS. CONSTRUCTION COST
There is a tendency for everyone to focus on the constructions costs, but they aren't the whole story, sometimes they are only 70% of the story. Include all the non-construction cost.
A contingency is intended to make up for omissions or just plain mistakes in the budget. It is common to reduce the contingency as the project progresses, but it is wise to have at least 5%.
3. LABOR RATES
Some projects require union workers, compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act or "prevailing" wages. This can add 8% to 15% to the cost of construction. If this applies, add a factor.
4. SMALL PROJECT MULTIPLIER
In construction, smallness is uneconomical; and, at the extreme, can make a difference of over 100% in the cost of your project. Add a line item to compensate for the smallness of the project.
5. FINANCING IMPACT
Nearly all projects have interim financing costs. Determine the amount and how long it will be needed to estimate how much to budget. Show a line item for financing.
Although inflation has been low, you should anticipate the lag between your budget and when the costs are actually incurred. Add a line item for inflation.
7. BONDS AND INSURANCE
Some projects require performance and payment bonds, which add up to 2.5% to the cost of construction. Builder's Risk insurance is needed on all projects, but it is one-tenth the cost. Include these line items.
8. TAX-FREE ASSUMPTIONS
Even if you aren't tax exempt, historic districts or enterprise zones could provide a savings. If you are exempt, see if it is practical to take advantage of the exemption. Rules vary by state. Add a line item for tax breaks.
9. IN-KIND WORK
It is very difficult to budget accurately for donations or work by your own forces. It is often best to ignore the impact on your budget. If in-kind work becomes a reality, you will have a positive impact on the project.
Obtaining permits is not usually expensive, but the unanticipated work that may have to be done can be substantial. Include permit costs.
"Getting money is like digging with a needle; spending it is like water soaking into sand." - Japanese Proverb
So what do you do after the phone rings? Or after your potential client answers your call, or responds to your marketing?
There are two things every client is looking for: technical competence and trust. In other words, do you know what you are doing and can I safely put my project in your hands? Once you have your prospect's attention, remember "it is all about them". Let your marketing take care of the competence stuff. If they have concerns, let them bring them up. A competent person doesn't try to convince you of how competent they are. Take the approach of the doctor, but rather than "What seems to be the matter?", start with "What do you have in mind?". Then listen -like a psychiatrist, "I see…"; "What do you mean by that…"; "Tell me more about that…". Let them do 90% of the talking. They don't want to hear what you would do for them until they are sure that you know what they want. From time to time recap what you have been told. Take notes to show you respect their information and want to capture it. If this is a real project, this conversation will go on for an hour or more.
If they see you as a commodity, they will ask for a proposal long before an hour is up. Depending on how much you need the work either comply in writing or decline right there on the basis of not knowing enough about their project to prepare a meaningful proposal. Things are not likely to go well for the client that doesn't have time to tell you what he has in mind. When it doesn't, they will remember the guy who 'screwed it up' AND the guy who wanted to do it right.
At the end of the meeting promise a recap in writing as quickly as you are comfortable doing it. Don't over-promise and under-deliver. (That's a good rule to live by.) Seeing their thoughts in writing is very powerful. They know they told you this stuff, but this is evidence that you heard them, that 'you get it'. As part of this recap, suggest that you meet again to review what you propose for them. The next meeting is about some first steps that they might want to take. THIS IS NOT A BASIC SERVICES FEE PROPOSAL.
Every project has five or six key issues that need to be understood - space needs, desired character, context in which it will occur, legal, political and managerial constraints, a timeline, and a budget. Propose to investigate one or more of these for them. Give them as quick a turnaround as possible (to keep the ball rolling) and a fee that seems reasonable enough that they don't feel like they need to get a second quote to do this 'small study'. This should be in writing and you should outline several first steps, but propose the one that you think will answer a question they want answered. Follow through, and repeat.
There are many branching-off directions that this process might take. Improvise. Or better, get some real training from one of the gurus. My recommendation is Stu Rose and Trina Duncan, Professional Development Resources, Inc. They authored The Mandeville Techniques that I have been describing here. They have well-thought-out methodologies for everything - cold calling, proposals, interviews/presentations, everything.
Invest in yourself and your career.
“Marketing is what you do to make the phone ring.” And you have to do a lot of it without much feedback. Marketing tactics are non-client and non-project specific. The marketing activities you should consider include such things as working on developing your niche, building relationships, networking, promotion, RFQs and numerous image or brand-building opportunities.
I will touch on each of them starting with the least powerful. However every one of these activities can contribute to what you want your firm to become.
This is an incomplete list of things that reflect on you and help/hurt your image: firm name, logo, stationery, business cards, physical location, website look and feel, domain-name email, project signs, automobile, clothes, etc. These things don't matter much if your image is a struggling, hungry start-up. However, to the extent that you want to "punch above your weight" and be considered for 'where you are going' rather than 'where you are', they matter a lot.
RFQs take two forms - the private and the public owners. To some extent providing RFQs might be a temporary necessity, but they lead to becoming a commodity. Nevertheless you want to put out information that a private client might find worth considering. The format is up to you. The public clients, like state, federal, and governmental agencies have their qualification processes that vet the firms who want to work for them. At the federal level this is the Standard Form 330. The idea for both types of clients is to put information in front of the people that you think will be selecting architects.
Promotion takes several forms such as direct mail, newsletters, ads, sponsorships, events, Facebook(?), and so on. Direct mail consists of sending a letter/post card/brochure/pamphlet or similar piece to a mailing list. Response rates are normally very low, so you are just trying to remind the recipient that you exist. Newsletters could take the direct mail approach or be the email version, which has the benefit of costing about 5% of the hardcopy version. The hitch is that it will take much, much longer to build an email list than a mailing list. Ads are obvious; most are expensive for their return, except the electronic variety using, say, Google AdWords, Facebook or LinkedIn. A sponsorship of someone else's event is like advertising; or you could hold your own event to celebrate a milestone or support a worthy (and related?) charity or civic project. Facebook is a good way to keep your name in front of your "Likes". This could be especially useful if your target audience is individuals rather than organizations.
Networking is basically making connections - in person through the Chamber of Commerce, social clubs, alum organizations, church, friends, family; or electronically through LinkedIn, perhaps even Facebook qualifies as networking as long as there is interaction. See Matt Handal's article on how to do it right.
Relationship-building is a takeoff on networking; but, at least in my mind, it is different because it is more targeted - you are seeking out people to contact with the sole purpose of finding a way to help them and become their go-to person for all their design and construction questions.
As I have mentioned before, building a niche, while time-consuming (and measured in years), is the ideal form of marketing your firm because eventually you have your clients seeking you out because of your specialty. There is not only less competition, there may be none. Your fees are whatever the market will bear and your productivity is sky high. I would recommend that you do all of these things with the idea of establishing your niche ... say, biophilia-inspired dwellings!
Is Twitter useful to architects?
Unlike business cards or a logo, which every architect can relate to as a marketing tool, it is not so clear where Twitter fits into an architect's business development toolbox. I think this will provide a little clarity. Let's start with some PROs and CONs for Twitter.
The key to benefitting from Twitter is whether or not you are publishing your own information about your area of expertise. If you aspire to be recognized as a thought-leader in your specialty, Twitter can enhance the perception you want to build. It can also harm the perception you want if your followers don't see a stream of new information coming from you. So whether you use Twitter or not depends on whether you are publishing worthwhile content regularly.
For content to be worthwhile it has to tell your audience something they would like to know about a topic that they care about. Even a mundane specialty, say school design, can do this. But a generalist will struggle to find a topic that appeals. A strong specialty, say cancer research labs, should have an easy time demonstrating expertise.
Are you interested in writing about your specialty in addition to practicing architecture? The actual writing can be delegated, but you will have to be involved to create the topics and manage the tone. Twitter can assist you in building a reputation, but you will need to do the heavy lifting of building a specialty, which is a very worthwhile endeavor on its own.
If you are always presenting ideas - to clients, bosses, team members - here is a new tool for your arsenal, an iPad App called Vittle developed by Qrayon. Vittle has real possibilities for $9.
“Turn your iPad into a recordable whiteboard.”
“Write a video as easily as an email.”
This YouTube video will give you a glimpse of the possibilities.
From Qrayon’s website, here is another short video of ideas for use in the workplace.
You can download the free version from the App Store to try it out.
And finally, their brief Users Guide gives you an idea of the tools at your disposal. You can copy/paste work from their note-taking app that I reviewed earlier this week, InkFlow Plus.
6 Building Blocks for Communicating Your Value Proposition
(Borrowed from The Rain Today Blog by the Rain Group) http://www.rainsalestraining.com
Even when people know their value, many find it difficult to describe it.
Let’s say someone asks you the simple question, “What do you do?”
How do you answer? Of course, you need to get your value across, but as we note here, when communicating your value proposition, you don’t want to deliver the same canned speech for everyone.
What you need to do is first craft, then learn to deliver specific nuggets of information you can use to get your value across. Put all these nuggets together, and you have what we call a value proposition positioning statement.
A value proposition positioning statement is a compelling, tangible description of how a company or individual will benefit from buying from you.
For example, we might start ours with, “We at RAIN Group help companies to improve their sales performance. If you want your salespeople, professionals, and leaders to sell more, we can help.”
This is the umbrella under which we operate. It’s a nugget of information we use in the early part of conversations. And it’s an important nugget as it’s the ultimate reason why clients eventually hire us!
But there is always a set of factors and specifics that sway them to choose us versus:
To get a full picture of your value across, you need to be able to cover 6 areas, including:
Then forget it.
At least, forget delivering it in one slick mini-speech.
If you deliver all six of the building blocks in one big long breath, the person you’re speaking to will be thinking “elevator pitch…here it comes.”
Often they’ll tune out.
When you introduce yourself and someone asks you, “What do you do?” The best thing to do is start with a few important nuggets that can help you get a conversation flowing.
We started our example with, “We at RAIN Group help companies to improve their sales performance. If you want your salespeople, professionals, and leaders to sell more, we can help.”
We didn’t yet cover the target market, impact, our distinctions, proof of concept, and so on.
When it’s time, we can and we do! But we do it as the conversation unfolds.
We might start here and then ask the other person, “That’s us in a nutshell. What do you do?” and they’ll answer, often following our lead and keeping it short. Then we ask questions to learn more.
In the natural flow of conversation, we’re likely to learn enough to share (and customize!) relevant details that will continue to position our value. As well, ask someone something and they’ll often turn the question right back at you.
For example, you might ask, “Can you share with me any specific examples? And curious to know as well how it panned out.’
Then they’ll tell you the story and say, “What about you? Any examples in my industry?”
And you can hit the rest of the building blocks as you continue along in your great conversation.
This is a helpful report you can learn from. Although it is a couple of years old, I don't think the ideas have aged at all. Mike Schultz at RainToday.com is a good source of sales advice.
Over the years, I have found that the best way to absorb information is to pay attention to it when you notice it. My theory is that noticing it is an indication that you are receptive to that type of learning at the moment. Even if you are too wrapped up right then, bookmark or copy or 'Instapaper' it for consumption later. Conversely, when you sign up for a seminar, webinar, or follow someone else's suggestion (like now), you are less likely to make the information your own because it wasn't your attention that put it in front of you.
Depending on how you like to do things, you might download this report and file it away, bookmark RainToday.com or simply remember that you found it here.
HubSpot provides website development and hosting that is focused on Inbound Marketing. The concept of Inbound Marketing is that people who need what you have to offer find you, rather than you finding them. Social media plays a large part in the methods that HubSpot helps you with. HubSpot also provides a lot of very good 'How To' information to encourage people to find them. This booklet on how to use LinkedIn to generate leads is an example. More help from HubSpot is available.
From Mel Lester's E-Quip Blog: What Are the Best Marketing Tactics?
I’ve noted in this space before that I think marketing (as contrasted with sales) is grossly undervalued in our industry. I suspect this is due in large part to the fact that few A/E firms do marketing well. One of the best ways to confirm this conclusion is to look at which marketing tactics are deemed most effective in other professional service sectors. I think you’ll find that none of these is commonly used in our business.In preparing for work with one of my clients, I recently researched best marketing practices for professional service firms and other B2B marketers. I looked at surveys conducted by RainToday.com, The Bloom Group, MarketingProfs, Junta42, BlissPR, and the Association of Management Consulting Firms. These surveys asked marketing professionals to rate the effectiveness of various marketing tactics.
A couple notable observations emerged from my research. One was a remarkable correlation between the surveys. There was general agreement as to what worked well and what didn’t. That, of course, lends added credibility to the ranking of tactics provided below. The second thing I noticed was the clear advantage of various forms of content marketing. I’ve written on this topic before, and have pointed out that this is not common practice among A/E firms.
Following are the eight marketing tactics, listed in order, that a compilation of these surveys indicates are most effective:
1. Seminars and other in-person events. There’s no better way outside of project work to demonstrate your firm’s insight and expertise. This category includes both firm- and third-party-sponsored seminars, and both paid and free sessions. “In-person events” can be a rather broad category, but here refers to issue-driven, educational events such as roundtables, forums, and workshops.
2. Conference presentations. If you want to avoid the expense and hassle of sponsoring your own events, the next best choice (other than having someone else sponsor your seminar) is to speak at industry conferences and trade shows. By the way, this has been by far the most effective marketing tactic I’ve used in building my business.
3. Webinars. While their educational value can be questioned, webinars are clearly an increasingly popular alternative to attending conferences and seminars. They’re relatively cheap and convenient, and should be part of your marketing arsenal. Providing your own is better, but working with trade groups and other third-party sponsors can also be effective.
4. Articles in third-party publications. The key to success with this tactic—besides writing good stuff, of course—is placement in publications that your clients read. Print publications are still important, but the growth of online sources is far outpacing the traditional medium (and most print publications are also available online).
5. Search engine optimization. This tactic is all about increasing traffic to your website and any other internet venues (e.g., blog or social media sites) where your firm can be found. Some technical know-how helps (which may warrant hiring some outside help), but much of it involves strategically enhancing your firm’s web presence.
6. Articles posted on your website. This one surprised me, a tactic with an obvious caveat. If you’re only generating minuscule traffic to your site, posting articles there won’t help much. The implication is that this tactic must be part of a larger strategy to enhance your website’s popularity. Placing good content there (which is rare among A/E firms) is key, as well as doing some search engine optimization.
7. PR pitches to journalists. There’s some benefit in sending out press releases, but having reporters and other journalists contacting your firm’s experts as valued sources is even better. Or having them write an article or do a news spot about your firm. The downside—which you’re aware of if you’ve ever been interviewed or been in the news—is the difficulty in controlling the message. So as with item #6, I present you the results with a little reservation.
8. Email newsletter. Publishing a newsletter is among the more popular marketing tactics in our business. But many firms still prefer hard copy and the content tends to be too self-congratulatory. It may surprise you that print newsletters did not fare as well in the surveys, although some obviously prefer print over digital. I’m convinced that the email format has many advantages, including the ability to use other people’s content. For more on this, check out this earlier post.
So how much is your firm employing the tactics listed above? Is it time to re-evaluate your marketing strategy? By the way, the research indicates that the following tactics are significantly less effective than the top eight:
Those are the results of the surveys, at least. They generally conform to my own experiences. What about yours? I’d love to hear which marketing tactics you’ve found work best for your firm.