As the dust settled after the release of our 2016 High-Growth Research Study, we thought it might be helpful to summarize a few of the key takeaways we’ve been discussing with colleagues and clients in the AEC world.

3 Keys to high-growth for AEC Firms

Does your AEC firm qualify as high growth?

There are 3 characteristics of high-growth firms that we keep coming back to, whether we’re reviewing past successes or plotting future efforts.


1. A commitment to research
Yes, it’s a bit meta that a key finding of our research is that research is a key ingredient to the high-growth formula. But it makes a lot of sense.

Research is more than a consistent indicator of a firm’s high-growth status, it speaks to a firm’s desire to understand—and internalize—business drivers in an objective way. Research can help a firm effectively prioritize marketing and business development initiatives, which is a fundamental step in today’s increasingly complex and interconnected marketing landscape.

AEC firms have the additional consideration of applying these insights over a longer-than-average sales cycle. Whether focusing on overall brand visibility research or more targeted market research, investment in research can help AEC firms justify and focus their marketing and business development initiatives.


3 Keys to high-growth for AEC Firms

High Growth Professional Services firms as a whole are more than 2X more likely to conduct research, while AEC High Growth firms are more than 4X more likely to conduct research.

SEE ALSO: To receive exclusive research results on High Growth AEC firms – participate in the Hinge High Growth Survey.


2. Continued focus on digital marketing techniques

We see the shift toward digital across all aspects of our work, but the shift in marketing techniques is profound. Overall, high growth firms put 23% less effort into traditional marketing efforts.

For high-growth firms, efforts are spread across a wide range of digital techniques. The following are the top five for 2016:

  • Marketing video
  • Blogging
  • Guest blogging
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media

Speaking engagements generated the highest return on effort for traditional offline techniques, and webinars and topped the digital techniques.

Leading and disruptive AEC firms are actively focusing on these techniques and carefully aligning them with a differentiated expertise profile. Think of these as “lunch-and-learn” approach, but expanded for a massive reach and potential return in leads and visibility for your firm’s expertise.


3. Discipline in measuring marketing effectiveness

Far too often, leadership justifies AEC marketing “overhead” as a necessary line item to keep up with competition. High-growth or disruptive firms recognize the importance of continually justifying and optimizing marketing efforts.

Marketing teams at higher performing firms track an average of 33% more metrics to monitor their marketing effectiveness.

3 Keys to high-growth for AEC Firms

How many metrics does your firm track to measure marketing effectiveness?

The high-growth picture really snaps into focus here—and circles back to the research and digital marketing themes addressed earlier. The top three metrics high-growth firms track are:

  • Brand awareness
  • Website traffic
  • Social media engagement


Ready for the starting line

Whether you are deep in the trenches of a complex marketing and business development machine, or just getting oriented for your firms next step, consider these three cornerstones to high growth. With so many interconnected initiatives, it can be beneficial to step back and prioritize.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop me a line in the comments below and let me know what you think. What has worked for your firm? What’s stopping you from joining the high-growth club?


Additional Resources


How Hinge Can Help 

Hinge has developed a comprehensive plan, The Visible Firm®  to address these issues and more. It is the leading marketing program for delivering greater visibility, growth, and profits. This customized program will identify the most practical offline and online marketing tools your firm will need to gain new clients and reach new heights.


Karl Feldman