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How AEC Firms Can Kick-Start a Website Content Development Program

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Hinge’s annual High Growth Study consistently finds that creating and disseminating educational content is one of the most impactful marketing techniques used by high-growth firms. This includes creating downloadable, gated content and publishing written blogs posts on a firm’s website. Why? Because high-growth firms understand that a website should be more than an online brochure. Today’s most effective websites play an active role in lead generation. And content is the key. When a prospect Googles a term and one of your firm’s blog posts shows up, you have just succeeded in getting on that prospect’s radar. If the blog is well-written and links to a downloadable guide that provides a deeper analysis of the prospect’s area of interest, the prospect is likely to provide his or her email address in exchange for the guide. Voila! A new lead has entered your pipeline.

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For A/E/C firms, balancing the demands of busy professionals with an editorial calendar can seem like a near impossible feat. Who has time to write a blog post when business is booming and time is at a premium? There are several small, practical steps that you can take to get a content marketing program off the ground. And if you start one now, you’ll be in a better position when an inevitable downtown occurs.

1. Choose Your Issues

At Hinge, we believe that the first step in any content program is researching your target audience to learn about the issues that are keeping them up at night. If your firm doesn’t have the resources to take that approach, you’ll want to guide your authors to write about issues that clients are facing, problems they are grappling with or current regulations that may impact their businesses. Content should never be promotional. Instead, it should provide insights that educate your audience on topics that matter to them. Often, having a one-on-one brainstorming session is all you need to get the ideas flowing and a solid outline written.

2. Identify Your Authors

There are two ways to reach professionals who are likely to participate in a content marketing program: 1) targeting individuals within your firm or 2) targeting a group.

Individuals — Within your firm, there are undoubtedly several architects or engineers who have a knack for writing – and there’s a good chance they are already doing it. Who in your firm is contributing articles to association newsletters or getting published in industry publications like Engineering.com? These are the people who are most likely to participate in your firm’s fledgling content marketing program. Download-Content-Marketing-GuideThey understand the value of content and how it raises visibility, and they’ll likely be happy to get your help in furthering this. Meet with them, describe your plan and explain what’s expected of them. If you make the process smooth for them, they will become regular contributors you can count on for content. They are also likely to support your efforts to find additional authors.

Groups — Sometimes, it makes sense to work with a group of individuals who are united around a single cause. Does your firm have a team that’s passionate about indoor environmental quality? Gather them together to explain the benefits of a content development program. Then hold a brainstorming session to talk about key issues their clients are facing in this area. Organize their ideas to see how they fit together. Could you propose that they write a series of blog posts on a specific subject, such as construction air quality monitoring? Or would their ideas fit together better as a part of an educational guide about indoor environmental quality management strategies? A group setting can provide support and inspiration, and when the authors see their content gain traction, they will likely be interested in creating more.

3. Create Your Calendar

Once you understand how many writers will be involved in the initial roll-out of your content marketing program, you can create a realistic publication schedule. You’ll want to give your authors enough time to brainstorm and write their articles without feeling rushed (though you’ll likely need to send them frequent reminders of your deadlines), yet you won’t want too much time to elapse between posts.

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Also, consider business drivers that will impact the posting of content on your website. Are there certain key service areas that you want to promote so you can grow your leads in that area? If so, you’ll want to publish content about issues in that area on a regular basis. Do you have an idea for a guide that ties in with an upcoming industry event? You’ll want to complete it before the event so you can post it to your website and share it through other digital channels. Are new regulations that will impact your clients’ businesses pending? Better get a blog post ready to post after a decision is made.

With a conservative, focused approach, any A/E/C firm can lay the foundation for a culture of content development. By providing your audience with useful insights into their business issues, you can drive traffic to your site—and, if done right, begin generating leads for future business.

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How Hinge Can Help:

Hinge is a global leader in helping professional services firms grow faster and become more profitable. Our research-based strategies are designed to be implemented. In fact, our groundbreaking Visible Firm® program combines strategy, implementation, training and more. 

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Aileen Hinsch Aileen has worked with professional services firms her entire career, with a focus in law firms. Over the years, her marketing experience has covered a wide spectrum of disciplines – from social media marketing and media relations to content development and website redesigns.

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