Many AEC firms have very unique expertise. But having this expertise isn’t enough—it has to be made visible.
Enter the Hinge Research Institute’s Visible Expert℠ Research Study: Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Edition. This study, based on our research of professional services firms and Visible Experts, provides insight on how AEC firms can leverage their in-house experts to overcome their top business challenges and win new business. But before we reveal solutions to your business challenges, we have to clearly define them.
Here’s what AEC firms say are their top business challenges:
- “Attracting & Developing New Business” (according to 60.2% of respondents)
- “Finding/Keeping Good People” (according to 41.7% of respondents)
Like many other professional services industries, AEC firms’ top challenge is attracting and developing new business. And in order to face this challenge, these firms report three top marketing initiatives that they are prioritizing:
- “Make Clients More Aware of Services” (according to 43.2% of respondents)
- “Increase the Brand Visibility of the Firm” (according to 39.0% of respondents)
- “Increase the Visibility of Firm Experts” (according to 37.9% of respondents)
The good news is that buyers are looking for the expertise that AEC firms can provide and the value that their Visible Experts bring to the table. These professionals are high profile thought leaders with a strong reputation in the marketplace—and buyers seek them out for a wide variety of reasons.
Figure 1. Why AEC Services Buyers Sought Visible Experts
More than two-thirds of AEC buyers seek out high visibility experts because they lack the appropriate internal expertise. Other motives fell into categories like solving a critical problem, brand building and winning new business, seeking the confidence that’s conferred by experts, and needing experts for legal proceedings.
And how do clients actually go about finding Visible Experts?
Figure 2. How AEC Services Buyers Find Experts
The takeaway here is that AEC marketing is a matter of making your presence known—and your experts visible—across all of these channels, in particular online. AEC firms’ thought leaders must have a strong commitment to online techniques. The cumulative weight of the Web as a place where buyers look for expertise means that your firm’s experts must have an equally weighty Web presence to stand out. This includes having a lead-generating website, a blog, webinars, and being active on social media.
Once buyers find an expert, they’ll research exactly who they are and what they’re capable of—and this includes the capabilities of the expert’s firm.
Figure 3. How Buyers “Check Out” AEC Providers
Traditional research (like asking colleagues and calling on references) is still in the mix, but searching online is the clear winner. And when you consider that most of these buyers are researching across multiple platforms, it makes sense to engage in all of them. Your absence in any given channel might be taken for a red flag—or might mean buyers miss out on the details that would otherwise win them over.
But what do the Visible Experts themselves say? We asked them to rate a number of marketing tools on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 having the most impact on building their personal brand.
Figure 4. The Most Impactful Marketing Tools for Visible Experts in AEC
Nothing builds credibility like writing a book, but having a strong personal website in addition to a winning company website goes a long way to building a brand too. (And what better place to sell your book?)
This is just the tip of the Visible Expert’s impact in the AEC marketing world. For more about how they can brand your business, generate leads, and take your AEC firm to the next level, download a free copy of the new research report Visible Expert Research Study: Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Edition.