This month’s A/E/C “virtual coffee” TweetUp focused on the topic of “Generating net new leads for you’re A/E/C firm.”

For those of you that missed it, here are highlights from the discussion. Three themes rose to the top: lead generation, lead nurturing and geographic proximity to leads.

How is your firm engaging business development/marketing and technical staff in generating new leads?
A participant described how their firm has allotted a percentage of time that technical staff should spend on BD. That same firm has also carved out time to educate its staff on how to best spend their BD time to nurture leads. They've had group training sessions and soon they plan to sit down with staff one-on-one to help them find their personal style for conducting business development. Nurturing is a persistent effort. You can't convince anyone overnight — they need to gain your trust. When you network, you are nurturing, so why not combine both? — #nurturenetworking.

Different staff levels have different percentages and target clients to contact. Some focus on new biz, some focus on nurturing. There are big differences between passing cards and building relationships.

The key take away is that there are not many one-time homeruns — it takes a lot of persistence and effort over time, both online and offline, to develop new clients in the A/E/C world. But your web presence can dramatically contribute to your lead generation efforts. For example, @BusinessofArch shared his experiences: it took thieir firm about 4-6 months to build momentum online. Producing online content that discusses the issues that clients are facing builds trust. Professional services are about people, and each person in an organization has a role in marketing and BD.

When it comes to in nurturing leads, what techniques are most successful for your firm?
There was a lot of support for content creation and SEO as keys to generating leads online. Participants described how many architects don't have a coherent planned content strategy. Content strategies or editorial calendars are essential to creating content that can convert into leads. But without a clear plan the nurturing sequence can falter. Too many firms produce content because they think they need to, but they don’t understand that content can be written for different stages of the sales funnel.

If the content is too sales oriented, it can be a huge turn off. For A/E/C professionals, this is often hard to recognize.

The chat participants also mentioned that a classic technique that still get results is calling up old clients to chat and catch up. Leave business out of the conversations and really find out who your client is outside of work. Get to know person for who they really are.

Do you find that geographic proximity to a potential client is still necessary? Why or why not?
Geographic proximity does not seem to be an issue if your expertise transcends location. One participant, @GHT_MEP, an MEP firm, reported that clients across the country are engaging their #datacenter gurus. How? Their web site went from #136 to #1 in Google for LEED Engineering DC! That's been a huge boost to traffic and visibility! And It's only been 3 months since the launch of their new website. This MEP firm expects to see leads increase as they strengthen their content marketing: “That's the beauty of being a specialist.”

As you can see, lead generation and nurturing are hot topics for our architecture, engineering and construction firms. We’ll keep the conversation going during our next virtual coffee TweetUp on March 9th at 11:00 EST. Join us then!