If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that in the face of massive, rapid transformation, every single industry has the potential to be turned on its head in the blink of an eye. The AEC and digital marketing industry is not immune to this.
If anything- the global pandemic has been an accelerant to revolutionize the way we live, work, and function as a society. As a result, marketers and designers everywhere are finding themselves revisiting an age-old question: what are we really contributing to the world? Are we tipping the scales in favor of justice, equality, diversity, and inclusion? Are we leaving the world better than we found it, or are we just feeding the rampant mill of capitalism? And what roles will architects, designers, and engineers play in the world, when we emerge from the current zeitgeist?
The answers are not easy to find, but it is critical we start asking these questions, or we risk being left behind. At Bizop, this line of questioning has led us to start fully rethinking our own best practices as an AEC marketing agency. We want to challenge the notion that “best practices” is the same idea as conducting “business as usual”- if we want progress- it can’t be. If you’re curious about what we predict marketing agencies will need to do to thrive and emerge as stronger businesses in the coming future, read on.
Start Thinking in Systems
Our society has made a habit of thinking largely in shortsighted, linear terms- and in the marketing industry– this has led to practices being established with the idea that “doing x will cause y”. This line of thinking fails to see the big picture. More and more marketers and designers are focusing their efforts on thinking about the entire experience of a client or customer. Your job doesn’t start and end with sending an email that a user might click on. It needs to speak to the entire experience of the interaction between the company and customer- from the first point of contact to after-sales support.
As a marketer, it is imperative to start thinking of your activities in terms of systems rather than causation. By doing this, you will help yourself & your clients take a broader perspective on not just the what- but the why- and will be able to pinpoint new opportunities to optimize the system.
Evaluate & Redefine Success Metrics
When it comes to marketing best practices, it’s easy to revert to doing things a certain way simply because “that’s how it is, or has always been”. If along the way, any of these strategies saw any marginal success, marketers might assume that they found the magic key to making the machine tick. But the digital landscape is constantly changing and evolving, and a simple algorithm change might render your “best practice” useless overnight.
In order to create processes that won’t easily be rendered obsolete, it’s imperative to constantly re-evaluating your best practices and the metrics you measure your success against. Your metrics can go beyond a dollar amount that your activities bring in. They can be measured by things that speak to your relationships and quality of service.
How long do clients stay with you? How many other clients do they refer per year? Do you have systems in place that survey and measure how satisfied your clients are with your work? How about your employees- how happy are they?
If your performance metrics are fixated on measuring monetary value- it’s time to rethink them.
The best way to achieve this is by first taking stock of where you are as a company. Evaluate all the systems you have in place and consider if they are truly benefitting you, your employees, and your clients, or if they are creating noise in the process. By willingly taking an honest, open look at your agency’s practices and metrics, you make space for incremental improvements to be made periodically. Also, by working a self-review system into your marketing practices, you stand poised and ready to react to new trends as they emerge.
Embrace the Digital Era
The digital transformation happening in the marketing industry today is only a small fraction of what’s to come.
According to a survey conducted by McKinsey in 2020, “70%– 80% of B2B decision-makers now prefer digital self-serve and remote engagement over face-to-face interactions and don’t plan to change their habits post-pandemic.“
What does this mean for marketers?
Customers and clients will eventually expect, if not prefer, some of their digital communications and services to be automated and self-serve in the future. Cold-calling will be replaced with a self service calendar that sets you up with a sales rep via zoom. Both pre and post-sale touch points will rely on automated email systems. Digital-first solutions will be required to scale up business as well as provide customers and clients with seamless, positive experiences.
Pursue Higher Values
Thanks to the fact finding power provided by Google, people are becoming more conscious and mindful about the track record of the companies they do business with. Transparency is becoming increasingly important, as well as the values, ethics, and goals of the companies they are engaging with. As a marketer in the AEC industry, it is important to start reflecting on and integrating higher values into your practice- especially when it comes to sustainability. Climate change will only continue to become a more pressing issue, and businesses in all industries will be placing a higher value on more sustainable practices in the future.
As a marketer for designers, engineers, and architects- who will also see a rising need to prioritize sustainability in their practice- you will also be expected to consider the environmental and social impacts of your business activities. Conversely, honesty in marketing will become increasingly valued as a way to gate-keep misleading advertising- including greenwashing, wokewashing, and so on. To succeed in the future, you will need to pursue higher values in your marketing practices and in short, start putting your money where your mouth is. The benefit will be immense as you attract clients who are also pursuing transparency and sustainability in their core values.
While the concepts we have laid out might seem like broad and challenging measures to undertake and implement in your marketing practice- in the end, it will be worth it. By creating systems that embrace digital solutions, redefine success metrics, and base their operations on transparent, ethical practices, you will build a robust and resilient marketing strategy for your industry clients.
And hopefully, will end up leaving the world a better place.