Back in 2006, when I was just formulating my company, I had a very important decision to make. The company could either focus on low-cost design services for any client, competing on the basis of price alone, or strive to be the very best in just a few industries. As you probably know, I chose the second option. Brand Acceleration would provide the absolute best marketing communications and public relations services to economic developers and marketers in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries. The company is certainly not the low-priced, low-ball, low-service, low-knowledge leader. Our team is regarded as a leader in Brand Acceleration’s respective industries. That’s where we would rather be.
We’ve learned something along the way, though. We’ve learned that in order to be the best in these industries, we have a responsibility to dig deep into the special needs of our clients. Not only must we know who they are and what they do, but also fully know and understand the needs of their clients and prospects.
When developing a marketing communications program for economic developers, it’s not enough to know about the city, county, state or region. These people have come to expect us to know and understand site selection consultants, real estate brokers, C-Suite executives and others who could influence the placement of a major jobs project. To better serve this unique niche, we sent Brand Acceleration staffers to basic economic development training at Ball State University. It’s our responsibility to know what these people want in a web site, brochure, video, e-mail campaign or other tactic.
Our AEC clients expect us to have a deep understanding of building administrators, owners, elected officials and others who might need a firm specializing in architecture, engineering, construction or other related services. When we found that many clients were demanding the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) a three-dimensional, real-time, dynamic building modeling software service, we sent Brand Acceleration staff to a BIM training class.
I’ve been fascinated by how our clients handle their own specialization. I know a number of economic developers who are radically focused on targeting very specific industries. Take, for example, a community which has decided to target life science jobs. The good ones have made this decision based on a clear set of criteria, not just because they dream of those “good-paying” jobs. They have clearly matched their workforce skills, proximity to markets and other criteria, determining that they can truly compete for these jobs. They even partner with educators to deepen those skills in preparation for the highly-specialized jobs. On the marketing side, they are very involved in life science industry associations, conferences, trade shows and other activities where they can learn, connect and influence opportunities.
Architects, engineers and builders also often specialize in very specific industries. An engineering firm, for example, might have extensive experience and knowledge in higher education facilities. The good ones may know as much about how a building will be used as the university buildings administrator. They interface with professors, students, maintenance staff, CFOs and other staffers to better understand their unique expectations. They, too, will be involved with trade associations, industry publications, conferences and trade shows, constantly seeking valuable information that will help them better serve their clients.
At Brand Acceleration, we do the same thing. We regularly attend conferences, trade shows and meetings where we can learn and constantly refine our knowledge and skill sets. When we are face-to-face with site selection consultants, buildings administrators or others, we always ask questions, dig, learn and search for a nugget of information that will benefit our clients.
It’s because of this passion to be the best that our business never gets boring. Every new client or project gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our knowledge and skills. Pretty web sites and brochures are nice, but powerful web sites and brochures, created by knowledgeable strategists, writers, designers, programmers and project managers have the ability to generate results. That’s what excites us and thrills our clients.
I’d love to hear from you, too. Feel free to share your thoughts and personal experiences below.