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Beatblogger is Buried Under a Pile of Paper Today...

So I PROMISED myself that I would NOT miss a weekly post for ANY reason, whatsoever.  Basically, hell was going to freeze over before I let it happen.  BUT, I guess hell has frozen over, because I need to take an unscheduled break in posts.  This has been an unusually hectic couple of weeks...I know that most of you will understand.  Despite this small hic-up, I WILL return in full force next Tuesday, May 19th and hope to never use this graphic AGAIN. 

In the meantime, if you have any ideas for a blog post that you want to talk to me about, please send me an email.  Or post your ideas in the "Comments" section below...

Sincerely,
BeatBlogger

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Fresh Off Hollywood

Not too long ago, I was rubbing elbows with several Hollywood A-listers…like Christian Bale, Olivia Wilde, Steve Carrell and funny-man Zach Galifianikis. Hell, I once brought Jim Carrey his apple juice and took Steve Buscemi’s lunch order! And when Dave Franco was in Scottsdale promoting his 2013 release for “Warm Bodies,” he asked MEif it was ok to have an adult beverage at 11 AM in between his interviews with the press. Of course, I answered with a resounding “Yes!”

Before coming over to the A/E/C industry, I worked for Hollywood. More specifically, I was a publicist at a Public Relations agency that represented movie studios in the Southwest region, along with the studio’s stars and their films.  The job offered some insanely glamorous opportunities, like flying to Las Vegas to work a press junket, coordinating film premieres and wining and dining actors, actresses, directors and filmmakers when they were in town on tour in support of their films.

When I mentioned my history in Hollywood to BeatBlogger, her eyes practically fell out of her head and she asked me why I would give up such a glamorous gig to market for A/E/C ….an industry, which she was quick to point out has not been known for its glamour as of late.  Which got me to thinking…was the grass really greener working for Hollywood? 

Truth be told, my history is not really all that glamorous.  Yes, I matriculated to A/E/C from a Hollywood PR agency…but I did so with absolutely NO experience to speak of within the professional services world, let alone the engineering side of things.  And being “fresh off Hollywood,” I was a little intimidated to start a job where I was responsible for leading projects in an industry that was entirely new to me.  BUT my dad is an engineer…and I literally grew up with his “engineer speak” (or rather lack thereof), and I soon found that my ability to translate this jumbled techno-jargon into actual understandable English was an asset here…in the real-world of A/E/C.  

My confidence boosted by a little engineering “street cred,” I was quickly realizing that the best practices that I once used for Hollywood to build the foundation for a big-budget film campaign were exactly the same as the ones that I had been using to build an effective marketing plan for A/E/C.  The need to understand the ultimate end goal and the strategy that goes into finding the best and most effective solution to achieve that end goal (whether it be a successful movie opening or securing a project ‘win’ for my firm) actually ran parallel to each other, despite variances in industry.  The basics of marketing remained:  it was STILL all about understanding your audience and communicating value in a way that causes them to stop and take notice.  

My day-to-day “bread n’ butter” as a publicist was to interact with the major decision-makers in Hollywood (i.e. the studio executives), to plan and execute promotional events and deliver publicity opportunities to market a specific film.  But if you just change out a couple words within that sentence, you actually get what I do today:  My day-to-day “bread n’ butter” as an A/E/C marketer is to interact with the major decision-makers in the built environment (i.e. engineers, architects, contractors, etc.), to plan and execute winning proposals and deliver marketing collateral to market a specific team. 

Just as the A/E/C marketer receives periodic RFQ/Ps, chock full of requests for project descriptions, scopes of work, project approaches and team resumes, a PR representative receives a set of directives that details what sort of promotional activities the studio would like to see, who the targeted demographic is, and what the proper formatting will be for final reporting. Just like the popular 90’s saying goes, “same diff.” 

So let me be the first to tell you that there are more similarities than there are differences between what I was doingthen as a publicist and what I’m doing now as a practice-area marketer.  There!  Have I dispelled the myth of all the glitz and glam that comes with working for Hollywood? 

I only mention this because I suspect that at some point in our A/E/C careers, we all get to thinking that the grass is greener elsewhere…like in another industry.  And maybe we start to see marketers in those industries through rose-colored glasses.  We get to thinking that they get to do all the fun stuff in the marketing world (like put together a nifty press junket) while we get stuck with translating techno-jargon for selection committees …WOOPIDY-DO!  But realizing that their harsh realities are mirror images of our harsh realities should help bring us back TO reality…in A/E/C that is.

No matter how you choose to spin it, everyone’s job under the marketing umbrella is to discover and build upon their strongest and most creative strategy.  Whether you’re trading phone calls with the “top dog” at Sony regarding a film, or trading emails with the leading wastewater firm about a project, you are being called upon to provide your insight.  And ultimately, you are the middle man between the public’s eye and the client’s, no matter WHO that client is.  And, that’s not something to take lightly.

Maybe we are EXACTLY where we are supposed to be.  And maybe sealing the deal on that huge proposal (you know, the one that took you three years to land) really does hold the same weight as sharing a ride with an actress as she narrates the text messages between her and Daniel Radcliffe regarding their next big film (true story). OK, so one might not sound as fancy as the other, but consider your audience…

 

About the Blogger:  Lauren McConnell has a ton of flair; and no, not like Jennifer Aniston’s ‘pieces of flair’ in the movie Office Space.  She has a flair for details that has taken her far in her short period of time in A/E/C.  Outside of the industry, Lauren splits her time between epic classic video game play a la the original Nintendo Entertainment System and long walks with her furry four-legged children, in failed attempts to keep them from eating her couch.

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The Seven Year Itch

My technical colleagues ask me all the time why marketing people are so “finicky.” It appears that we are guilty of changing jobs frequently over short periods of time. In comparison to whom I’m not really sure, especially throughout the recession, but somehow the stereotype stands. Having amassed nearly 16 years in the profession, I can now say with confidence what I have long since suspected…and I declare it to whomever asks me with a somewhat comical response. I say simply this: “THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH.” Let me explain…

The phrase “seven year itch” has been around for quite a while and has been used to describe any number of conditions including rashes, punishment for bad behavior (huh?) and even hopeless situations (double huh?). But the more modern acceptance of the phrase has to do with reaching a metaphoric fork in the road at the seven year mark of a long-term relationship (or marriage). Epitomized by the 1955 movie starring Marilyn Monroe, it’s a phenomenon that is actually backed up by psychological studies showing this point in time as a period of general restlessness and angst. And the relationship between a marketer and their firm is not much different.

In the early years of our careers, we are incredibly enthusiastic with a seemingly endless amount of energy primed to tackle the marketing world. Whether it’s because we are so young in our occupations or just plain naïve is debatable, but regardless of which it is, we are pretty much willing to do whatever it takes during this phase. You need me to work until three in the morning? No problem! And you want me to come in this weekend, too? Sure thing! Both days? You got it. Did I mention that we somehow manage to do all of this with a smile?

The “honeymoon” phase in a marketer’s profession is not dissimilar to the “honeymoon” phase at the beginning of a serious relationship. Dismissing tedious flaws and red flags in favor of massive rationalizations are a mainstay of this chapter, and in both scenarios we risk forfeiting quite a bit of ourselves in the process. We tread dangerously close to becoming someone that our friends used to know and used to hang out with; two years in and we are barely recognizable as ourselves.

Enter the “temptress” firm…donned in a white flowing dress, luring us away with the promise of “a little affection” (i.e. more money and a better work-life balance) as Marilyn suggests to her co-star Tom Ewell in the famous “subway scene.” This is why so many of us move from firm to firm and on such a predictable two year cycle; this is why we come across to so many in A/E/C as “finicky” job hoppers. Basically, our relationship has soured and we haven’t yet figured out why. All we know is we had NOTHING to do with it LOL! I actually had a two to three year rebound cycle and at three separate firms early on in my career. The job roles were always the same, but there was something forever holding me back from fully committing to any of them.  

I was at my fourth (and current) firm, and coincidentally also at my seven year mark (in A/E/C), when I first started to hear people say to me: “You’ve changed. What happened?” Initially, I wondered what they were talking about. After all, I was still the same person. But their inquiries prompted me to give this perceived “change” some considerable thought. What HAD actually happened?  

At that particular point in time, I had been with my firm for a little over a year and I had no intention of leaving. I had staked my claim on the position, and was functioning much more decisively both as a team member AND as a team leader. I had also reached a point where I was more willing and able to own and manage my own workload. I was like “hey…why am I killing myself for a snowball’s chance at winning this pursuit? Especially during the wee hours of the morning. What am I thinking?” And I became much more assertive about it.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had reached the “fork” in my professional life; that “seven year itch” point when you decide you’re going to buckle down and stick with it or you’re going to bail. Like the point in a relationship when you’re NOT yet married and you are wondering what the other person is waiting for. But making THAT kind of long-term commitment means “sugar-coating” the flaws goes out the window; you have got to “grow a set” and own yourpart in the relationship if you want it to LAST. And that’s what I had done!    

Pushing past the “seven year itch” and coming out committed on the other side is an important rite of passage that not all marketers will achieve. What can I say? Some of us are just destined to be wooed by the “temptresses” of A/E/C. But those of us who do reach this point are no longer distracted by white dresses and blowing subway vents. Instead we start wondering why some ditz is standing over a fan without giving a care in the world about shining the entire modern civilization with a view of her “moon.” Thanks, but no thanks…we’ll just work on improving the job that we’ve got…  

Which brings up an interesting twist to this analogy. If you ARE “married” to your firm, like I have been to mine for the past decade, then how does one keep things fresh and interesting? I say don’t be afraid to spice things up! Hey, what you do in your relationship is your business (hee hee hee), but strapping on your red “power” pumps certainly commands attention…and in both instances! Assert your voice and become a force to be reckoned with. Establish boundaries and SHARE your opinions. Have confidence in your portfolio of knowledge. You know what you‘re doing…  

It is actually this attitude adjustment that led my colleagues to take notice of my abilities, ultimately earning me a seat at the “big boy’s” table. And if you’re anything like me, once you get to this point, there is NO GOING BACK. The animal has been let out of its cage! If you have eclipsed the “seven year itch” and come out the other side a stronger marketer, when did it happen for you? Was it actually at the seven year mark? Was it sooner? Or later? I only ask because you don’t HAVE to wait seven years before you take the bull by the horns and make this transition. Despite the label, you can actually sidestep years of heartache if you have the vision and drive to make it happen.     

 

About the Bloggers:  Brandi Barr is SMPS Arizona's 2015 Education Chair, is a marketer and business developer by day, mom of three and wife 24/7. When not chained to her office, she's an avid sports enthusiast with four fantasy football teams and a passion for the San Francisco Giants. Recently crowned the 2015 Marketer of the Year, she buddied up with the Inaugural 2014 Marketer of the Year, Amy Villasana-Moore CPSM, on this quirky little blog post and was pleasantly surprised by Amy's movie buff contributions.

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What does your "Why" Look Like?

If you have been following my posts on this blog, you know that I am a self-proclaimed movie buff.  Even my comments on other people’s posts tend to involve movie quotes or links to scenes.  But only slightly behind movies (at least in my mind) are commercials, probably because some of them are like mini-movies…at least the ones that I really enjoy are.  Some of my absolute favorites to date include:  Guitar Center’s “Greatest Feeling on Earth,” GE’s “Ideas are Scary,” and Beats by Dre’s “Game Before the Game.”  An eclectic line-up to be sure, but there is a connecting factor between them all; they all start with “why.”   

The simple yet fundamental question of “why” touches on the core of what actually motivates people to TAKE ACTION, whether it be to purchase items relatively small in nature (like a guitar, an appliance or a set of headphones), or to pull the trigger on something pretty HUGE (like hiring a contractor to build a sports stadium, for example).  Even though I have always inherently understood this concept, I don’t think I really become consciously aware of it until I viewed a TEDTalk by Simon Sinek called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”  To sum it up in Sinek’s own words, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it…the goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have; the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” 

After watching this video, I got to thinking about our industry and contemplating whether or not A/E/C was successfully tapping into the “why” in our marketing campaigns.  As soon as I asked myself this question though, I had my answer…and it was simply “no."  For the most part, as an industry, our campaigns focus only on the “how” and the “what.”  We talk about delivery methods and getting projects done “on time and within budget,” and we boast about “exceeding expectations.”  No doubt, these are all extremely important points…but they don’t help us to differentiate ourselves…and they certainly don’t INSPIRE.

In the TEDTalk video, Sinek poses an important question to the audience.  If your company is appealing to one side of your audience’s brain using logic and facts, but humans actually make decisions with an entirely different part of their brains (the part that controls feelings and behaviors and begs the question “why”), then how is your company going to effectively convince anyone to take any action in your favor?  It’s no mystery to me then, why A/E/C campaigns are missing the mark…they are all details, facts and logic for our neocortex to dismiss…and no 'heart' for our limbic brains to digest. 

But what if A/E/C collectively shifted its marketing focus from “how/what” and instead started with “why?”  What then might our campaigns (or commercials) look like?  To make this question a little less lofty, I decided to tackle it on a personal level using my own background as the basis for my imagined commercial.  But as it turns out, this is not as easy as I originally thought.  As I quickly discovered on this self-initiated mini-journey, starting with “why” means revealing the stuff that really makes you tick.  Starting with “why” means divulging the driving factor behind everything you do and everything you aspire to be; it means opening up about the stuff that’s 'in your guts.'  And pulling back the curtain on something like that can leave both people and companies alike feeling vulnerable.  Hmmm…I guess I’ll take one for the A/E/C team on this…here goes…   

My Own Background:

My grandfather was a contractor AND a very dynamic individual.  He was the type of guy who people loved being around; the type of guy who could talk himself and everyone else into almost anything.  His contracting business was just one of MANY in his lifetime; when I think about it, his true profession was probably more “adventurer” than anything else.  I had on occasion thought that he would pass the business down to my father, who would then eventually pass it on to me.  Regrettably, that did not happen…but I still play with the notion of “what if” sometimes.  So if this HAD become my reality, and I HAD taken over my family’s contracting business, THIS is what my commercial would look like… 

My "Why" in Commercial Form:  

The setting for my commercial would be me sitting at my kitchen table, going through a box of old family photos and reminiscing about my grandfather.  My narration would coincide with close-ups of old photos and would be spliced with snippets of family film, both of which would visually assist the telling of my story.  The dialogue would go something like this: 

“I’ve been in construction for as long as I can remember…one of my first tasks on site was to level off a wet slab of concrete for someone’s sidewalk…I was probably five or six years old.  My grandfather would take me onto all his work sites, OSHA be damned.  He wanted to take me everywhere…he wanted to show me what he had built. 

Amy and Grandaddy_01

And he was always telling me crazy stories about his life.  I remember him telling me about his time prospecting silver in Mexico.  He would take this beat up Volkswagen ‘Thing’ up the side of the mountain to the mine entrance and the roads were so narrow that the car would always tumble over onto the side of a slope, and he would have to call his crew out to come help him set it up-right again.  That one always made him laugh…he had a mischievous laugh.

Toppled Truck   

For the longest time, he had a small office off of San Pedro Avenue in San Antonio.  And he used to loan the office space out free of charge to start-up business owners.  There was this one owner who ended up making it big in the distribution business and as a ‘thank you,’ he included my grandparents in the sales trips for top performers EVERY YEAR for more than a decade.  They saw Europe and Japan, South America…

I remember him getting really active in the community as I got older.  He sat on the City’s Planning Commission for a while…he even built San Antonio’s first two Habitat for Humanity homes and founded the City’s first Hispanic-owned bank.  I think he just wanted to make everyone’s life better…I think he wanted to share his good fortune… 

He used to say that he was blessed with adventures and a family to share them with.  He said he was living the good life.  When I was younger, I didn’t really have the capacity to appreciate what he was saying.  But now that I’ve got a few grey hairs on my head, I totally ‘get it’…I totally ‘get HIM.’  Granddaddy…wherever you are now…if you can hear me…here’s to the good life.  I love you…and I miss you…”

Queue the Tagline:  The Good Life…for your family and ours.  Villasana Contractors, Inc.

I imagine that there would be music intertwined with the dialogue (something that conveys a sense of nostalgia).  I also imagine that the film quality and camera angles would be more indicative of a hand-held camera…slightly grainy, sporadically unsteady and intermittently out of focus. In other words, it would be nothing glamorous.  There would be no shiny buildings and no parade of awards flashed across the screen; there would be no exchange surrounding schedules, budgets or expectations.  There would be nothing to distract the viewer from the STORY itself. 

The Final Question:

So there you have it; my imagined commercial…the stuff that’s 'in my guts.'   It shows my would-be clients that there is more to me (the narrator) than construction and business ownership.  Is it personal?  Absolutely.  Have I put myself 'out there?'  You bet.  But I think it’s a commercial that people would want to see and would probably respond well to.  Because it draws on a feeling that everyone shares and answers the question of “why.”  This now prompts me to ask YOU the very same question that I asked myself.  What is your “why” and what does it look like?  Think about it…

 

About the Blogger:  Amy Villasana-Moore, CPSM is SMPS Arizona's 2015 Blog Chair, is a marketer and business developer, art and music enthusiast, fan of all animals, darkroom-trained photographer, recovering “workaholic” and movie buff.  She can meet you at the intersection of “strange” and “brew” and if the need arises, can have an entire conversation with you using only movie quotes.

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The Perils of Ignoring

“The busy man is a lazy man.” This has been one of the most convincing quotes that I have read recently. What C.S. Lewis was really getting at is that it is incredibly easy to fill up your schedule while never truly getting anything of significance accomplished. It is a habit that we have all grown quite accustomed to. We fill up our time with those “oh so important” projects, rush around like mad men trying to get it all done, and slowly but surely let everything else fall by the wayside. After it is all said and done, our to-do lists have only gotten longer and we have totally missed out on that sense of fulfillment that comes with getting things done WELL.

If I had to make an educated guess as to what every person reading this post would say is the source of most of their “busy work,” I would guess “proposals.” Case in point, there was a somewhat controversial article recently published on the subject called Welcome to the Machine…the Proposal Machine which detailed one marketer’s view on this topic. Interestingly though, I would also venture a guess that as soon as you have this thought, you talk yourself out of it. You tell yourself that proposals are the shot at the work that your firm wants and NEEDS; that they are essential and are never going away. THEN you convince yourself that nothing is going to change and that you are going to be busy doing proposals forever. Perhaps you fantasize about looking for another job with some fictitious firm that doesn’t do proposals. And then after your general malaise has worn off, you think about how much you love your company…and how much you love this industry…and before you know it, you have just strapped yourself onto the tracks for another train of “busy work” to slice you in two.

But marketers don’t have to play the part of “damsel in distress” to the industry’s proposal “villain.” We don’t need rescuing from “busy work”; we need to refocus! Let’s dissect this dysfunctional thought process before we get run over again:

RFQ/Ps are the end game. Yes, they most certainly are. There’s no denying the obvious. Sadly for many A/E/C firms, their marketing efforts don’t END with the RFQ/P issuance; they BEGIN. There is just something fundamentally wrong here. To show team work and interest in a project, technical teams regularly spend between one and two years preparing for a big win; they are hard at work designing conceptual buildings or putting together conceptual estimates to position themselves as the top choice when it comes time to direct select. On the flip side, though, marketers are regularly doing NOTHING before the RFQ/P comes out. Whether self-imposed or dictated by our firms, this “end game” as the ONLY game is a broken model that keeps us buried in “busy work.” Have we forgotten the most essential fundamentals of marketing strategy? Have we forgotten about Awareness, Interest, Desire and Need? I hope not…so say it with me: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Need…

  • Awareness: In case you (or your firm) need reminding, it’s “Awareness” that marks the beginning of marketing; it represents all of the activities that earn your firm great exposure WITHOUT the guarantee of work. This is the stage when we build our brand promise and gain exposure for our firm’s name. This is also the point at which we should be learning about the opportunities that are going to take time, strategy and some serious trust building with the client in order to win. During this stage, we have no idea who is actually taking note, but we have put some serious thought into getting our firm’s name and message “out there” in a targeted manner. So when your boss says “All my buddies commented that I placed an expensive ad in the local business journal, but I didn’t get a single job out of it,” you can feel confident that the ad did its job; it got NOTICED! Do that six more times and you are really getting somewhere.
  • Interest: This is the stage when your targeted audience now knows your firm’s name and you have earned some brand recognition. Not necessarily because of ads, but because of a variety of marketing activities (think speaking engagements, networking, social media, etc.). Your audience is probably ready to learn more about your firm, but not really ready to buy. Remember, it’s not “no,” it’s just “not yet.” They are investigating your team and checking out your website to confirm information like specializations and company size. They are also viewing LinkedIn profiles and website projects and perhaps even looking you up on social media to see if your firm’s “personality” is in alignment with their own.   People are doing this with your firm RIGHT NOW. How does your firm measure up?
  • Desire: Things are starting to get good at this stage of “the game.” Your audience has built up positive perceptions of your firm and connected the dots between your expertise and their needs. And you also know that they have a project coming up in the future. You are the perfect fit for them and it’s time to talk! Your knee-jerk reaction may very well be to quickly point out all the parallels between the client’s project and those that your firm has completed in the past…especially when your firm desperately needs the backlog and the project in question is “exactly” the size that your firm could use to fill the gap. But your focus should really be on learning everything that you can about the key players, about what success looks like to them, what their perceptions of the vital project issues are, who the unexpected stakeholders might be…and, of course, all the other things that make this project unique to and for them. This is a critical point in the overall pursuit timeline and your opportunity to absorb everything you need to win! So what is your marketing approach here? Start with case studies, proprietary software that you use to overcome issues critical to them, sell the team and their qualifications, go beyond your paper resume…dig deep!
  • Need: This is when the RFQ/P comes into play. Now you are ready! And if you’ve gone through the first three stages, then you have vetted your clients and their opportunities to the point where your “busy work” proposal load is much lighter…AND your win rate is much higher.   Forbidden communication? No problem. Because you already did all the work you needed before the RFQ/P came out.

RFQ/Ps are not going away. There is also no denying this one either. But bringing back the “strategy” in your strategic marketing efforts can probably get rid of one-third of your “busy work” burden. If you have a marketing plan and a targeted prospect list – and you actively work the plan and the list – then you can spend A LOT less time going after proposals that your firm has only a snowball’s chance of winning.

I will be busy forever. I certainly hope so! It beats the alternative. But my marketing hope for everyone reading this is that you put your leadership hat on and take control of your marketing processes. Don't continue to live in peril of ignoring the "strategy" in strategic marketing.  Educate your peers and colleagues on what success COULD look like if your firm’s marketing efforts were approached differently. Show them that you are invested in the effort. Show them the numbers on wasted marketing dollars and hours on unworthy proposals and LEAD them through the marketer’s mantra: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Need. Awareness, Interest, Desire, Need. The busy man is the lazy man? Not necessarily…we COULD be busy with worthwhile work from here on out…if we are brave enough to get up off of those tracks.

 

About the Blogger:  Danielle Feroleto, MA, CPSM is the owner and president of Small Giants LLC. But the real fun in her life begins with her husband of 12 years and her 6-year-old daughter. What other dynamic duo could convince her that two chickens in the backyard would be a good idea? When not tending to livestock, they love to hike, have princess tea parties and family movie nights!

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"Sticky Note Motivation" (The President's Mid-Year Update)

Rewind to last August (2014), and I specifically remember a wise person telling me to write my future-self a piece of advice, something that I would need in six months (the halfway point through my SMPS Chapter presidency). I looked at this woman with a slight smile…probably more of a smirk…and said, “Yeah okay, I’ll do that.” But as I was walking away I thought, “Why would I do that?” And what did she mean by “my future-self?” However, two days later I was STILL thinking about what she said, so I figured that my mind (or my gut) must know something that I didn’t. And that’s when I really began to think about my current situation.

During any given work week, I would probably find myself occupied with approximately six BD meetings, a proposal to review, an interview to prep for, four internal meetings to attend, a strategic plan to implement, an SMPS event to make an appearance at, a dog to train, a husband to entertain, a happy hour with a friend, and…yada, yada, yada. Like many of us do, I bury my face in my computer screen most nights and some weekends just trying to “keep up” with the demands of work. And now I would have to find more time!

Piled on top of my typical fun-filled (and hectic) week would now be an additional serving of responsibilities as the SMPS Chapter President. And just like that, I had an epiphany - or maybe it was just a heavy dose of reality - and I knew exactly what that woman had meant. My future-self was going to be totally overwhelmed at some point during the Presidency. So I took her advice, wrote myself a sticky note and stuck it to my computer…and then stuck one onto the dash in my car and one on the top of my laptop for good measure…and there they remain to this day. My message to myself was short and sweet: Swimming. Stage. Smiling.

  • Swimming – Following the advice of Dory in Finding Nemo, I wanted to remind myself to “just keep swimming.” Apparently, my past-self knew that my future-self would need to see this statement on a daily basis. And it has worked wonders, even on an hourly basis! When I find myself with 150 emails in my inbox, action plans to review, a strategic plan to keep pushing forward, and a to-do list that keeps getting longer, I remember to “just keep swimming” and it motivates me to keep on “keepin’ on.”
  • Stage – I knew last August, when I was getting ready to step up into the Presidency, that I had put together a powerhouse of an SMPS Leadership Team for the 2014/15 year. Seriously, the 30 individuals that are making this organization Thrive are absolutely amazing! I would put their collective powers up against any of the other 56 chapters within SMPS every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Each one of them deserves to be put on a stage and recognized for their achievements, and the word “stage” would help me keep the idea of recognition at the forefront of my mind.
  • Smiling – Did your mother ever tell you that you look much more attractive when you smile? My mom did…and still does…especially when I get overwhelmed or have a lot going on, and I forget about my facial expressions…or rather lack thereof. So I decided to test this theory about a month ago on a particularly stressful day, and it turns out that my mom was right (add that to the list of 3,456 other things she was right about)! Well, mostly right anyway. As it turns out, I may not look prettier when I smile, but I look 20-times more approachable…and I always want people to feel like they can talk to me, regardless of anything else that might be going on.

So how do sticky note messages tie in with this mid-year progress report for the Chapter? Well, it has been six months since the start of our fiscal year and the honeymoon is over. The thrill of the “big picture” has faded and the day-to-day grind is starting to wear us thin…at least, I’m starting to wear thin on certain days. I figured that we could all use some “sticky note motivation.” SOOOO, here goes!

The Mid-Year Chapter Update

At our Mid-Year Chapter Retreat on March 20th, I gave each Chapter Leader a baseball so that they could write down what “success” would look like for them at the end of August (when the 2014/15 SMPS year concludes). I remember getting lots of blank stares, but I was happy to see that they obliged. But what did they write? Although I find myself curious about each Leader’s “sticky note” message, I realize that it isn’t for me to know. Success is determined by the individual. What matters is that each Leader utilizes the baseball as it was intended; a reminder of why they work so hard and a motivator to keep them doing what they do.

Our Leadership Team is making our Chapter’s vision a reality, and I know that they must be exhausted. I know that they work tirelessly (both day and night) to plan programs, meet with new members, balance budgets, conduct surveys and create publicity pieces. And I know that they are all VOLUNTEERS, working on all-things-SMPS as an “add-on” to their careers and family life. The effort and sacrifices that they make for this organization are pretty amazing and a little overwhelming. And now that we are in the midst of year two of our Chapter’s strategic plan, here’s an overview of the greatness happening at our local Chapter level:

  • Membership: We started the year with 141 members and just crossed the long-anticipated 160 member threshold! If you take into consideration the fact that on any given month we have around 5-6 memberships expiring, and that we stayed stagnant for almost three years at 123 members when the economy was down, then achieving 160 members is the stuff of myth and legend. We have been at the absolute top of our recruitment AND retention efforts!
  • Education/Programs: As always, we have continued to offer quality educational opportunities through ourMarketing CouncilCRM User’s Grouplocal events, and Adobe training. And as always, our programs have allowed our members to not only earn CEU’s, but also acquire the skills and training necessary to achieve their career development goals. Additionally, our Chapter has teamed with ACE for the first time in almost seven years to offer Deconstructing Construction, a two-day program focused on giving new professionals within the industry and non-technical staff the education to navigate every part of A/E/C.
  • First Impressions: You asked for it and we delivered. Our newly formed First Impressions Branch has been planning Leverage Your Beverage (LyB) events nearly every month since the beginning of the 2014/15 year. Not only has attendance been amazing at these events, but they continuously bring in a large number of both SMPS members and non-members alike! After all, who doesn’t love an informal networking happy hour?
  • Publicity: Struggling to keep up? Don’t I know it! Our Social Media group has really amped it up this year. They are constantly updating all of us on upcoming events and member highlights, and are sending out awesome event recaps with fun photos. The Publicity Branch also launched a new video series (now viewable on our YouTube channel) and re-launched the Chapter blog. Breaking away from the standard “best practices” approach, A/E/C Beat’s personality (BeatBlogger) serves up a healthy dose of human with a little bit of controversy and whole a lot of humor mixed in.
  • Financial: The good news keeps on coming with not one, but TWO Build Business Scholarships (a $2200 value), another TWO Southwest Regional Scholarships (a $550 value), a $500 donation to StreetLights USA and a $1000 donation to St Mary’s Food Bank. Enough said!

These are just the highlights of what the SMPS Arizona Chapter has achieved this year; the tip of the iceberg, if you will. Our mission to “Advocate, Educate, Connect to Thrive” is truly coming to life and I am so excited with the growth that our Chapter has experienced. But I am even more proud of the team that has been working so hard to get us to this point. So here’s a huge “thank you” to our Leadership Team! Thank you for all of your efforts!!! I am so grateful for everything that you are doing for SMPS Arizona and am hopeful that each of your baseball "sticky notes" proves to be as inspirational to each of you as you all have been to me!

 

About the Blogger:  When not serving as President of SMPS Arizona or developing a strategy to win the next project for Concord, Grenee Celuch, CPSM can usually be found having her patience and her stubbornness put to the test by her German Shepherd. After countless years and hours of instruction, she finally realized 5% of dog training is for the dog and 95% is for the human. She credits her two dogs with teaching her how to jump for joy when excited, that snuggling and wet kisses can cancel out bad days, and that we should all learn to stop and smell the roses from time to time.

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A Marketer's Mind, as told through "Memes"

meme is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."

I love the Internet and everything it has to offer. I like to consider myself a respectable “Gen Xer” with a closet “Millennial” inside me blaring Brittany Spears and saying “like” a lot. Probably because of this, I’m thoroughly amused by pretty much all memes and I use them to express myself often. In the words of Sam Smith, “I know I’m not the only one.”

But that’s on the inside. On the outside, I’m growing up in the A/E/C world. I’m becoming a more professional marketer, business developer and industry peer...and SMPS has played a big part in that. As I get to know the broad range of personalities in A/E/C, I continue to meet marketers who are jettisoning themselves into leadership stardom; every time I see them out and about, they are even more awesome than the last time I’ve seen them.

But maybe they are closet Brittany fans, too; maybe they love memes as much as I do. So I decided to put together a few memes straight out of the world of A/E/C marketing. Some of these already live online and some I made myself. But they all poke fun at the thoughts that we, as A/E/C marketers, deal with every day.  

I’m sure that all of you out there have had a “meme moment” when you wished you could just hold up a picture up above your head - a picture with some giant white text screaming your uncensored thoughts - and make your point. But since we can’t, go ahead and scroll through these memes and try to forget about the weight of our real world issues. Laugh a little today and embrace your tribe (the A/E/C marketers of the world that totally “get” you).

 

The expectations...

That would be Great

 

The wardrobe...

Business Womans Special

 

The printer...

Half Inch Bleeds

 

The outsourcing...

Live Dangerously

 

The communication breakdowns...

Sure I Love Revisions

 

The website relaunch...

We Dont Need SEO

 

The platforms…

Social Networking

 

And the buzzwords...

Aint Nobody Got Time for That

 

The events...

Actually Just Networking 

 

The lingo...

I Like Big Opps

 

The big wigs...

What Would You Say You Do Here

 

The planning...

A Bunch of Memes

 

No, my Marketing Plan isn’t just a bunch of memes, but I’d be happy if it were! What can I say? I’m easily amused. But seriously, we all work really hard to make our messaging impactful, and we do it with consistently diminishing resources, time and space. Taking the time to craft your message with a little extra thought and humanity can make the difference between totally “getting” your clients and completely missing the mark. Can we create messages as poignant as a meme? Hmmm…  

 

About the Blogger:  Between bike rides with the kids, Nicole Rodriguez juggles client meetings as an A/E/C industry consultant. She’s positively thrilled at any opportunity to shine, support and succeed, which usually means that she works part-time for SMPS as a volunteer in addition to her full-time position as “Major Marketing” for TankGirl Marketing. Nicole thoroughly believes she can change the world one graphic, one event, and one client at a time and will never give up trying. She also believes that we are all lucky to be alive and well and able to read this very post!

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BEATBLOGGER “OFF THE AIR”…BUT JUST FOR SPRING BREAK!

Who else wouldn't mind a small breather?  A blogger "Spring Break" of sorts.  So that is what's happening this week on A/E/C Beat;  BeatBloggers is taking  a brief hiatus.  But no need to worry...everything will resume next week (03/31/2015) with more original content to "rock your world!" 

In the meantime, if you have any comments, thoughts or ideas that you want our readership to consider, post them below!

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Welcome to the Machine... The Proposal Machine

I've been doing proposals for more than a few years now. When I think about it, it feels like an eternity…like decades. Wait a minute, it has been decades!  Decades of staying late at the office, missing weekends with my family, skipping outings with my friends, neglecting holiday gatherings, foregoing countless hours of sleep and medicating myself to counteract the effects of long-term anxiety. For the most part, I have come to accept my role in this industry and have even come to terms with the notion that I will never be as respected for my professional acumen as my technical counterparts. I realize that as a marketing professional for the industry of A/E/C, I may never be able to fully disengage from the task of proposals. But for Pete’s sake, does it have to be the ONLY thing that people think I'm capable of doing?!?!

About five months ago, one of my company’s out-of-town managing partners visited our local office. This was a company-wide traveling assignment intended to deliver “state-of-the-company” updates. While he was in town, he made the rounds. He was sure to visit every single partner and employee for at least 20 minutes individually. Not surprisingly, I was the last one on his list. He started out with some tedious chit-chat (the awkward type that prompts you to burp-puke in your mouth and then forcibly swallow it) and it was my overall impression that he didn’t really know what to talk to me about. Then he said something that I will probably never be able to forgive OR forget: “so and so says that you are really great at proposals.” REALLY?!?!? After the years that I have invested in the company and all the OTHER things that I’ve accomplished for and with them, THAT was all he could come up with.

On the outside I was genial enough, appearing ever appreciative of the compliments from “above.” But on the inside I couldn’t help but think to myself “I am a proposal machine…they flow out of me like beef from a meat-grinder. I am the mechanical apparatus that executes the process.” In other words, working on proposals has been a necessary part of my daily functions in A/E/C, but I wouldn't exactly call it a great achievement or anything. Telling me I'm great at proposals is not what I would consider a compliment at this point in my career, especially when I spent four years (okay, five years) of my life going to school to become a marketing and communications professional.

Yes, it’s true that proposals are a necessary part of a marketer’s role within this industry. But it’s also true that A/E/C focuses a great deal more on this “end game” than on ANY OTHER areas within the marketing spectrum. In fact, proposals dominate an A/E/C marketer’s time to the detriment of everything else. All the things that set the stage for a firm to be viewed in the best possible light by major decision makers - everything that influences positive impressions of a firm leading up to or separate and apart from a proposal - are virtually ignored.    

But why is that? I used to think that it was because proposals are the most tangible deliverable with the most obvious link to measurable revenue; the metrics practically report themselves. But after years of speculation on this particular topic, I think the real reason behind why marketing professionals have been dubbed the “proposal grunts” in A/E/C has more to do with two central issues:

  • First and foremost, there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the very nature of marketing. When I talk to industry principals about what it is they think that marketing can actually do for their firms, they struggle to come up with anything OTHER than proposal work. There is this supposition that marketers would have nothing to do if it weren’t for the endless onslaught of deadlines.
  • And second, there is an overarching aversion to the concept of marketing as an ACTUAL profession, one that in most industries requires a degree. We are constantly being referred to as “overhead” by technical colleagues, categorized as “non-productive” by accounting staff, and excluded from “big-picture” meetings regarding strategy. We are viewed as the lowest man on the totem pole.

It’s no real surprise then that A/E/C’s marketers have been so marginalized. We have not been afforded regular opportunities to prove our actual worth or even sharpen our skills in other marketing areas…like planning and strategy, market research and consumer trends, branding and messaging, campaign development, etc. These items are incredibly important to a firm’s overall visibility and represent a MASSIVE slice of the comprehensive marketing pie. Not surprisingly, though, they are continuously overlooked or sidelined as menial tasks to be squeezed in to a marketer’s spare time…if A/E/C marketers had any spare time between proposals, that is. Ugh…proposals…  

They have become the bane of my existence. As awful as it sounds, proposals have come to dominate so much of my life now (both personally and professionally) that they have actually made me physically ill. Basically, stress levels build until the perfect storm of long work hours, sleep deprivation and the office “bug” finally grinds me into a beefy pulp. As soon as I recover, the cycle starts all over again; chuck steak…grind…package…repeat. Each day is like a clone of the last, slowly degrading with every copy that is made. Am I even awake? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. I now have dreams filled with large ticking clocks that pierce my ears and give me vertigo; sometimes it’s a front-desk clerk whose time-stamp shatters the silence and makes my stomach churn…“ka-clank!” Like scenes from The Wall, where an endless stream of people with blank faces line the hallways to submit their proposals. Welcome to the machine…

I used to have really vivid dreams though; like technicolored dreams. I held aspirations of changing the world, of doing something remarkable, of doing something that MEANT something. And I was going to do it through marketing. That’s how I was going to make my mark. But with the ideals of my college days FAR FAR behind me, it seems that “my mark” is now only worth the last proposal that I completed. Ostensibly, in A/E/C, dreams are a luxury reserved for technical people well on their way to partnerships and presidencies, or those few and far between marketers who have both the talent and shrewdness to venture out on their own (and it has to be said that those people are incredibly gifted, incredibly gutsy and wholly deserving of our applause...read On Being a Consultant). But by and large, the rest of us will forever be stuck under the thumb of proposals and all the connotations that come with working on them. By and large, there are no Chief Marketing Officers in this industry and at this rate, there never will be. 

So why am I bothering to bring this up at all? Because I'm TIRED of being useless every weekend because all I have the energy for is sleeping; because I’m tired of missing my kid’s soccer practices because another BIG proposal deadline is closing in; and because I’m tired of A/E/C companies asking for so much from their marketers while thinking so little of them and offering even less in return. I bring this up for the benefit of all the marketers reading this; it’s not too late for us to collectively do something about the situation. We have power as a group and we don’t have to subscribe to the “take-it-or-leave-it” mentality that has historically governed our profession in A/E/C and consequently kept us small.

Now that I think about it, this might be the perfect time to take action or be demanding. So many companies are looking to fill marketing positions right now and there are so few of us marketers left to actually fill them (following the decimation of our profession during the Great Recession). Maybe the post-recession years represent our greatest chance to tear down these walls and escape the machine. Perhaps a full-fledged A/E/C marketer’s revolution is in order…

Whatever stage you are at in your career, I urge you to STAND UP for what the marketing profession actually STANDS FOR. If you’re searching for a new spot to “hang your hat,” be sure to find out if that firm has any non-technical principals on their team, and what the career path is for the non-technical staff there. This is a good indication of how they view and value their marketers. If you want to stay put with your current company, then insist that professional development opportunities be made available to you; ones that not only develop a broad range of marketing skills, but also teach you about other aspects of the company. And if your firm doesn’t offer those opportunities, then make sure to carve out some time (and money) in your life to develop them for yourself. But don’t pigeon-hole your potential and don’t let others pigeon-hole you either!

I suspect that A/E/C could and WOULD reap amazing bottom line benefits if firms would let their marketing people get down to what they're really good at…MARKETING, in all its glory…not just proposals. Then again, this would require that A/E/C give weight to the idea that someone categorized as “overhead” might actually have insight into (or have something of value to add to) the bottom line. But because most firms don’t really understand what it is that marketing does (or can do), marketers are kept busy doing the overly-simplified tasks that ARE understood by firms. Then when those same firms don’t get the results that they had envisioned, marketing is blamed for being ineffective, thus reinforcing our position at the bottom of the totem pole. This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereby companies don’t think enough of their marketers to invest in them any further. There have been a few interesting reads on this topic as of late:

Why Managing Partners Don’t Trust Their Marketing Departments and What to Do About It

Why Your Marketer Doesn’t Understand Your Business

That being said, I hope that after reading this you share it with your marketing friends and industry colleagues, and if you are really brave then share it with your boss. But more importantly, I hope that you take all of this to heart, because marketing in A/E/C won’t change if none of us are actually willing to DO or SAY anything about it. The reality is that if we don’t make a concerted effort NOW to stand up for ourselves and point our careers in the directions that we REALLY want them to go, then we will be no better off than we were before…proposal machines, grinding out chuck, day after day after day after day after day. I know that I am not alone in this sentiment; there are a lot of us in marketing that feel this way...especially post-recession. And it would be a real shame to sit silent through the best years of our careers when we could have been fighting for our DREAMS.

About the Blogger: Anonymous Beat Blogger  is your typical over-achieving under-appreciated marketer. This person has always been a realist, but thanks to the Great Recession and A/E/C firms everywhere, they now regularly traverses the space between comatose and temporarily insane. 

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Is A/E/C Afraid of Social Media?

Fear of the unknown is scary! It’s the reason why little kids hide under their covers at bedtime, why teenagers cover their faces during a horror flick, and why adults hide behind their podiums when making a presentation to a large crowd. Whether you’re three years old or thirty, the fear of what might be lurking on the “other side” waiting to pounce on you is something that we all share. In fact, fear is an agent that is hard-wired into the psyche of every living thing on this planet with a singular purpose for self-preservation. But when can fear get the best of us?

As a consultant for a number of A/E/C industry clients over the years, I have witnessed first-hand the paralyzing fear that comes with tackling the realm of social media. But where does this shared industry fear come from? When more closely examined, it is plain to see that companies AND people actually share the common thread of fear in both reason and purpose. A/E/C’s fear of social media comes from the exact same place that all other fears come from; a fear of what might be lying in wait. That fear also serves the same exact purpose; an instinct to avoid threats and to preserve one’s self.

When a company commits to a social media campaign and then takes their first steps into launching it, the act itself can feel a lot like an open invitation for criticism. And that is DAMN scary! After all, no one wants to walk around with a giant target on their forehead. This represents the top fear that my clients express to me when venturing into this new frontier (well…new for them). “What if someone says something negative about us?” But here’s the thing: just because a company chooses to refrain from utilizing social media does not mean that they are shielded from the perils of online dialogue about them, either positive OR negative. In this sense, doing nothing only cuts the company out of the conversation.

Have you ever tried googling your own company? What shows up on the first page might shock you. Besides your website, which is typically the first result listed, you might find reviews from a disgruntled former employee or even a previous client who was unhappy enough with your services to write something online about their experience with your firm. Then again, you might find a glowing testimonial! Obviously, you want that ratio to lean more towards the latter than the former. Unfortunately, there’s really no way to get rid of those bad reviews…but there IS a way to minimize them. So don’t get disheartened just yet; I’m about to share some good news with you. And you don’t even need to be a SoMe super-geek to understand it.  

For those of you still hiding under the covers, you’ll be happy to learn that social media can actually help you control the online message regarding what is being said about your company. There’s quite a bit of technical stuff that goes into all this, but for today’s purposes all you really need to know is this: with regular activity, you can actually employ SoMe strategies to push those bad reviews to the second or third results page (you know…the pages that NO ONE generally visits). Because popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are trusted sources for major search engines like Google and Bing, increased activities on company SoMe accounts causes the search engine’s algorithms to move your account sites further up their results pages. This, of course, is known as Search Engine Optimization (or SEO).

As a quick sidebar for the SoMe gurus reading this, I fully acknowledge that SEO is undergoing an evolution of sorts right now. I recently read an article on Clickz.com that summed it up quite nicely. I’m paraphrasing here, but today’s SEO calls for “quality content.” Metatags and keywords are out; “content-rich” sites are in. And this article didn’t even delve into the projected effects of an increasingly photo-focused environment on SEO going forward. But the evolution of SEO doesn’t negate the validity of a firm’s efforts to increase their social media activity. What it does mean is that firms should strive to generate regular activity and content of consequence to their readership. I have no doubt that the firms who understand how to leverage these tools will be far better off than those who don’t, especially in the virtual landscapes of the future.  

Now, for those of you still questioning the importance of social media for the A/E/C industry, you might want to consider this. In a recent survey, 60.2% of A/E/C firms chose “attracting and developing new business” as a top challenge for 2015. This trend reflects an industry-wide need for firms to:

  • Build awareness of their brand and services
  • Increase the visibility and reach of their teams
  • Separate themselves from the rest of the marketplace

Savvy companies that are willing to invest the time and energy into strategic social media initiatives can work wonders in these arenas. There are more than a few examples of Corporate America deploying social media as one of the tools used in achieving massive bottom line success. One of the best examples has been Ford Motor Company’s turn-around from bail-out candidate to re-emerged automotive power-house (check out “4 Examples of How Corporate American is Crushing Social Media” and "Ford Motor Company: Greatest Corporate Turnaround in U.S. History”).

Just like the roll out of the first fax machines and email addresses, Corporate America is now leading the way with social media communications. They are also setting the bar AND the public’s expectations for these platforms. And because business trends like these eventually trickle down to the mid-sized and smaller firms throughout all industries, it won’t be long before A/E/C clients have set expectations of their own…especially with the accelerated introduction of younger generations into the workforce.    

What this means for A/E/C is that we really need to put our SoMe fears aside and start thinking critically and creatively about how we can exploit these tools to our industry’s advantage. Maybe it’s time we stop spending our energy on what we perceive as impossible and instead initiate an exploration into what IS possible. After all, everything seems “impossible” until someone accomplishes it for the very first time.  

One of the obstacles currently standing in the way of our achieving this, however, is that A/E/C still sees social media as a “thing” rather than a tool (one of many now at our disposal). To be most effective, social media campaigns should be fully integrated with all other marketing efforts, not separated from them. Although we HAVE come a long way and covered a lot of ground - even since 2009 when the A/E/C companies using social media were few and far between - we still have a long road ahead.

As more and more A/E/C companies jump onto the social media bandwagon in 2015, here are a few motivating factors to help companies stay the course as they take their first frightful steps into the unknown.

1.  Social Media helps build awareness of brands and services. Remember back in the day when we all thought we would never need a website? Those days are long gone! The same now goes for social media. Why is that a good thing? Because with social media, A/E/C companies can drive traffic to their websites, thus building local, regional, national and even international awareness. What is the first thing you do when you hear about a company that you want to learn more about? Google them, right? What typically shows up first is (hopefully) their website. But companies utilizing social media are also going to have Google’s first page of results completely filled with social media links, effectively reinforcing their firm’s virtual presence and prowess. Not only can consumers check out a company’s website, but they also now have access to additional resources like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to familiarize themselves with a company’s brand, services, markets and areas of expertise. This also provides added opportunities for potential clients to learn about new companies of interest when they are organically led to links on social media.

2.  Social media is the online version of networking; it can help increase the visibility and reach of A/E/C teams. I already know what most of you are going to say next; “The people that do business with aren’t on social media.” Really? According to Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update 2014 survey, approximately 81% of American adults (categorized as ages 18+) use the internet.   When broken out by specific social media sites, 71% of adults were utilizing Facebook, 28% were on LinkedIn, 28% on Pinterest, 26% for Instagram and 23% were on Twitter. When taking into account demographics of the “up and coming” business owners and project managers, these numbers alone should more than motivate a company into action. Of course, social media does NOT replace relationships, but it CAN enhance them. For example, let’s say that you’ve met a potential client at a networking event. Why not invite them to connect on LinkedIn with a customized invitation asking them to meet you for a coffee or lunch? If you did, then LinkedIn just assisted you in initiating multiple touch points with a new prospect with little effort.

3.  Social media helps separate companies from their competitors. Social media can assist with the delivery of tailored messages that reinforce a company’s unique value proposition to a wide audience. Luckily, sharing a company’s “story” is easier now than it has ever been before. Think about how many times you may have written a press release in the past, hoping that one of the coveted industry publications might pick it up. Skip that mess and make your own news through social media; it’s SO much easier to get covered! Not only that, but if your targeted audience doesn’t visit your company’s website on a regular basis, then social media is a great resource to open the lines of communication with them organically.   I mean, you can always update your website, but sharing news through social media outlets helps spread the word AND drives traffic back to your site. And because today’s consumer is prone to conducting online research well in advance of initiating actual contact with a company, it is increasingly important for today’s companies to provide enough content to satisfy this need and pique the consumer’s interest.

Feeling more motivated? Good! But there is one very important rule of thumb that most firms forget when they set their sights on launching a social media campaign…the “Rule of Thirds.” I’ve broken it down for you below:  

  • One-third of your social content should promote your firm, convert readers, and generate profit.
  • One-third of your social content should surface and share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
  • One-third of your social content should be based on personal interactions and build your brand.

For the most part, sharing your own branded content is the third that comes most naturally; it’s the other two thirds that are the most challenging. But even so, there are a few simple steps that companies can follow in order to achieve success and eliminate most lingering fears:  

  • Strategy: Be sure to get consensus and buy-in from the leadership/executive team on what they want to get out of social media. What is the message that they want to broadcast and what are their metrics for success?
  • Plan: Create a roadmap for how the company is going to meet its social media goals. Get into details of where, when, how often, etc. Define which social media platforms your company will be utilizing and be sure that your company understands how to communicate on each.
  • Policy: Create a policy and share it with your team. This should protect your firm from cyber-attacks and reputation damage while balancing your employees’ right to privacy. (Always get a legal consultant that specializes in online policies.)
  • Schedule: Some firms find it helpful to set up monthly publication schedules, but at a bare minimum, users should set specific start and end times within any given posting day. Companies might also want to utilize monitoring and scheduling tools like HootSuite or Bufferapp to assist with time management.

After all is said and done, social media isn’t any scarier than its technological predecessors. In fact, when used effectively, social media can serve as a platform for sharing information, creating awareness and optimizing a company’s marketing plan. As audiences increasingly look to social media for information about firms, it grows increasingly vital that A/E/C firms adopt various platforms and integrate their usage closely into online marketing efforts. And at the rate these virtual mediums are evolving, you won’t want to be left behind!

 

About the Bloggers:  Kimberly Mickelson is a former lead blogger for SMPS Arizona, is a marketer and social media extraordinaire, lover of God, mother to a Shih Tzu (Bella), workaholic and reality television nut. She is looking forward to moving to Denver with Small Giants and getting to know more SMPS members and other industry peeps! She thought she was going to be the sole author of this post, but eventually learned that Amy Villasana-Moore, CPSM (current BeatBlogger for SMPS Arizona) shares her passion for social media and ended up adding WAY more than “two cents” during the editing process LOL!  

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