Shameless Self Promotion (Please Vote!)

As long-time blog readers may remember, last year I won the “Best Construction Blog” award from Construction Marketing Ideas, thanks in large part to you.  The “shameless marketing favor” post has come ’round again, with a twist. 

cool keyboard construction

Right now, Construction Law in North Carolina has been nominated for TWO different award competitions.  If you have a minute (or two- get it?) to spare, I’d love your vote in both places: 

  • Construction Marketing Ideas “Best Construction Blog” contest.  (Scroll down about halfway to find Construction Law in North Carolina.  Note that this blog is not Construction Law Carolinas, which is colleague Greg Shelton’s very good Charlotte-based blog.  You can, however, vote for *both* of us, and any other blog which strikes your fancy, as there is no limit to which nominees you can vote for.  Voting ends 5 p.m. on March 30, 2012.
  • JDR’s Annual Industry Blogger Award, in the “Construction Business” category.  (Full disclosure: this one comes with a small $ stipend if I by any chance win!).  Voting ends April 13, 2012.

Would love to have your votes in one or both!  And be sure to check out all the other fine blogs at both contests– you will find some gems among the nominees.

Photo: (c) Matt @ stupidfresh


Construction Estimating: the Odd Numbers game

As a design professional, you have likely seen your share of construction estimates.  You may be in charge of evaluating bid proposals and/or in reviewing projects for value engineering possibilities.  Of course, you are almost certainly involved in submitting your own proposal estimates for architectural or engineering services on a project.

I saw a recent blog discussion on construction estimates, and how owners view them.  In the situation discussed, a contractor was losing business because his estimates were in nice round numbers, creating the suspicion in the owner’s mind that the numbers were not carefully put together.

One commentator, a civil engineer, said:

As a Professional Civil Engineer and owner’s representative, I am very leery of proposals received that are round (up or down) unless I’ve done business with this group before and am aware of it. I agree with the other comments that it appears as if the bidder has not put much effort into their proposal.

What do you think? Are you leery of an estimate that is a nice round number? Do you round your own estimates? Does an estimate of $21,975 look more legitimate than an estimate of $22,000?  Share your thoughts, and your practice, below.


tall building


Photo credit: Håkan Dahlström.

How Twitter Can Benefit Your A/E/C Business (guest post)

Today’s guest post is by Katie Frasier, a social media specialist and writer for Work Boot News, a niche site specializing in work boots and dedicated to providing relevant, entertaining content for tradesmen. She can be found tweeting the latest construction news and interacting with industry members at @workbootscom.

Many A/E/C professionals understand the importance of using social media and have been advised to join Twitter—but putting yourself in the Twitterverse can seem intimidating at first. If you find yourself wondering what the heck Tweets are and how you’re supposed to implement them into your marketing plan, here are a few tips to help you get started and make the best return on time spent tweeting.

 Getting started

  • When signing up for your twitter account, choose a username that best reflects your business name to make your brand easy to find. Encourage followers by linking to your Twitter feed on your website, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other platform you use.
  • Decide on your desired audience and Twitter goals. Are you reaching out to other industry professionals? Do you want to share and discuss industry news or gain leads for new business? These decisions will impact how you tweet, how formal or informal you want to come across, and the kind of content you will share with followers. To be successful, make sure you clearly define your method and stick with it consistently.winking twitter bird

 Create a core group to interact with

  • Find competitors or users who tweet to your desired audience, and spend time observing their approach. Search who they are following—chances are you’ll find users there who you’ll want to follow, too.
  • Utilize some of the many Twitter directories such as to search for people by keyword, such as construction” or “contractor” to follow, and add yourself to the directory while you’re at it.
  • Depending on your goals, you may want to investigate if any of your vendors use Twitter. Create a list and add them to it; this allows you to easily follow their tweets and stay informed.

 Listen and engage

  • Spend time listening to the conversations going on before adding to it. You should strive for a balance between conversing with others, asking questions and promoting yourself. If you’re constantly trying to drive traffic to your website or begging for business, no one will listen. But if you actively participate in your specialized Twitter community, people may be more apt to follow links you tweet or offer you their business.
  • Ask questions to get people talking. Answer questions to build relationships and assert yourself as an authority in your field.
  • Retweet content from others that may be relevant to your audience. They’ll appreciate the information, and the original tweeter will appreciate the gesture. Social media is all about building relationships. Making these connections, whether you’re portraying yourself as the expert in a subject or finding camaraderie among other A/E/C professionals, opens new opportunities for your business.

Questions for Katie about the benefits of using Twitter to promote your architectural or engineering practice?  Leave a comment, below.  And, remember to “follow” me on Twitter as well, at @melissabrumback.  I look forward to “talking” to you!

Photo © via Creative Commons license.

Online Marketing Primer for Architects & Engineers (Tue Tip Guest Post)

 Today’s Tip is a guest post by Andy Durban, who manages Inspired Builder Marketing Solutions in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Inspired has been providing marketing services to the building industry of North Carolina for nearly ten years.  Andy has been involved in marketing and media since the late 80s and currently specializes in online marketing strategies.  The back link referenced in this article belongs to Inspired client Cirrus Construction.

There are still a few industries that benefit from a yellow page ad, if you are reading this blog you’re probably not in one. The internet search has been in popular use for quite some time and that’s not going to change anytime soon. No doubt you have been exposed to the hype surrounding social media, but no one is ‘Facebooking’ Architect, they ‘Google’ Architect. You may have great website which in itself has value but if doesn’t rank well then it will only be available to those already aware of your business. There are businesses looking for you and they use Google (and sometimes Yahoo or even Bing). And as you know from searching yourself they rarely go beyond the first ten results.

open phone book


Every business with a website at some point has asked the question “how do we increase our rankings?” Let’s start with a somewhat simplistic view of the process.  The search engine’s job is to find the most qualified results for your search and they normally do a pretty good job. The way the search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) do this is somewhat simple. Let’s use Widget manufacturers to demonstrate. Widget manufacturer ‘A’ has 100 employees; they have a full marketing staff including a copy writer, a technical writer, a PR writer, a webmaster and a team of engineers. Widget manufacturer ‘B’ works out of his garage and has himself a part time helper and sometimes his wife. Why does manufacturer A have an advantage?

Google (and the others) use two basic parameters to determine rankings, ‘content’ and ‘back linking’. A back link is a hyperlink on one site pointing to another. Metal Building Greensboro is a valuable back link to a local commercial builder. Google sees this as vote of confidence of that site and gives the builder ‘brownie points’. Content is simply the number of times key words are used legitimately on a website. Those key words will be found in the URL, the page file name, the page’s title tag, page copy, and alt attributes (used to identify images and graphics). Widget manufacturer A is adding keyphrase rich content to their site at very high rate, articles, case studies, news, instructions, FAQs, etc., even the engineers are helping by blogging technical information. Some of that content will warrant back links from other websites like the Widget Manufactures Association, Widget Digest and the Widget Buyers Guide. Widget manufacturer B is exhausted at the end of the day and barely has time respond to his email. His website is the same as it was five years ago.  Widget manufacturer A will likely rank top 5 in the top three search engines while Widget manufacturer B will not likely appear even on the first few pages and as stated searchers rarely check beyond the first page (ten results per page).

I have had clients express concerns about too much content on their websites– people don’t have time to read anymore! Well I agree to an extent: the website on its surface is a brochure. When we design a brochure for a client we do keep it brief and to the point. Your website is a brochure but potentially so much more; embedded links provide the opportunity for further investigation on a particular subject. So you are serving different personality types by providing more information. A marketing Director visiting the site may browse critical bullet points, while an engineer wants to gain as much information as possible before making a decision.

It’s that simple but of course not that easy; it takes effort. First, know what are your most valuable search terms. Then make a concerted effort to impact your website in a significant way on a daily basis with the intent of serving your client base. Eventually your site will rank top ten for your most valuable search terms. Once you get to this point, an analysis of your site’s stats will reveal opportunities that you never considered before. There’s gold in those ranking!

Comments or questions about your online marketing efforts? Share with Andy and me in the comments section, below.

Photo (c) How Can I Recycle This via CC.

Marketing your Design Business – Getting Started (guest post)

Today, the first in a two part series of guest posts on the business of marketing for your engineering/architectural practice.  Today’s post is authored by Amy Young.  Amy is the author of numerous articles relating to marketing and finance, as well as articles discussing secure credit cards for families.

Your company may have been in business for years, or maybe you are just getting started with an architectural company of your own. Regardless of your amount of experience in the business, you probably already know that getting profitable and desirable new clients is the only way to remain successful. Knowing how to market your company effectively will help you find these clients, set yourself apart, and convince them that you are the right architect for the job.

There is no universal solution to marketing problems with architectural or engineering offices because no two firms are alike, but there are a few common characteristics in all successful marketing plans. Here, I will focus on a few of the fundamentals necessary to start a marketing strategy.

business plan

Make a Plan

You may be wondering where to begin with your marketing plan. It all starts with strategy. Every marketing plan needs a strategy in order to brand and position the business. First, think about where your business stands, and assess the type of work you are doing as well as what the market may do in the future. Then, decide where you want to be and set your goals.

Consider what you have done to be successful and what you could change or what more you could do to continue your success. Know exactly what makes your company different than the rest. When you have come up with a sense of identity and direction, then you can start to brand your business to express the benefits you will offer your clients.

Marketing and Business Development

Once you have established your general goals and how you want to be branded, you can then start to form a plan for your sales approach and decide how you will look for clients. This will most likely include a form of market research and networking to help you get in touch with potential clients. Through this process, you can gain valuable information that can help you achieve the business of those clients.

You may want to take on these tasks by yourself, but many companies decide to hire an employee or a few employees to take charge of their marketing needs. Marketing a business takes time and skill that you may not have on your own. Hiring a consultant who is educated on the subject could save you time and a lot of aggravation.

In the business of architecture or engineering, new clients can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Some industry professionals get leads from other consultants, existing clients, or influential contacts. You may also be able to use references like your local, state, and federal registers or participate in industry activities and trade organizations to find your clients.

Some firms find potential new business by attending conferences sponsored by associations that serve many other clients. You could use part of your marketing budget to set up a booth at a trade show where you can meet with people and companies looking for an architectural firm. While at these conferences, you or someone from your company could present a paper or give a lecture in order to gain some brand recognition as well.

Show Your Best Work

Once you get the lead for a potential new client, the real work for marketers begins. You should consider how likely you are to actually get the client to accept your business, and if the outlook is good, then you can decide how much effort you will need to put into a proposal to get them to accept your business. Some proposals may take as much research as the whole project will require. Your clients will always be your best source of information, and while you may be reluctant to ask them for feedback, they may appreciate the effort you are putting in to make sure they like your vision. The relationship you build with the client during this process could ensure that they come back to you again.

 Amy and I welcome your thoughts and questions in the comment section, below.

Photo (c) Guilhelm via CC.