Even with the growing popularity of digital marketing among architecture, engineering, and construction firms, speaking engagements have endured as a highly effective method for increasing the visibility of AEC firms and attracting new business. They allow you to speak to and network with a highly targeted audience, demonstrating your expertise all while educating prospects.
Just take a look at latest findings from our ongoing study of high-growth architecture, engineering and construction firms. We found speaking engagements were among the top ten marketing techniques that AEC firms employ.
Benefits of Speaking Engagements
1) Fresh from our latest research study, speaking engagements continue to be one of the top tools AEC professionals use. This isn’t surprising – after all, it’s hard to get more directly visible than speaking in front of a room full of people. However, speaking engagements do more to create experts than simply help them be seen. They also establish authority and give credibility to the speaker as a leader and respected voice in the AEC industry.
2) They help demonstrate your thought leadership. Thought leadership marketing is one of the best ways to establish your firm as a trusted resource and speaking engagements allow you to showcase your thoughts as a leading expert in your niche. They show that the opinions and knowledge of your firm is desired and valued. And, they provide a platform for your subject matter experts to engage in a dynamic exchange of ideas.
3) They provide great networking opportunities. It’s not often that you have a chance to speak to an entire room full of influencers or buyers of AEC services – public or private. Speaking engagements give you the chance to capitalize on undivided attention from an audience who is unequivocally interested in your area of expertise. Members of your audience will want to meet you and speak with you after your presentation, which can open the door to potential networking and business development opportunities.
4) They can be a source of new business. All of these benefits can add up to the ultimate benefit: attracting and developing new business. By showcasing the thought leadership and expertise of your firm in a venue with accessible face-to-face networking opportunities, you will begin to nurture and attract more leads. 50% of level 5 Visible Experts (the most highly visible, sought-out experts) identified speaking engagements as a top lead source. However, don’t forget that speaking engagements are about helping educate the audience and not direct selling. No one wants to go sit through a sales pitch!
The leads might not come right away, though. Like other content marketing and thought leadership actives, there is usually a lag (think 3-6 months) from the marketing initiative to the influx of leads. On the bright side, if you have the right infrastructure set up – think LinkedIn and Google Analytics to start – you can get a pretty good bead on how engaged a particular audience is. With AEC’s heavy use of mobile devices, you may see real-time evidence of engagement through LinkedIn connections, emails and traffic to your websites bio page or related content. Consider adding a “contact me” slide at the end of your presentation to open the door a little wider if the event organizer will allow it.
If speaking is new territory for you or your team, start small and safe. Think of the communities you know, and how you can contribute with an education topic that solves a key issue. See if you can join in as an expert on a panel so you get some visibility and build up a comfort level interacting with audiences. It’s also important to acknowledge that public speaking is not everybody’s forte – some are more comfortable (and valuable) behind a keyboard! Take a hard look for the best potential speakers on your team to help round out your marketing approach with this valuable technique.