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The making of visible experts: A path for seller-doers in the AEC industry

Architects

The making of visible experts: A path for seller-doers in the AEC industry


By Sylvia Montgomery, CPSM | Hinge | January 4, 2017

Illustration: Pixabay

The seller-doer model is once again gaining traction in AEC firms. Some in the industry would even argue that it never left the industry. Semantics aside, how prepared are the seller-doers in your firm?

Seller-doers are those individuals that not only build business for their firms but are also technical professionals. The technical professionals are often the same ones delivering on the work. Being a seller-doer requires much more than technical expertise. It requires skills in listening, speaking, writing, and presenting. Exceptional seller-doers have the ability to ask the right questions, and more importantly, listen.

One way that seller-doers can enhance their approach to business development is by highlighting their peers’ or even their own expertise through content. 

These same skills are consistent with the findings of a joint study between Hinge and RAIN Group where winning firms and runner-up firms were assessed based on 42 behaviors. A key headline from this study identified the top three behaviors of winning firms—prospect education, prospect collaboration and prospect encouragement that success was achievable. Evidence that complementing technical acumen with a dash of client therapy and a splash of encouragement can lead to business growth.

One way that seller-doers can enhance their approach to business development is by highlighting their peers’ or even their own expertise through content. Content marketing is the process of producing informative and valuable content to help target audiences educate themselves on topics that are of importance to them (and happen to be related to your expertise).

Educational content can come in the form of blog posts, videos, eBooks, webinars or white papers. The key is providing information without directly promoting your firm. Producing content helps increase your firm’s ability to be found in search (SEO) and makes you more visible to prospective clients.

Through this deliberate creation of content, technical professionals can become Visible Expertsâ„ . Visible Experts are those people who have attained high visibility and expertise in their industry, creating a personal brand that is recognizable industry-wide. By using content and thought leadership marketing as a channel for demonstrating expertise, seller-doers have the ability to create new, competitive differentiators for their firms.

Seller-doers setting out to create content must keep in mind some best practices:
1. Content comes in two flavors—technical vs non-technical. According to our latest research on Visible Experts, buyers of AEC services go online to search for experts 95.6% of the time. Searchers will vary in levels of expertise and technical comprehension. Some will be decision makers while others will be influencers.
2. Content orientation should address the different types of buyers. Early stage buyers, for example, are gathering information and understanding challenges and trends, whereas later stage buyers are willing to consume longer, more technical details.
3. Marketing content is not content marketing. Good content marketing is selfless – it’s focused on the issues of your target audiences. Marketing content is the content that comes across as salesy and too inward focused.

Content marketing in AEC can be a productive platform for technical professionals. So, what are you waiting for? Give yourselves permission to become Visible Experts.

Additional Resources:
• How does one become a Visible Expert? Download the free book, The Visible Expert, and find out.
• Check out the research behind this post: Finding Experts: Why and How Clients Seek Visible Experts. And learn what your firm can do to become more visible.
• Register for Hinge University’s course, The Visible Firm, and discover the marketing secrets of today’s high-growth firms.
• Read our AEC Marketing Trends: 2017 Edition.

About the Author: Sylvia Montgomery, CPSM, is a Senior Partner and the head of Hinge’s AEC practice. When she’s not traveling around the country for speaking engagements or client meetings, you will find Montgomery creating marketing and branding strategies for clients, supervising her AEC team, developing new business, or working on her personal brand. With a 20+ year career spanning visual communications, strategy, and marketing, and over a decade working in the AEC sector, Montgomery brings a creative, business-focused approach to her client engagements.

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