Why AEC firms should be cultivating 'visible experts'

A new study pinpoints the true dollar value of having knowledge leaders and market shapers on your team.

July 07, 2015 |
David Barista
Why AEC firms should be cultivating 'visible experts'

Photo: Cydcor via flickr creative commons

The explosion of social media and the “publish everything” culture has turned everyone into brand-builders. In the AEC market, it’s hard to find a firm that isn’t taking steps to promote their knowledge leaders, whether through authoring blogs and books, speaking engagements, webinars, social media, or video.

They’re all chasing the Holy Grail of professional services: to become known as the expert and go-to resource for clients and prospects in a given market or niche. The prize, of course, is more work and a chance at higher profit margins, as market leaders are more likely to command higher fees.

How much higher? Substantially higher—we’re talking between 81% and 832% higher, according to a new study by Reston, Va.-based marketing consultant Hinge. The group surveyed more than 1,025 purchasers of professional services, including 205 AEC service buyers, to pinpoint the true dollar value of so-called “visible experts.” Using a baseline hourly rate of $100 for an “average” AEC professional, Hinge asked survey respondents to indicate how much they were willing to pay for knowledge/market leaders. The results are staggering:

• $180.63/hour for what Hinge describes as a Level 1 visible expert—those who are recognized as an expert by clients, staff, and colleagues, but are not well known outside of their firm.

• $220.84 for a Level 2 expert—those who are known in their local market or niche.

• $275.02 for Level 3—those whose reputations are moving onto the regional or national stage.

• $445.35 for Level 4—nationally recognized names within a given niche who are able to attract top-tier business opportunities.

• $832.18 for Level 5—individuals who have broken out of a particular niche and are synonymous with an entire area of expertise.

Why are AEC service purchasers willing to pay such a high premium for visible experts in their market? The reason cited most often by respondents is not related to an expert’s status, influence, or deep connections, but rather their problem-solving skills (31.2% selected it as a primary factor). Other key factors: their influence on projects (i.e., ability to increase credibility and visibility, and attract business opportunities, 26.5%), and the opportunity to reduce risk (16.1%).

Hinge’s study offers a wealth of ideas for AEC leaders, including: proven methods for fast-tracking employees to visible expert status (on average, it takes 20 years to reach Level 5; fast-trackers can do so in five years); factors that convince AEC buyers that someone is a leading expert (hint: it’s not the number of industry awards or qualifications); and top sources of leads for market experts (relationships and referrals head the list).

Download Hinge’s report and start cultivating your firm’s visible experts.

David Barista | Building Team Blog
Building Design+Construction
Editorial Director

David Barista is Editorial Director of Building Design+Construction and BDCnetwork.com, properties that combined reach more than 100,000 commercial building professionals, including architects, engineers, contractors, and building owners. David has covered the U.S. construction industry for more than a decade, previously serving as Editor-in-Chief of BD+C, Professional Builder, Custom Builder, and HousingZone.com. He has won numerous editorial awards, including six Jesse H. Neal Awards and multiple honors from the Construction Writers Association and the American Society of Business Publication Editors.

Email: dbarista@sgcmail.com

Related Blogs

Illustration: Pixabay

December 30, 2016 | Building Team | Building Team Blog

Women AEC professionals need you to take action. 

Lissette Méndez-Boyer (left) and Natalya Shimanovskaya work on their FABRICation project at Beyer Blinder Belle’s New York office. Photo courtesy BBB

September 06, 2016 | AEC Tech | Building Team Blog

AEC firms are taking a page from the tech industry, by infusing a deep commitment to innovation and disrupt...

Intel Co-founders (l. to r.): Andrew Grove, Robert Noyce, and Gordon Moore. Photo: Wikimedia Commons   

June 27, 2016 | AEC Tech | Building Team Blog

“Sooner or later, something fundamental in your business world will change.” The late Andrew Grove (1936-20...

Photo: Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Corey Lewis , U.S. Navy, via Wikimedia Commons; photo filter via BeFunky.com

May 31, 2016 | AEC Tech | Building Team Blog

As buildings become increasingly connected, opportunistic hackers have countless avenues into a building’s...

Lexus RX 450h self-driving car. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

May 09, 2016 | AEC Tech | Building Team Blog

Despite popular belief, the country is not in a great age of technological and digital innovation, at least...

Deep Learning + AI: How machines are becoming master problem solvers

The world’s top Go player Lee Sedol puts the first stone against Google’s artificial intelligence program AlphaGo during the third match of the Google DeepMind Challenge match in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Reuters/Google/Yonhap

March 31, 2016 | AEC Tech | Building Team Blog

Besides revolutionary changes to the world’s workforce, artificial intelligence could have a profound impac...

Yotel, New York City. Photo: JasonParis, flickr creative commons

March 09, 2016 | Hotel Facilities | Building Team BlogRobert Cassidy, Executive Editor

Hotels are going for a new minimalist look to attract younger guests, but some older business travelers don...

Is the booming freelance economy a threat to AEC firms?

Photo: Pixabay

February 24, 2016 | Architects | Building Team Blog

By shifting the work (and revenue) to freelancers, “platform capitalism” startups have taken considerable m...

How the Fourth Industrial Revolution will alter the globe’s workforce

Photo: Pixabay

January 26, 2016 | BIM and Information Technology | Building Team Blog

The next great technological metamorphosis will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before, due to...

Potential vs. credential: How men and women differ in career progress

Courtesy Pixabay

January 05, 2016 | Architects | Building Team BlogDavid Barista, Editorial Director

Recent research suggests that women face yet another career impediment: the confidence gap.

Add new comment

Your Information
Your Comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Overlay Init