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Build Business: Marketing Technology: Connecting, Communicating, and Collaborating
The first in an exclusive series focusing on marketing and business development best practices.
by Craig Park, FSMPS, Chief Marketing Officer, Fields Devereaux
February 8, 2005
Editor’s note: As a new monthly contributor to ArchNewsNow.com, the Society for Marketing Professional Services is sponsoring Build Business. This new series, written by industry experts, focuses on marketing and business development best practices that will help you build business and advance your career.
Contemporary technology offers the professional a number of tools that can help in the marketing of your firm’s services. From software to hardware, these tools should be selected to meet the specific goals of the business. Used effectively, technology provides improved electronically enabled communication across departments, disciplines, and operations to other team members and consultants, and most importantly, to the client.
The use of technology for production, presentation, and collaboration are well accepted by clients in business, institutional, and governmental organizations. The extent they are leveraged within an A/E/C firm is often the measure by which that firm is selected to support a project.
Technology provides the means for electronic research, distance-independent collaboration, and e-commerce. In a world where Internet-based communication has become commonplace, it can be said that we live in a time of “e-everything and IP-everything else.” That is, today, and even more so tomorrow, technology will support both electronically enabled communication and Internet Protocol (IP) network-based information flow.
Technology for marketing production includes cameras, scanners, photocopying systems, image creation, and document editing and management for marketing collateral and web design. Technology for marketing presentation includes laptop computers, monitors and flat screens, and projectors. Technology for marketing collaboration includes Internet, Intranet, and Extranet communication, audio and videoconferencing, and web conferencing supported by presentation technology for interactive group meetings.
Identifying the right technology is the first step. The power technology allows for cross-discipline and cross-enterprise collaboration in marketing and project efforts. Utilizing in-person, telecommunications, and web-based technologies can increase the effectiveness of marketing production and presentations.
Jakob Nielsen, president of the Nielson Norman Group, and Web guru, stated in a recent New York Times article, “My prediction is that 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies will be vastly reduced, maybe even out of business, in 10 to 20 years because they're not going to get this transition from the visible world being primary to the virtual world as primary in customer satisfaction.” This puts the challenge squarely on the shoulders of the professional service firm not only to embrace technology, but to leverage its potential, lest fall to the same fate Nielsen sees for the rest of the business world.
The growth and acceptance of information technology as a viable tool by customers and competitors alike, virtually ensures that the logarithmic rate of change brought on by the information age will have a profound and technologically focused impact on the marketing of the professional service firm in the next millennium.
The most common technology is the database. Systems customized for the A/E/C industry provide pre-defined tools for storing and retrieving historical data (i.e., resumes, project profiles, 330 forms, etc.) that can be used in preparing marketing collateral and proposal responses.
The explosion of the Internet has opened the door to new marketing technologies that range from e-mail to e-commerce. Business communications that until just a few years ago relied on phone, mail, and fax, now routinely depend on electronic information exchange to meet market demands. As increasing telecommunication bandwidth becomes more and more readily available, systems like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will become more accepted.
Qualifications and proposal presentation is another area where technology can aid the marketing effort. Increasingly, clients rely on strategic and tactical electronic presentations to demonstrate value of their own services to their own customers. They expect the same from their service providers. The new technology paradigm of “information everywhere” requires that you constantly and consistently strive to keep your firm’s data accessible and current. Leverage the data in ways that will benefit your customer. Share your successes, publicize your services, and demonstrate your qualifications as the source for their solutions.
Digital cameras provide a simple method to capture images of projects and personnel for use in technology-based presentations. Advanced imaging devices provide the technology for 360o image capture, and facilitate walk-thru and walk-around virtual space. These “state-of-the-art” features require special cameras and special software, but provide virtual results; images that clients can see (and almost feel), giving them a comfort level only short of the real thing.
Computer projection devices have virtually replaced 35mm slides and overhead transparency projectors as the presentation technology of choice. Their small size, modest cost, and improved brightness make them a natural for portable “ad hoc” presentations. When selecting an appropriate computer projector there are several key criteria to take into account including weight, noise, brightness, resolution, and contrast.
Audio conferencing, videoconferencing and Internet-based meetings are other mediums for the distribution of your message. They can simplify access to distant or international clients and work effectively for both pre-sale and post-sale coordination, reducing travel and expenses.
The Next Edge
Regis McKenna, marketing guru formerly with Apple Computer, said, “At a time where the gap between need or desire and fulfillment is approaching zero – where any physical distance equals only a microsecond in lapsed connection time – the forces of the market will increasingly demand a real-time response from you and your firm.” Using technology, you will afford the customer the ability to determine what, when, and how much they will buy. Using technology, your client will shop, compare, and negotiate. Using technology, you and your client will work collaboratively and strategically to customize your service offerings to meet the specific requirements of each project.
Reference: The Use of Technology for Marketing, SMPS Marketing Handbook for Design & Construction Professionals, BNi Publications, 2002
Craig Park, FSMPS, Assoc. AIA, is Chief Marketing Officer for Fields Devereaux Architects & Engineers, a 200-person design practice based in Los Angeles. Craig is a frequent author and presenter on marketing, technology, and management. He is an Associate member of the American Institute of Architects and a Fellow and past national president of the Society for Marketing Professional Services.
The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) was created in 1973 by a small group of professional services firm leaders who recognized the need to sharpen skills, pool resources, and work together to create business opportunities. Today, the association has 50 active chapters and a membership of 5,500 marketing and business development professionals representing design, building, and related firms. To learn more about SMPS or Build Business, the SMPS/PSMA National Conference, click on links.
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