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Marketing / Business Development Question

Marketing / Business Development Question

Marketing / Business Development Question

For those of you who typically work as a subconsultant, e.g. as a structural engineer working under an architect (prime), how do you direct most of your marketing efforts?

Towards architects?
Towards owners/developers?

In my past experience, my prior employer typically signed contracts directly with an owner about 1/3 of the time, and with a architect about 2/3 of the time.  I am just curious as to how that ratio stacks up against the industry, and who you try to target.  How do you go about executing your strategy?


RE: Marketing / Business Development Question

As an ME involved with MEP, I've never worked for an owner - it has always been as a sub to either an architect or another engineering firm.

RE: Marketing / Business Development Question

Architects and builders.  Owners are usually 1 time clients.  We have architects that always use us and we have builders that use several different arhictects but they always use us as the structural engineer (we treat them super nice since they bring new architectural firm).  I guess we dont really market our self.  We just try to do a good job on all of our projects so they will refer us and use us again.  How often do you find arhictect or builder use the yellow page or internet to find engineers?  Not very often.  Only home owners that want home inspection get our number from the Internet or yellow book.  We also send out holiday cards and gift baskets.

RE: Marketing / Business Development Question

Thanks COE,
I figured architects would be the better bet, especially if I can establish long-term relationships with them.  I'm just starting out and don't have a huge network of architects who I know yet, just a handful.  I've joined the AIA and my local Chamber of Commerce in the hopes of meeting a few that way--I think that has more potential than cold calls.

I'm fully confident that I'll be able to generate repeat work with clients once I've collaborated on a project or too, I just have to figure out how to get my foot in the door to win first-time projects, and establish a reputation for myself and my firm.

Thanks for your help,

RE: Marketing / Business Development Question

I've learned of one type of client that amount to nothing: Landlords. They tend to cheapen you to the bone and always trying to get the answer so they will do without you.

Stay away from landlords, precious time saved. You could throw in real estate agents if you are dealing with residential projects.

RE: Marketing / Business Development Question

I try to have a mix of both, preferrably about 40% arch, 60% developers/fabricators.  The reason is that I find working for achitects, is that we are usually on a pay when paid type of contract. Therefore, we can be waiting on invoices to get paid for almost 90 days, whereas working more for a developer or owner, this can get shortened quite a bit.

Also, have a mix of clients also can help to ride out the particular pit and valleys of certain market sectors.  

RE: Marketing / Business Development Question

Our firm does no actual marketting (brochures, mailings, etc), but all of our "marketting" time is spent at the owners.  We've found exactly the opposite of some of the above mentioned...  
Architects are seeing engineers more and more as a commodity and will succomb to the lowest bidder. We develop relationships with owners, typically hospitals and data centers, and do every project that comes up.  We find the owners will cycle through architect after architect but we'll remain constant.

Sure, we're probably not the first call the architect makes when he hears of a new project, but after they cheapen it down and screw it up, they'll move on, the owner will hire us, and we'll do the next 10.

This approach obviously wouldn't work if your bread and butter is Wal-Marts and fast food joints.

RE: Marketing / Business Development Question

UDP10, I think for your clients, not only is what you do important, it is extremely critical to their operation and they would rather not have to retrain another engineer to meet their needs.  I am sure you have spend a few hours in strategy meetings - at no charge - as they try to figure out a project.  To that client, that is extremely valuable and are more than willing to pay you in a timely and fair matter.  Sounds like a great relationship.

Don Phillips

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