by: Linda G. Miller
“It’s about chemistry,” said Kirsten Sibilia, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, principal and chief marketing officer at Dattner Architects, at the second annual “Speed Marketing: Ask the Experts!” program. This would have been an obvious statement if this was a Speed Dating event, but “chemistry” also happens to be one of the most important elements of a good business relationship.
The AIANY Marketing and Communications Committee (formerly called the Marketing and PR Committee), has meetings once a month that delve into specific topics such as “Measuring Your Marketing and Business Development ROI,” “Expanding Ideas about Procurement Processes,” and “Architecture Criticism Today,” but Speed Marketing is a once-a-year opportunity for everyone. Attendees ranging from marketing department beginners to architecture firm principals get the nitty-gritty about the building blocks of a marketing and communications campaigns from marketing mavens who have been in the trenches and have valuable information to share.
This year’s program began with a short description of each of four areas of focus, pared down from last year’s five to allow for more in-depth sessions. Attendees started at one of four tables, each headed by one of the pros for a half-hour Q&A . Participants then circulated to another topic table; the program culminated with each leader giving a summation of what was discussed.
Since we can all learn something from the experts, listed below are, in my opinion, the top tips presented by each topic leader. Obviously there was overlap in their presentations, but the prevailing common thread is to have a solid understanding of what your firm is, what it does best, how it is different from other firms, and most importantly, to be able to verbalize it in a concise manner.
Positioning, Branding, and Differentiation:
Debra Pickrel, Principal, Pickrel Communications (www.pickrelcommunications.com)
– Don’t think that you have to do everything at once. It’s better to have a communication platform divided into phases that you continually build on than doing nothing at all.
– Engage and inspire, employing storytelling instead of long, dry narratives whenever possible.
– Internal communications are important. Staff members are your “brand ambassadors,” so let them contribute to your brand development process and involve them as often as possible in the conveyance of the results.
Public Relations and Social Media:
Tami Hausman, President, Hausman LLC (www.hausmanllc.com)
– Regardless of the format that a firm is using – whether social media, print, or web-based outreach – there is no substitute for good content.
– Public relations is most effective when it’s a conversation. When you are networking, selling, or publicizing your work, your goal is to engage your clients and audiences, not talk at them.
– You need to find the people who are receptive to your ideas and messages. Just as firms need to target their stories to specific audiences, they also need to make sure they are on “pitch” with different publications.
Richard Staub, Principal, Richard Staub Marketing Services (www.staubmarketing.com)
– Focus on building a relationship when doing business development, not on winning a project – that will come.
– Be clear about your firm’s identity and the value of your services from the client’s perspective.
– When networking, consider how you can help the people you’re meeting, not on how they can help you.
Proposal and Interview Processes:
Kirsten Sibilia, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Dattner Architects (www.dattner.com)
– Is the project you are considering right for your firm and do you have the resources to back it?
– The cover letter should convey your firm’s passion about the project as well as its expertise to do the project.
– The quality of your proposal and interview is a reflection of the quality of work your firm does. Proposals should be well designed, well-developed, and accessible.
Event: Speed Marketing: Ask the Experts!
Location: Center for Architecture, 05.20.13
Speakers: Business Development: Richard Staub, Principal, Richard Staub Marketing Services; Proposal and Interview Processes: Kirsten Sibilia, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, Principal, Dattner Architects; Public Relations and Social Media: Tami Hausman, President, Hausman LLC; Positioning, Branding, and Differentiation: Debra Pickrel, Principal, Pickrel Communications
Organizer: AIANY Marketing and Communications Committee