History has proven that companies that embraced change and disruption have proven to be the most successful. In 2021, marketers will need to pivot and be intentional about adapting and improving their marketing approaches, and building strategies that engage clients and drive the achievement of business goals.
During the last year, COVID-19 has certainly disrupted all facets of business and life. From a marketing and business development perspective, 2021 will continue to present challenges and opportunities. The methods and approaches we have relied on to communicate with and engage our clients have changed: some forever. Architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) marketers will need to pivot as they lead their firms to adopt different marketing approaches.
What do marketers need to do in 2021 to be successful? Following are key trends marketers can expect in 2021:
EXPECT TO DO MORE
Traditionally, AEC marketers focused on positioning, branding, and marketing to acquire, retain, and grow clients. Our changing business environment is demanding that marketers play a greater role for companies. In 2021, marketers can expect to lead or be involved in a range of initiatives including supporting recruiting efforts through employment branding efforts; driving employee engagement with internal communications; leading community and industry outreach efforts; shaping and monitoring the company’s approach to social and political issues; and leading technology initiatives focused on improving the client experience during the entire project and relationship life cycle.
Engagement with leadership in marketing strategy planning and execution will increase in 2021. Marketers can be expected to be a resource for company executives as they seek to navigate a turbulent and ever-changing marketplace. Expect executives to be more engaged in managing the client experience (CX), keeping a pulse on industry trends and clients, managing knowledge assets, creating content, and guiding the delivery of internal and external messages. Marketers need to regularly communicate and collaborate with their firms’ leadership to ensure alignment between everchanging organizational goals and marketing efforts.
INCREASED COLLABORATION BETWEEN MARKETING AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT:
AEC business developers’ ability to meet clients face-to-face and attend trade shows, conference and networking events was limited in 2020. Sales teams likely will not be attending many meetings and events in 2021, so they are going to need their marketers’ help to reach and engage their audience. Collaboration between sales and marketing, with a focus on creating and delivering dynamic, engaging and personalized messaging to break through the noise and clutter, will be critical.
Now more than ever, an integrated approach to marketing is critical to reaching and engaging your audience and building thought leadership. With access to clients limited, marketers will reach and engage prospects and clients though digital channels with personalized messages. By integrating marketing communications, marketers will harness content marketing, social media, public relations, other programs to work in coordination as a unified force to consistently deliver positive brand experiences. Sharing stories, insights, ideas, and expertise with clients, prospective customers and the community through client profiles, Q &A, articles, videos, webcast and podcasts, educational materials, and more will increase. This digital shift will accelerate in 2021 as marketers realize the benefits of more conversational and personalized marketing.
INCREASED MARTECH INVESTMENTS
For AEC firms, investment in marketing technology is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Marketing technology (martech) platforms and tools enable marketers to manage marketing efforts efficiently and effectively, with tools to support activity management, scheduling, monitoring and analytics. These tools also offer insight into prospect/buyer behavior and buyer personas as well as provide an excellent means of managing engagement with a firm’s digital marketing efforts. With a shift to more digital marketing strategies, AEC firms will employ martech initiatives in 2021 to achieve marketing goals and objectives.
BRANDED CONTENT APPROACHES
More strategic partnership opportunities for branded content will be brought the forefront. With a lack of in-person events, trade shows and association conferences, there will be more joint online events, such as forums and panels, and branded content hubs as companies team up to deliver content their collective audiences are seeking. By leveraging partnerships and alliances, marketers can reach more people than each brand could independently.
INCREASED FOCUS ON ROMI
During challenging times, many firms will look to decrease investment in marketing activity. With many AEC firms tightening their budgets and even making staff reductions, marketers will be even more focused on tracking marketing performance. While we will see an increase in content marketing in 2021, focusing on ensuring the right content is delivered to the right audience at the right time to create momentum towards objectives and tied to a measurable Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) is essential. What can be measured can be managed.
Within the context of a confluence of economic, social, and political change, 2021 promises to be a dynamic year. For marketers, pivoting to embrace change by providing marketing leadership presents exciting opportunities.