Why your AEC firm’s business development team should be using your content (and 5 ways to do it)

March 2, 2017

Why your AEC firm’s business development team should be using your content (and 5 ways to do it)

So your firm is producing useful, educational, client-centric content. Or maybe you’re just exploring content marketing and wondering if you should incorporate it into your firm’s strategy.

No matter where you are on the spectrum, you must ask a crucial question: What is the business development team doing with our content?

Your marketing team’s blog posts, e-books and white papers can’t live in a vacuum. By using a balance of inbound and outbound tactics, your business development team can leverage your content to win more contracts — and they should.

According to Aberdeen Group research, 74 percent of top-performing organizations have complete or strong marketing and sales alignment.

In other words, leveraging your content in the business development process can directly influence the future success of your firm.

Content isn’t a one-and-done deal, either. Your business development team can use your content throughout the traditional sales funnel to:

    • Start conversations with prospects
    • Follow up and nurture leads
    • Secure business and close deals
    • Develop future business with existing clients

But that can only happen when everyone’s on the same page strategically.

A significant differentiator between “the best” and “the rest” is for business development and marketing to be in lock-step, with open communication and shared goals.

Easier said than done? Think again.

Let’s look at five ways your firm’s business development team can start using your content.

1. Transform your business development team into thought leaders

Your business development team can preach your content all day long, but what does it matter if no one is listening? One of the most important tools in their arsenal is their credibility, especially online.

Here’s the reality: Your prospective clients want to talk to experts, not pitchmen. They don’t want products; they crave solutions.

According to LinkedIn research, 92 percent of buyers engage if a professional is a known industry thought leader. If you position the architects, engineers and construction professionals who talk to prospective clients as thought leaders, you’ll earn more respect from those prospects.

Business development team’s game plan:

    • Create profiles and actively contribute on sites where prospects are asking questions and having conversations (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Reddit, etc.)
    • Engage in questions and discussion threads without promoting or being salesy
    • Connect with leads directly (on LinkedIn, for example) and comment on their posts
    • Share your firm’s content that you think would be helpful to prospects
    • Publish original content through channels like LinkedIn Pulse

Marketing team’s game plan:

Just because this is about the business development team taking action, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Empower your business development team and give them tools to succeed.

The Content Marketing Institute offers a great example: Provide them with a helpful infographic and ask them to write their own 200-word introduction. They can then publish that as a post on their LinkedIn profile.

Providing shareable content that the business development team can customize makes the process a little easier for them. Plus, creating content forces you to understand your prospective clients and how they think.

2. Use content to target specific pain points

Content is great. Specific content is better. Prospects are searching for the answers to their questions online, so meet them where they are and address their pain points directly.

Arming your business development team with this type of content allows them to connect with prospective clients on a personal level. It’s one thing to offer useful, educational content — but imagine getting a resource that feels like it’s been tailored just for your specific needs. That’s powerful.

Business development team’s game plan:

    • Monitor the social activity of leads and see what they’re talking about online
    • Pay attention to trending topics and issues
    • Share content that addresses a lead’s specific needs by telling them you selected this resource just for them because it relates to [insert specific issue or opportunity here]

Marketing team’s game plan:

The business development team can’t do this if they don’t have targeted content to work with in the first place. Up to 70 percent of B2B content goes unused, so be smart about what you’re producing. Create content based on the sales funnel — the awareness, interest, consideration and decision stages your prospective clients move through — and make it specific.

3. Nurture those leads with content

As we mentioned above, not all content is created equal. Your offerings should be tailored for different stages of the procurement process. Don’t leave those leads hanging!

Business development team’s game plan:

    • Create a system to track leads and their progress
    • Engage and maintain contact with leads online throughout the buying process
    • Provide appropriate content for different stages along the way

Marketing team’s game plan:

Ensure your content offerings are robust. It can be easy to create a bunch of content for one stage of your prospect’s “buyer’s journey” while ignoring others. For example, don’t just create general, “top-of-the-funnel” blog posts for those who are still exploring your industry; leads who are further along in the decision-making process need to be supported with content as well.

 

4. Don’t forget about email

Yes, your prospective clients still use email. Keeping in touch with them this way is important, and it’s an effective way to share content with them.

Business development team’s game plan:

    • Include your firm’s latest content offering in your email signature
    • Maintain email lists (separate from marketing’s lists) to contact leads directly
    • Follow up with prospects individually; don’t rely on email blasts

Marketing team’s game plan:

Don’t just stand there! Work with the business development team to develop email copy that isn’t salesy, but that attracts clicks. Also, consider drafting a suggested email signature for the firm’s staff to accompany each blog post or content offer.

5. Communicate!

Okay, this is the definition of “last but not least,” because communication is the linchpin that holds this entire approach together. Open, two-way communication is the key to success.

Again, your firm’s marketing and business development teams have to be on the same page, and that may mean having a regularly scheduled meeting to review goals, develop strategies and to exchange feedback.

The marketing team needs to work together with the business development team, not only to establish basics like what defines a sales qualified lead, but also to develop buyer personas to ensure all the created content is relevant.

Business development team’s game plan:

Speak up and be honest! You can’t just complain that “the leads are bad.” By explaining what works and doesn’t work, marketing can adapt content and strategy to better fit business development goals.

Marketing team’s game plan:

Make your content easy for the business development team to access, whether they use a CRM tool or cloud-based storage like Dropbox or Google Drive. Organize the folders so it’s easy to track down content by topic, stage of the purchasing process, etc.

You can unlock your firm’s potential by aligning your content strategy with its business development efforts. You’ll get more mileage out of your content while improving sales at the same time — talk about ROI.

You have some next steps. Now it’s time to get started.


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About the Author
Steven Gallo

Steven is a media-savvy writer with a knack for telling stories across various platforms. His experience includes award-winning work in television, radio and digital newsrooms. He loves reading, making music and college football.

Read my full bio.

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