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Conducting the Communications Ensemble, Part II

June 11, 2013

“Voice from the Trenches” aims to inform and inspire marketing professionals immersed in the day-to-day activity of their firms. This month, Karen Euler offers Part II from a recent SMPS session on marketing communications.

musicLet’s take a brief look at special marketing pieces and how social media is being employed in AEC. Earlier this spring at SMPS Boston’s Boot Camp, Pia Cardinali, CPSM and I covered five rough groupings of communications literature, three of which were detailed in a previous column.

Growth Phase: Special Markets Literature

Once a small business becomes more complex, or a mature firm develops distinct lines of business or even multiple brands, a need will develop for specialized pieces of literature. These may focus on a geographic region, a particular business sector, or a leading edge methodology. The goal is typically to penetrate a new market.

It can be helpful for the marketing leader to remind the stakeholders for the new market that the brochure should be subordinate to a plan for targeted client meetings and networking events. One pitfall occurs when a brochure is created hastily for a single key client meeting rather than with a greater strategy in mind.

A firm may publish white papers for download from their website. These pieces indicate significant thought leadership and are a true currency in any consulting field. They can be valuable enough to entice a visitor – who could be a prospective client – to key in his or her email address in a simple web form.

At a very advanced stage or high level, a design firm may publish its own monograph or a CEO may publish a business book. These serve as the ultimate client gift or high-end advertising tool.

True Dialogue: Social Media

Social media provides various functions for different roles within a firm. For straightforward awareness-building, Facebook or Pinterest are places to focus on building content. Moving the lens from internal to external roles, however, connecting directly to clients and “super connectors” becomes more important. In both cases, the talents of graphic designers elevate the content wherever it is posted and make it compelling. In several firms in Boston, graphic designers are responsible for much of the social posting.

Blogging is the fastest way for a firm to generate and distribute its own content without waiting for earned media or third-party validation (not to diminish what true PR offers). Yet blogging is of limited use to business development efforts without a keyword strategy that helps peg special skills of the firm to both national news and trends and to the firm’s own website or other lead-generation apparatus.

Posting firm news on LinkedIn or Facebook is good; enabling senior staff to create dialogue by opening conversation with firm news is even better. Genuine two-way dialogue with past, present, and future clients is best: it is the ultimate goal for many on social media.


We invite you to review the Prezi that accompanied our talk for an overview of 5 essential components of the marketing communications ensemble and images of successful pieces within each category. As Pia Cardinali notes, “We hope the examples shown here will help you develop a communications plan that will work for your firm.”

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