Over the years working with engineering and construction services firms, we have learned a few things about the characteristics of our buyers.
They like facts more than promises.
They tend to be visually oriented and like processes spelled out.
They are willing to invest in top line if it makes sense for the bottom line.
A vendor who can’t meet deadlines will not be called again.
We keep these things in mind when we meet prospective A/E/C clients. In fact, we have spent time creating a target client persona for each of the decision makers in A/E/C firms to make sure our marketing tactics make sense. Part psychology, part knowledge of the industry, our target client personas help us navigate the fact-driven, deliberative nature of these left-brained creatives — and get new clients!
Target client persona? What’s that?
Well, a target client persona is a little like a profile, a description or a dossier to help you understand what concerns, motivates and attracts a specific client. It’s useful not only during the business development and RFP process, but also once you land a client.
During business development, you want to know:
- Who is the decision maker?
- What worries him or her?
- What is persuasive when this person is looking for a new service provider?
- Where does this person seek credible information in media or networks?
- What else motivates this person to make a decision?
Having identified the key characteristics of this target client, you can then decide where to best allocate your marketing and business development efforts. A target client persona helps you narrow your tactics and make efficient use of your budget.
If “Jarrad the Real Estate Developer,” for example, would never attend a local business networking event, then don’t advertise there. But if that’s his main place to network, you better show up with bells on.
If Jarrad reads his trade journal every month, consider ads and article submissions there. If not, why bother?
If Jarrad is most persuaded by referrals from other members in his trade association, build some case studies or approved testimonials from the clients you’ve worked with — to share with him directly or on your website.
Your target client persona of “Jarrad, the Real Estate Developer,” reads like a playbook to attract clients that fit you best. The actual exercise of developing personas can help you discover new avenues for connecting with leads, new marketing content to develop, and even ways to differentiate your firm in proposals.
Once you get a client, your fact-finding is done, right? Nope. Building a great relationship is just beginning. You can still use your target client persona to make sure that the things Jarrad cares about most are delivered in your services. For example:
Jarrad is concerned about attracting investors and building investor value.
Jarrad needs his project to stand out for strong tenancy.
Jarrad needs support with the zoning authorities.
By confirming priorities like these with your new client, based on the characteristics of your target client persona, you can build them into your project scope of consulting. This helps you focus on adding value throughout the project because you know exactly what makes a difference to Jarrad.
As you create these target client personas, make sure that everyone on the team recognizes the types of clients your firm most wants to attract and serve. It keeps everyone on the same page when they come across opportunities, as well as delivering on client expectations.
Want to learn how to create your own target client personas for your engineering or a/e/c firm? You could have fun and even learn a few things about your target markets by creating a “Mark, the General Contractor” or “Nicki, the Restauranteur” persona. Give them a name. Build a target client persona based on what you know about current clients and key decision makers. We promise that this tool will add real data to your professional firm business development.