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Category: Marketing Strategies

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3 Marketing Mistakes Engineering Firms Make

When creating an elevator speech for networking purposes, we were taught to say our name, our role, the company and the services offered. Unfortunately, this habit of focusing on services has leaked into every area of marketing. Especially in professional services marketing, many firms end up looking and sounding the same.

Consider engineering firms. They can describe their engineering, design, surveying or consulting services, but that doesn’t give a potential client much differentiating value. Offering service descriptions is the number one mistake when marketing for engineering firms. This mistake is also why firm leaders don’t believe that websites support leads and business development.  

Digging into this mistake further, it’s not wrong to describe your services. Just don’t stop there. Collect and show evidence for your best-in-class services as part of consistent outcome-based research, strategic marketing and messaging.

Let’s look at two other mistakes that lead firms to fall back on service descriptions as their only form of marketing.

Mistake #2: Inconsistent Marketing

Inconsistent marketing can mean two things. It can mean that your marketing messages don’t match your actual deliverables and results. It can also mean that you only pursue marketing when you’re not busy with client work or chasing proposals.

Solve this mistake by investing in marketing with a designated budget that includes an in-house or outsourced marketing professional. In addition, this professional will focus most of the time on marketing with only a portion devoted to developing proposals. Following a consistent marketing plan tied to firm business goals is a great place to start.

To create your marketing plan, discuss your best-in-class results. Where do your clients derive the most value from your services? What problems and challenges do you solve regularly on projects? Who are your superstar professionals whose technical and management skills are lauded by clients? What are those skills?

Read: Competitive research for differentiation

As you look at what your firm does best beyond delivering projects on time and on budget, your messaging will emerge to support web copy, advertising and differentiation in your proposals.

In a recent series of client of client interviews we conducted, we heard competitive themes about the firm’s reputation among key government agencies for bringing stakeholders together on a project. That message certainly goes beyond service descriptions.

You can identify competitive differentiatiors when you invest in consistent research, marketing strategy and messaging that describes the outcomes you achieve.

Mistake #3: Not Tracking Project Results Along the Way

Because projects take months and even years to complete, it’s important to document positive outcomes throughout the project and keep your marketing professional in the loop. Too often, marketers are left trying to catch up at the close of a project when some of those amazing solutions and experiences are forgotten.

In the early stages and middle stages of projects, put your marketing hat on. You are listening for repeatable experiences that are unique to your team. Ask about ways that your team went above and beyond to solve a challenge or when they utilized a new process or material to manage the timeline or project budget.

Tip: Prepare your questions for a project debrief that include marketing questions.

Tip: Prepare your questions for a project debrief that include marketing questions.

Ideally, your marketing professional can brainstorm with project managers and technical professionals on challenges overcome, solutions delivered and new technologies utilized. Down the road, these progress reports will support a strong project case study, award submission or testimonials. In the meantime, progress reports can fuel stories for social media or blog posts! An in-progress image coupled with a short story about how your team is moving a project forward can provide the real-life evidence that enhances your traditional service descriptions.

For more tips on marketing for engineering firms, contact us at Ingenuity.

For more tips on marketing for engineering firms, contact us at Ingenuity.

IF YOU NEED SOME RESEARCH DONE, WE SHINE IN PROFESSIONAL SERVICES. SEE OUR SERVICES.


 

Ingenuity Marketing Group Creative Consultant Christine Nelson smiling in office setting.

Marketing Content and Sales Content: What’s the Difference?

Professional services firms and associations create marketing content and sales content to reach their goals. Marketing content builds credibility while sales content persuades and asks for new business. When should you use marketing content? When should you focus on sales content?

Communications Consultant Christine Nelson gives examples of marketing content and sales content in this video. You need both types of content, but learn why marketing and sales content are not the same thing! 


If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

What is the difference between marketing content and sales content? It is sometimes confusing to tell the difference, but there is a difference.

Marketing content is written to educate and interest your potential clients. It should offer a glimpse of your knowledge, your approach, and even your firm’s personality. You will see marketing content in blog posts and social posts, on your website’s homepage, and as part of your public relations.

When should you use marketing content? You should educate and engage your audience with marketing content when they are new visitors and as they begin to consider becoming a client or a member. Sales content, on the other hand, is about influence and persuasion. It’s written in a way to get your potential clients to take action. Sales content should share the features and benefits of working with your firm or association and then ask for a conversation, a download, or attendance.

Persuasive sales content is for prospects that are deeper into their consideration. It can be in the form of sales sheets that discuss the features and benefits of your service or an assessment for a nominal fee. While marketing content establishes your credibility, sales content gets specific about your desire to work with new clients and why you are the best option.

Often marketing content and sales content work together, especially when you can’t talk to your leads in person. For example, a blog post can educate a visitor about new legislation, but at the end of the blog post you can include some sales content to invite the visitor to have a conversation or to explore your services further through an assessment. After you host marketing events such as a seminar, your sales content could be the carefully-written emails that encourage a conversation with your team.

As you can see, marketing and sales content should work together, but they aren’t the same. If you have questions about how to create the right balance between marketing and sales content, contact us at Ingenuity.

Here is an example of branding messages woven into an ad campaign for credibility and prospecting.


 

A campfire with roasting marshmellows.

Accounting Marketing Campfire: Content Marketing Trends

Recently, we served as the subject matter experts on a virtual networking call with the national Association for Accounting Marketing.

We picked up some tips and trends for accounting firm marketing to share with you. Here they are in no particular order:

Use content marketing scheduling tools.

Many of the accounting marketers discussed their approach to scheduling content and making sure they have a plan each month, especially when last-minute content is added.

Tools mentioned included a separate calendar in Outlook to coordinate their team and to plot in content deadlines. Others use project workflow tools such as Monday.com and Airtable.

For some marketers, it helps to create a theme for the month or quarter, tied to your marketing keywords or to the firm’s business goals. Then address the types of content you will create and how often each month.

How many blog posts is the right amount per month? We advised that frequency of any content is less important than the quality of content and your firm’s marketing goals. You will learn how frequently you should post and promote new content by what your analytics are telling you through the year. Let that data inform how you schedule content for the coming year.

Plus, it’s ok to repeat content for people who may have missed it the first time!

Make content creation competitive or required.

Marketers still struggle with the age-old challenge of getting their practice leaders or technical experts to help them develop new content, let alone write it, create a video or participate in a podcast.

The Association for Accounting Marketing members had some great answers for that issue. One idea is to make it a competition and instill the fear of missing out (FOMO) among different practice groups. Another is to request content from directors or managers rather than busy partners, those in your firm who are eager to establish their own reputations and books of business.

A final idea is to have content creation required. Top leadership can direct this activity as part of the firm culture. If each leader contributed an idea or article a month, marketing would be a whole lot easier.

Repurpose. Repurpose. Repurpose.

Once accounting marketers get ideas and/or content from the subject matter experts, they all agreed that their job is to use that content in as many ways as possible. A blog post can become a speaking topic or magazine pitch. A video script can become a blog post. A longer video can be mined for micro-video clips to share on social media, and the audio portion can become a podcast.

When practice group leaders realize that one small effort can produce massive visibility for their team, they may be more willing to offer ideas and keep the party going.

Be mindful of the experts’ preferences because some of them are better at writing while others have a great personality for video and presentations. Play to their strengths, and they will gain confidence.

Hire a business ghostwriter.

It was interesting to learn that most mid-sized accounting firms have a ghostwriter on call to help them produce the volume of content they need each month. It makes sense from a capacity standpoint, but also for the ease of interviewing subject matter experts.

The accounting marketers said that you need a professional to draw out the ideas and key points from the practice group. Your technical experts have the knowledge, but an experienced ghostwriter is focused on the marketing angle and your audience.

READ: How to develop a content marketing strategy

The Association for Accounting Marketing is the principal organization for accounting firm marketing in the U.S., and their annual conference is anticipated and actively attended. It was a privilege to participate in their “campfire” conversation about content marketing for accounting firms.

Your content marketing approach can benefit by taking time to network with other marketing leaders. At the very least, you can learn what other marketers are doing to solve common challenges, such as getting your practice leaders to create content!

Take time for networking opportunities, and let us know if you have any questions about content marketing or ghostwriting services.

You may also like our blog post about virtual networking.


 

A purple cow standing out in a field of other cows.

Copywriting: Is Your Content a Purple Cow?

Could three questions really help you get more compelling stories for your website content and content marketing? Communications Consultant Christine Nelson uses her journalism mojo to find those great stories hiding among your professionals and your work with clients. If your content marketing could use better storytelling, this is a must-see video.


If you prefer to read this content, the video transcript is below.

An accountant I interviewed quite a few years ago told me a story about slinging pizzas for his client. He had stopped into the restaurant on a very busy night. He wanted to help, and that night the client needed him to make pizzas. And so he did!

You can bet the client was grateful and stayed with that CPA. And that’s a Purple Cow story.

Purple cow is defined by Seth Godin, a US entrepreneur and bestselling author, as delivering a remarkable experience with your product or service. It’s fresh. It’s unexpected. It’s a first.

But mostly we get brown cows when we visit websites…the same old “quality service and dedicated team and responsive delivery”…and it’s why most firms can’t get lead conversion on their websites.

What if, instead, you were able to stand apart from the brown cows? Few professionals do it because it’s easier to talk about your services and not your extraordinary experiences for clients.

You need to find the real story behind the services.

Just this week, I was talking to a professional about audit services. You might think it’s the brownest cow there is. But as I asked more questions, this auditor got pretty animated. He wasn’t talking about audits. He was talking about the outcome his clients wanted and how the audited financial statements took them there.

I want to hear and write that story.  Don’t you?

To get started, here is a simple formula I use to draw out that purple cow story. Ask these three questions:

Who has it helped?

Why does it matter?

Why do others need that kind of solution?

Answering these questions gets you out of the brown cow writing and into a more direct answer to the solutions that your website’s visitors are searching for. Try it with your next eblast or blog post, and send me the link here at Ingenuity for a quick Purple Cow review!

CONTACT US AT INGENUITY ABOUT BUSINESS GHOSTWRITER SERVICES

See an example of technical engineering data transformed into our client’s project success story.


 

Cat sniffing catnip

3 Things to Make Your Association Like Cat Nip to Members

 

What if your association offerings were like cat nip to members and potential members? They rush to it. They actively engage in it. It makes them happy.

This is exactly the experience you want members to have, especially with the changing demographics of professionals. They consume information and socialize differently than they did within associations 20 years ago. If we know anything about digital marketing ideas, we know that you can adapt your outreach to become catnip to your members. Try these three things.

Help Them Browse and Shop

Your buyers are comfortable shopping online, and they do it with services just as much as with products. A GE Capital Bank “major purchase shopper study” found that 81% of buyers go online before talking to someone. They also spend an average of 79 days gathering information.

Your online presence should allow your members and potential members the ease of shopping your site, gathering information and resources and confirming the value of membership. Don’t have all your good stuff locked behind a “members only” wall. Your potential members need opportunities to browse and consider contacting you.

Some of the top resources we’re seeing on association sites include industry studies and survey reports, videos by current members and infographics that show the results and benefits of membership. Reinforce how your association is a critical avenue to their success.

See an example of a valuable industry report.

Provide News and Listen for Trends

Marketing for associations is all about being a resource. You want to be the go-to source of valuable information. You do this by providing up-to-date news, but also by listening for emerging challenges or trends.

Your social channels are invaluable for providing this service. Don’t just promote the results of your educational events or conferences. Photos and videos are great to showcase your member culture, but also post legislative news, industry breakthroughs and studies relevant to your audience.

In addition, listen to your members for issues they are concerned about. Follow their posts and identify opportunities to create events, resources or articles and videos that address those needs.

Offer Multiple Points of Interaction

As your members go about their day, they consume information in different ways. They may use their digital notebook to read the news in the morning from various digests. Then they check their social networks. Later, they may listen to a podcast while exercising or driving. Your association marketing must consider how your members consume information at different points in their day. Provide your information in those multiple formats.

If you record your webinars, for example, turn that valuable information into a podcast series. It’s easier for members and potential members to consume while they’re on the go. The technology is available to easily transform an MP4 file into audio only.

In addition, you will find that some members prefer attending virtual events even as in-person events ramp up. Keep that hybrid option available, and think about how to make the virtual experience special and impactful.

Meet your members and potential members at the crossroads of their needs and lifestyle, and you will keep them coming back for more!

For more cat nip ideas and marketing for associations, contact us at Ingenuity.

SEE HOW THIS GLOBAL ASSOCIATION IS MAINTAINING ITS COMPETITIVE POSITION AND MEMBER INTEREST.


 

Someone laying bricks

AEC Marketing Basics

There’s no question that your AEC firm is busy! The marketing department may be creating proposals left and right to take advantage of all the new business opportunities. When new business can be quickly earned through proposals, the firm’s marketing basics can be left out to dry. While proposals certainly position your firm to win new business in the present, these marketing basics will continue to position your firm for success long into the future.

Be Present Online

According to Intergrowth, 80% of major purchases start with online research. As people go online to learn about the AEC industry and your services, it’s critical that your firm can be found through an internet search. Here are some ways to make sure your firm shows up as a search result and that your brand is accurately represented online.

    • Add content to your website. When was the last time you updated information on your site? Add information about completed projects, industry trends and anything else that sets your firm apart from the competition. Write a blog about the new drone technology your firm has invested in or highlight a presentation that an employee gave at a recent conference. By creating valuable, educational content, you educate your potential clients and become a trusted thought leader within your industry.

Here are a few content ideas to incorporate into your marketing strategy:

    1. Blog posts
    2. eBooks, worksheets and templates
    3. Project photos and videos

SEO Tip: Adding information to your website helps your firm stand out on search engines like Google. Search engines are more likely to highlight websites that are maintained and updated regularly.

    • Regularly post to social media. Social media is an extension of your website. Use these platforms to engage with partners, clients and to showcase your work. Social media can also be a great tool to retain and attract talent to your firm by highlighting firm news and culture events.

SEO Tip: An active social media account that links to your website also improves your chances of being a top search result on Google or any other search engine. We recommending posting to social media at least 1-2 times a week.

DOWNLOAD: Check out these easy tips to improve your website’s SEO

Email Marketing

Email marketing continues to be one of the most powerful ways to reach warm leads and convert them into clients. By emailing your contact list consistently, your firm stays top of mind. Find an e-newsletter schedule that works best for you and stick to it. We recommend sending an email at least once a month to communicate with your contact list.

Topics to include within your future newsletters:

    • Award Recognition – Highlight recent awards your firm has received, or projects you’ve completed. This showcases your firm’s experience and instills trust in your brand.
    • Webinar Invitations – Whether you’re hosting a webinar or one of the firm’s employees is participating as a speaker in one, promote it via email. This positions your firm as a thought leader within the industry. Webinars are a great lead generation tool!
    • Content Updates – Highlight the new content you’ve added to the website. New blogs, video or resources are always popular to share and will drive traffic back to your website to learn more about the firm.

VIDEO: 5 Email Marketing Tips for Lead Generation

Tell Your Story

Your firm exists to help clients reach their goals. Case studies are a powerful tool to help others understand the work you do and highlights successes. Rather than tell prospective clients how you can help them reach their goals, show them. Tell the story from start to finish, but highlight the client as the focal point. Your case studies should answer the following questions:

    • Who is the client and what do they do?
    • What were the client’s goals?
    • What were their needs?
    • How did you satisfy those needs and help meet the client’s goals?

But don’t stop there! Follow up with this client to ask them how your firm’s work benefited them. What solutions do they feel like your firm provided? 

Testimonials

This leads us to our last point. When discussing previous work with clients, collect a testimonial about your relationship. Share these testimonials far and wide. Share on your website, via social media, in newsletters and in case studies. Testimonials connect with future clients in a meaningful, personal way. Others can relate to a testimonial and will work with your firm to have a similar experience. 

Your AEC firm is busy, but don’t push these marketing essentials to the side any longer. They continue to be the foundation of your firm’s success and support future growth opportunities. Proposals are the sprinkle on top. Position your firm for longevity by investing time and energy into the marketing basics that will continuously position your firm as a leader and innovator within your industry. 

Looking for more guidance on marketing basics? Contact us at Ingenuity.

DOWNLOAD: THIS AEC DEBRIEF CHECKLIST HELPS BUILD LONG-LASTING RELATIONSHIPS. HERE’S HOW.


 

Desk with Laptop showing video conference

Virtual Networking: It’s Here to Stay!

 

Virtual networking provides countless advantages to boost your business development strategy. Not only can you form long-term relationships with potential clients and business partners, but you get to connect at your own convenience.

Taking advantage of virtual networking allows us to connect with anyone from anywhere. There’s no longer a limit to how far we will travel to meet prospects, or a need to coordinate travel days into our busy work schedule. It also allows us to connect with others in different time zones, and then take our children to soccer practice later in the afternoon. The new virtual world we live in allows professionals within any industry to maintain a personal and work life balance.

Virtual networking is here to stay simply because of the convenience factor. Here’s how to take advantage of this new way of doing business.

Virtual Networking Can Still Be Personal

Just like you would talk about weather or traffic when meeting a prospect in person, you still need to add these casual conversational pieces into your virtual discussions. In other words, don’t make it all about work. Ask about a painting or photo someone has behind them during the video conference call. Ask them questions about their weekend or their hobbies. Side conversations like this make networking fun, memorable and personable. It’s these types of conversations that allow you to form long-lasting, valuable relationships with potential leads that turn into loyal clients.

Add variety to how you connect with your prospects. With the year 2020 behind us, you’ve probably heard or experienced what we often call “Zoom fatigue”. It’s true that being on video or on a long call can be exhausting, especially when you’re trying to separate personal and work life. Ask your prospects if they prefer to meet on camera or over the phone today. Who knows, you may find prospects in your local area who would prefer to meet at a coffee shop.

Other ways to stop top-of-mind with prospects is to share resources. After knowing your prospects interests and appetite for your services, share podcasts, blogs, videos or other resources you’ve found to be helpful. Connecting like this via email allows you to be seen as a valuable resource, helping the potential client to understand certain topics or gain industry insight.

PODCAST: THE MAGIC OF VIRTUAL NETWORKING

Virtual Networking Adds Flexibility to your Work Schedule

We now have the opportunity to network with people far and wide, whenever it works best for our work or personal schedules. You may find that fitting virtual networking into your busy work schedule is easier than ever. Maybe for you, scheduling multiple video conference calls in one afternoon allows you to cross multiple necessary discussions off your business development to-do list quickly and efficiently.

It may seem difficult to initially connect with new prospects. Once you have their contact information, offer a brief 10 to 15-minute phone call. Brief phone calls remain less intimidating than video conferencing. This phone call can be used to get to know what the prospect’s needs are, what they are looking for and how you can help. From there, having a follow up discussion via video can be a more beneficial use of time and provide an opportunity to share informed insight to what specific services or information the prospect is looking for.

Connecting virtually also allows you have to have multiple resources at your fingertips. When meeting virtually with a potential client, you can have their website up on your computer screen while you ask questions about their operations. Maybe you even skim through their LinkedIn profile during your discussion to speak to specific work-experience or skills the prospect has.

GENERATE LEADS WITH GOOGLE ADS

Stick to the Basics

One of the keys to networking is your follow through. Even when connecting virtually, follow up via email or phone to check in with the lead. Ask how they are doing, if they have any questions for you and maybe even bring up a topic of conversation you had together during the call. This is another opportunity to connect with the prospect on a personal level, and form a loyal working relationship with them.

When connecting virtually, be attentive. Give the prospect your entire attention by being in a quiet room with limited distractions and good phone service or a strong internet connection. Silence phone or computer notifications, just as you would in an in-person business meeting.

We get it. Life happens, and sometimes you will need to reschedule virtual meetings. Even though virtual networking is convenient because we can do it from our couch, the airport or the local coffee shop, being appreciative of the prospect’s time is critically important. Don’t forget to communicate in advance if you must reschedule.

The advantages to virtual networking are limitless. It brings ease to your work day, adds flexibility to your business development strategy and expands who you can reach for future business opportunities. If you haven’t added this into your business development strategy, what are you waiting for?! Take advantage of these opportunities, yet keep the foundation of networking skills in place. With these tips in mind, your business development strategy will reap the benefits of virtual networking long into the future.  

Thinking about hosting more virtual events to support virtual networking? Check out our blog post, How to Leverage Virtual Events in 2021


 

Woman talking into megaphone

Establish Your Firm’s Online Presence

Like many other A/E/C firms, you may feel like your marketing strategy needs a refresh. Maybe you notice that your firm’s marketing strategy continues to support clients you’ve worked with in the past, but the firm struggles marketing to prospective leads. The internet has changed drastically over the past few years. Firms can no longer get by with passively engaging with clients. Today, regular online interactions are vital to any business’ success. In this article we will highlight ways your firm can actively engage with current clients and generate new leads.

Spoiler Alert! To get new business you will have to brag about yourself. Here’s how to do that tactfully to attract quality leads and support business development.

Conduct Market Research

Market research is a key part of developing your marketing strategy. It’s about collecting information that provides insight into how your clients think, their buying patterns and specifics that may influence their way of doing business, like their location or job title. This research also allows you to identify and monitor market trends, and to keep a pulse on what your competition is doing.

It’s always a good idea to conduct market research once you are expanding into a new location, when you are providing new services or if you just feel like your marketing strategy is stagnant. This research will help your firm identify how you can stand out amongst your competitors and market for future work.

Build Your Firm’s Online Reputation

Has your engineering firm established a consistent online presence? Here are a few ways your firm can showcase itself as a thought leader by providing firm updates, informing your followers on industry news and providing project updates.

Utilize the Power of Social Media. Social media is a great tool to provide quick updates, and also is a very powerful way to attract and retain employees. Make it a priority to maintain these channels by posting updates at least twice a week. This type of engagement will establish a strong social media presence and help your firm create a targeted following. Social media platforms your engineering firm should consider using include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Yelp
  • Glassdoor


Showcase Your Work Through Email Campaigns.
An e-newsletter is a convenient way to showcase current, future and past projects. Highlighting your work experience and innovative engineering designs may persuade potential leads to become a loyal client. This form of communication also serves as a way to keep your engineering firm top-of-mind. Your firm’s name and reputation are on display whenever you send a newsletter, and people will remember the work you’ve done after reading it.

READ: IMPROVE YOUR DIGITAL CAMPAIGNS WITH THESE THREE TIPS.

Maintain Your Website. Is your site easy to navigate? Does the site highlight previous work to showcase your firm’s expertise? Is your site showing up in a potential client’s online search? These questions are things to monitor and routinely ask yourself when evaluating the effectiveness of your site. An updated, easy to navigate and informative website increases your reputation and will encourage potential leads to work with your firm in the future.

VIDEO: PRIME YOUR WEBSITE FOR EFFECTIVE DIGITAL MARKETING

Online Advertisements. Google Ads or social media advertising is becoming a powerful way to reach potential leads. The online advertising tools allow you to group or segment potential clients based on certain characteristics, such as; location, job title and what services they are searching for online related to your engineering firm. Provide a resource for users who click on your ads. This take-away allows the potential lead to learn more about your firm and your thought-leadership within the industry.

READ: LEARN HOW GOOGLE ADS HAVE BECOME A POWERFUL TOOL FOR LEAD GENERATION.

Ask Clients to Write A Review. Reach out to a few of your loyal clients, asking if they wouldn’t mind writing a social media or Google review for your firm. These reviews are public, so anyone who searches for your firm can find them. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool, and these personal accolades to your services will go a long way when persuading others to work with you in the future.

Showcase Your Firm’s Expertise

It’s time to take advantage of the marketing tools available to expand your engineering firm’s online presence. You may find that showcasing the work you’ve done, the awards your firm receives and publicly recognizing employees will not only drive business development. It may lead your firm to retain key employees, strengthen current client relationships and improve your firm’s presence within the community. Start implementing these marketing elements into your firm’s strategy to reap the benefits.

Learn more about how Ingenuity can support your firm when conducting marketing research to identify fresh ideas to position your firm as a thought leader within the industry.


How to boost your satisfaction rating

Gather Experience Data Through Effective Interviews

How to boost your satisfaction rating

Ask enough people about their expectations, and you can identify some universal themes about why they choose you. However, surveys can only do so much.

Your experience strategy should include interviews. You can ask deeper questions based on each person’s individual preferences and concerns. Here are some interviewing techniques that can help you get beyond general satisfaction ratings.  

  1. Ask a question and be quiet.

Wait patiently for the person to elaborate. Silence will feel uncomfortable, but don’t rush to fill it. Give the other person time to think, and their answers will be more detailed. If they become quiet, ask if there is anything else that comes to mind. And be quiet again!

  1. Ask for examples.

You may have some prepared questions experiences, the level of quality you deliver or how people feel about your team. The best interview transcripts also include real examples of how great service showed up.

If someone says that the programs or services you deliver are “high quality” or “informative,” ask them for an example. Specific examples will help you identify actual results while defining what “quality” and “informative” actually mean.

  1. Repeat what you heard.

Show that you are listening. Paraphrase what you heard the person say, and you will get them to reinforce or clarify with additional details. “What I’m hearing is…is that right?”

  1. Make it a conversation.

People can get nervous and short with their answers if you keep asking questions and don’t participate in the conversation. You are creating an experience during the interview, and it’s a great technique to share a story of your own that relates to what the person just said.

A conversation puts your clients at ease, making it more likely that they will open up and be honest about their experiences. When they are honest, tell them how much you appreciate it — whether the feedback is good or bad. It is all constructive feedback to help you improve your service delivery.

  1. Tell them what’s next.

Make sure to tell people what you will do with their responses. They want to know that they are helping you and that their input will result in something good.

If you are collecting testimonials as part of the interview, let them know that you will follow up soon to have them review some comments. Tell them that their feedback will be analyzed for improving service delivery. Let them participate in the future success of your team.

As a final tip, interviews can seem like an intrusion, but an email script can help you invite people to participate at a time that is convenient to them. Let them know how long the interview will be, and offer to send questions ahead of time. All of this will support more scheduled interviews and good data to support your experience strategy or service standards.

Even a half-dozen interviews with your best clients or members are worth the time.

Interviews support strong brand positioning in your market. Read about 4 ways to enhance client service, based on years of client research by our team.

 

Illustration of rocket ship shooting up into the sky.

How to Set Your Association Apart from the Competition

Illustration of rocket ship shooting up into the sky.

2020 has brought a new way of thinking, and has presented many challenges, for associations in any industry. The way associations connect with members, provide networking opportunities and encourage professional development now looks very different. Associations are being forced to move all of their services online, and while we all hope to get back to regular in-person events in the future, virtual connection will likely remain a vital way to connect with members far and wide.

Connecting with members and encouraging meaningful conversation is more important than ever before, but all associations are asking the same question: How can we encourage members to engage in the virtual world?

What Are Your Members Interested In?

It’s likely that you have data on where your members are from, the company they work for, their job title, what events they have attended or what topics they care most about. During a period of change and uncertainty, it’s important to reconnect. Survey your members to learn what topics are most important to them. You can also learn more about the times of day they are most likely to engage with your association and how they prefer to hear from you. Take these results and build a new marketing strategy around them to increase engagement with your current members, and to increase future member enrollment.

Not only do associations need to learn more about their members, but it’s crucial to stay on top of industry trends. What do your members need help preparing for within their industry? Based on the answers you receive; your association can take advantage of any gaps by offering support and guidance regarding these new trends.

Survey tip: When collecting information from your members, ask if you can interview them to hear more specifics about their experience. Share these interviews far and wide to promote events, encourage member registration or use them to create fun social media posts. Someone’s personal experience with your association may spark new engagement. Conducting interviews also allows you to gather more in-depth knowledge into how members feel about your association. This is your chance to ask what you are doing well and what can be improved.

READ: LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR SURVEYS VALUABLE AND EFFICIENT

What Are Your Competitors Doing?

It’s challenging enough to motive members to attend another virtual event, but even harder when competitors are also sending out marketing materials promoting similar events. A competitive analysis provides insight how your association can set itself apart. Once you have reviewed the competition, you can start to identify gaps in your marketing strategy. 

It could be as simple as this. After conducting competitive research, you’ve discovered that your competitors are offering many networking events in the late afternoon throughout the week. Your association has been wanting to host a networking event, but now you have information to set your event apart. Your association decides to host coffee networking opportunities so that members available early in the day will be able to attend. You may be surprised how simple adjustments, or differentiators, can draw people to your association. 

READ: TYPES OF RESEARCH AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Freshen Up Your Brand

Even though we are all working remotely and adapting to receiving most (if not all) of our information digitally, people want to connect! Current and future members are craving opportunity to discuss pain points or solutions within their industry. Even though the future may seem bleak, now is the time to freshen your association’s image to stand out and reconnect.

A new brand image can speak to a new audience in the future. Modernize your image and marketing strategy to appeal to the next generation in the work force and to continue connect with those that have been with your association for a while. 

An example: Wood Component Manufacturers Association (WCMA) felt like their logo was outdated and didn’t connect with their younger members. They decided to refresh their image to set their association apart. This resulted in a modern aesthetic for their logo and brand perception. 

Finding new ways to connect with your members is more important than ever. As your members adapt to new work styles and trends, your association must do the same. Think through how surveying members, researching your competition and a brand refresh can boost your member engagement to new heights. 

Looking for assistance to help set your association apart from the competition? Learn more about Ingenuity’s association marketing experience.