Guidance for Firm Management and Principals

 

Every business needs a website, but not all websites are created equal. Many are designed and developed without a thorough understanding of how visitors make “buying” decisions. In fact, the way your site is built can have a powerful impact on your business—for better or for worse.

As AEC firm leaders, your role is to advise the marketing and web development team on how to orchestrate a website that will promote a service-based business, specifically one that relies on expertise, reputation, and trust to thrive. This responsibility should not be taken lightly. The following five Best Practice tips will help you formulate the best vision and direction for your website development team, resulting in a site that promotes user engagement and lead generation.

  1. Your website is the new face of the firm. Make it enticing: Did you know that your website will garner more visitors in a month than will walk through your office doors in the entire year? As a firm leader, you must emphasize the importance of this first impression to your web development team. The site must communicate your value proposition clearly and provide the user with an engaging reason to come back in the future. Otherwise, you are missing out on potential lead generation.

    Here are three ways to create a compelling web experience:

    • Build a design-centric website that is as functional on a phone as it is on a large desktop monitor.

    • Give your content a high priority. How are your services, solutions, and people adding value to the lives of your clients? Is your content client-centric instead of firm-centric?

    • Build more than just a digital brochure. Keep adding fresh content such as blog posts, news items, videos, and educational guides.

  2. Your website can drive growth and improve profitability by engaging users: How do you generate leads online? The most effective AEC websites feature various reasons for further engagement. Offering your visitors some of your expertise—for free—is the most common (and effective) way to do this. Maybe it’s free consultations or an offer to download an e-book on a topic that is relevant to your target audience.

    How does providing a chance to download or engage with the website turn into a lead or a client? These potential clients will experience your expertise, hopefully in a way that will help them solve a problem. Because they have previewed and researched your expertise and now trust your advice, they will reach out to you—and in some cases already prefer you. You now have a source for high-quality leads.

  3. Communicate your expertise to a target audience, no matter how large or small: Your website is the core of your brand. Your marketing and business development activities will most likely point potential clients to your website for “proof” of the external message your team is selling. Ensure that your website follows your firm’s strategy for target markets and target clients. Make sure your high-level messaging applies to each of them, while addressing the needs of individual audiences on separate, more focused market sector or services pages.

  4. Attract the best talent through thoughtful and engaging recruiting: The career section of your website is just an important as other, more marketing-related sections. Anyone who is thinking about a career opportunity at your company is going to look closely at your website. What are they going to learn? Make sure it tells a story that appeals to prospective employees. Consider describing your culture and benefits and help them eloquently answer the question, “Why should I work for you?”

  5. Begin with the end in mind. Don’t underestimate the importance of the planning process: Whether you are a five-person firm or a 5,000-person firm, don’t underestimate the value of a well-executed website. Take the time to be thoughtful and strategic in your website planning. Utilize the wisdom and knowledge of your entire team and envision what you want the final product to reflect about your business. Do it right the first time.

The bottom line? Through thoughtful and strategic planning led by firm leadership, your website can be a catalyst in achieving your marketing goals.

 

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About The Author

Keri Hammond, FSMPS, CPSM

Keri is a long-standing trailblazer in the Utah AEC industry. Clients appreciate her ability to get things done – they know she does whatever it takes, with integrity, to help them build their business. Keri is known for her leadership and diplomacy; she motivates others with positivity, trust, and unwavering support.

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