Our Perspective—Learning the AEC Industry as a Non-technical Marketer

Jun 21 2023

Lessons Learned: My Journey as a Non-Technical Marketer Learning the AEC Industry


Stepping into the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry as a non-technical marketing professional was a daunting endeavor for me. Thirty-five years ago, I started at a young age working for my father’s civil engineering company. At first, the intricate processes, technical jargon, and complex projects seemed like a foreign language. However, through my experiences and lessons learned, I have come to understand that with the right mindset and approach, non-technical marketers can thrive in the AEC industry. In this article, I will share my personal perspective and the valuable lessons I’ve learned along the way with the hope of empowering fellow non-technical marketers to navigate the AEC industry successfully.


Embrace a Learning Mindset


When I first began my journey in the AEC industry, I quickly realized that my lack of technical expertise could be a significant hurdle. However, I embraced a learning mindset, recognizing that there was much to gain from the technical experts around me. I considered every new experience as an opportunity to learn. I eagerly asked questions and absorbed as much knowledge as I could. Attending industry conferences, workshops, and eventually webinars became my go-to strategy for learning. Engaging with industry professionals and hearing their insights not only helped me understand the key terms and concepts, but also provided me with a broader industry perspective. I also immersed myself in industry publications, trade journals and books, which served as valuable resources for deepening my understanding of the AEC landscape.


Understand the Industry Ecosystem


To effectively contribute as a non-technical marketer, I recognized the importance of understanding the AEC industry's ecosystem. I made a conscious effort to grasp the different disciplines involved, such as architecture, civil engineering, other types of engineering, and construction. Understanding the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder involved in a project helped me comprehend the dynamics and complexities. 


Learning about the various stages of a project -- from programming and design to construction and post-construction -- was crucial in aligning my marketing efforts with the industry's needs. I familiarized myself with project delivery methods like design-bid-build, design-build, and construction management so I could tailor my marketing strategies accordingly. Furthermore, educating myself about the regulatory environment, including building codes, zoning regulations, and sustainability standards helped me better understand the challenges and constraints faced by AEC professionals. This knowledge enabled me to develop marketing messages that resonated with our target audience and addressed their specific needs.


Collaborate with Technical Experts


Collaboration with the AEC industry technical experts became the cornerstone of my success as a non-technical marketer. I actively sought to build strong relationships with engineers, architects, and construction professionals. Engaging in conversations with them not only allowed me to gain insights into their work but also helped me ascertain their objectives and pain points. 


Working closely with technical experts not only enriched my knowledge but also helped me align my marketing strategies with the industry's requirements. By seeking their input when creating marketing content, I ensured accuracy, credibility, and relevance. Collaborating on resumes updates, case studies, and educational materials helped me produce content that resonated with the AEC audience and demonstrated our organization's expertise.


Develop Industry-Specific Knowledge 


To effectively market AEC services, I understood the need to develop industry-specific knowledge. I eagerly asked to be included in project meetings and job site visits. I attended training sessions and workshops to familiarize myself with the day-to-day of project management, software, tools, and technologies used in management, design, and analysis. This information not only helped me understand the demands placed on AEC professionals but also facilitated effective communication with our target audience. Staying up to date with industry trends became a priority for me. I made it a point to follow emerging technologies, market trends, and regulatory changes in the AEC industry. Being aware of new building materials, energy-efficient designs, and innovative construction techniques allowed me to position our organization as a forward-thinking industry leader.


Leverage Industry Associations and Networks


Recognizing the significance of industry associations and networks, I actively sought to become part of these communities. Joining associations such as the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), American Institute of Architects (AIA), and Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) provided me with valuable opportunities to connect and build relationships with industry professionals, attend events, and gain insights into industry best practices.


As technology advanced during my career, leveraging social media platforms like LinkedIn became a powerful tool for expanding my professional network. Engaging in discussions, sharing industry news, and participating in relevant groups helps me to connect with AEC professionals from all over the world. Through these interactions, I’ve discovered new perspectives, learned from others' experiences, and expanded my industry knowledge.


My journey as a non-technical marketer in the AEC industry has been challenging yet immensely rewarding. Embracing a learning mindset, understanding the industry ecosystem, collaborating with technical experts, developing industry-specific knowledge, and leveraging industry associations and networks have been invaluable means that have shaped my success. By sharing my personal perspective and lessons learned, I hope to inspire and empower other non-technical marketers to navigate the AEC industry with confidence and make meaningful contributions to their organizations.


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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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