The AEC industry is hard to explain to those that are not part of the mix.  However, marketing and business development within the AEC industry are even more complex. 


There are so many different definitions for marketing and business development. The definition of marketing can be explained as an “umbrella” that encompasses subsets of processes that create firm awareness, build branding, support business development activities, and enhance client relationships that help a firm or company meet their business goals.In other words, marketing is relationship development through various types of activities.


Business development is a component of marketing that focuses on the process of identifying clients and project opportunities through proactive relationship development that results in profitable work for the firm.


Business development can be better understood by breaking it down into five areas of definition:


  1. Business development is a subset and support for your overall marketing program. If you view marketing as the umbrella, you can see various types of support “under the umbrella.” The umbrella of marketing houses all things involved in the process of creating firm awareness (public relations); building and differentiating the brand (public relations); driving business development activities (business development and client relations); and identifying, anticipating, and satisfying client objectives to achieve profitable business goals (strategic planning). 

  2. Business development is not sales. A traditional definition of sales means the transfer of ownership/contract from one entity to another. In the AEC industry, sales is similar to the negotiation phase or signing of a contract.Business development happens much earlier than “closing the deal.”Business development is a longer-term investment of time and energy and not always a quick payoff. 

  3. Not always a quick payoff. Proper business development is about client relationships, not projects.  This means business development is not a one-time event and takes persistence, patience and sincerity.

  4. This process is client focused, not project focused. This includes a strategic understanding of which client types and market sectors will be most beneficial for your firm’s long-term goals. This requires and understanding of where the market is going, what sectors are growing, or declining and which clients fit your ideal client model. 

  5. And finally, pursuing market sectors that support your strategic goals will help achieve long-term, more profitable work for the firm. 


Business development is a direct marketing activity and is supported by indirect marketing support.  All areas of marketing must be present in a successful business development campaign in order to make an impact when targeting clients. When firms are open to investing time, training and energy toward all areas of marketing, they are more likely to thrive in today’s market. 



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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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