Extraordinary Times, Extraordinary Trends: Digital trends as a result of COVID-19
The profound impact of COVID-19 is felt in nearly every aspect of our lives. With millions of people under stay-at-home orders, many are turning to connected devices to cope with life under lockdown. This seismic shift in behavior is most evident when looking at digital trends over the past few months.
A Transformation to the Virtual Environment
The COVID-19 outbreak is a human tragedy whose impact will be felt across the world for years to come. In the AEC industry, the immediate effects have already started to manifest in the form of project delays and supply shortages. These delays are expected to continue even after stay-at-home orders are lifted, as there will be restrictions on working hours, large gatherings, and new protocols. From maintaining social distancing on jobsites to meeting new sanitation standards, the industry is having to get more innovative in keeping business on schedule and in winning new work.
As face-to-face interaction comes to a halt, we are expected to do more with less while navigating the uncharted waters of bringing business entirely online. Tools such as video conferencing, virtual showrooms, and other online services will be a critical component of survival. Webinars have also become increasingly popular, with creation and participation jumping from 13% to 21% between March and April.* Remaining visible during procurement processes is imperative as well. We continue to see public and private owners transition their procurement process online. Although virtual meetings require a different approach, the results should remain the same. AEC firms must pivot their interview strategies to the virtual world by utilizing remote interview best practices. By ensuring your team is as comfortable in the virtual environment as they are in the in-person environment, you are maximizing your chances of winning every interview.
Assess and Optimize Your Digital Efforts
Social media is a mainstay for everyone working from home during the pandemic. Paid media efforts have seen an uptick in activity, even as advertisers experience significant downward pressure. For instance, the latest data shows that overall engagement levels for posts made by Pages on Facebook have increased over the past three months. With the rise of digital marketing continuing to grow, AEC firms must meet their target audience where they are, which is online. There are numerous marketing and communication tactics firms can implement to keep their business moving during this time.
However, brands must be careful about how they approach marketing during the crisis. The emphasis should be placed on solving problems, not selling products. Carefully review your messaging, tone, frequency, and approach. Consider sharing images and stories about how your employees are working from home. By demonstrating empathy, compassion, and sensitivity, your brand is adding meaningful value to your clients and audience.
Above All, Remain Visible
Brands should consider the consequences of “going dark” to save costs. A lack of advertising and general brand communication can lead to a loss of customer loyalty and future opportunities. By remaining proactive during these reactive times, AEC firms can position themselves as relevant and timely thought leaders who continue to help their clients win.
*Statistics taken from Clear Seas Research, Architecture Engineering & Construction IPCT Report: Fieldwork April 16-20, 2020, page 6 https://www.clearseasresearch.com/product/architecture-engineering-construction-ipct-report-fieldwork-april-16-20-2020/