The Missing Link in Your AEC Marketing Plan

The Missing Link in Your AEC Marketing Plan

Brenda Christman is the SVP of Marketing and Communications for Hunt Companies, a global enterprise and holding company that invests in business in the real estate and infrastructure market. Their umbrella of companies and affiliates employs over six thousand with household brands like Pinnacle and Amber Infrastructure. Christman has been with Hunt for about eight and a half years now, a timeframe in which Hunt made twelve acquisitions and saw substantial growth from just twelve hundred employees when she started.

Building Out Your Marketing Team

Brenda Christman’s leadership style has always been ‘good for all,’ and it is a characteristic of great presence in every instance of collaboration that she is involved with. You can teach a lot of things, but you can’t teach a good attitude, so when you build out your team it is important to find people that are down for the cause. It might seem self-explanatory, but many firms lump half-hearted marketing efforts in with biz dev and sales, while in reality, marketing is a rapidly evolving practice requiring a team that can adapt, collaborate, and think on their feet. 

That being the case, hiring the right people makes all the difference in the world. There has to be a strong team environment that enables healthy discourse so people can thoroughly interrogate a problem without stepping on each other’s toes. This can be more difficult for young professionals trying to break into the AEC marketing industry, but if you have a veteran marketer on your team, they can also serve as a mentor for new team members struggling with tactical execution, strategy, content creation, and even things like gaining visibility in meetings.

Hiring a Marketer Who Leads From the Front

Christman has to navigate an ever-changing landscape, while Hunt acquires everything from corporate real estate and maintenance to design and construction—it is a steep learning curve that demands a synergistic and consistent AEC marketing infrastructure at the core of the business. Many marketers in the AEC industry fall into this niche by chance, so to end up in this sector and reach the C- suite, where Christman maintains communication and image across a wide array of brands and brand architectures, is an unbelievable feat.

The early experience she gained at various resorts led her from hotel/casino development to retail development where she began climbing the rungs from publicist to marketing manager, marketing director and so on. Retail development provided a great launchpad to the broader arena of real estate and Christman eventually moved to Lendlease in Denver where she honed the concept of teamwork and took it to a new level. The major takeaway is that your marketing leader should be extremely well-rounded because there are so many different angles and solutions for every area of opportunity. Christman was a marketer, not an AEC professional, and although relevant industry experience is immensely beneficial, transferrable skills are much more universal in this type of position.

Tools That Will Bolster Your AEC Marketing Efforts

Another thing that Christman brought to the table was her knowledge of new tools, technologies, and resources, which is invaluable since problems with information management arise regularly. Your marketing leader should be able to offer insights about preferential tools, and how they can be used to streamline the information management process and improve communication with your cross-functional teams and outside vendors. AEC marketing requires a lot of data management, so some of Christman’s go-to tools include SharePoint, ShareFile, and Basecamp which are all worth considering as you build out your AEC marketing department.

Christman put together a rich marcom stack that provides an integrated system to improve internal communication and yield significantly more data to go to market with. Communicating strategy, direction, and wins for the business gets extremely difficult with the size of Hunt Companies. But, whether it is 10 employees or 6,000 these types of systems are improving efficiency across the board.

Reorganizing your AEC marketing resources and building out a strategy does not have to be a daunting task if you focus on hiring smart. Well-rounded, self-sufficient marketing leaders like Christman already understand what it takes to create an efficient team that can take a strategy to market and help you grow. As an AEC principal, you have to provide flexibility and put faith in your marketers to get the job done; when you find the missing link in your leadership team, the rest will fall into place.

About Brenda Christman
Brenda Christman serves as Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications for Hunt Companies, Inc. In this role, Ms. Christman is responsible for leading the strategic marketing and branding, public relations, and communications efforts for Hunt and its affiliates. Prior to joining Hunt in 2011, Ms. Christman was Senior Vice President of Strategic Communications for Lend Lease Corporation for the U.S. Ms. Christman’s career also includes various positions in the retail real estate sector including Director of Property Management for Weingarten Realty, and various management and marketing positions with General Growth Properties, Pan Pacific (now Kimco) and Talisman Companies. Ms. Christman earned a Bachelors degree in Communications from Valparaiso University and a Masters Degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix.

For more on building your marketing strategy and team around an innovative marketing leader, and how your firm will benefit from doing so, listen to our podcast episode, The Missing Link in Your AEC Marketing Strategy, with Brenda Christman