Woman giving a presentation to her team. She is using a whiteboard with charts and graphs. She is talking. They are in an office boardroom at the table with laptop computers and paperwork. She is smiling. Men and women in the group.

Picking Up the Slack: AEC Marketing as a Company-Wide Effort

Morrison Hershfield is one of North America’s leading, multidisciplinary engineering firms, where Scott Steiding serves as a Vice President and oversees sales and marketing operations for the firm. Unlike many business leaders, Steiding does not approach sales and marketing with a strictly organic or instinctive mentality. In this episode of AEC Marketing for Principals, Steiding sits down to discuss AEC marketing strategies that will allow you to measure sales and marketing efforts against the true ROI in your shop. 

Data-Driven Marketing Solutions 

Steiding approaches sales and marketing from a data-driven standpoint to construct a dialogue that resonates with his audience. It might seem straight forward, but this is a crucial effort in the technically-driven field of engineering where most firms have an internal void of business development experience in other departments. As a result, Steiding spent his early days at Morrison Hershfield adapting his skill set to the practice of AEC marketing, where the highly analytical nature demands data-driven marketing innovations no matter how qualified the idea or presenter is. Steiding began to thrive in this environment, and after some time, he became more efficient at communicating with his team in a format they were familiar with.

The AEC marketing efforts at Morrison Hershfield are set apart from their competition by the simple fact that Steiding and his team leverage third-party perspectives in conjunction with data. One of the major advantages of this approach is that it puts every aspect of their planning under a wider lens. Steiding can implement strategies based on where they stand in the overarching market and how their brand is positioned against other businesses in their professional service space. But, it didn’t start this way.

By taking a less conventional route to the top of the funnel where brand awareness and marketing take precedence, Steiding could focus primarily on business development first, which prioritized growth at Morrison Hershfield, and opened the door for stronger, more credible marketing opportunities later on. At the bottom of the funnel, ROI is much easier to measure, but as you move up, it gets more difficult to gage. That is why outside voices play a significant role. Combined with Steiding’s affinity for benchmarking, he has both internal and external data which can be pooled together to better understand what they are doing against other market trends in the engineering industry.

All Hands on Deck

At this point, Morrison Hershfield provides a progressive environment where AEC marketing has a seat at the table, but financial results are the topic of discussion no matter what part of the business is being assessed. Steiding and the senior executives have been collaborating to make sure that these discussions are aimed at the horizon instead of focused on past performances. Looking forward, they can better understand the operational needs and plan out a biz dev strategy with a syncopated project timeline and more realistic projections.

Many of their strategies are fine-tuned based on internal feedback. Whether it concerns response rates or other trackable results, Steiding takes full advantage of the opportunity to see what is working and what isn’t. With an audience of around one thousand employees in their firms, they can test out new marketing strategies in a sample group before launching them on a larger scale. Everybody on Steiding’s team has a particular niche, but everyone is very client-centric and devoted to non-billable work as it flows in. This is primarily made possible by his ability to bridge the communication gap with team members who have a better grasp on the technical parts of their AEC marketing content.

Customer Experience

On the customer experience side of the equation, Steiding utilizes powerful tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI to pull data points into unique reports and dashboards that tell a story about individual clients and their relationship with Morrison Hershfield. The trends derived from these reports allow Steiding and his team to streamline the decision-making process. They take a closer look at sales data once a month and break it down with their business units twice annually to identify areas of improvement. Data capture is not something that typically comes out of the marketing department, but with all of their efforts to grow, marketing, IT, HR, accounting, and leadership continue to work in harmony because every team brings new insights to the table.

About Scott Steiding
Scott Steiding leads sales, marketing, client satisfaction, and corporate communications efforts with Morrison Hershfield, a multi-national engineering practice where he is also a Principal. Prior to his current focus on new business, Steiding held a number of operational positions managing telecommunications and data center infrastructure projects in four different countries. His goal is to secure the best projects with the best clients so the firm can hire and develop the best people. Not surprising for an engineering practice, he promotes a data-driven approach to prioritizing business development activities. Steiding is married with two kids, an avid reader, animated soccer fan, and a mediocre multi-sport athlete. He is a graduate of Alma College.

For more on data-driven marketing and leveraging third party perspectives, listen to our podcast episode, Picking up the Slack: Marketing as a Company-Wide Effort.