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A/E firm leaders report personal selling and relationship building as their most successful marketing strategy, a new report shows. According to the newly released 2008 Marketing Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms, close to half of participating firms say developing relationships with clients and potential clients surmounts any type of direct mailing or telemarketing they’ve conducted.

"It’s true that despite increasing competitive pressures, nothing works quite as well as building a personal, collaborative relationship with the client," says John Doehring, senior vice president and managing director at ZweigWhite and leader of the company’s Strategic and Financial Advisory Services group. "The real trick in professional services is to employ a multi-faceted direct marketing approach that generates additional opportunities for relationship building. It’s not either or, but all components working together."

Also according to the report, more than a third of firms say publishing articles in trade publications, attending conventions and trade shows, and sending out newsletters are among their most successful marketing methods. Close to half of firms (46 percent) publish at least one marketing newsletter; this usually goes to clients and potential clients. These newsletters most often contain information on clients’ areas of interest and technical information.

In addition to firms’ top marketing strategies, the survey report also contains data on marketing spending, promotional activities, marketing staff compensation, and proposal hit rates, among other topics. This year’s edition includes new content on firm website redesign, web metrics applications, and firms’ use of social networking sites.

The 2008 Marketing Survey of Architecture, Engineering, Planning & Environmental Consulting Firms is available online from the publisher for $445, plus $8 shipping and handling.

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