In the ever-evolving landscape of the A/E/C world, market shifts can be both challenging and full of opportunities. As we approach 2024, the industry is experiencing significant changes due to capital market constraints, the cost of money, and the changing expectations of end users. To stay ahead of the curve and thrive in this new environment, it’s crucial to reevaluate your business development (BD) and marketing strategies. That’s exactly why we’ll explore how to capture work, fill the pipeline in an uncertain market, and utilize research to adapt to these market shifts successfully.
understanding the market shifts
Of course, the first line of action when approaching a new year, whether major market shifts are anticipated or not, is to dive into Market Research. Once your firm has a clearer understanding of where the market is heading it’s important to ask yourself, “What services can we market that align with the trends we’re seeing?” Often, firms have alternative offerings that are more secondary, however with market shifts, it may make more sense to market those offerings more heavily, even shifting those services to primary.
For example, in 2024 capital markets make it difficult for our commercial real estate investors and developers to take on new construction projects. That doesn’t mean existing properties don’t need help! During the early days of COVID, many buildings underwent renovations focused on air quality and new operational models. The unpredictability of what “normal” would become may have caused building owners to delay their normally scheduled renovations. If you offer renovation services, what do these properties need to stay competitive? Is there money for it? Is there an appetite? Do we need to offer a new service? Market Research can help you answer those questions.
Reposition your services to solve their problem. If large scale new construction projects are less likely, make sure you start showing your services in a different context.
Research and strategic planning
Market research is useless unless it is used to inform and drive your year-long strategic planning. Let’s take a look at what that may mean in 2024.
Public and Government Contracts: While it may not seem glamorous, government work can provide a stable revenue stream. If market research reveals that there are government initiatives your firm can win, this may be the year to capitalize on those projects. Make sure your research includes the procurement cycle for these projects. Just because there is money, does not mean you can capture it.
Commercial Markets: We already touched on new construction projects being delayed, canceled, or not making financial sense. But that doesn’t mean opportunity is gone. It means there are different opportunities. Use research to understand what those are. Step back and look at what is going on Culturally, Demographically, and Competitively.
broadening your business development plan targets
Market research isn’t a one-time endeavor. As industries evolve, so do their players and dynamics. Did your research uncover opportunities? Who buys those services in the markets? Often the buyer shifts, and so does the competitive landscape. That’s why it’s crucial to dedicate time identifying those end buyers, understanding the competitors, and determining whether the contacts in the project ecosystem have evolved. There may be new organizations, and publications that have risen in prominence, presenting fresh opportunities for visibility, networking, and relationship building.
Furthermore, staying updated with these changes isn’t just about seizing new opportunities; it’s about relevance and adaptability. In a rapidly evolving market, what worked yesterday might not necessarily work today. By continuously identifying and understanding these shifts, you position yourself at the forefront of your industry. You’re not just reacting to changes; you’re anticipating them. This proactive approach not only establishes your expertise but also helps in making informed decisions that can propel your business forward. Regularly revisiting your research ensures that your strategies are aligned with the current market realities, giving you a competitive edge and setting you up for continued success.
adapting your content strategy
Once your firm understands where the market is headed and how the services you offer can serve that market, it’s time to adapt your content strategy. If people don’t know or understand what you offer, they can’t come to you for those services.
One way to accomplish this is to revamp your content for current clients. To retain current clients, your content plan must align with market trends. Work closely with your team to refresh content and messaging to meet your clients’ evolving needs.
Another area to examine is your firm’s messaging. Selling the same service to a new buyer might require adjusting your terminology. Your website, LinkedIn posts, and other content should reflect this shift. Incorporate relevant keywords and phrases that resonate with your target audience and the work you’re trying to win.
It’s also important to formulate an integrated marketing and BD strategy by assessing what the market demands now. Ensure your BD team has the right messaging, content, and resources to attract the work you want.
So what now?
Market shifts are an inevitable part of the A/E/C industry’s natural evolution. Embracing these changes and adapting your strategies is the key to success in 2024 and beyond. By pivoting your services, tailoring your messaging, and staying informed through research, you can position your firm to thrive even in challenging times.
Remember, the market may continue to move in this direction, but with a well-planned strategy and proactive approach, your firm can not only survive but also thrive in the ever-changing landscape. Stay agile, keep an eye on market trends, and ensure your BD and content strategies are aligned with the market’s demands to capture the work and fill your pipeline effectively.