Hello 2022, What's new?
Let's see. Supply chain. Global inflation. Talent war.
Oh, wait… these things aren't new. 

Sometimes I think to myself, "What in the world is happening to us? How do we get back to normal?" Then I remember my good friend, Global Economist and yoga goddess Dr. Evelina Roseman, Ph.D., who said with certainty back in July 2020 on the AEC Marketing for Principals Podcast, "We are Never. Going. Back."

I'm not sure I believed her when she said it, but she was right. Unfortunately, it took a global pandemic to disrupt the relationship-based, seller-doer approach our industry was built on. For the first time, office visits, in-person meetings, industry events, and client entertainment were no longer options for engaging your customers or prospects.

The disruption was not as severe for some of our clients because their digital strategies are mature, and they could quickly pivot. However, most of our clients were entering what must have felt like the wild west. The most remarkable part is that now that we see more in-person meetings happening again, our clients are not quick to return to their pre-pandemic ways.

Someone smarter than me said recently, "The greatest innovations always happen after a crisis." AEC Marketing is quickly moving into a new era. While relationships will always remain core to AEC business culture, marketing has a new role, and it's not proposals.

So, what's ahead for Principal Marketers in 2022? 
01. Account-Based Marketing will continue to grow in popularity. Unfortunately, the talent war and supply chain issues will not be resolved anytime soon. Naturally, this impacts everything in the AEC industry, including how you spend your marketing and sales dollars. ABM aligns your marketing spend with your company's highest-value customers and prospects. It drives efficiencies in the sales process and lowers your client acquisition costs. ABM debuted in 2021 as a buzzworthy topic PSMJ's THRIVE, SMPS SERC, and SMPS SWRC conferences. Not familiar with ABM? I highly recommend you Google it.
02. We will see a significant shift in how AEC brands engage audiences online. Brands with the best digital strategies will have a larger share of voice and a more substantial influence on buyers. Expect more engaging content designed to help clients. Large and small companies will be more focused on building brand loyalty through targeted organic and paid campaigns, specialty landing pages, podcasts, webinars, how-to videos, and other creative online experiences. Digital has leveled the playing field between large and small companies, and technology has made professional quality production accessible and affordable for anyone with a smartphone.
03. AEC Firms will invest more heavily in their digital marketing infrastructure. SEO, SEM, algorithms, landing pages, audience mapping, customer insights, and data will drive the conversation between the C-suite, BD, and marketing departments. If you just read all that and have no idea what it means, you are in the right place. The truth is that the AEC industry needs to become more educated about digital marketing and how it can help grow your business. The pandemic has fundamentally changed how people live and work on a massive scale, and things are changing at a wicked-fast pace. When was the last time you had an old-fashioned conference call with a dial-in number? Why does that feel like ancient technology when it was commonplace only two years ago? If you are approaching marketing like it's 2021, in the wise words of my teenager, "That's so last year."

If you have made it this far, it's time to say welcome to the inaugural issue of SPARKS, a monthly letter from me, your favorite AEC truthteller. If you know me, you know I always win the prize for saying what everyone else is thinking. LOL.

What kind of new, New Year's newsletter (try saying that three times fast) would this be if I didn't make a resolution?

I resolve to get to know you better in 2022. Every month, I promise to write you this letter designed to motivate you to "get after it," educate you on marketing best practices and conquer those barriers that stand in your way. Why? Because, my friends, the struggle is real and, we are all in this together.

Every day, my colleagues @Smartegies and I have the privilege to work with the finest AEC and CRE brands in North America, so we've learned a thing or two along the way. We want to tell you all about it so you can do your part to move the marketing needle in an industry that you have to genuinely love to be part of. I know I do.

Thanks for hanging with me to the end. I hope you have a healthy, happy, safe, and prosperous year.

Expect to receive your next letter about this time next month.

PS: If you like this newsletter and want to support doing things smarter instead of harder, you can! Here's how:
01. Send this newsletter to others in your world who need a little dose of Sparks' truthand they can sign up to get their own truth deposits in their inbox every month.
02. Get yourself some SMARTCA$H - the official currency of Smart MarketersWhat's on your mind? Need help understanding all the new marketing automation tools, or why do you need them? Send me your questions at If I address your question in this letter, you will be handsomely rewarded SMARTCA$H. SMARTCA$H can be used towards future SmartWin events and webinars.
03. Do you know something worth sharing with our audience? Request to be on our podcastAEC Marketing for Principals. Not a current subscriber? Let's change that right now.

04. Need ABM and Digital training? We've got you covered. Be sure to register for our next SmartWin Webinar. Check out this year's topic and hear what past attendees have to say. PRO TIP: buy one registration, get the recording after and share with your whole team!

Special Thanks to these 2022 Industry Needle Movers:
💥 To Tiffany Konenkamp, CPSM at Century Fire Protection for being our Star Innovator last year! Marketing Automation, M&A Branding, Organic & Paid Digital, Online Stores…What are you NOT capable of? Wow.

💥 To SMPS for selecting us to speak at SERC two years in a row! We can't wait to see you in Orlando next month!

💥To Tom Vandervort at Planifi for creating unique connections through something as small as a $5 Starbucks card. We always love when our clients get huge ROI from small spends!

Is someone doing great things to move the needle in AEC Marketing?
Tell us about them here.

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