Structural engineers are at something of a disadvantage when it comes to explaining to laypeople what it is they do. Architects, by comparison, don’t seem to be saddled with that marketing dilemma. People think they know what an architect does thanks to portrayals of the profession—accurate or not—on such iconic TV shows as “Mr. Ed,” “The Brady Bunch” and more recently, “How I Met Your Mother.” When people think architects, they generally think Mike Brady, Wilbur Post or Ted Mosby.
Structural engineering resists an easily digestible elevator pitch. How do you succinctly define what it is you do as a structural engineer?
An online presence is a key factor in promoting yourself and identifying concisely the services you provide. This is 2021. Of course, an online presence is a no-brainer, but optimizing your online presence is key to differentiating yourself from your competition. In a quarter-century of leading digital transformations, we have seen businesses flail online when they should be flourishing.
Is your website effectively and efficiently working for you? Does your layout conform to various devices? Your website is ground zero for establishing a digital foundation. It is here that you will promote not just your company but yourself with a clear mission statement as to your vision and values. It is here that you must spotlight what makes you and your company different from other options. What is it that you uniquely bring to the table?
Among the first things on your digital marketing checklist is to build out a presence by creating profiles on such portals as Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, LinkedIn and Yelp. Be sure the profiles are kept up-to-date and are SEO-friendly, meaning they incorporate keywords for which prospective clients would search.
Is your site’s design welcoming, or is it user-unfriendly? Copy should be simple, with short sentences. Fonts should be large and easy to read. Speaking of which, huge blocks of promotional text, no matter how compelling or how valuable the information you think they are, generally go unread. The eye is better engaged by illustrations, bullet points and infographics that break up the page.
Visually, reputation-building icons, such as the Better Business Bureau certification logo, along with positive reviews from satisfied clients, establish credibility.
Freshening up a brand with value-added content
Value-added content is another way to freshen a website, generate organic traffic, and build awareness for you and your brand or firm. This could take the form of in-house videos or a blog that addresses the latest industry news and issues and your perspective on addressing them. You can devise a blogging strategy that encompasses blogging frequency (Daily? Once a week? Twice a week?), blog length, solicitation of guest blogs and other factors.
A consistent blog presence coupled with high-quality content establishes you as an expert and a go-to thought-leader that can be called upon as a source for other blogs or news sites. Ask relevant sites if they will link to your site and offer to reciprocate.
Another must for your website is to be sure it is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is the 10th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design, which mandates that websites be accessible to deaf and blind users as well as those who navigate websites using assistive technologies such as navigating by voice.
What you do not know about ADA compliance could cost you in the form of lawsuits on behalf of those whose access to navigating your site has been hindered.
Lastly—and actually, this should probably have been the first thing mentioned—you need to make contact information easy-to-find on your site. How often have you scrolled up and down a website looking for a phone number or email address?
Frustrated potential customers who cannot easily find contact information wind up returning to Google and entering “structural engineer near me” in the search bar.
In addition to your website, social media should be another crucial component of your digital marketing strategy. The benefits of a focused and targeted social media plan are many-fold, including driving traffic to your website, increasing your brand awareness, generating new clients, and building a community and generating new business.
LinkedIn is not the only platform businesses use to build brand awareness. Facebook, the world’s third most visited website behind Google and YouTube, is considered the most popular social network among U.S. marketers. A reported 90 million small businesses use it, according to Hootsuite.
Twitter usage by businesses is almost as robust. As of October of last year, Twitter had 340 million users. Eighty-five percent of small and medium businesses use Twitter to improve customer service.
Finding products on Instagram
Instagram is the second-most logged-in social media site on a daily basis after Facebook. a growing platform. A reported 83% of Instagram users find new products and services on this platform.
Creating unique and high-quality content on social media is a way to grow your following. But posting without a plan or an objective will be counterproductive.
Above all else, communication is key. If you have something to announce—say, industry recognition, company growth, introducing a new service—send out a press release.
Engineering is a highly competitive field, as is evidenced by search engine results for relevant industry and business-related keywords. Focusing on these keywords through your blog, social media posts and other unique content will go a long way to getting Google to boost your webpage ranking.
Finally, establishing an online presence is only the beginning. When was the last time you looked at your website’s various components with fresh eyes? Is your online presence stale? What can use some freshening up? Is all the information up-to-date? Has your company grown in the interim, added key personnel or services? Be sure to keep your website and business profiles up-to-date.
While essential for a business’ growth, establishing an online presence can at times be a matter of trial and error. What works and what doesn’t? What kind of blog content is resonating most with readers? What social media site is the most impactful for your business? How much should you spend on paid search? Working with a digital marketing team can help you to identify your business goals and objectives and craft a strategy to meet and exceed them.
And no one will confuse what you do with Mike Brady.
Mike Mayer is founder and CEO of Main Event Digital, a digital marketing agency for manufacturers and distributors. Prior to Main Event Digital, he worked as a B2B ecommerce executive at companies including U.S. Electrical Services, Crescent Electric Supply and Thermo Fisher Scientific.