Combine the power of storytelling with technical expertise, and you’ve got a winning formula that will help you connect with prospects and clients. That’s good news for Architecture/Engineering/Construction firms looking for ways to form deeper connections with stakeholders.

What’s so great about storytelling is that it can be used throughout the client journey from their first impression of your firm as a prospect through project development, completion, and a successful long-term relationship.

“Stories have the power of engaging people in different ways,” comments Holly Bolton, FSMPS, CPSM, 2022-2023 president of the Society for Marketing Professional Services. “The human element resonates with people.”

When A/E/C firms tell good stories, their audiences may see themselves in the story. They can relate to clients as the hero and A/E/C firm as their supportive guide who helps them resolve challenges.

In client-focused case studies, the reader benefits from discovering what others have experienced when working with a company.

Incorporate Storytelling Into Business Development

Craig Park, FSMPS, Assoc. AIA, director of digital experience design, Clark & Enersen, Charleston, South Carolina, emphasizes the value of stories during the business development process.

“Stories make complex topics — like technology — easier to understand and to appreciate their value,” he says.

In his marketing roles over the years, Park has told stories that illustrate a firm’s creative approach to problem-solving.

“In our project interviews, we tell stories about how the firm’s project experience helped other clients solve challenges now faced by the prospect,” he explains.

In their shortlist presentations, the Clark & Enersen team often shares stories based on:

  • Examples of similar work for similar clients
  • How the firm’s approach includes aspects that make the process more inclusive
  • How the firm’s efforts led to another project’s success

Park explains that as part of the presentation preparation, Clark & Enersen often develops illustrative concepts that align with the project’s goals.

Using three-dimensional design tools, the firm shows what the building could look like, complete with rendered exteriors consistent with the context of the client’s site and surroundings. These initial design ideas include components used in the building structure and arrangement.

Examples Highlight Educational Trends

As the technology director for the firm, Park’s presentations for education-sector clients explain how university clients would want to build class spaces to better serve the needs of the new generation of students, and how visible and intuitive technology could encourage them to enroll at the university.

“I talk about trends in education,” says Park. “The younger generations want information that is accessible, fast, and digestible.” He offers examples of college classrooms that focus on team-based, student-centered interactions that are multimedia-intensive.

He adds, “As part of this process, we always use stories to describe how our solution addresses that client’s challenges.”

Park’s approach combines technical expertise with storytelling to connect with prospects.

Tell Success Stories With Clients

Bolton, owner of 3chord Marketing, Indianapolis, Indiana, has helped A/E/C firms collaborate with their clients to publish articles, whether in blogs or industry publications. Another approach is to develop an industry presentation alongside a client to share lessons learned and keys to their project’s success.

“This strategy positions both the firm and the client as thought leaders, promotes knowledge sharing, and helps firms build relationships with their clients,” Bolton says.

Stories Add Value

Consider using some form of storytelling to engage with your stakeholders, whether they’re prospects, partners, or long-time clients. Stories are remembered and more easily create a human connection.

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