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July 2017

"The Secret to Taking Down the
800-Pound Gorilla"

How do you stack up against your professional design competition? Are you producing slick marketing videos, have you increased your client referrals or are you the 800-Pound Gorilla? Guest author, Brian M. Fraley, Owner of Fraley Construction Marketing, and creator of the Construction Marketing InSITE eNewsletter and Construction Marketing Straight Talker Blog, describes current obstacles and offers helpful insight that could influence your future business development strategy.

How do we take down the 800-pound gorilla that dominates our market segment? It's the question that keeps many professional services executives awake at night. The short answer, which we will unpack here, is that you need to start building a legacy brand.

Perhaps "take down" is a bit dramatic so let's reframe it. Whether you're an architecture, engineering or landscape architecture firm, your goal is to expand market share for your firm. This is the very foundation of intentional marketing.

The Unstoppable 800-Pound Gorilla?

Let's better define the 800-pound gorilla. It's the firm that has been gobbling up the majority of market share in its market segment for decades. Or the firm whose reputation is strong enough that the selection committee is willing to look beyond price.

They have a Teflon-like reputation. A botched project, unreturned phone call, service blunder, or delayed payment to a consultant barely puts a chink in the armor. Competitors are left scratching their heads, puzzled about how they overcame the fumble.

Build a Legacy Brand

What these firms have built is what I call a legacy brand. It's a fitting term. Having a legacy brand is the dream of every professional services firm because it's the equivalent of owning a money-printing machine. And whether we admit it or not, we're all in business to make money.

There are legacy brands in every market segment. You already know the players in the A/E industry. Think also of Apple in technology; Proctor & Gamble in consumer products; AT&T and Verizon in telecommunications; and Comcast in cable.

Now that you are salivating (or grinding your teeth) over the coveted position of these legacy brands, how can you build one?

The hard truth is that it takes the kind of time, persistence and financial wherewithal that most of us don't have. It's a combination of branding, marketing, customer service, design innovation, hustle, integrity, and even a bit of luck. The right combination of these things over time will pay dividends in the form of positive word of mouth, referrals, ringing phones, inbound leads and more.

Why would I say that most of us don't have the time and persistence to build a legacy brand? I should be showering your with words of encouragement so you'll share this article, right? Wrong.

The Gorilla Stumbles

The bad news for the 800-pound gorillas, which is good news for the rest of us, is that a day of reckoning may be coming as big picture market forces threaten their leadership position. I'm seeing water trickling out from the cracks in the dam already. Some are calling it the " Third Industrial Revolution." It doesn't matter how we brand it. The internet and globalization are in the epicenter and the storm is churning.

How can this be good news for anyone, you ask? Because it will open up a window for firms of all sizes to expand market share and encourage more start-ups in the A/E industry. It's the epitome of capitalism. The window of opportunity is cracked; perfect timing for legacy brands to emerge.

Let me be clear that the elimination of jobs and entire companies greatly concerns me. These legacy brands have overcome great odds, created millions of jobs, and moved America forward. And yet, like a car wreck, I can't help but watch with a mix of captivation and concern to see the outcome.

Disruption Creates Incredible Opportunity

At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, I believe some in the A/E industry are in for a rude awakening. The firms I talk to see the technology trends such as 3D Printing, drones, BIM, augmented reality, and even e-commerce, and seem to recognize that jobs will be eliminated, but I'm not convinced that they recognize the gravity of these threats. Entire markets could be redefined in the next decade.

There are incredible opportunities in times of major disruption for those with their eyes wide open and the stomach for risk. The bastions of the A/E industry will be tested. No brand, regardless of how strong, is timeless.

Start building a legacy A/E brand now so you'll be ready to pounce when the timing is right.

While you focus your efforts on staying the course of steady planned business development with a proven marketing strategy to "pounce" as Brian suggests, let us manage your most important assets, your professional credentials. Visit or call 913-608-7880 for more information.

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