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5 ways to be Radically Relevant with Tim Asimos

I had the pleasure of attending the Radically Relevant event with Tim Asimos this past Thursday. Tim spoke about the issues we AEC marketers are facing when attempting to stand out from our competitors, and I’m sure we all know them well.

  • Marketing that is focused on reaching your audience rather than engaging your audience
  • New marketing channels (i.e. social media) but same old approach
  • Audiences are tired of bad marketing – 44% of direct mail never opened, 91% unsubscribe from email lists, 235M people on the do not call list
  • Audiences disregard marketing that is irrelevant to them

Where we want to aspire to be with our marketing is within the intersection between what we say, show, and write and what our clients want to hear, see, and read. Here is a quick recap of Tim’s five main points on how to get there:

  1. Add value to your value proposition

Your value proposition is a clear statement that highlights the outcomes a client can realize from working with your firm and how you will add more value. Essentially: what outcome can your client expect.

Therefore, you need to address what your client values and how they measure success. Your value proposition must resonate with them – you can solve their problems. It differentiates – your approach is different. And lastly, it validates that you add real value.

  1. Orient outwardly not inwardly

Tim began this section with the quote by Dale Carnegie, “talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.” Orienting outwardly is more than just saying that your company is client oriented, the hero of your story needs to be the client.  We need to remember that there is a human on the other end of project decision making. Therefore, we need to get to know our audience deeply so that we can speak their language, know their concerns, and be aware that people in different roles have different values.

A major point that Tim made was that we are AEC companies are a means to an end. We are not the end product to our clients, a building is not the end product, a new HVAC system is not the end product. The end goal for our AEC clients is for them to be able to better serve their clients by using the facilities we help create. Whether we like it or not, 80% of decision making is based on emotion. We need to appeal to client’s core emotional drivers, such as improving their ability to better serve their own clients.

  1. Stop trying to be amazing and be useful

Awards and accolades, while they may be nice, may not be the best way to attract clients. Clients are looking for a company that is useful, knowledgeable, and can help them solve their problems. You will have better luck earning client’s attention by creating something interesting and targeted towards their values. For example: make your website a destination for learning with educational content on your company’s expertise.

We need to make sure we are putting content out there that our clients are interested in receiving. More content is not necessarily better. Tim mentioned that one of the best ways ensure you are creating content that is interesting to your potential clients is to ask your technical staff what questions they often get asked by clients, or get a list of interview questions from past interviews and create a blog post/website content around one of those topics.

Follow the 80/20 rule. Only 20 percent of your marketing should be firm promotion. 80 percent of marketing should be thought leadership, industry news, third party articles, influencers. Turn up the value not the volume.

  1. Narrow your marketing focus

If you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing. Broad marketing wastes resources. I’m sure many of us have faced this hurdle in our roles. What it comes down too, is you don’t really want all the fish in the sea, or you don’t need all the clients out there, you only need a few quality clients. Therefore, we need to stop marketing to everyone under the sun and target our marketing approach on a few top client pursuits.

The goal is to tailor your unique value proposition for your client. Talk to an audience of one in your marketing. One size doesn’t fit all. You can’t interest everyone all at once. Therefore, your unique value proposition changes based on the client you are trying to attract. Value propositions can be used in BD meetings, proposals, capture plans, interviews, content strategy, conferences, and outreach. For example: personalize your communication with tools such as targeted email lists.

  1. Resolve to be different

This is a tough one in our line of work. I’m sure we have all been witness to the conversation of, “such and such firm does it this way, so we should too.” To combat this mentality, Tim reminded us that if you brand doesn’t differentiate, it’s not a brand. We should aspire to have a unique identity. One way in which we can go this is to talk about why we do what we do, rather than just what we do, and say it differently.

Tim did a great job of boiling down what seems like such a daunting task into some concrete manageable actions. This event reinforced some of my marketing approaches and more importantly gave me some new ideas to bring back with me to the office. If you ever get the chance to attend one of his presentations, I highly recommend it! Hope to see you at some of the great SMPS programming scheduled for ABX this year or the SMPS event Presenting Like a Pro with Paul Bramson.


Kelly is the Marketing & Communications Manager at DBVW Architects in Providence, MA. When she’s not in the office she enjoys performing in various community theatre productions in southeastern Mass. and spending lots of quality time with her husband and two kids.

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