32: Strategic Growth, Marketing + Digital Strategies for AEC with Judy Sparks, Smartegies

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Judy Sparks, CEO of Smartegies, a marketing company that helps Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) firms achieve scalability and growth, emphasizes the importance of understanding the highest-value customers and targets and how to bring value to them. She believes that having a different infrastructure for marketing and sales can allow companies to scale faster, and conferences and pounding the pavement are no longer as effective as most professions and targets are reachable via digital.

Sparks is an expert in account-based marketing (ABM), which involves identifying high-value accounts and creating personalized campaigns that resonate with them. Marketing departments are moving from the sales enablement role of doing RFQs and RFPs to seeing themselves responsible for generating demand. The Scalable 6, a framework invented by Smartegies, helps AEC and commercial real estate brands prioritize critical foundational marketing elements that they can afford.

The Scalable 6 framework consists of six key components: branding, communications, account-based marketing and sales, digital strategy, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and sales enablement. Sparks explains that these components are critical to marketing and sales efforts for AEC firms. The framework helps to evaluate the current state of a company's marketing and sales efforts, identify gaps, and create balance for the current state of the organization.

Sparks stresses the need to move marketing's role upstream to demand generation. A leading-edge marketing and sales strategy is crucial for growth, and the Scalable 6 framework can help AEC firms prioritize critical foundational marketing elements that they can afford and create balance for the current state of the organization. Companies need to adapt to the changing buying audiences, and the seller-doers in AEC firms do not have time to take on sales and marketing roles. Lastly, Sparks believes that branding and brand strategy are key to attracting the right employees and customers, and communications, both internal and external, are also critical to differentiate a brand.

When it comes to marketing strategy, Sparks advises companies to start with data and consider outsourcing versus in-house hires based on cost and quality. She emphasizes the importance of understanding the highest value customers and targets, where they live online and offline, and the message they need to hear from a company in order to be interested. The Scalable 6 framework can be applied to companies of any size, and Sparks stresses the need for companies to adapt to changing buying audiences and prioritize a leading-edge marketing and sales strategy for growth.

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