Engineering services have grown by 2.4 percent over the past year and brought in $233 billion in 2019. This marks a recent upswing in revenue after a brief dip in the mid-2000s.
Engineering consultancy is trending upward, and for good reason. Engineering consultancies offer valuable insight into the logistics and technical nature of building and science projects. Technical specialization, financial administration, business development, and much more — these consulting services power the innovations that are moving our culture forward.
There’s no doubt engineering consulting has value, but how do you enter the market? Saturated by a highly-skilled workforce, it can be hard to find footing in this competitive landscape. Don’t lose hope — backed by the right business and marketing strategies, you can help highlight your inherent value to prospective clients and elevate your practice above the competition.
Finding a niche
Running an engineering consultancy is hard. A crowded market filled with similarly sized players makes it challenging and time-consuming to seek out clients, communicate your business’ capabilities, and beat out other market leaders.
You’re not going to win every contract. In fact, less than 8 percent of U.S. engineering firms have more than 25 employees. Face the fact that you’re not going to be everything to everyone, and that’s okay. Instead, focus on carving out your sliver of the industry by offering acute specialization and quality service.
Part of recognizing your competitive advantage is knowing your competition. No one consultancy can do it all, so it’s your job to learn the competitive landscape, find gaps, and establish your business as the answer to your competitors’ shortcomings.
Do you consider you and your staff experts in petroleum engineering? In that case, lean into that identity. What about construction engineering? Make that your selling point. In fact, you don’t even need to have a niche established yet — that’s the beauty of it. As long as you have the capacity to specialize in something the market lacks, then you are in good shape to establish your brand as unique. This will add value to your brand as you operate your business and, especially, when it comes time to sell your engineering consultancy.
Of course, all of the above is not worth much if nobody knows your company exists. As an engineering consultancy, you need to establish your company as offering services that cannot be executed in-house. Everyone thinks they’re an expert — it’s your job to highlight why they need you.
This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to market your engineering consultancy, but there are a few tried-and-true ways to get noticed:
- Market research: While it might sound reductive, market research is the crux of all marketing success, but especially in engineering consultancy. Identify which engineering trends are driving industry demand, capitalize on areas of growth that might offer new business opportunities, and stake your claim in the market.
- Online persona: You need to establish an identity that is both inviting and authoritative. You want to be welcoming to prospective clients, but assert your company’s expertise in the field. This is a delicate balance you will have to find as you establish your online persona. Whether on your website or on social media, you want to shape how customers perceive you and the specializations you offer. Providing consultant biographies on your website that outline individual staff members’ specific expertise is a good place to start. This both humanizes your employees and offers insight into the capabilities of your consultancy.
- Get the word out: Finally, you need to find a way to reach your audience. Meeting your audience where they already are is the key to marketing your business because leveraging the correct channel(s) is crucial to promoting engagement. When it comes to the engineering demographic, you will likely have to mix legacy and digital channels to reach the diversity of ages and personalities within engineering fields. Mail, email, content marketing, social media, etc. — find the right tools in your toolbox to get the job done.
You’ve got the consultancy part down — don’t doubt yourself in that regard. But, in order to bring forth the inherent value of your services, you have to get people to care. That means establishing a niche, branding your practice as such, and practicing savvy marketing. These are the same entrepreneurial skills business owners have practiced for decades, but specially catered to the engineering consultancy industry.
No need to reinvent the wheel — just follow the above tips, keep doing what you do best, and clients will be attracted to you by virtue of your expertise.