Ascribe

When you log into your Ascribe account today and click into a project profile you will notice a new section under the Hard Facts called “Private Details”.  This new section is for you to capture information about the project that will not be displayed publicly in any project portfolio.  You can include facts such as your budget on the project, or reference customer contact information.

This new feature is being introduced now, in preparation of the new Project PDF Creator (coming soon). The “Private Details” content can also be dynamically pulled into the (upcoming) printable project sheets.

Stay tuned for more information about the release date for the Project PDF Creator.

Private Details

Private Details

Has your company taken the plunge into the Social Media abyss yet?  If not, what’s holding you back?   Could be, you’re like most other skeptics out there who have been hiding in the background waiting to see if this is all just a fad, or if in fact Social Media is here to stay.  Or maybe it’s that even though you realize this is something you need to get involved in, you just have no idea where to begin.

No matter what it is that’s keeping you from moving forward, NOW is the time to get on board. According to Web Strategy’s Social Network Stats for 2010, Facebook, which has over 400 million members, received more visits last week than Google. Twitter reports show that there are over 50 million tweets occurring per day, which is an average of 600 tweets per second. LinkedIn currently has over 60 million users in over 200 countries, and has experienced  a growth of 5 million new users in the last 2 months.

Needless to say, with numbers like these, it looks like Social Media is going to stick around for quite some time.  You really don’t want to be left behind do you?  Marketing budgets are dwindling and competition is high.  Currently there’s no better way to expand your brand and get maximum exposure, at little or no cost to your company, than your social network.  How can you NOT take advantage of that?

Ok, so now you agree, there’s no more hiding from it. But where do you begin?  According to an article written by Constructive Communication, Inc. - Online Social Media, the first thing you need to do is identify which social media platform your key audience is participating in the most.  Listen to what their saying before determining your goals and strategies.  Also, check out what other companies in your industry are doing.  It doesn’t mean that if it’s working for them that you should adopt their same methods, however it can be a good starting point as you develop your own social media plan.

Do your homework.  You’re not limited to just Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Check out YouTube, Blogging Sites, Wikipedia, Flicker, widgets, gadgets, the list goes on. Let your creative character come alive.  The possibilities are unlimited.

It’s time to start building your network.  Don’t be left out in the cold.  Social Networking is what your competitors are doing, your future customers are doing, and it’s what your company SHOULD be doing.

We have just released a new feature for the Project Group Section in Ascribe that will allow you to create a description of your project profile segments.  Now when you create a group, or market segment, you can write a description about that group or segment that can be included in your website portfolio as an introduction or overview of your project groups.  For example, you may want to write a description about your Green Project Group that describes specifics about your experience in this area.  These project group descriptions will also be used in the upcoming PDF creation tool for creating and printing project profile sheets.

Note: This new feature is located in the Project Groups section in your Ascribe account.

Segment/Group Description

Segment/Group Description

If you’re new to Ascribe, check out this overview video

Marketing can lay a critical foundation for your sales pipeline, but often things don’t happen until you pick up the phone, or shake a hand. Marketing tools, like Ascribe, in the AEC industry cannot replace personal selling and networking, it can only grease the process and give you a reputation and brand exposure before you open the door….but you still need to open the door.

Reducing your risk of rejection is important for every sales person, but especially for those who are marketing or doing business development for their construction or design firms, but are also active project managers and designers.  Those people that spend their non-selling time doing other critical tasks such as project management, or leading a team, let’s be honest, if you get your proverbial hand slapped 9 out of 10 times you pick up the phone to sell a prospect on your service, you’re going to find it easy to “keep busy” with the other parts of your job rather than marketing or selling. Before you know it, you’re spending little to no time selling. But, what if your rejection rate was only 1 in 3. I think most of us would love those numbers, and not slink away from the phone. So, how do you reduce your risk?

First thing to do is to understand the difference between Active Needs and Latent Needs. Active Needs are associated with dissatisfaction caused by pain or desire. Prospects with Active Needs are easy to approach because they are open to change. In many cases, they are already actively looking for our services. Latent Needs exist when prospects fail to recognize that they are no longer satisfied with the status quo. People with Latent Needs will not buy. They are complacent with, and satisfied with, the status quo. Dangling a great opportunity in front of a person with Latent Needs is a waste of time.

If you spend your sales time only looking for prospects with Active Needs, you will be dealing with rejection 90% of the time. You will waste a lot of time leaving voice mails looking for that “easy” opportunity and get discouraged in the process.

In our industry, Latent Needs are abundant and plentiful. Owners get complacent with “OK” designs. GCs settle for “acceptable” service from their subcontractors. A far more affective approach to selling in this environment is to farm the prospects with Latent Needs. Convert their Latent Needs into Active Needs by creating a sense of momentum and curiosity around your company. Use tools like Ascribe to publish your project profiles, and Facebook and Twitter to publish your company’s activity.  Create excitement about a new feature of your service that your other clients are raving about. The objective of the call is not to close the sale, but to create momentum, excitement, and curiosity about your service. If this is your objective, then your failure rate will be around 10% instead of the 90%. In this mind-set you are successful and you understand this to be a valuable use of your time. Then, if you stumble on an Active Need, all the better.

Ascribe’s own Criag Nelson, who many of you may know as Ascribe’s talented lead project portfolio integration designer, as it turns out is an extremely talented lead vocalist and guitar player for a new band called Water Clock.  The Ascribe team got to witness this illuminating event this weekend and was thoroughly impressed!  So next time you have him do some work on your project portfolio, ask him to bellow a few notes from his latest song.  Craig has played with Papa Vegas, and recorded with Brian Vander Ark from The Verve Pipe.

Craig Ascribe

Craig Ascribe

Moyle Inc., founded in 1976, is known today as one of the largest commercial contractors in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula providing construction and development services to Northern Michigan and Wisconsin.

Check out this company’s new Ascribe Project Portfolio and its unique design layout. They have been working hard over the past few days putting together project profiles that include photos and descriptions about each project being displayed in their company portfolio.  Nice Job!

Having your project template, or project profile system, in place is like having your gun loaded before the “big bucks” (pun intended) begin to cross your path.

You can almost smell it. You have begun to hear whispers of it. The tide is turning and the projects are coming. RFPs are picking up. Yes, margins are small, but that is simply the next logical step to the economic turnaround.

The question is, are your guns loaded and ready to begin bagging the deals with ease, or will your team be scrambling around the office trying to find and organize the ammo.

A critical part of the information that you will need ready is your company’s experience, in the form of the Project Profile. Have you constructed a project template system that is readily useable, flexible, or at minimum quickly “tweak-able”? It is a rare and opportune time to get organized with you’re your past project photos, and descriptions, awards and client references. Build out a project template that can be populated and deployed easily and quickly. Tag and organize your project profiles in multiple ways so you can call the specific data you need. If you can, try to build a central repository that can utilize the data in all the ways you will need it, such as project sheets, website portfolio, and social network distribution. Get your project profiles on your office walls updated as well. (your not guilty of not updating your project wall-of-fame in 15 years are you…)

It is not a question of “if” you will need this information ready; it is a matter of “when”. I personally believe the “when” is almost upon us. And, like normal, you won’t have time to get organized when you have six RFPs due out in a few days. My advice would be to get your project portfolio ready now!

- Jason Carpenter, CoFounder of ASCRIBE

- ASCRIBE is a project profile management and communication system. Click here to view an overview video

In the AEC industry, we are not taking orders or closing deals on our websites, so why have one?

Externally

A website in the construction industry can bring value by educating your clients and prospects, much like a brochure or company profile, only it can be ever changing and accessed by everyone, at any time. These days, you must find ways to keep it dynamic. Utilize inexpensive tools like blogs, twitter, and Ascribe for your project profiles to make a dynamic site simple to maintain.

It can be your “storefront” of the 21st century. In the 20th century, the most sought after locations for your storefront, were along high traffic areas. People would pass by and get an impression of your company by looking at the messages on the windows and the cleanliness of the store. Then when those people thought, “I need to expand my factory” your company was on the top of their mind. It’s no different now, only the storefront is a Website, and the traffic is “hits” to your site. You want the right people “walking past” your website on a regular basis. Also, you want to carefully craft and update your message that those passing by are viewing. What’s even better, you can customize the demographics of the visitors to your storefront. Last century, owners paid big dollars for the prime locations to gain access to that traffic, yet today many owners have a location with virtually no traffic and refuse to spend big dollars on getting virtual traffic past their virtual storefront. It’s still the same concept as before, communicating and giving impressions of your company to a large number of the right people. Ascribe, of course, can help significantly with this effort.

Internally

It’s about information and communication. People go to “an office” to give and receive information needed to accomplish their jobs affectively. An office also gives them a sense of belonging and a home base for work. But, in the construction industry, the majority of employees work on a jobsite most of the time.

Include an internal blog. It may sound abstract if you’re unfamiliar with a blog, but it is really nothing more than an online log where anyone can add their thoughts and observations about a particular subject. You can bring a sense of belonging and ownership to all the employees by posting a message from the president there each day. (You could even broadcast that message in a text format to the employees cell phones.) Project managers and others can discuss overall ways to remove obstacles and increase efficiencies. A living, breathing website can be an asset to the employees and owners of an AEC firm. It can give a sense of “home” to a decentralized workforce and possibly solve problems you didn’t know you had.