Wowzers! That’s my general response to a controversy that has been brewing over the last several weeks among marketers responsible for promoting architecture, engineering and construction professional services.
It all started when Professional Services Management Journal (PSMJ) published a list-based article called, “8 Reasons You Shouldn’t Do A/E Marketing,” which started out as follows:
A/E marketing isn’t for the faint of heart, lazy, or whiny. It’s fast paced, requires multiple skill sets, and demands flexibility.
There’s a reason why most architecture and engineering (A/E) marketing professionals only last a few years in each firm: They’re just not ready for the speed and heavy workload.
Are you ready? Here are eight reasons why you might want to rethink your A/E marketing career.
The backlash was swift, brutal, and extremely vocal. My friend Matt Handal (whose book, Proposal Development Secrets, is the top book I recommend to A/E/C marketers working on RFP responses) fired off quite the salvo in a post called A/E Marketers Are Not Your Gal Friday:
In a time which the profession of marketing in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry seems to be gaining more and more respect…
…it is nice to be reminded, sometimes, just how ignorant people in our industry can be about our chosen field of work.
As the original article from PSMJ continued to make the rounds, more and more A/E/C marketing veterans weighed in and offered a very different take on the profession. That lead many professionals to reach out to PSMJ’s executive leadership.
In response, PSMJ published a post by Melise Gerber called A/E Marketing Today: Another Opinion. She starts off by addressing the author of the original offending post directly, saying:
I have been providing marketing for the A/E/C industry for 15 years now. A colleague forwarded me your blog post about A/E marketing, and I have read and re-read it, trying to understand why the article bothers me so much. I think I have finally determined that my discomfort with the article is related to its “intended” audience. You see, if this article that was truly intended for a readership made up of folks who do not have a job in our industry, and are considering becoming marketers, there are a number of good points to be considered here. But I doubt that many folks reading an article on the PSMJ blog are likely to be unemployed recent college graduates wondering what job they should pursue. And, because of that disconnect between intended and likely readership, the article instead begins to read like a laundry list of complaints about marketing folks. And this is where my discomfort began.
Which brings us to this past weekend, when Matt Handal published a new post on the subject titled Angry Marketers Respond To That Controversial Blog. In it, Handal consolidates and highlights key critical comments from a number of highly successful and well-regarded A/E/C marketing professionals. He makes a really important point:
I’m all for freedom of speech. I believe that everybody’s views are important. I also understand people believe that freedom of speech is more important than “political correctness.”
But I do believe that any speech which promotes the violation of any demographic’s rights or that can be proven, by hard science, to be inaccurate…
…should be corrected or deleted. Nearly all reputable publications I know of do this as a matter of policy.
PSMJ has left the original post up, despite the controversy. In so doing, they risk undermining their very credibility as an organization. Most importantly, however, PSMJ has alienated its own intended audience. As a publisher, alienating your own audience is akin to firing your clients — not a good business practice.
For Mr. Whitemyer (the author of the original post), here is a 9th reason to consider whether or not you should be a professional A/E marketer:
If you despise your colleagues and counterparts so much, and have such a disdain for professional services marketing that you are actively discouraging other from joining it, maybe you should consider a change of path. Just a thought.