3 Big Takeaways From Build Business 2016

Last week, I attended the Society Of Marketing Professional Services’s Build Business Conference here in Philadelphia. It’s the biggest conference related to marketing and business development in the construction industry.

Here are my three biggest takeaways from the week.

Forget Hamilton…Be Like Thomas Jefferson (Or Maybe Michelle Martin)

Thomas Jefferson at Build Business

Before the conference even started, I participated in this year’s “Side X Side” event. Side X Side is when the members of SMPS get together and do something positive for the local community. This year, we accompanied a group of inner-city kids on a field trip to the Franklin Institute.

It was your typical “Philadelphia field trip.” Big statues of Ben Franklin, electricity, and yes…someone dressed up like one of our founding fathers.

Now, if you are from the Philadelphia area, you’ve seen more people dressed up like founding fathers than you’d care to remember. If you are unfamiliar with the area, trust me there are lots of Ben Franklins, George Washingtons, and even Betsy Rosses to be seen here in the “City of Brotherly Love.”

After many years, you can get a little sick of it. So, when Thomas Jefferson stops by during lunch, my brain immediately sends a message to my eyes. “Start rolling.”

But I have to say, Tommy Jefferson won me over. To be fair, it was his message that won me over.

Jefferson explained that he was obsessed with fixing things he didn’t like. He didn’t like the architecture in his city, so he became an architect and changed it. He didn’t like the education system in Virginia, so he created Virginia State University. He didn’t like the government, so he wrote a document that started a war for independence.

Jefferson was a person who took action. His message seemed to sink in with many of the kids in attendance. Complaining doesn’t get you anywhere. If you have something to complain about, you can take action to fix it.

Michelle Martin, Marketing Manager, of SmithGroupJJR told her story of action in a conference session a few days later. She was having the all too common proposal-related issues with the technical staff. While many people just complain, she took action.

You might say she took an extreme amount of action. She did a great deal of statistical analysis of the firm’s proposal efforts. She opened people’s eyes to not just how much they were spending on bad choices, but how long it took them to put these proposals together. She developed training programs, charts, graphics, etc.

It didn’t happen overnight, but things changed.

After she was done speaking to a standing room only crowd, a swarm of people like I’ve never seen before lined up to speak with her. Clearly, far too many people are still having these struggles. But I encourage everyone to be like Thomas Jefferson, or Michelle Martin, and trade in your complaints for action.

I’ll Note That In My Next Presentation

For me, the biggest bang for my buck was something Meg Winch said while giving her take on shortlist presentations. I’m going to try my best to describe her point.

Has anyone ever said, “I loved what that architect’s team said, they have great chemistry, and their approach was spot on…but I noticed that they were using notes during the presentation. We’ll have to go with someone else.”

Wow. That’s the kind of question that gets you thinking. Only an amateur would use notes during a presentation, right?! But it would sure be helpful. Maybe it is time to rethink allowing people to use notes during shortlist presentations.

Hiding In Plain Sight

The third takeaway was from Wayne O’Neill. His major point was that, especially in the construction industry, there is a lot of opportunity “hiding in plain sight.”

For example, the oil industry is being battered by low oil prices right now. That’s bad news if you are in the oil construction business. But, it is good news if you work in the chemical market. O’Neill says chemical-related construction in Texas is booming right now due to low oil prices.

He said our clients’ businesses are being disrupted on a regular basis these days. For example, corporate, healthcare, and university clients are partnering to build new campuses. This drives the need for mixed-use construction to support these projects.

Businesses like Uber have disrupted the transportation market. With the introduction of self-driving cars, that industry may be disrupted again. What does this mean for those who design or build parking structures?

It might be wise to look at the trends that may be disrupting your clients. Maybe they present big opportunities hiding in plain sight.

Second To Last Note

I was so honored and humbled by all the people who came up to me to thank me for our little Help Everybody Every Day community, take selfies with me, comment on my tweets, or even invite me to lunch.

In particular, it’s great to hear people who are using my tactics and experiencing some really amazing success. If you have any successes to report, please shoot me an email.

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