This post is the fourth in our series highlighting great marketing content from the architecture and engineering community (to see them all, jump to the bottom). In each post, we highlight great content, share our opinions on what makes it great and offer suggestions on how it could be used more effectively (if that’s possible).
Brown and Caldwell: About the Firm
Founded in 1947, Brown and Caldwell is the largest U.S. engineering consulting firm focused exclusively on the water and environmental sectors. They are privately held with over 1,500 employees in 45 locations serving clients in the U.S. and around the world. The firm has worked with municipal, federal and private organizations and is recognized in the industry innovative thinkers when it comes to solving environmental challenges.
Summary of the Content
In this post, I’m doing something I’ve never done before. Usually, I only highlight educational content — content that’s used to educate and inform potential clients on issues that matter for them. In this post, I’m going to highlight some later stage and promotional content. For the first time, I’m also going to highlight multimedia content. Also, once again, I’m going to talk about the firm’s content marketing efforts as a whole, rather than an individual piece. To start, here are a few pieces of content I particularly like from the firm’s website:
Thinking About Water in New Ways (Motion Graphics) This is more a promotional video than it is content, but it does a good job of articulating the firm’s positioning (100% environmental) and entertaining the viewer at the same time.
Protecting and Restoring Louisiana’s Coast (Video Project Profile) A quasi-case study that gives a sense of the way the firm works and how it interacts on a large planning program.
What’s Great About Their Content:
- It’s Entertaining — Their motion graphics piece is really great at delivering the firm’s core positioning: 100% water. And, it’s very aesthetically pleasing — it’s well designed and well produced. In a rare situation, I actually enjoy consuming a piece of content that’s largely “firm-centered” and promotional in nature.
- It’s Personal — The firm does a really nice job of using video to give buyers a sense of what the people of the firm are like and what it would actually be like to work with them. A number of its case studies are delivered by video. Each one does a good job of seaming together some background on the client engagement and describing the firm’s process in a very human way. It’s good middle stage buying content.
- It’s Diverse — They do a good job of mixing different types of content for different learning styles. They have a lot of white papers and technical briefs, yet as we’ve seen, they have a good amount of high quality video (more passive content).
What They Could Do Better:
- Calls-to-Action — It’s really hard to figure out how to connect with the firm in a pre-buying manner. If I were ready to contact the firm to discuss a program or an RFP, I generally know what to do. But, what if I’m just one of the 70-80% of site visitors that are just researching and learning? I have to do a lot of digging to figure out how to sign up for a newsletter. But, chances are most visitors won’t make the effort. (For more on this topic, read the article, Why Conversions Matter.)
- Research — With this firm’s focus and scale, primary research to deeply explore some topics of meaningful interest just makes a whole lot of sense. What about a study that explores the challenge of producing enough clean water for the global population in 2020 or 2030? Or, a consumer perception study related to the current state of our nation’s water infrastructure? Big, forward-thinking topics could be highly effective lead magnets for the firm by helping them connect their useful educational content to more and more people in the water and wastewater community. (For more on this, read the article, Combining Knowledge Management with Research to Drive Your Content Strategy).
Wrapping it Up:
Brown and Caldwell is an example of a large, well-positioned firm that is doing a very good job of producing a comfortable mix of educational, entertaining and promotional content. While they are doing an excellent job of providing content to later stage buyers, they may be missing the opportunity to connect with those earlier in the buying cycle without clearer CTAs for things like their newsletter. However, all in all, the firm’s content marketing efforts as a whole are very well developed. Some of the other posts in this series: