How an established engineering firm overcame inertia to drive lead generation

A national engineering firm with offices around the country was having trouble keeping pace with competitors. It lacked a modern website that could be used on smartphones and tablets, and there was little to no awareness of the company in cities where it had offices. The firm was also having difficulty attracting and recruiting top talent.

While its competitors had been consistently working to expand their digital footprint, our client had remained focused on non-digital marketing tactics (flyers, banners, and print ads) because that was what their internal staff knew how to do. Over time, this turned a small gap between our client and other engineering firms into a large chasm. The firm saw leads and employee candidates flocking to other firms, and they recognized that they needed to do something – but they didn’t know what or how. We were hired to “fix it.”

We started with creating strong positioning for the firm. They had always relied on their name and reputation to carry the conversation about what they did and the value they delivered. This worked within a generation, but as new people came into positions of leadership and the number of market players increased, fewer and fewer decision-makers were willing to shortlist the firm based solely on their name. We worked with the firm to clearly define how they were different from other engineering firms and what they could do for their clients that no one else could. This became the foundation for all other marketing efforts, including a new tagline for the firm that immediately conveyed their unique value.

Next, we developed a new website for the firm. The mobile-first design meant that it could be both used and interacted with easily on mobile devices, so that if a prospective client or employee candidate looked at the site while they were away from their desktop computer, they wouldn’t have a frustrating experience or deal with a site that wouldn’t load. The firm offers many services for different client types, and historically the firm had presented the information in a way that confused people and left them unsure about whether the firm could meet their needs. We developed a website architecture that clearly communicated which service lines applied to which markets and industries, and created pathways that allowed site visitors to easily navigate to the information they needed. We also shaped the site content so it no longer read like “marketing speak” and conveyed real information about the firm in plain language. 

There had been no search engine optimization efforts on the firm’s previous website, so the firm’s search engine visibility was low and there were no internal processes for growing or maintaining their SEO. We developed the site so it was optimized for search engines both from a technical perspective (site code) and a content perspective (text, images, and video). We also continued to optimize the site post-launch to ensure that it was supporting their search engine goals.

The firm had no local SEO strategy, so the existence of smaller regional and local offices had confused search engines and online directories about where the firm was actually located, what areas it served, how many other offices it had, and where they were located. We created and executed a local SEO strategy that removed the confusion and made it clear to both search engines and people where the firm was located and which location was the national headquarters. This growth in awareness made it possible for the firm to step up recruitment efforts in towns and cities with local offices.

Visually, the firm faced the same issue many national firms with regional offices do: each regional and local office had, over time, developed their own version of brand standards. Marketing materials and internal communications looked completely different depending on which office they originated from, which made it difficult for the firm to have a strong brand that people would recognize. Using the existing primary logo, we created a cohesive brand strategy and toolkit that made it easier for local offices to use the correct national brand assets than to try to create their own. By making it easy, the firm was able to reach 100% adoption and keep employees happy.

Now that awareness of the firm was growing, the firm needed to sharpen its focus on attracting top employee candidates in a competitive market. It also needed to be able to process applications and onboard hires in an efficient way, because its internal human resources staff had limited bandwidth. We developed a custom careers engine that served the three goals of attracting, processing, and onboarding. The engine dovetailed with the website but was housed on a separate server to comply with privacy requirements. The engine showcased current employees, current openings, benefits of working with the firm, firm culture, and “day-in-the-life” content. Candidates were able to review and apply for open positions directly through the engine, including uploading resumes and other materials. These were received directly by the human resources staff, who could then review and move the candidate up the ladder or out of the system. Once an employee was hired, they received all of their onboarding paperwork through the careers engine, which allowed the firm to track whether it had been sent, read, and submitted. By implementing this process, human resources saved enough time to be able to review and interview the large increase in employee applicants without needing to hire additional staff.

The firm’s increased visibility and growth in highly qualified employees ultimately led to a lucrative acquisition by a global firm.

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