Tell us about your company, your role, and top priority or initiative over the next six months.
BKM is an 80-plus-person mechanical/electrical engineering design firm with a diverse client portfolio spanning education, healthcare, science & technology, government, commercial & housing, data centers and critical infrastructure. As Principal, Director of Business Development, I create and maintain business development goals/strategies, and client relationships that result in business opportunities consistent with the firm’s strategic initiatives. Our top priority is augmenting staff and growing our market share while leveraging our sustainability and resiliency expertise, particularly with Electric Vehicle (EV) charging and microgrids.
Given the current and/or projected state of the economy, what has been the greatest challenge(s) you’ve faced so far or anticipate in 2023?
Augmenting staff has been the most significant challenge thus far. We have a solid backlog with exceptional clients and want to continue to grow strategically. While we’ve seen some private development put projects on hold, we aren’t anticipating a slow-down throughout our market sectors on the design-side through 2023 and have been looking to bring on technical staff, including mechanical and electrical engineers. We’ve done a great job of bringing on interns and converting them to full-time but finding experienced engineers has been a challenge in the marketplace as there’s a lot of competition for qualified engineers. New cybersecurity requirements for the Government and private clients continue to be an additional challenge and financial burden.
Are current market conditions or concerns about the economy later this year impacting your marketing plans, if so, how?
Yes, we continue to monitor market conditions and the economy, but there are opportunities amidst those concerns. Being well-diversified in our market sectors and project types is a blessing, and we have worked hard to diversify our portfolio. We have put more resources into expanding our federal government work and continue to pursue on-call contracts with various institutional and private owners as they are the foundation of our workload. We are seeing so much in sustainability initiatives. We are leveraging our experience with EV charging projects to pursue more Government and private clients that maintain vehicle fleets to assist in their transition to EV.
As a B2B marketer, what tends to be pressures you experience that B2C or B2G marketers may not understand or appreciate?
We are B2B and B2G, so we understand the nuances of both. The main difference between B2B and B2C is that the sales cycle in B2B can take years, and the stakeholders we need to engage for a single project are many. We must preposition and capture plan, build relationships, and look ahead months and years to track projects and get our design partners together. Those projects’ schedules often shift, so it can be challenging to forecast on the design side. When the opportunities come out, we see more price-oriented decisions (rather than qualification to negotiation) in B2B and B2G. Inflation is real, particularly in construction materials, and we continue to see extended building equipment lead-times. We’ve had to shift our messaging to ensure our clients know we understand these challenges and are meeting them head-on. Our brand loyalty is still ultimately based on quality and service. Professional Services marketing is a grind, it is challenging, and it takes persistence. Our industry has seen a lot of turn-over in marketing and business development roles these past couple of years. More folks are getting out of the industry.
Does PR play a role in your overall marketing strategy and if so where does it provide the most value OR where does it fall short?
It does, but in all honesty, it needs to play a more prominent role, especially with our niche thought leadership. We are pitching more speaking/presentations at conferences. We can do better with pitching to publications.
Do you or your team currently leverage ChatGPT or another AI tool? How so?
We’ve used ChatGPT for various tasks, mainly improving our marketing collateral. We’ve been learning more about the uses of ChatGPT and AI, but it’s been more of a “let’s see what it comes up with” approach versus any real implementation.
What was the last book you read?
I recently completed the final book in an 18-book military science fiction series called Galaxy’s Edge. The best way to describe it is Star Wars meets Dune and Battlestar Galactica – it has impressions of all three. On the business/leadership book front, I just started Patrick Lencioni’s The Six Types of Working Genius.
You can find and connect with Korey here on LinkedIn.