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Q&A with SMPS Fellow Michele Raftery

Recently, SMPS HQ announced the 2023 Fellows Class and our very own, Michele Raftery was announced as an SMPS Fellow. As a Principal and Partner at 4240 Architecture, Michele’s roles are diverse—from leading the firm’s project pursuits, business and marketing strategy, research and development, office management and HR to managing visioning, analytics, and graphic design on project teams. Michele’s experience spans many regions, scales, and project types including: hospitality, multi-family, senior housing, commercial office, government, and higher-ed in locations as far at Hong Kong and project costs up to $500M. She’s passionate about learning and always eager to serve the profession to advance the quality and impact of the built environment. This life-long learning ethos manifests itself through listening platforms at home with her four children and service platforms beyond. Michele is currently serving as a Trustee for the SMPS Foundation and is a SMPS Colorado Past President (2016/17) and Leonardo Winner (2020/21).

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List of Links: Summer 2023

Talk About AI Before Anybody Else in Your Firm
From SMPS HQ, a piece on key insights and ideas from the SMPS Webinar Revolutionizing AEC: Unleashing the Power of AI in AEC Marketing

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Book Review: Bold Brand 2.0

Bold Brand 2.0 by Josh Miles is a refreshing read on rebranding/repositioning a company, so your firm can stand out amongst the sea of competition. The Bold Brand’s niche is the A/E/C marketplace; however, the bulk of the book is applicable to nearly any industry. Bold Brand 2.0 encourages a company to periodically distill its brand down to its core, then evaluate your brand on how it is reflected across the company’s ecosystem, to ensure the branding is consistent and coherent throughout. Moreover, it advocates evaluating a customer’s journey to identify opportunities, which can be a tedious exercise, but totally revealing.

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So You're A First Time Supervisor, Now What? Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this series, visit the SMPS Colorado Blog.

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Podcast Review: A Bit of Optimism

We are surrounded by negativity and pessimistic outlooks everywhere we turn these days, without even having to look for it. On the other hand, finding engaging and inspiring material that leans on positivity takes a bit more effort. (Like filtering through the political and comparison garbage to watch dog videos on Instagram.)

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Your One-Stop AI Resource: An Exploration of FutureTools

In the dynamic AEC industry, we're continually on the hunt for innovative strategies and tools that will give us a competitive edge in digital marketing. One of the key challenges I've faced has been sourcing a platform that consolidates all the AI tools available, especially those I may be unaware of. Today, I'm thrilled to share a resource that I've been using for a while, one that maintains a current, comprehensive list of all AI tools

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A Collaborative Proposal Process: Fostering Team Buy-In, Maintaining Motivation, and Finishing Strong

Fostering Team Buy-In, Maintaining Motivation, and Finishing Strong 

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Removing Barriers to Change

As marketers, we face lots of challenges: inefficient proposal processes, difficulties engaging leadership time and attention, and fighting for department budgets, to name a few. I bet each of you has at least one thing you’d like to change within your department or company. Throughout my career, I’ve encountered my share of resistance to change across a variety of industries, including digital printing, advertising, and engineering. To understand more about why change is so difficult, I completed the Coursera series Removing Barriers to Change by University of Pennsylvania Marketing Professor Jonah Berger. This free online course discusses the barriers to change and how to become more effective in inspiring change with others and your organization. 

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BD/Marketing and Operations: Marketing Partner or Proposal Machine

Marketing Partner vs. Proposal Machine
We have all seen the epic battles of people vs. machines. There are dozens of examples—Terminator, I Robot, and The Mitchells vs. the Machines. You would think the machines would conquer the world or be indestructible, but it’s always the people that win in the end (sorry if that was a spoiler alert). Much is true for your marketing department. Proposal machines may seem like a great idea on the surface. Proposal machines in your marketing department spew proposal response after proposal response, ensuring they follow the bullets needed to give the client what they request on the surface level. The machine does as it's told and serves as an obedient member of the team.

The reason people excel over machines is because they can think. They can provide a strategy for ways to win which machines can’t anticipate. When you treat your marketing team as an asset, you will realize the strategic value they can provide. Marketing is a very critical need for organizations to succeed, especially when teaming with operations. This partnership can take an average company and propel it into a great company.  

How to Gain Confidence as a Marketer
If you’re feeling like a proposal machine, how do you break out of that cycle and do so with confidence? Michelle Decker of 4240 Architecture says “Listen. Put your ear to the ground and ask questions to truly understand. Listen to the world, economy, your peers, your leaders, your consultants or subcontractor, suppliers, etc.—listen to their joys and pleasures, their pain points or biggest challenges, listen to their fears—and, most importantly, listen to yourself in knowing how you contribute to those positive and negative experiences. Once you can listen, you can inspire, motivate, and lead.” 

As a Marketer, your job is to sell the business to clients, but first, you have to understand the business and the industry inside and out. One of the best ways to gain a seat at the table is showing your worth, so the more you know about how your company and the industry operate, the better. A few ways to do this include meeting with subject matter experts (SME) from your company or within the industry, especially with your finance department so you understand how your firm makes money. You can also follow local and national construction publications to study patterns within the industry and the global economy. One thing SMPS can specifically help you with is becoming a CPSM. Study all the domains inside and out and reach out to fellow CPSMs to better understand the material. The more you know, the more your confidence will grow.

Start the Conversation to Meld Operations and Marketing
Do you think you deserve a seat at the table with operations? Do you think you can provide value to your company? Decker said, “We are essential functions and more effective together. It’s also more fun together. Put in the work to get there. Build trust with one another.” The best way to get involved after fully understanding operations is to speak up. Start a conversation with management and indicate your interest in being involved in strategic ideas. Speak up about wanting to partner more with operations to truly benefit the company. One of the best ways is to not only say you want to contribute, but show them. Give them examples, statistics, and creative solutions as to how you can help the bottom dollar. End the proposal machine cycle and be the hero of your company.

MySMPS Relaunch

SMPS offers many resources to support its members in building their businesses and advancing their careers; one of those is the mySMPS website platform. This was recently relaunched and offers many helpful tools including the three below.
Communities & Discussion Posts - An online forum open to all members with various groups to join and engage in conversation. Groups include a CPSM exclusive, Adobe Creative(ity), Business Development Community, and the newest one: AI in Marketing.
Directory - Looking for an SMPS member at an Architecture firm of 500+ people in Florida to help you with market research? This is the place for you! Be sure to update your profile as well with your most current information.
Marketing Resources Center - An online library with a variety of helpful resources including marketing plan templates, proposal examples, Marketer Magazine digital versions along with other various reports & articles.

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Book Review: Building a Story Brand

One of my favorite reads on brand marketing is Donald Miller’s Building a Story Brand. Miller writes persuasively on how to build a brand and how to elevate it. In other words, whether your company is in its infancy stage, or it is a mature company looking to expand into another market, there are some useful tools throughout the book. How does Miller’s brand strategy teachings effectively cover such a wide spectrum?

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List of Links: Spring 2023

Update Your Resume 
Singer/songwriter Stacy Chaney talks about the parody song that is music to the AEC Marketer's soul! Stacy cleverly created Update Your Resume Pronto to the tune of We Don't Talk About Bruno and takes this creative approach to her work as an A/E/C marketer.  
How A/E/C Clients use Websites to Find and Vet Services Providers
This is a link to a study published by the SMPS Foundation in 2017 about how A/E/C Clients use websites to find and vet services providers. 
Busting Boilerplate Proposals with Jen McGovern
This former SMPS Chapter President goes into what makes a boring boilerplate proposal go from compliant to compelling. They dig into win themes, go/no-go discussions, and so much more! 
Calendly is a scheduling tool to help you organize and manage your work schedule. You can create simple rules and add your availability preferences in the tool. By sharing the link of your schedule, you can let people know when you’re available so they can book a meeting with you while considering your prior engagements. 
Quillbot is an AI-powered online paraphrasing tool. It helps you rewrite and enhance your sentences in different forms. You can also choose from Standard or Flow mode and get it integrated into Chrome or Microsoft Word for a smoother workflow.

Survey Says: Chat GPT

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, it’s been hard to escape the ChatGPT chatter. Language modeling software, including ChatGPT, is one of the most rapidly growing fields with significant potential for future development and innovation. In fact, many of us are already seeing the benefits and drawbacks as it becomes a major disruptor in our content production processes. And as A/E/C marketers, it's important to stay informed on the latest trends and technologies in our field.

According to a survey by HubSpot, 63% of marketers believe that AI will be able to generate content with accuracy within the next five years. In addition, a report by MarketsandMarkets found that the natural language processing (NLP) market size is expected to reach $26.4 billion by 2024, driven by the increasing use of NLP in various applications, including sentiment analysis and speech recognition.

The AI Revolution is Coming...Slowly for the AEC Industry
Our own survey of SMPS Colorado members showed that 100% of respondents have heard of ChatGPT or other language modeling systems, with about 75% having tested such software. However, less than 50% of respondents reported using language modeling software for day-to-day tasks, indicating a hesitation to rely fully on AI-powered tools.

Getting to know ChatGPT
Our survey revealed that just 41% of our members are familiar with the underlying technology of language modeling systems, such as deep learning and neural networks. This highlights the need for more education and training around the mechanics of these powerful tools. With more widespread and common use, you can assume that people will be generating a significant amount of more content. Which leads to questions around saturation and generalized content. Therefore, understanding the underlying power of AI language models like ChatGPT will be increasingly important to ensure that they are developed and used in a responsible and ethical manner, and leverage to their potential to drive innovation and positive impact on society.

Ethical Dilemmas in the Age of AI
In addition to concerns about the accuracy and reliability of AI-generated content, ethical considerations also arise. Our survey showed that almost 80% of respondents see potential ethical concerns around the use of language modeling systems in marketing. When I asked ChatGPT for statistics about ethical concerns involving ChatGPT and language modeling systems, here’s what it said:

“AI language models like Chat GPT have been found to have ethical concerns related to bias, misuse, lack of transparency, and environmental impact. Studies have found that language models contain biases related to gender, race, and ethnicity and that researchers are concerned about their potential for misuse. The lack of transparency around how these models are trained, and the data used to train them can also raise concerns about fairness and bias. Additionally, the energy consumption of training and using these models has been found to have a significant environmental impact. Addressing these concerns will be important to ensure that language models are developed and used in a responsible and ethical manner.”

Despite these concerns, it's clear that language modeling systems have the potential to revolutionize the way we approach marketing. 

The world of AI-powered marketing is both exciting and daunting. But with a little education and a lot of caution, we can navigate this brave new world and use these tools to their full potential. Who knows, maybe one day we'll be able to fully embrace our AI overlords...err, we mean, colleagues.

So You're A First Time Supervisor, Now What?


Congratulations on becoming a supervisor for the first time in your career! Or, if you’re not a supervisor yet (and would like to be), congratulations on being proactive! In our haste to create a comprehensive onboarding experience for our new “direct reports” (who will be referred to as team members moving forward), there’s often something lacking—onboarding for the first-time supervisor. 

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Q&A with Jim Mellor

In early April of this year, I had a chance to interview Jim Mellor, who just recently retired from Pinkard Construction. Jim joined SMPS in the early 1980s and has had a huge impact on the Colorado chapter. He was also the recipient of SMPS Colorado’s prestigious Leonardo Award in 2000. 

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List of Links: Winter 2023

Ten Things Successful People (Who Are Actually Happy) Do Differently
This article by Dr. Travis Bradberry gives insight into what he feels are ten things that successful people do.  It is an interesting reminder about priorities. 

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Recommendations: Digital Resources

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Book Review: Good to Great

Good to Great is a classic business management book based on Jim Collins’ team researching hundreds of companies and distilling the list down to a handful or so that all have “greatness.” Collins is a leading management researcher and consultant who works out of Boulder, which adds to his coolness factor. So, why should a marketer read “Good to Great,” when in fact it is more of a management than a marketing read...?

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Pitching the Industry: Rethink Hiring in A/E/C Marketing

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this (or said this) before when trying to fill a marketing position at your firm: “This candidate seems to have [insert desirable skills here], but doesn’t have AEC-specific experience, so we will pass.”

Raise your other hand if it’s been difficult to quickly fill and keep marketing positions at your firm: are both hands raised? Great, now do the wave because you’re amongst many.  

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Southwest Regional Conference Preview: Conference Newbie Survival Tips

After seven years of doing Marketing in the A/E/C industry, I am thrilled to be attending a conference. The Southwest Regional Conference (SWRC), held April 12th through 14th in Santa Fe, New Mexico, will have an assortment of speakers and sessions for anyone at any stage of their career.

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