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How to help a boutique engineering firm make its mark

27 September 2017

Marketing methods are traditionally well defined for large, conventional organisations, but what about a small business with an extremely niche service offering within a relatively small market sector?

The Industry Research Project unit in the Master of Engineering Management is helping recent graduate, Ronie Magcamit, place a small environmental consulting firm on the map in Victoria.

Environmental consultants assist companies and government agencies to comply with laws and regulations protecting the environment. Prism Environmental is a small consulting firm specialising in contaminated land services, looking to expand its market and grow the company.

Management at Prism was finding that there were no specific or appropriate marketing tools available for small companies to present themselves in the civil and engineering marketplace. There was also very little inspiration on marketing methods for approaching these sectors; details of what works, how to enter a market dominated by large consultancies and whether, indeed, smaller services could compete.

Ronie had to examine the business model and identify a qualitative research methodology to gather the right information on how best to place this boutique operation squarely in front of their target market.

First, he undertook some desk research and, through a literature review, he identified three main areas of marketing to target. He then developed a strategic survey process to poll potential clients for first-hand information on their requirements and expectations from an environmental consultant.

The three innovative marketing variables selected from marketing theory were:

  1. Marketing and Modification Variables
  2. Integrated Marketing
  3. Customer and Market Focus.

Careful selection of qualifying companies across a range of sizes led to a batch of interviews with civil contractor companies, mainly involved in excavations within the state of Victoria.

This process exposed the theoretical model to real-life situations in order to generate information about how Prism should develop their marketing strategy.

The findings revealed...

Respondents’ answers were assigned to either of the three facets of marketing. A summary of their answers revealed:

Marketing and Modification Variables

Small firms need to be proactive in order to be competitive at all times. Clients often select consultants from internet searches, if they have not been referred by word of mouth. It is vitally important for the firm to establish authority as a specialist in its industry niche, both online and offline.

Integrated Marketing

With regard to service, a formal office facility is not required, though professionalism in communications is vital, including custom reporting and meeting agreed deadlines. An established presence through a good website and LinkedIn profile is highly regarded, also serving to inform and highlight other services offered by the company.

Customer and Market Focus

In responding to client needs and expectations, good service at low rates is paramount. Company size is not a factor, however, the business should be well branded in their online presence and active on social media. Preference was expressed for consultants to be accredited members of professional organisations.

Formulated into a constructive marketing strategy with detailed steps for implementation, this information has allowed Prism Environmental to target potential clients – confidently and consistently – with a structured approach that is proving very successful. The advice provided by the research project has given them the marketing tools and knowledge required to place themselves in a competitive space with other consulting companies of all sizes.

The successful application of study

In order to provide this valuable information to Prism Environmental as a result of the Industry Research Project of his online Masters in Engineering Management course, Ronie had to overcome several significant challenges.

He had to familiarise himself with a highly technical and legally complex field of specialisation, researching the marketplace and major players. Secondly, Ronie had to find real-world applications for marketing theory in order to build the structure on which to base his research and ensure that the findings are valid and useful. Then, after deciding on his approach, Ronie had to develop a methodology before presenting his questions to the market. Finally, the responses were analysed and interpreted before application to Prism’s specific situation for formulation into firm suggestions as part of a three-point implementation plan where none had previously existed.

In applying the knowledge, research and marketing skills learned from his online studies in a novel and insightful way, Ronie uncovered interesting and useful findings. This cross-pollination of ideas from different disciplines and situations produces innovative ways to solve problems in real life situations. Genuine thought-leaders learn how to apply their knowledge in a practical way, through structured courses that integrate with industry.

In this case, Prism Environmental was enriched by the project work of the Southern Cross University Online student, helping to take them forward into a new era of successful marketing in the ‘big pond’.

Learn how you can do the same through research undertaken in an online Master of Engineering Management.Get in touch with our Enrolment team today on 1300 589 882