Progressive AEC Marketing: TEECOM

AEC Marketing

This post is the first in a series high­light­ing pro­gres­sive mar­ket­ing from A/E/C firms and lead­ers. How do I define pro­gres­sive? Firms that are mar­ket­ing proac­tive­ly, not sim­ply react­ing to RFPs. It’s lead­ers devel­op­ing, shar­ing, and archiv­ing their knowl­edge as experts. Pro­gres­sive firms believe that rela­tion­ships can, and do, begin online, so they are flu­ent in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing. Pro­gres­sive firms embrace human-cen­tered mar­ket­ing with emo­tion­al intel­li­gence, and the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of cre­ative risk-tak­ing.

I chose to inter­view Nicole La, Expe­ri­ence Direc­tor at TEECOM, because of their pro­gres­sive mar­ket­ing to clients and tal­ent through expe­ri­ence design.

Nicole La

Tell me about your firm.

TEECOM pro­vides “the tech in archi­tec­ture.™” We pro­vide inte­grat­ed tele­com, audio­vi­su­al, acoustics, secu­ri­ty, net­work and wire­less tech­nol­o­gy design for clients includ­ing build­ing own­ers, ten­ants, archi­tects, engi­neers, and con­trac­tors. We work in many sec­tors with a com­mon theme of improv­ing the expe­ri­ence of peo­ple using our clients’ build­ings. Of course we want our clients to be hap­py, but real­ly we are advo­cates for the peo­ple that live, work, learn, heal, and per­form in the build­ings that our clients design and build. We are 90 peo­ple, with offices in Oak­land, Dal­las, Port­land, and Brighton, Unit­ed King­dom.

Tell me about your title, Expe­ri­ence Direc­tor.

I set strat­e­gy for our firm’s hir­ing, mar­ket­ing, and inter­nal con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion efforts. I focus on the employ­ee and client expe­ri­ence enabling TEECOM to con­tin­ue to evolve toward true inno­va­tion.

So, not just mar­ket­ing to win new clients, but also mar­ket­ing to win and retain tal­ent?

Yes, it’s crazy how most firms leave recruit­ing and reten­tion to only Human Resources when the Mar­ket­ing depart­ment typ­i­cal­ly knows the brand best, and how to per­sua­sive­ly tell the firm’s sto­ry.

How did your role evolve?

A year ago, our CEO asked me to take over tal­ent recruit­ing. At first I was resis­tant because it was unfa­mil­iar ter­ri­to­ry. But the more I thought about it, recruit­ing is sim­ply mar­ket­ing for peo­ple. I didn’t want to give up mar­ket­ing to clients, so our CEO and I brain­stormed about how we could make it work. Part of our solu­tion was to hire a Mar­ket­ing Man­ag­er for pro­pos­als to free me up to embrace my new respon­si­bil­i­ties.

How did your firm begin with expe­ri­ence design?

Lead­ers in the firm read The Expe­ri­ence Econ­o­my by Pine and Gilmore, and it changed the cul­ture of our firm. The book pro­motes a new way of think­ing about con­nect­ing with clients and tal­ent (employ­ees) to win their loy­al­ty. Sim­ply sell­ing ser­vices is no longer enough. Lead­ing firms stage expe­ri­ences that enhance the val­ue of their ser­vices.

How did TEECOM start imple­ment­ing expe­ri­ence design?

Good ques­tion, because in our first year, before we rolled this out to the client expe­ri­ence, we focused on the employ­ee expe­ri­ence. We did an expe­ri­ence map­ping exer­cise start­ing with job can­di­dates learn­ing about TEECOM, to the inter­view expe­ri­ence, through the hir­ing process. New hires receive a play­ful “Wel­come to TEECOM” hand­book that is cus­tomized for that per­son. It is not a full-on employ­ee hand­book, but rather a cus­tomized wel­come to the team, com­plete with maps, Yelp reviews of local ser­vices, and all-impor­tant local restau­rant reviews.

What are some things you are doing to enhance the employ­ee expe­ri­ence?

New employ­ees are greet­ed at their desks by a gift of brand­ed mate­ri­als that they have per­son­al­ly cho­sen through our online store. We rec­og­nize employ­ee accom­plish­ments such as obtain­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tions or anniver­saries on our gen­er­al Slack chan­nel and in our month­ly all-hands meet­ings. We post employ­ee kudos on dig­i­tal sig­nage through­out the office. Each employ­ee receives a Fit­Bit and we host well­ness pro­grams for the mind and body, brand­ed as TEECOM­fit. All employ­ees have a men­tor with whom they meet reg­u­lar­ly to set spe­cif­ic career goals and, if they want, per­son­al goals. We are cur­rent­ly launch­ing TEECO­Mu­ni­ver­si­ty, an inter­nal con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion pro­gram open to all employ­ees, which gives a for­mal struc­ture to our ongo­ing knowl­edge shares.

As a tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny, how do you use tech­nol­o­gy to mea­sure inter­nal expe­ri­ence?

We don’t use email for inter­nal com­pa­ny com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Instead, we use Slack, a cloud-based team col­lab­o­ra­tion tool. With­in Slack, employ­ees receive a week­ly pulse sur­vey via Office­vibe with five sim­ple ques­tions about how things are going at work. Feed­back is deliv­ered anony­mous­ly to man­age­ment in an engage­ment report with sug­ges­tions for improve­ment. We also use a plat­form called Small Improve­ments to con­duct quar­ter­ly 360 Reviews for con­tin­u­al feed­back and improve­ment.

We put the tech in architecturepho­to in web­site: ©Emi­ly Hagopi­an

What about mar­ket­ing for the client expe­ri­ence?

We had already been help­ing our clients to map the expe­ri­ence of their build­ing users, so it made sense that we would map the expe­ri­ence of our own clients from begin­ning to end. We devel­oped a set of guide­lines for the busi­ness devel­op­ment and pro­pos­al expe­ri­ence out­lin­ing every­thing we need to do to win great clients. We ele­vate our­selves as pur­suit team mem­bers by respond­ing quick­ly and pro­vid­ing mate­ri­als that go above and beyond the basic request. We help clients along their deci­sion-mak­ing process by cre­at­ing arti­cles and videos to edu­cate and inform them about how technology’s evo­lu­tion will impact their projects. Our guide­lines for project man­age­ment describe behav­iors shaped by our firm val­ues: demon­strat­ing that we care, main­tain­ing trust, and find­ing ways to add val­ue. We typ­i­cal­ly mea­sure the client expe­ri­ence through direct feed­back at din­ners and events with clients.


Nicole and TEECOM are a great reminder that A/E/C firms aren’t sim­ply sell­ing ser­vices, we are sell­ing a com­plete expe­ri­ence. The sum of these expe­ri­ences equal our rep­u­ta­tion, aka brand. This reminds me of the famous Maya Angelou quote, “Peo­ple will for­get what you said, peo­ple will for­get what you did, but peo­ple will nev­er for­get how you made them feel.” Make peo­ple feel great through­out the jour­ney of your firm, and you’ll devel­op fierce loy­al­ty.

As TEECOM’s web­site declares, “our clients demand inno­va­tion.” It’s great to see the firm prac­tic­ing what they preach by embody­ing inno­va­tion in their mar­ket­ing approach. If your firm is ripe for this approach, start small with a sin­gle client or employ­ee expe­ri­ence that you can mas­ter. Then, build on that momen­tum for a more com­pre­hen­sive approach that will hope­ful­ly become inte­grat­ed into your cul­ture. To learn more, below are some resources.

Resources Men­tioned
The Expe­ri­ence Econ­o­my book
Adap­tive Path (con­sult­ing firm that helped TEECOM with expe­ri­ence map­ping)
Slack cloud-based team col­lab­o­ra­tion tool
Office­vibe for pulse sur­veys
Small Improve­ments for 360 reviews

2 Responses to “Progressive AEC Marketing: TEECOM”

  1. Marjanne Pearson April 29, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

    This is a won­der­ful arti­cle. Thank you, David and Nicole!

    A few years ago, Mike Plot­nick and I wrote an arti­cle on Mar­ket­ing for Tal­ent for SMPS Mar­keter. Nicole embod­ies the role that we had envi­sioned as a shared respon­si­bil­i­ty — so appro­pri­ate for emerg­ing “next-gen” com­pa­nies who under­stand that busi­ness-as-usu­al no longer works.

    Years ago, I had to make a deci­sion between mar­ket­ing or HR, and my men­tor Weld Coxe said that they were two sides of the same coin. At that time, I focused more on HR, but I have always done both. As my con­sult­ing part­ner Nan­cy Egan has said, I’m a mar­keter who has nev­er held that title.

    I’m delight­ed to meet anoth­er, with a tru­ly fab­u­lous title!

    • davidlecours April 29, 2017 at 4:22 pm #

      Thanks for your thought­ful com­ment, Mar­janne. You’ve always been ahead of your time, and a reminder that mar­ket­ing is more of a mind­set than a title.

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