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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