Last year, Engineering News-Record’s (ENR) parent company BNP Media acquired Creative MMS – a leading digital marketing firm to expand the company’s marketing services unit, BNP Engage.

Under the leadership of Ben LeDonni, founder of Creative MMS and now President of BNP Engage, ENR now offers a full portfolio of marketing services including website design and development, conversion rate optimization, marketing strategy, content marketing, SEO and social media marketing for reader companies and advertising clients alike. 

I was excited to sit down with Ben recently to talk about how we can work together to help AEC companies and companies marketing to the AEC industry improve and enhance their marketing efforts.    

 

SS:  What are some of the most common marketing challenges you see among clients?

BL: To sum it up in two words, I’d say “keeping up” or maybe “catching up”. When I think back to how fast marketing has evolved, it’s been exponential and less technical people struggle to stay up with the latest ways to reach prospective customers; especially in business industries that trend towards veteran leaders. Veteran leaders tend to believe that what worked in the past always will work, and while some of the old tactics still work, if you aren’t using the newer methods, you’re not pacing with a savvier competitor. 


SS: Is there a difference in marketing professional services like contracting or engineering design compared to product marketing like say for building material products, technology, and equipment?

BL: Some things are fundamentally the same. The process to get to any of their specific marketing strategies and recommended tactics is the same. Both companies need to know who they are trying to reach, what their message needs to be to that audience, and their unique position in the market relative to competitors. That’s some degree of business strategy but undoubtedly overlaps with marketing. Where it differs is from then on. The audience they are trying to reach, combined with the message they need to deliver, determines the content type and platform for delivery. For example, some local, targeted text-heavy marketing with a very family-centered, personal feel might work great for a small residential contractor trying to reach a homeowner. But a new, highly technical, material company trying to market to a broader audience (i.e. the whole country) might want to produce short-form educational videos and launch a paid advertising campaign targeting their persona’s title, at the right size company on LinkedIn, let’s say. And, the call to action for a contractor might be to schedule an appointment, while the materials provider should really drive prospects to find out more information via a webinar or downloadable spec sheet. Abraham Lincoln said “If I had 6 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first 4 sharpening the axe” and that’s our attitude towards marketing. The right strategy makes the chopping a lot more effective.


SS: How would you characterize the rate of change in digital marketing today versus five years ago prior to the pandemic?

BL: Exponential! Innovation in marketing has been accelerating, steadily changing from the days of print advertising to web marketing, and the evolution of mobile, SEO, and social media. Now with the emergence and prevalence of AI, it’s poised to grow even faster than before. The pandemic accelerated learning and working over Zoom, which makes webinars effective communication tools. We’ve found that even our team members, who are experts in their respective fields, need to have ongoing personal and professional growth plans to keep up with their fields. There’s a ton of pressure on a marketing or business development person at a company without a team like ours to rely on. Those professionals are forced to keep up with the changes across a broad array of marketing areas that I believe are very niche and expert. For example, we have people dedicated to each - SEO, Social Media, Design, Development, and CRM. Each of those is changing so quickly. Some companies we get brought on to help have one person forced to provide all of those niche services, needing to keep up with advancements in each niche area. Our model, to provide trained experts in each niche area, mitigates the risk of the rate of change, and since we’re all passionate (read that “geeks”) about what we do, keeping up is fun, not cumbersome. 


SS:  What can you do now with a brand like ENR and the resources of BNP Engage that you could not offer with Creative MMS?

BL: First off, the partnership empowers us and the ENR team to work together to help market to prospects alongside or in addition to the reach of the brand. For example, advertising in ENR may generate leads for our customers that we can then continue to nurture and market beyond just the initial touchpoint. We do that through content marketing on their websites, website design and development, email marketing, CRM tools like Hubspot and, social media. These also help generate leads through some inbound opportunities beyond the ENR audience; meaning, most companies should be doing this to generate their own prospects and sales, and our combined efforts with reach really help that.

Also, we have access to data that makes our axe sharpening even more effective. We can use the data about audience engagement on ENR to drive better content strategies outside the ENR platform. For example, if we know that the hot engagement topics right now are sustainable building products, while working to market an equipment manufacturer, we can make sure their marketing and website content speaks about environmental factors of the technologies in that equipment. We layer those topics into the SEO/email strategy for what a brand says directly to their audience on their website and marketing outside ENR. That has proven super powerful! Our strategic marketing plans with this partnership are more on-point and inclusive of market factors we hadn’t considered before. 


SS: In closing, what is BNP Engage’s value proposition to ENR’s audience companies and advertising clients?

BL: BNP Engage brings a unique and holistic blend of cutting-edge digital marketing prowess and deep industry insight to ENR’s audience and advertisers. Our core value lies in leveraging this mix to deliver not just immediate results but sustainable growth. Through data-driven strategies and a comprehensive suite of services, from SEO to content marketing, we’re partners that ensure our customers aren't just keeping pace but setting the pace in their marketing efforts. Especially in industries that are slower to adopt the current technologies, there’s a lot of opportunity for businesses to outshine and excel beyond the competition by adopting these modern best practices. By tapping into ENR’s rich data and audience insights, we can also fine-tune our approaches to resonate deeply within the AEC sector. It’s about creating tailored, impactful content and campaigns that drive both engagement and business outcomes. In essence, our partnership with ENR amplifies our clients’ reach, enhances their brand visibility, and delivers a competitive edge that’s hard to replicate anywhere else. 

If you want to learn more about BNP Engage and how they can help your company’s digital marketing efforts please reach out to Ben LeDonni directly at ledonnib@bnpmedia.com.