Enhance Your AEC Marketing with Online Payments

John Lehman
John Lehman
August 10, 2021

We’re sure we don’t have to tell you why it’s important to market your business. Obviously, you want potential clients to know your business exists so you can continue to get projects and keep your revenue streams flowing.

It’s important to understand how to effectively market your business in today’s world. What are the expectations of clients today, and how can you meet those expectations while remaining competitive?

Here, we’ll explain how adopting an online payment solution is one of the most effective ways of not only meeting client expectations but making your firm stand out in an ever-increasingly competitive market.

The value of modern marketing for AEC professionals

Across all industries, marketing efforts have evolved to accommodate a far more digital environment—one where consumers can be specifically targeted based on their interests and shopping habits.

A simple Google search for a product can completely change what advertisements you see as you browse the web. For example, if you’re Googling for a new lawn mower, you can expect to see more banner ads talking about the latest high-tech lawn mower all the homeowners want to get their hands on.

Because of this highly personalized approach to marketing, the old ways of advertising simply aren’t going to work anymore.

If your goal is to get more than simply repeat business from the same old clients, you’ll need to put a bit more effort into your marketing approach. You’ll need to be able to position your business as one that has its finger on the pulse of your target audience’s desires and habits. The more you can provide what your clients want, the more they’ll want to do business with you in the first place.

Thankfully, there is plenty of room for the industry to grow in this area. As more and more companies across the board are building more client-centric businesses, research is showing that the AEC businesses are slow to adapt. According to the Society of Marketing Professional Services, only about 18 percent of AEC firms are providing, or aiming to provide, a client-focused business.

There is a world of opportunity for AEC professionals to seize the moment and establish themselves as a business that focuses on the needs of the modern client. One of the easiest ways to do this is by expanding your payment options.

Gone are the days where consumers would readily accept only being able to pay by cash or check. With so many ways to pay today, your clients want to find businesses that will allow them to pay how they prefer. So it’s absolutely in your best interest to provide these methods.

How online payments make your firm more competitive and marketable

Of course, you might be wondering, what’s in it for me? How exactly does offering online payments give me a competitive edge in the market and make my firm more valuable overall? Below are some of the key benefits of implementing online payments into your AEC firm.

Expand your service area

If your firm only accepts in-person forms of payment, you’ve essentially limited yourself to doing business in your particular city or state—or at the very least made it more difficult to offer your services beyond your particular neck of the woods.

In contrast, using online payments makes remote work significantly easier.

By accepting payments online, you can enable your firm to expand your services beyond your location. Online payment solutions do not require you and your clients to be in the same place in order to process a payment. Your client could be halfway across the globe in a different time zone and still be able to pay for your services.

Reinforce trust in your clients

Modern clients have a strong preference for paying for goods and services online and will put emphasis on working with businesses that accept this form of payment. In fact, online payments are so commonplace today that consumers would feel uncomfortable if a business did NOT accept online payments.

With features like email confirmations and payment status tracking, an online payment solution helps you provide peace of mind to clients by verifying that their payments were sent and accepted successfully. And if your clients feel comfortable with your payments software, they’ll feel comfortable continuing to do business with you.

Position yourself as a modern AEC firm that has a finger on the pulse and takes client’s preferences into account.

Pioneer accepting online payments

Many AEC professionals today still stick to traditional forms of payment, primarily accepting check payments from their clients. The general consensus is that they feel that they don’t need to use another form of payment to maintain success in their market.

However, the simple fact is that today’s consumers want to be able to pay with online payment options, especially in a pandemic-altered world where remote interactions are far more common. As such, their expectations on how they can pay for a service are quite high, and they’ll be less inclined to do business with a firm that has a “one-size-fits-all” payment model.

By accepting online payments, you can expand your payment options to satisfy clients in general. But moreover, you can also put yourself in a unique position to accept a form of payment that many of your competitors may not be currently accepting.

For example, imagine being among the few design firms in your area that allow clients to pay by credit card. You would definitely make your firm stand out amongst the pack!

Enhance the value of your brand

Every business needs to take into account the value their services provide to both their current clients and prospective clients. In other words, what are you offering to your clients that your competitors are not? What are you doing that would make a client pick you over another firm?

One obvious way to do this is to offer the ability to pay online. As we’ve mentioned before, more and more of today’s clients are looking to contract services from businesses that offer the payment methods they prefer. You can position your business as an enticing one to work with by advertising your modern payment options.

Gain unique customer insights

Online payment solutions are more than just a piece of software that can process payments online. The best online payment solutions come equipped with tracking and reporting features that can provide valuable insights into your firm’s business metrics.

For example, you could discover trends on what payment method your clients are using most often and reorganize your marketing efforts to emphasize those items. If, say, your clients are favoring QR codes, you might feel inclined to use them more often (such as on a business card, on your contracts, or displayed on a placard in your office).

The more knowledge you have of your current clients’ payment preferences, the better equipped you’ll be to more effectively market your services to future clients.

Streamline the onboarding process

It’s always a good idea to make your firm’s onboarding process as simple as possible. When potential clients feel bogged down with a lengthy and drawn-out questionnaire about their project or a confusing contract, they may feel less inclined to sign on and officially become a client.

Furthermore, if a traditional form of payment is what’s standing between them and a project ready to move forward, they may feel inclined to look elsewhere by choosing to work with a competitor.

You can help smooth out this process by offering the ability to pay your initial fees online. Imagine setting up an initial meeting, putting a contract in the client’s hands, and giving them the power to pay for your services immediately!

By making the onboarding process painless, your potential clients will feel more inclined to continue working with you (as well as recommending your services to others).

Effective ways to market your online payment options

Now that you’ve seen how online payments can drive your business forward, you’ll need to be able to effectively advertise your payment options to your audience. After all, the ability to pay online doesn’t hold much weight if your clients don’t know they have the ability to do so in the first place. Here, we’ll discuss the best ways to spread the word about your ability to accept client payments online.

On your firm’s website

These days, most consumers discover businesses and services by doing a quick Google search. That’s why it's absolutely essential to have a website representing your firm. As far as potential clients are concerned, if they can’t find your business online, it simply doesn’t exist.

When a client gets to your website, you want to make sure that it’s conveying all of your services in the best light possible. So if you’re offering online payments as an option, it’s in your best interest to display this prominently on your site.

Perhaps the best way to accomplish this is by including a payment button on your firm’s homepage. Not only will this advertise your ability to accept payments online, but it will also provide a convenient way for your current clients to quickly pay your invoices.

Within your emails to your clients

Better yet, you could let your clients know about their ability to pay your invoices online when you send them the invoice in the first place!

If you’re emailing your invoices, you can include some specific language that lets them know that they can pay their bill with a few clicks of a button instead of putting a check in the mail. All you have to do is include a payment link within your email and your client will have everything they need to pay your invoice right away.

Within your invoices

The best online payment solutions allow you to put a payment link directly into your digital invoices. This can help reinforce your firm’s ability to pay online.

If your client didn’t catch it within your email, you’ll have another opportunity to bring it to their attention on your invoice. Make sure you put it in a prominent place so that your client can’t possibly miss it.

If you’re still sending your invoices the traditional way (i.e., in the mail), you can still encourage online payments through your paper invoices—as long as you choose the right payment software provider.

Some solutions allow for QR code payments, which means you can place your QR code on your paper invoice, allowing your clients to scan their paper invoice and pay your bill using their mobile device. Not only is this a great system on its own, but it might encourage more of your clients to pay your bill directly online, allowing you to eventually go paperless with your billing.

Through your social media accounts

With over 200 million Americans using social media in 2021, these platforms are an invaluable tool for keeping your firm top of mind of current and potential clients. You can use social media to show off some of your latest projects, promote new deals, or even make announcements about new changes within your firm.

Naturally, if your firm becomes capable of accepting client payments online, it’s a good idea to make a social media post about it!

Explain in the post how much easier this payment solution is for your clients, and how it can help get their projects off the ground faster than traditional means. And be sure to link back to your firm’s website, so visitors can see where they need to go to take advantage of this option.

Through review websites

These days, word of mouth can have a massive impact on a business’ reputation. So many of today’s consumers use Google reviews, Yelp, and other review websites to help them determine whether a business is worth spending their hard-earned money on.

That’s why it’s absolutely essential to have a listing on these sites to allow previous clients to discuss their experiences with you. And since these sites are often one of the first points of contact a potential client has with your business, you want to ensure that all of your services are covered well on the listing.

Many of these sites allow you to list whether you accept credit card payments. By displaying your payment options here, you’ll allow clients to filter out competitors that do not accept online payments, which, in turn, will help your business stand out all the more!

Best of all, online payment solutions themselves can provide benefits that go beyond satisfying your clients and effectively marketing your business. Learn more about how ClientPay can streamline your operations and help you get paid faster for your services by scheduling a demo today!