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Forty two-person teams participated in this year's annual SMPS Austin golf tournament, held at Top Golf on March 9. Participants enjoyed creative networking, great snacks, and a host of drinks while working on their game. 

Congratulations and thank you to our golf committee for their work on such a successful event: Adam Kohler, Amy Hageman, and Trey Swor.

We also want to give a special thanks to this year's event sponsors: Raba Kistner, IE2 Construction, Bury, Cardo Haynes Whaley, Garza EMC, Swinerton Builders, Sabre Commercial, Jose Guerra Inc., Trimbuilt Construction, Miller IDS, Enterprise Promotions, Kitchell, and Windstream Communications. 

To see more photos from the event, CLICK HERE.


Chapter horses competing in 2016 Membership Derby have just completed their first lap around the track, and SMPS Austin Chapter’s horse, Violet Triple Crown, is in the lead in the large chapter category! Winners in each category will receive an array of prizes to benefit their chapter, including media coverage, money to go toward future programs/events, and gift certificates for free memberships, webinars, and conferences. Not to mention, new members and referring members receive great perks as well. See details above!

We appreciate your support and hope you will continue to promote SMPS Austin. Be on the lookout for an invitation to our derby-themed happy hour in April!

SRC RECAP: Stop Leaning on the Lamppost

How to Use Data to Illuminate Your Message Rather than Simply Support It

By Erin Bettison, The Beck Group

The speaker at the Southern Regional Conference started off this session with an interesting analogy–comparing data to a lamppost. A lamppost is more for support than illumination. The data about our companies supports our messages and brand, but it isn’t enough to completely differentiate and highlight a firm. Don’t rely on your data to support your message on its own; it can’t speak for itself. If you can make data speak, you can maintain your credibility. How do you do this? Share your data through stories and examples, whether you are interviewing for a big project or just talking about your firm with someone one-on-one.

The traits of good stories are:

  1. They are relevant.
  2. They are short.
  3. They are detailed and/or specific.

All good stories include a problem, a solution, and then an outcome. Just think of a movie! A problem is a challenge, opportunity, or goal. In our industry, the solution should be a similar solution that you are proposing to the listener/client, and the outcome needs to also be similar to the outcome that they want to achieve.

So why is it so difficult to relay our data through stories? Data has some inherent problems if left to stand on its own:

  1. Credibility: How can you prove that the cost/SF really was some $$ amount?
  2. Comprehension: The “huh?” factor when a bunch of data is presented at once.
  3. Retention: Data can go in one ear and out the other. How do you make sure that people remember it?
  4. Connection: With people – how do #s and facts emotionally connect?
  5. Differentiation: For example, all contractors present schedules, estimates, etc. These are usually pretty comparable, so how do clients tell the difference?

So how do we make the data about our firms overcome the above difficulties. Make your data “speak” through you with this simple acronym.

S – Stories
P – Personal examples
E – Expert testimony
A – Analogies (football field of water to illustrate volume, etc.)
K – Killer quotes

The speaker closed by highlighting the importance of Q&A during presentations. The Q&A portion is your chance to build your credibility by thinking on your feet and giving answers to the interviewers' questions. However, prepare for the Q&A so your team is prepared. You can map out questions you think you’ll receive. If you know enough about a project, you can anticipate approximately 85% of their questions. Have some story examples “on deck” to call upon during the Q&A portion. Also, embrace Q&A as it can be an opportunity for the client to indirectly tell you what’s important to them.

Think your firm doesn’t have stories? Start with your project pages and build out some stories from there.


Name: Marisa Jarmon
Firm: American Constructors, Inc.
Title: Marketing Coordinator
SMPS Role: Membership Director

Brief description of your firm: Founded in 1982, American Constructors is a client-focused builder combining over 30 years of experience, innovative thinking, and high-level technical expertise to deliver outstanding quality and the best value on every project. Based in Austin, American Constructors has constructed a diverse mix of projects in the commercial, healthcare, industrial, high-tech, municipal, higher education, K-12, and religious markets throughout Central Texas.

What do you like about being involved with SMPS?
I love that there is actually an organization specifically dedicated to creating business opportunities in the A/E/C industry. Not all industries are lucky enough to have such a great resource to tap into. We have excellent programs and workshops dedicated to educating and connecting those in marketing and/or business development roles, as well as some really fun networking events, like the golf tournament, happy hours, and the annual wine and cheese tasting. However, the best part about SMPS is getting to know all the members. They are some of the brightest, friendliest people I know, and there’s just a unique bond that you share with people in similar positions within this industry.

Do you have any pets?
I am a proud crazy cat lady with two fur babies, Chandler and Olive. Cats get a bad rap, but they’re just misunderstood.

What is your perfect weekend?
Sleeping in, spending time with family and friends, relaxing, going to the movies, trying new restaurants, taking naps, enjoying a few cocktails, and netflixing.

What is the best vacation you have been on?
My honeymoon was the best vacation I’ve taken. My husband and I spent almost two weeks in Hawaii, which is also where I’m from. We spent our days swimming, sightseeing, drinking Mai Tais, and eating delicious local food. It was his first time there, so it made it even more special to be able to share all my favorite places with him as well as make new memories together.

PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Concordia University Softball Field

To accommodate growth in its athletics program, Concordia University recently added a new softball field for the Lady Tornados. The softball field features artificial turf, permanent bleachers, a press box, field lighting, and dugouts. Future phases of the athletic facility expansion will bring the addition of a field house that will include athletic department offices, locker and shower rooms for athletes, meeting rooms, public spaces, and training rooms.

Architect: The Bommarito Group
Construction Manager: The Beck Group
Civil Engineer: Kimle-Horn
Structural Engineer: Datum Engineers
MEP Engineer: Kent Consulting Engineers


By Janki DePalma, DCI Engineers

During our December Lunch and Learn, three experts in our industry shared the CRM (customer relationship management) systems they use, how they use them, and what features the systems offer. This article summarizes their reports.

Cosential: Erin Bettison from The Beck Group gave us an overview of Cosential, a CRM system tailored to the AEC industry. Some of the features of this robust system include opportunity and pursuit tracking (which can then be converted into jobs when won). The contacts feature speaks easily with Outlook. And, for those of us who do proposals, you can customize employee resumes and company projects to export them easily into InDesign. This last feature is priceless to help with version control; project information stays consistent as do employee resume stats. Cosential lets you track your marketing activities, manage mailers, and gather information for your business development meetings.  The system, when used correctly, helps your firm see both big picture marketing/business development activity as well as keep things from falling through the cracks. The reporting features are customizable and consistent, plus there is a mobile feature to help you on the go. The user interface design may not be the slickest, and at times, the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming. Luckily, The Beck Group has an in-house expert to help all users maneuver the system.

Salesforce: Andy Albin with EPY talked about the customizable features of Salesforce. The system started as a small startup and now has an almost cult-like following. Salesforce isn’t designed for the AEC industry, so you can customize the CRM to help you track and deliver information that you need. For example, you can create contacts and track if the firms have a HUB or MBE status.  Within contacts, you can identify them through organizations, groups or tag them as influencers or decision makers.  Opportunities can be tracked by stages, expected revenue and probability. Salesforce also talks with Outlook and helps you keep in front of your contacts on a schedule that you determine. One of the best features is that the licensing fees are very manageable: starting as low as $65/month per user. The double-edged sword of its customizable nature is that you, as the user, need to figure out what information you need to see and track regularly.

Deltek: Eric Churchill from Broaddus & Associates walked us through the Deltek system. Deltek is the most pricey of the three systems presented and can tie into an accounting component.  The system includes CRM, accounting, dashboard reports, and time/expenses. You can cross reference companies and contacts and assign contacts to certain individuals for follow-up. Naturally Deltek speaks with Outlook, including a feature that lets you add the email correspondences you have had with a contact. Deltek integrates with InDesign and has a mobile app. Deltek can be the leatherman of CRMs, offering so much. You just need to know how to open and use each tool.

Overall tips: The biggest issue hands down with a CRM is finding the time and energy to input the data. The best CRM is useless unless the user constantly updates the material. After that hurdle, you need to think about how you are going to use the information.  Will you be using it to create a pipeline of business development opportunities, create a mailing list for your next open house, or keep updated project information for proposals? Additionally, think about the level of customization you need and are willing to invest. All three systems have robust capabilities. It’s up to the user to decide how much effort to place in the CRM. Finally, look at the price. The number of end users may be a key factor in helping you decide which system to use. Most systems offer a mobile or cloud component as an add-on feature. From personal experience, this feature is great, especially when you are at a conference and trying to remember every project you’ve done with XYZ firm or who in your company may know Joe Doe.


Surveying and Mapping LLC

Andrea Babin is a marketing coordinator at Surveying And Mapping, LLC (SAM)®. SAM is a leading provider of complete geospatial solutions and one of the largest surveying and mapping companies in North America.

Andrea hails from the small town of Norco, Louisiana near New Orleans and relocated to Lafayette, Louisiana to became a “Ragin Cajun” at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She graduated with a Bachelor in Mass Communications, specializing in Journalism. She called this Cajun community “home” for the next six years before moving to Austin in June of last year.

Andrea is a self-proclaimed wanderlust soul, loving to hit the road to travel and explore. She also dabbles in photography in her free time–mostly nature, travel, and portraits. Andrea has also recently become involved with Austin Pets Alive, where she currently volunteers with the cat and dog marketing group taking photos for the animals’ bios and helping with social media.

As a recent Austin resident, Andrea wants to dive headfirst into becoming familiar with everything this city has to offer, including familiarizing herself with the marketing professional services community.


Lucia Murguia
Aguirre & Fields, LP

Elizabeth N. Hansen
Bury, Inc.

Andrea M. Babin
Surveying and Mapping, LLC

Stephanie Press
Surveying And Mapping, LLC

Katie Evans
Texas Engineering Solutions

Marlie Keeling

Katie Burks
K. Friese + Associates

Emily Ivins
Felix Media Solutions Inc.

Haley Bartley
DBR Engineering Consultants

Lindsey Jones
CP&Y, Inc.