BIM's Marketing Edge_SMPS Marketer


Published on - New macro BIM tools can give construction firms a marketing edge. Easier to use than detailed (micro) BIM software, macro BIM tools let you transform a rough hand-drawn sketch into a 3D virtual building, complete with quantities and cost estimates. Read stories of how firms are using macro BIM to wow clients and win projects.

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BIM's Marketing Edge_SMPS Marketer

  1. 1. 14 Best Practices: BIM’s Marketing Edge, 3D Presentation in 48 Hours BY STEWART CARROLL You might not have everything you need to win over Considering that BIM produces a micro, or detailed, new clients interested in building. description of building projects, the marketing services professional might not know that there’s a macro capa- But who ever heard of adding building information bility, too. And that it has unique marketing potential. modeling (BIM) to the mix? And that it can also integrate down the line with the more comprehensive work by other practitioners using Thanks to advances in BIM technology, the revolu- micro BIM products by Autodesk, Bentley, and others. tionary tool that has increased accuracy and saved time and money in the A/E/C industry can improve MACRO INTRO marketing efforts, too. This preliminary way of conceptualizing and estimating BIM can produce data-rich, parametric 3D digital buildings got its start when practitioners with techno- images with initial material and process determinations, logical skill realized the owner and those who bid for and with extensive costing and clash detection capa- their business also need exact information. Projects bilities across disciplines. It has had wide acceptance actually start in the pre-design phase with the owner, among architects, engineers, and contractors, despite even though BIM typically doesn’t appear until the the fact that no “killer app” has driven integration of “official” start of the approved project, the conceptual- the variety of BIM software available. ization phase. Why shouldn’t BIM appear earlier? Society for Marketing Professional Services
  2. 2. 15 “Given only hand sketches and a rough description of project intent, in three days a firm using macro BIM delivered a 3D costing model that generated project quantities and cost estimates for a proposed project. ”With macro BIM technology, it can. Macro BIM relieson industry-leading materials use, configuration, and costestimations, thanks to links with RSMeans, Sage Timberline,and other storehouses of data. RSMeans, for instance, offers18,000 assemblies and some 180,000 line items. Others give“green” building options like products from FutureStone.With some basic training, anyone familiar with the workingknowledge of building trades, design, construction, andestimating can create the models for clients. Some trainingalso compliments a busy professional schedule by providingtwo days of design and cost estimating classes first, followed How many levels are preferred? What materials and what colorsby three weeks of independent learning using the software are desired for the exterior? What green aspects does the clientto work take-home exercises at an individual’s own pace. want? Macro BIM helps answer these client questions to lead to a new contract for services.As for building a 3D model, the process starts with GoogleEarth for geographic conditions and, through the use of the zip Other features that benefit the user in producing quick andcode of the preferred location, links with costs, product options, accurate models are the ability to upload and scale images likebuilding codes, and weather conditions for that location. 2D sketches in JPEG and PDF formats and the ability to produce a mirrored copy of the half of one symmetrical building to createThe software options often feature several hundred building the second half. Plus the user can select a component of the “virtualtemplates that also can be customized. This starting point is building,” set costs for that single component, and match that costideal for prospective clients who just want to provide some with any number of other similar items in the model.basic information and yet want to “see” the possibilities. During meetings with the client, BIM can provide screen viewsIs the client or owner’s representative asking for an office building, of the 3D mock-up that can be visually manipulated for differenta warehouse, a hotel, an educational facility, or a parking garage? perspectives. Plus, the model can offer a look at the estimate viewDoes the client want a colonial look or a contemporary style? or line-item view of materials for efficient cost comparisons. Marketer/June 2009
  3. 3. 16 “Thanks to BIM, the A/E/C industry can improve marketing efforts. ” BIM has added value, too. In the future, owners—your clients— will occupy a more important place in the full process of building from start to finish—the occupation and lifecycle operations and maintenance of the structure. Long-term building management with BIM has not arrived yet, but BIM experts claim that day is Macro BIM can meet and exceed the needs to win a project award coming. The prospect of using BIM for the life of the building is or even help the owner in that “go/no-go” decision-making process. another benefit worth mentioning to your client, too. That’s because BIM incorporated in the preliminary stage is fast Macro BIM poses big advantages in a poor economy, too. and extremely accurate, according to various side-by-side compari- Neither a client nor the practitioner wants to spend dollars or sons with more conventional methods of project calculations and time in a risky financial environment. BIM not only shortens drawings and pro forma output. Some studies suggest that macro initial planning before billable hours can be charged but also BIM can render 92% of non-billed time unnecessary. Also total gives a solid estimate for financial planning by the owner. cost variations stay within one percentage point typically. SEE WHERE IT GOES VIRTUAL BUILDING—REAL POSSIBILITIES Meeting with that prospective client again, with macro BIM it’s Using macro BIM will add a sophisticated edge to work with easy to show cost relationships between different materials, levels a prospective client. In 8 to 48 hours, a BIM operator can take of quality, structural systems, or even different energy-related that metaphorical cocktail napkin or more formal details and items. This aids follow-up presentations with owners, investors, create a 3D model with all the basics already determined. and even public bodies or community groups, if necessary. With these participants in the room, the modeler can do takeoffs or This changes the waiting game—the client waiting for you and pursue “what-if” scenarios, complete with new cost estimates. you waiting for the client. Decisions that used to take several weeks or more can be reduced to hours, barring unforeseen The use of BIM in the marketing phase of landing clients has circumstances like finance reluctance or slow board approval. proven very beneficial. Various examples follow. In formal presentation back to the client, you can display the A BIM model for a 275,000-square-foot complex proposed virtual building and make certain manipulations that are bound for Tampa, FL, featured a hotel, offices, and a parking garage to arise from the discussion. Maybe the client wants the entrance and was estimated at $50 million. The model was used by a on another street or the cladding reminds him or her of a lemon potential client needing to attract high-dollar tenants first. of a car once owned. Or maybe the estimate exceeds expectations The owner praises the firm’s ability to produce two different and almost kills the deal. high-quality building and site layout options and related conceptual cost estimates—at low cost to the firm. What if you were able to turn the building slightly and save 2% on energy costs every year for 20 years? Given only hand sketches and a rough description of project intent, in three days a firm using macro BIM delivered a With macro BIM, many alternatives such as these can be consid- 3D costing model that generated project quantities and ered on the fly, just like a sophisticated “virtual world” interactive cost estimates for a project proposed for Frisco, TX. computer game. The orientation of the building can be changed. Plans were to build a 55,000-square-foot fieldhouse at a private The structure can become more vertical. The materials can be grade school in Tampa, FL. Several days before the scheduled switched to something more appealing. The number of windows presentation with a prospective client, one firm discovered can be decreased. The lobby of Italian granite can get changed that the competition was composing schematic construction to save money. estimates to incorporate into their presentations. The first firm Society for Marketing Professional Services
  4. 4. turned to macro BIM in order to build a conceptual estimate for the presentation that, in the end, resulted in winning the “We were looking for tools to deliver more information early on in the design process with information that was auditable, not just 17 project. In addition to the estimate, the firm presented the [providing] cost per square foot,” he said. “The problem with the energy model, the pro forma, the design narrative, and a traditional way is when you come up with quantity and pricing, Google Earth image of the building in its surroundings. and then you have to redesign the project. It takes a lot of time you probably don’t have. You can miss the market, because youWHAT COMES AfTER 48 HOURS? didn’t know the budget. This gives me a lot of flexibility since IOnce built in BIM, the macro model is like the outline of a book. can model it in 3D.”There is plenty more detail to be worked out—like a project’sscope, the hard costs, and the overall projected costs, including Experiences like his and others show that BIM makes goodfinancing with a pro forma. But the macro model allows the marketing sense—even before the architect and contractorproject parameters to be established with very little effort, enabling get involved.multiple concepts to be evaluated, drawing as little detail as pos-sible to get as much data as possible associated with the project. About the AuthorWhy is this important? Because, in fact, more information is Stewart Carroll is chief operating officer of Beckneeded earlier for a client to step past other qualified firms and Technology (, devel-award your firm the project. opers of DProfiler BIM software, based in Dallas. He has been a lead A/E/C technologist for over a decade and continually speaks on the integrationLeon LaJeunesse of Custom Contracting, Lake Zurich, IL, and of cost and scoping technologies to owners andan officer of Chicagoland Builders Association found macro developers. He can be reached at 214.303.6200 orBIM to be an important marketing tool for that reason. This is his first contribution to Marketer. It’s Here: Marketing Handbook for the Design & Construction Professional, Third Edition Marketing Handbook for the Design & Construction Professional is an indispensable resource for those engaged in professional services marketing and dedicated to building business for their companies. Reflecting the remarkable changes in business practices and technology that have developed over the last decade, this third edition encompasses 64 chapters—including nearly 20 new chapters—authored by 72 industry leaders and practitioners with bottom-line accountability for the success of their A/E/C companies. Chapters are organized into six sections covering all aspects of professional services marketing: market research; strategic, business, and marketing planning; client and business development; qualifications/proposals; promotional activity; and marketing and business performance. New material addresses metrics for marketing and sales, crisis communication, social media strategies and tools, strategic branding, media relations, building consensus, go/no-go strategies, positioning, sustainability, proposal writing and the SF330, client feedback initiatives, technology, and the evolving role of the chief marketing officer. Marketing Handbook for the Design & New features added in the third addition—a glossary, chapter take-aways, and recommended Construction Professional, Third Edition supplemental reading—help to make this a must-have reference for marketers and business Published by SMPS, SMPS Foundation, developers as well as principals, CFOs, COOs, CEOs, project managers, graphic designers, and Building News Inc. HR directors—virtually anyone whose job description includes marketing and business $69.95 plus shipping and handling development responsibilities. (SMPS members: Log onto to access the 10% discount code.) The handbook is a primary reference book for SMPS’ Certified Professional Services Marketer To order, visit or (CPSM) Program. call 1.800.896.0793. Marketer/June 2009