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RE: gifts for clients

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Richard,
 
I am not blasting you here at all, just something I have heard repeated on the list that I have always found exception with.
 
You are not giving yourself or architects credit when you say, "Architect clients are harder to shop for
because I don't think like them."
 
I disagree, unless your wife or girlfriend is an architect:) This is what I say every Christmas when I have to buy gifts for my sister and my mom. That too, is a cop out. Just think about them and what they like. I am not saying go buy an architect one of those baskets from Bed, Bath and Beyond though.
 
I have always detected an attitude from engineers that we think we are so much different then everyone else and have problems identifying, bad or good. We aren't, we are just normal people who are better at math and science then the average person. We like to think we are this misunderstood math geek that just sits in a dark room crunching numbers all day, a slave to architects and developers... A profession does not define or make a person. If so I would have to end my 16+ year friendship with several lawyers from grade school:)
 
Structural engineers share a passion for buildings and structures with architects. Find out if your client is a Frank Lloyd fan, a Gehry fan, a Calatrava fan, a European church fan, covered bridges, etc. and buy them a book or calendar. The ASCE bridge calendars are pretty nice and if you get 100 (that is a lot), you can get your company logo imprinted on them. Get a really nice picture of Sagrada de Familia in Barcelona or whatever and have it framed... Ever see what is on the walls at architect's offices? What about a really nice project you did with them, take a really hi rez photo and have it framed. Put your logo and their logo on the bottom, constant reminder... OR, look for a gift that has nothing to do with the industry, that reminds the architect that you are not just a geeky engineer, you are a well rounded person with other interests...
 
Ever talk to them about stuff not related to projects? That is what they are REALLY interested in. Whether it is skiing, golf, NASCAR, football, hunting, wood working, their kids (not in order), whatever, they are into the same things we are. It is even easier if you are a guy and your client is a guy. Architects are just normal people who went to a different college then we did. They may have a different way of looking at a building then we do, but not life. One of my best friends is an architect and we talk a little shop in free time, but otherwise we talk about music, sports, travel, women, LIFE. At this point I would say I have more friends that are architects and laywers then I know engineers. My family are all in the medical fields, but we have loads to talk about and in common.
 
So, depending on the client, you could also take them golfing (get to know them as a person and market yourself at the same time), sports tickets, nice restaurant gift certificates (architects eat too). Remember, you are not just selling your intellectual ability and your quality drawings, you really are selling yourself.
 
HTH,
Andrew Kester, PE
Lake Mary, FL
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