How Shelli Decker is Shaping A/E Marketing through Storytelling

Industry Expertise Without Industry Molds 


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At A Glance

Post Overview

  • Crossroads of A/E Marketing: There is a longstanding perception that architecture and design must speak for itself, and that promotion is an affront to its legacy. However, that strategy is no longer effective. 
  • Shelli's Unconventional Expertise: Shelli's unique journey from interior design to marketing bridges fields and challenges industry norms by speaking the language of both disciplines. She emphasizes forging potent relationships with clients, where the connection between design and marketing is at the forefront. 
  • The Power of Storytelling: Shelli emphasizes that the future of A/E marketing lies in telling stories to connect with clients and end-users. 
  • Shaping A/E’s Future: By utilizing new tactics for the built environment, like creating an emotional connection to the audience, a new era of marketing can begin in this industry. 

Introduction

In the world of architecture and engineering (A/E), where innovation meets precision, marketing often finds itself at a crossroads. One’s work can no longer speak for itself, and many firms are currently facing this challenge, yet struggle to effectively communicate their value. The solution lies in a blend of fresh perspectives, tested principles, and proper storytelling where industry expertise exists without industry molds. Meet Shelli Decker, our Client Strategy Director at Enarche, whose journey from interior design to marketing brings a unique approach to help firms thrive in today's market.

"Marketing isn’t defined by code, program, permitting, lease lines, or square footage. We can challenge the boundaries of what's been done before. Enarche could never be typecast. Our type isn't a style; it's a process—a process that's goal is to amplify the best of every firm we work with."


-Shelli Decker

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Background and Journey

Shelli's journey into the architecture and engineering industry started with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design. For over a decade, she designed flagship retail experiences for world class brands like The Smithsonian Institute, Royal Bank of Canada, Kate Spade, and MLB, to name a few. Shelli still wanted to understand the “Why?” behind her decision to work in design. This led her to pursue a Masters in Branding at the School of Visual Arts, earning the prestigious Lauren Zaleski Award while still full-time as a Senior Designer.  

The knowledge Shelli gained lured her into a transition from designer to marketer; she realized that this new understanding could change the industry. So, Shelli returned to Arcadis (formerly CRTKL) to tackle brand and retail experience strategy for clients.   

Her experience in the retail market helped her notice a gap in how other sectors approached their work. Retail designers prioritize how the audience perceives a finished project, rather than the sheer beauty of it. Her work in retail design helped place the audience in focus over the architecture, which drastically shifted her approach to marketing. 

Where architecture traditionally guides and plans physical experiences, marketing guides and plans perception. As Shelli began her journey into marketing, her understanding that perception can diminish an experience helped her see things in a new way.  

As Shelli knew she could help tell Arcadis’ story, she decided to take a different role as their Global Retail Marketing Strategist. She worked to unify and amplify Arcadis’ voice, redefining how they approached pitches, marketing, and public relations. Shelli has touched every part of the process, from analyzing consumer behavior shifts to forming best practices for client relationship management. Shelli’s range of experiences allows her to develop better high level and marketplace strategies.  

 After 10 years at Arcadis, and 17 in her career, Shelli joined the Enarche team where she helps A/E firms recognize their power as brands in today’s market, not just the creators of its buildings. 

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Unique Perspective from A/E Design

Shelli's background as an interior designer allows her to speak the languages of both design and marketing. Her knowledge bridges the gaps that many firms struggle with, specifically about telling their story. She realized that design is not just about aesthetics; design IS a business, and her work directly impacted her clients’ success. Whether sales, foot-traffic, or social media impressions, the experiences she designed contributed to the economic growth of markets and brands. This realization forms the core of her approach—a belief that design, when communicated effectively, can shape the world. 

Shelli is no stranger to the intricacies of this industry or its culture. She has walked in the steel-toed boots of clients. She has argued with contractors and pulled all-nighters to inspect and finalize every inch of a floor plan. She’s been the only woman on a job site having to defend design integrity amongst a room of “it’s good enough.” Shelli’s ability to connect with clients on their turf comes from the value and respect she has for them, while also having the inside knowledge of what their marketing pain points are. 

Shelli Decker bridging the gap in Design + Marketing

Industry Expertise Without Industry Molds

Shelli Decker's journey from the A/E industry to marketing exemplifies the power of merging industry expertise with fresh perspectives to tell compelling stories. Her commitment to connecting design and marketing is evidence of the possibilities when minds are unburdened by industry molds.  

Enarche's approach to marketing was the perfect match with Shelli's unique journey. From strategy to execution, Shelli helps A/E firms elevate their brands, tell their story, and ultimately win more work. She prioritizes building strong relationships with clients while fostering collaboration in every stage. With Shelli on the team, our blend of perspectives allows us to challenge norms and reimagine marketing strategies, connecting firms with their audience in ways previously thought impossible. 

In the words of Shelli, “The A/E industry is a mystery to everyone who isn’t a part of it,” and this is why storytelling will be so crucial going forward. When the best brands in the world can make people cry with a story about a truck, or invite a smile from a clothing ad, why aren’t firms doing it with the buildings all around us? The future of A/E marketing is about using stories to connect architects with their future clients, to connect the end-users of these spaces with the people who envisioned them, and to create powerful relationships between a firm’s brand and the people who benefit from its work.  

In a very real sense, A/E firms need to move beyond the printed page and static PDFs and tell stories that express, move, and evoke a response from the audience. Every potential client is an audience whether firms understand it or not, and that realization is what allows Shelli to excel in her career and embody the values of Enarche.

MORE ABOUT SHELLY DECKER

Shelli Decker holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from Miami University and a Masters in Branding from the School of Visual Arts, where she earned the prestigious Lauren Zaleski Award. With over a decade of experience as an Interior Designer, she transitioned to marketing, becoming the Global Retail Marketing Strategist at Arcadis. Today, as Client Strategy Director at Enarche, Shelli uses her industry expertise to reshape A/E marketing.

Authored by

Gabe Clark

Content Specialist

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