Are you herding cats?  Managing the Marketers.

Anxiety.  Lethargy.  Stress.  Procrastination.  Fear. And sometimes outright laziness. Yep, those are the cats many marketers have to rustle every week just to make forward progress with their firms marketing and business development.  Marketing leadership must be part manager, part cheerleader, part coach, part guidance counselor, part psychic reader and on any given day the mix of these duties varies widely.  Failure to herd the cats can lead to simply showing up and hoping to get through the day with the off chance of putting at least one mark in your to-do list check box. But you know that isn't good enough or where you want to be.

"Marketing is not easy and done correctly, it never lets up.  The better the team sets goals, and demands accountability and takes a realistic view of their processes, the more satisfying the results."

The enemy of this crippling and stagnating situation isn't simple, but the solution is not overly difficult.

  • Clearly define the goals.  An overarching target that is well communicated is more likely to succeed.  As the saying goes, "When you are up to your a** in alligators it's easy to forget the original objective was to drain the swamp."  Post goals and milestones visibly, boldly and update frequently.
  • Demand accountability.  The whole team needs to be responsible for carrying their portion of the load.  Suffer no slackers and reward excellence.
  • Check progress and be agile.  Review results daily.  Do not wait until a deadline approaches to find out adequate progress hasn't been made. This allows quick shifts in assignments or extra help to stay on track.
  • Plan contingencies.  No plan or schedule is perfect nor beyond being subject to change.  It's an undeniable fact and to think otherwise is folly.  

Not all work of the marketing and BD team is inside the team.  There are principals, and senior associates and many other players who want success and need to contribute to the work.  Bring them into the fold and assign their tasks while holding them accountable.  BUT REMEMBER - they are your client!  Sometimes, this is overlooked in the big scheme, but marketing and BD serves the firm.  The firm is the client.

Well programmed Marketing and BD teams have many tasks and all need to move forward all the time.  Here is what I mean:

  • Marketing Programs - Inbound and outbound programs keep the firm visible in the market and re-affirm the marketing position of the firm and its various component specialties.  These include web, social media, direct mail, brochures and many other programs of systematic distribution of the firms story.
  • Public Relations - Focused and timely 3rd party recognition, endorsement and publication create undeniably positive peer and client relationships.  This includes calendared delivery of articles, awards, and community engagement.
  • Business Development - Encouraging, training and mentoring well below the first line of ownership into the ranks in the skill of face to face interaction with clients, prospects, referral sources and influencer's is where the real action happens.  People buy from people and the power of meeting and greeting is one of the most overlooked resources a firm can muster.
  • RFQ's, RFP's and Contracts - This is it.  This is what it's all about and why the first 3 items on this list exist.  Marketing, Public Relations and Business Development are the map to the mine and RFQ's, RFP's and Contracts are the gold and diamonds of the effort.  If the team keeps these processes moving forward, the firm should strike gold.

Marketing is not easy and done correctly, it never lets up.  The better the team sets goals, and demands accountability and takes a realistic view of their processes, the more satisfying the results.  But it is a moving target.  Of course, processes erode and distractions set in.  Even the best leadership needs guidance and reorganizing periodically.  Few leaders can keep things on track, all the time.  When you need it, I'm available to evaluate and provide this third party observation to help your team stay on point.  Meanwhile, keep herding those cats!

William M. Burwell  is a retired Architect and Interior Designer whose career focused on corporate interior architecture in sole proprietorships, and partnerships from 9 to 120 staff.  Bill retired in 2014 and began Burwell Consulting a Firm Marketing and Management Consulting firm, to share the wisdom and experience of those 45 years.   Bill writes articles sharing his experience in four keystone practice areas:  Entrepreneurship, Marketing, Design, and Practice Management.  He graduated from the University of Houston College of Architecture in 1971 and now serves the College on the Dean's Committee on Excellence. Check him out at