QUICK, we need some Marketing - where do we start?

"Things are slowing down.  Projects are going on hold.  We aren't closing on the work like we have done in the past.  There seems to be more competition and fees are dropping.  We need to do some marketing."

A Chinese philosopher had it right.  "The best time to plan a tree is 25 years ago. The second best time is today."  So, lets start now, but lets start in a way that we get the best results with the least time and least money.  The greatest value come will from marketing with intent. Here's what I mean.  Marketing supports your strategy, and strategy supports your vision.  To understand where to begin, let's take a look at powerful internal thoughts to consider and decisions to make:

  1. Vision is based on who you are, what you do best, and what services will provide fees to support your vision and therefore your staff and office.  Do this first, as your Vision is your beacon, the guiding light for all subsequent decisions.
  2. Strategy is how you will accomplish your Vision.  Ask yourself where do you find your clients and prospective clients.  How can you get in front of them to tell your story and let them see your Vision.  For each client type, there will be a unique approach that works best.  
  3. Design comes into play only when you have identified the marketing tools that will support your strategy.  In many cases the marketing tools you need will work ahead of your personal activities, some will work simultaneously, and some will be designed to work in your absence.  Having a clear strategy allows you to choose the tools and only the tools that support your strategy.

The next items are external processes and their place in your marketing system. Now that we have established marketing's place in the tool kit, it is important to understand how marketing fits into the daily processes that lead to sales.  

  1. Marketing provides the tools that explain to your clients who you are and what you do best, and sometimes it shares the knowledge you have gained to establish your position as the expert in the field.  It is what you say about you and your firm.
  2. Public Relations is an often underrated and misunderstood tool to inform the others of your professional successes by seeking publication by media, news outlets and peer or client organizations.   It is often a first step in building trust with clients.  PR is what others say about you and your firm.
  3. Business Development is the act of building relationships, with former, current and prospective clients. We know that people don't buy from brochures and websites, they buy from people.  You cannot have a relationship without meeting people.  This is a trust-building effort and will be one of the strongest elements of your program.
  4. Sales is the final act of trust in the relationship.  You have done all the right things (in order) and your client goes "all in" by signing your contract for service.  All that remains is for your firm to perform as you can and will.  And that's what you do best, isn't it?

My process is designed to keep you on track. We will work in the order needed. I'll help you think about the tools you and your staff will need to drive your success as a team and as a firm.  The tools need to be selected with intent and with respect to your firms time and resources. If all this sounds like a discussion that could help build and train your team for greater success, let's plant that tree.  I'd enjoy a chance to visit and to discuss details.

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 providing Business Development and Marketing Guidance and to share the wisdom and experience of those 45 years. Bill writes articles sharing his experience in keystone practice areas: Entrepreneurship, Business Development and Marketing. He graduated from the University of Houston College of Architecture in 1971 and now serves the College on the Dean's Leadership Council. Check him out at www.burwell-consulting.com .