An open letter from your marketing staff

Apr 06, 2020

For firm leadership, marketing may not always be top of mind. For your marketing staff, it is. Make sure they have a seat at the table.

Dear Principal, We know you’re busy, so let’s make this quick. As much as it pains us to admit, we know marketing may not always be top of mind. Through a few decades of combined AEC marketing experience, we’ve identified internal strategies to assist our organization in effectively and efficiently retaining the best talent, providing unparalleled client experience and inevitably reaching the firm’s strategic growth goals.

  • A rigorous go/no-go process. The firm continues to be selective in client pursuits. Our employees are building relationships for the long haul through a differentiated client experience. These pursuits will lead to growing backlog while economic conditions remain stable.
  • Employees are very busy – of course, the best time to market. Let’s continue to focus on business development activities to create future value. The seeds planted today will sow opportunities later this year into 2021. This investment will be critical as markets ebb and flow with economic forces beyond our control.
  • Appropriately leverage marketing staff. It may be time to add another marketing staff member to complement current staff skill sets. As we recruit, it’s important to educate candidates on how the AEC industry gives them the opportunity to influence direction and strategy. You get a comprehensive marketing role in the architectural and engineering business and can affect meaningful change through proposals, advertising, strategy, and pursuits at a fast pace.
  • Marketing and leadership alignment. This begins with continuing to have marketing report directly to leadership with “a voice at the table.” As the Society of Marketing Professional Services says, “Marketing is the umbrella to house all things involved in the process of creating firm awareness; building and differentiating the brand; driving business development activities; and identifying, anticipating, and satisfying client objectives to achieve profitable business goals.”
  • Engage marketing staff within your internal initiatives. Beyond pursuits, marketing can add immense value playing a part in initiatives like employee engagement communication and all-staff celebrations. These are prime opportunities to recognize our people and engage with staff we may not otherwise.
  • Integrate marketing with project delivery. Continue to invite marketing to project kick-off meetings. (Project managers should not worry about added costs to the project!) Understanding and clearly communicating why the client is investing in the project will help motivate each team member to create a client experience second-to-none. Along the way, we’ll collect project data (perhaps pre- and post-occupancy surveys) that will be valuable for future pursuits. If the project team needs help with client presentations, we’re happy to assist.

We’re here to make you look your best. Through consistent communication and coaching we can continue to build on our momentum. Marketing’s mid-year review will compare our firm’s aspirations with results through June.

You focus on the fun stuff: Developing new and nurturing existing client relationships, mentoring staff, and growing a business that will continue after we retire to Florida.

Sincerely, Your marketing staff

Riley McLeod is a creative strategist for Shive-Hattery’s West Des Moines office. Greg Kanz is marketing director for Shive-Hattery, a 425-person architecture + engineering firm. Contact them at and

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.