Editorial: Your Marketing Department

May 13, 2013

Mark Zweig offers five steps to keep your expanded departments happy and productive. When I started working in the A/E/P and environmental consulting industry in 1980, most companies in the business did NOT have a marketing department or anything even close to it. If a firm had any dedicated marketing people, they fit into one of two categories: 1) they were the boss’s secretary, who spent so much time writing proposals and qual documents that eventually it made sense to make them a “marketing coordinator”; or 2) they were a full-time business developer/“bird dog” who either came from a government job or were related to one of the principals and needed a job. This scenario may sound laughable to many now who weren’t there, when we have one marketing person for every 25 employees in the typical firm! So today, a 200-person A/E firm will likely have eight people in their marketing department, and a 500-person firm will average 20. That’s a lot of people! And we have to keep them all happy and most importantly, productive. Here are some thoughts on how you can do that:
  1. Don’t cut your top marketing person out of business planning high-level management decision-making. Some firms STILL think that since their top marketer is not a line professional (billable, registered, etc.), they should not be included in management matters. Marketing is very broad-based and your success with it depends on many factors beyond mere promotional efforts!
  2. Be cognizant of the cultural chasm that may exist between your marketing staff and your revenue producers. The odds are most marketers don’t have engineering, planning, architecture, or science degrees and registrations. Therefore, in many companies they are automatically treated as second class citizens (but should not be considered such!). On the other side of the fence, marketing people must be cautioned about doing too many things that aren’t central to their mission – bringing in more work to the firm. An example of this might be the constant promotion of parties in the marketing department on Facebook. The line staffers don’t like it!
  3. Don’t isolate them physically. One thing I have learned is that if you don’t put your marketing department off in a separate building or on a different floor in your building, you will probably foster better morale as well as better relationships between them and the rest of your staff.
  4. Insist on tracking a wide variety of performance metrics on your marketing people and share these numbers with the rest of the firm. Web hits. Incoming calls and emails from clients and potential clients. Number of proposals. Hit rate. Number of names in the company marketing database (CRM). Press mentions. And many others... If you track and share this information with everyone it will be apparent that the marketing department is getting something done – even if no one gives them any of the credit for ACTUAL sales.
  5. Encourage your marketing department to find marketing-related consulting projects outside your firm – with clients, potential clients, or subcontractors and suppliers to the firm. This will help them feel like they aren’t stagnating, bring in a few bucks, and probably even improve their marketing skill sets. There are plenty of opportunites out there to do direct mail campaigns, develop new websites, help with social media marketing, and so much more.
Mark Zweig is the chairman and CEO of ZweigWhite. Contact him with questions or comments at mzweig@zweigwhite.com. This article first appeared in The Zweig Letter (ISSN 1068-1310) Issue # 1007 Originally published 5/13/2013. Copyright© 2013, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved.

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.