Fast vs. right

Feb 26, 2018

Whether it’s a monthly email campaign, promotional event, thought leadership piece, or blog post, firms need to give marketing the time it needs to evolve.

“Do you want the job done right or done fast?” I heard this question from a colleague many years ago and, from one business situation to another, I often reflect back on it – especially when the situation deals with marketing.

At a time when the art and science of marketing has become more complex than ever, I notice many firms, including those in the AEC industry, tend to focus more on conducting their marketing “fast” as opposed to “right.” I believe taking this course of action sets up a firm for failure in both the short- and long-term.

As an architect, engineer, or builder, from proposal submission to commissioning, you know and understand the multitude of steps that are involved with the design and construction of a building. By the same token, you know the amount of time it takes to properly complete each step, and failing to allocate this time could spell disaster (cost, occupant safety, reputation, etc.) in the end. If a firm’s senior leadership can recognize and understand the trade-off between having a design or construction project “done right” versus “done fast,” why do they hold the firm’s marketing activity to a different standard?

Digital or traditional, direct or indirect, inbound or outbound, push or pull, etc., there are many components which make up a marketing strategy or campaign, and a firm’s leadership needs to realize that just as with the design and construction of a building, marketing needs to be “done right” not “done fast” if it is to be effective and succeed.

To illustrate this point, let’s focus on search engine optimization for a firm’s website. While it can take a considerable amount of time to write and post content for a website, making use of the proper keywords and coding schemes, etc., it also takes time to study search engine results and website analytics in order to determine what’s working, not working, and why. From here, it then takes time to make any necessary improvements or modifications and retest all of it over again. For a marketing project like SEO it could take months or longer to perfect.

Whether it’s a monthly email campaign, promotional event, thought leadership piece, project proposal, or blog post, a firm’s senior leadership cannot see marketing and its various components or activities as merely things to check off on a to-do list. These are not necessarily one-and-done items to consider. Rather, it’s just the opposite. When done correctly, conscientiously, and in accordance to best practices, marketing takes time to research, understand, analyze, formulate, strategize, produce, implement, test, and manage.

As a principal or partner of a firm, you must recognize that marketing is an evolutionary process which takes time, as well as an investment (not expense) of money and resources, and should not be rushed or minimized. Certainly you can have (attainable) project goals and deadlines to work toward, which makes good business sense, but this should not interfere and prevent marketing from functioning in a sensible manner. The premier brands of the world, in or out of the AEC industry, did not become so overnight. For most it took years and even decades to become an everyday or household name. Give your marketing the time it needs to evolve. That’s how you plan for success.

Roger Marquis, client relations and business development director at Spacesmith. Contact him at

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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.