Flexibility in the face of COVID

Oct 11, 2020

We need to remain flexible for the foreseeable future as we continue to determine what is resonating with our clients.

At the beginning of every year many of us spend a lot of time developing a marketing plan that we use to guide our priorities and drive strategy throughout the year ahead. During your monthly or quarterly reviews of your marketing plan, there may be adjustments to those priorities based on new information you receive that impacts your firm’s goals, or new clients or opportunities that arise. But what happens when the new information is the global pandemic that we are currently facing? If your firm is anything like ours, you pushed your marketing plan to the wayside as you found ways to support your colleagues and their clients as they faced new challenges COVID-19 has presented.

Having a reactive approach is not new to marketing professionals, despite most of us preferring the ability to develop a proactive approach based on industry trends and the needs of our clients. COVID-19 forced us to initially halt almost all non-pandemic related marketing and communication materials as we determined what services our clients needed immediately. We then had to adjust to an increase in electronic proposals, virtual meetings, and shortlist interviews, all while prioritizing employee communications.

As we adapted to working remotely with some of our marketing and business development staff furloughed or on reduced hours, we also had to adapt our marketing strategy moving forward. Our business development staff, like many in the AEC industry, rely on conferences/tradeshows and in-person meetings such as an occasional meal or round of golf to cultivate relationships that result in opportunities and leads.

Like many other firms, we explored alternative BD opportunities including implementing external webinars highlighting technologies we have integrated into our projects or ones our channel partnerships have developed. Even as businesses explore reopening, restrictions on office guests and travel remain in place, and we are beginning to run into webinar fatigue.

Where does this leave our marketing and BD efforts? We don’t have time to reinvent the wheel every few weeks. It’s time to go back and revisit our marketing plans and adjust for the current conditions. What are our clients’ priorities during this time and looking forward the next few months? How can we meet those needs and what is the best avenue to reach our clients? Have we introduced any new services or solutions because of COVID-19 that we need to develop additional marketing collateral for?

At the end of the day, human interaction and connection are more important than ever in your marketing efforts and showing genuine interest and concern for your clients as they navigate through their own unprecedented times will go a long way. There isn’t a light switch to flip to determine when we’ll be able to return to many of the “normal” marketing activities we relied on prior to COVID-19. It appears for the foreseeable future at least that we need to be flexible as we continue determining what is resonating with our clients. We may not always get it right, but by prioritizing time to review where our marketing efforts stand today and remaining flexible in how we approach them, we can make sure we set ourselves up to be successful in the future.

Katie Crawford is Pennoni’s marketing manager. She can be reached at kcrawford@pennoni.com.

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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.