Making marketing matter

Jul 11, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 10.33.35 AMIf you’re one of those people who still thinks “word of mouth” is the way to go when it comes to marketing, my guess is you have a very small firm that will remain a small firm. If that’s what you are interested in continuing to be, read no further. This isn’t for you. Today, I’m trying to reach out to those architects and engineers who want to grow their businesses. Marketing is critical to your success. It isn’t some BS stuff that can be doled out to someone – anyone – and everyone else can just go back to real work (i.e., architecture, engineering, planning, surveying, etc.). It is REAL work. It takes a lot of heavy lifting. And it permeates every single area of the company. It isn’t just something that hangs off to the side that we call in when we need their help. It’s not just a “support” group. We have a big problem in this industry. It stems from a lack of business education and from a basic belief that marketers are full of bull liars and exaggerators. While we can’t solve that perception problem easily, we can give you some advice about how to elevate marketing’s importance in your firm – a crucial first step if you want to make its contributions more impactful to the firm. Here are my thoughts:
  1. Hire the right person for the job. I’m talking about the head of marketing – CMO or VP of marketing or whatever you want to call him or her. You need someone dynamic. You need someone who is inspired. You need someone who is positive. You need someone who is creative. You need someone who can communicate. You need someone who will work their tail off. And you need someone who wants to be successful, needs to be successful. Notice I didn’t talk about degrees and years of experience? That’s because those things don’t mean squat if the person doesn’t have those other qualities, which, quite frankly, are much more important!
  1. Put the person in the right spot on the organization chart. That means that he or she (whoever heads up marketing), reports to the president or CEO of the company. They don’t report to a group, they don’t report to a committee, and they don’t report to anyone who isn’t the one who can allocate resources and kick ass and make things happen in the organization. This is essential, because if your marketing person is going to get anything done they will be CHANGING things inside the organization. That will ruffle feathers. Those whose feathers get ruffled will be obstructing change. Someone will probably have to confront them.
  1. Show what is getting done marketing-wise. This means constant and continuous reporting of leads, sales, new clients, new jobs, new prospects, backlog, web hits, press mentions, and about a hundred OTHER things that show something is happening marketing-wise. It has to go out to everyone in the firm – NOT just the owners and managers – so everyone can see what’s happening that’s good and bad and support the firm’s marketing efforts as best they can. That’s what it’s about – getting everyone involved!
  1. While everything we do marketing-wise is a team effort, don’t forget to recognize and promote the very specific contributions of your top marketing person and other marketing team members. I think sometimes firm principals are actually AFRAID to do this, that the professional and technical staff may complain or feel slighted if they aren’t the ones in the constant limelight. It’s BS, though. The marketing people need some love, too—some PDA (public displays of affection!). Give it to them – if you don’t, someone else will!
Doing these four things will help elevate the importance of marketing in your firm, and that’s going to help marketing get more done for you. Trust me – I know!

Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s founder and CEO. Contact him at

This article is from issue 1152 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here for to get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.

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.