Marketing-Correct Behaviors for Young Architects and Engineers

Oct 09, 2006

This morning, I am sitting on a bench outside Vol Walker Hall in the beautiful old campus area here at The University of Arkansas. Vol Walker Hall is home to our School of Architecture. Today, I will be giving a guest lecture here to seniors taking the one professional practice course they are required to take. My charge is to tell them all I can about marketing in an hour or so. I am not going to repeat that lecture— one on the basics of marketing for design professionals— here on the cover of The Zweig Letter, a publication aimed squarely at those who are already principals and managers in A/E/P and environmental firms the world over. But, one part of that talk might be helpful to those of you who are trying to get your young people up to speed marketing-wise. Following is a summary of what I think are marketing-correct behaviors for the newer/younger architects and engineers that you all have in your employ: You are expected to be smart. Being smart means knowing when to talk and when to shut up. It also means knowing when to give up if a client doesn’t like your idea and not insisting on getting your way unless life safety or the law is being compromised. You are expected to be on the lookout for follow-up work opportunities. If you are working on a project and learn the client needs more services, it’s your job to point this out— without delay— to your project manager and/or principal for follow-up. You are expected to turn over leads to the right people in the firm. Finding leads is one thing and it’s great when you do that. But you have to get these leads to the right person in the firm— someone who is qualified to pursue the lead and close. This means you need to understand the firm’s lead identification and tracking policies and procedures, as well as familiarize yourself with all areas of expertise in your firm. You are expected to know the difference in the kinds of projects and clients the firm wants to work for and those it doesn’t. A lot of younger employees act as if all leads are worth pursuing. Unfortunately, they aren’t. There are certain types of clients and projects the firm just isn’t going to go after for a variety of reasons. You need to know what these are so you don’t waste your time or that of a principal. You are expected to help out in every way you can. There will be times you need to stay late to help out with a proposal or estimate or presentation. There will be times where you may be asked to go out of town as a part of a team selling a job. Make yourself available and act interested if these situations arise as they are a great opportunity for you to prove yourself. You are expected to be responsive to internal and external requests. You cannot delay when a call comes in from a client or manager who needs help. Being responsive is a huge part of how the firm keeps clients happy, and keeping existing clients always takes priority over attracting new ones. You are expected to represent the firm well in any situation. This means you will dress appropriately, act in such a way we can all be proud of, and never do anything unethical or illegal that could come back later to haunt us. This applies to work and after-work activities as well. You need to understand that marketing is critical to the firm’s success. Even if you don’t see its importance, it is. If you don’t embrace it, your career path will be limited. Originally published 10/09/2006

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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.