Marketing Ideas Every Firm Can Implement NOW

Jul 19, 2004

When we remade our Revolutionary Marketing newsletter into The Zweig A/E Marketing Letter, we had a simple idea. Cut the theory and direct the focus of our efforts to implementation. What can firms DO differently marketing-wise that will make them more successful? The response from our readers has been fantastic! Subscriptions shot up by almost a third in the month that followed our overhaul. I had a friend of mine stop by on Father’s Day— David Penzias. He’s the CEO of Wellesley Information Services, a very successful publishing and events company. He’s known me since before we started ZweigWhite. We were talking about Revolutionary Marketing and how we changed the name and format of the publication. His immediate response was, “No one really wants revolutionary marketing. That’s too risky. They want tried-and-true marketing ideas that work.” So here you go. I thought it was time to talk in The Zweig Letter about some hard-core, immediately useful, implementable marketing ideas that work. Here are nine of them that EVERY firm can use: Harvest all contacts from Outlook. Every firm these days has a CRM (client or customer relationship management) system. And rarely do we ever see one of these databases that is adequately populated with current and potential clients. One reason is Outlook. Individual employees hoard their own contacts there. It’s easier, quicker, more convenient…and if you ever leave, you can easily keep your contacts. None of this helps the company, however, if those names don’t make it onto the list used for direct mailing. Fill in the blanks in all of your target markets. Show me any A/E firm that says it specializes in a particular market or markets, and I will show you a firm that has not done all it should to identify every organization and every potential buyer or influencer of the buying decision in those organizations and get them into its marketing Ü database. Yes— this should be Marketing 101: Define who you are trying to sell to. They will never hear about you or learn how great you are if you don’t do this! Do an electronic press release every week. Get e-mail addresses of all the editors of every publication you would like to appear in. Send them something of interest every week via e-mail. It can be as simple as quoting your president or another firm principal or manager on what he or she sees going on with the clients you serve. It could be as easy as announcing a new employee or promotion. It really isn’t hard to do these. Use one logo firm-wide for everything. Put it everywhere. Use it on every card, every plan, every letter, every proposal, every sign, every company car….use it everywhere you possibly can. Don’t tolerate any alternative names or logos for the company in any case. It’s hard enough to create an image for a firm in a narrowly defined target market without selling more than one image. Get new signage. Take a look at your buildings. Do you have good signs on them— the largest signs that the building owner and local regulations will allow? If not, why not? Yes— signs are expensive, but when it comes down to it, they are cheap advertising! Ditto for your job site signage. Make sure every site that will allow you to put up a sign has one listing your firm’s name, contact information, and services provided on it. Billboards are known to be some of the most cost-effective advertising. A lot of people drive by them every day, and while you may not think they process all that they see, a lot of it sticks in the readers’ subconscious. Even if they don’t all call you with a project, that “sticking” may increase the chances of hiring you some day. Send bi-monthly personal letters from all principals. Every principal can take the time to write a couple or more letters each year, can’t they? These letters are a chance to share insights gained on recent work, inform clients of new funding sources, give them some new ideas on what’s working with other clients or what other organizations like theirs are doing elsewhere, and more. These are simple letters— one page in length— and hand-signed. They will go right under the junk mail prescreening procedures in place in client organizations IF their envelopes are addressed, and not labeled, and IF they have regular first-class postage on them vs. bulk mail or some other indicia. Develop a firm-wide, annual trade show participation schedule. How hard is it to do this, and why do so few firms do it? Line up every event you want to go to a year in advance and then line up who is going to go to them. If someone drops out, name a replacement. The point is you want to be seen at the events that are critical to your firm’s positioning in every market you work in. You don’t want to be cut off or conspicuous by your absence because you didn’t plan! It costs just about nothing to do the necessary planning in advance. Upgrade the lobby waiting experience. Let’s get some new magazines, new books, new brochures, new carpet, new videos, etc. in every lobby. Make visitors comfortable and show off your firm to them. Don’t look like my doctor’s office with two-foot piles of old People magazines stacked in the corners. Look fresh and together and be conscious of the impression you are likely to be sending out. Give the switchboard operator some customer service training. Just today I called a firm, and the woman answering the phone answered with her own unique name for the company…an abbreviated one! Don’t tolerate nonsense like this. Do some training for the people who answer your phones. Where do various types of calls go in the firm? What do you do if certain things happen? These and many other questions need to be asked and answered before the person who answers the phone is faced with them. None of these nine ideas is that radical, and each of them is useable by any firm that wants to sharpen up its marketing program. Do you have something you’d like to share with our readers? If so, send it on— we’d love to hear it. Originally published 7/19/2004

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.