The principal-marketer partnership

Jul 20, 2020

To get the most return on your marketing investment dollars, leaders need to help build dynamic, collaborative relationships between principals and marketing teams.

Is your leadership using their marketing teams to the highest degree of effectiveness? Your firm’s leadership has the power to supercharge the principal-marketing relationship to help keep your firm on the winning edge. Many principals once wore the marketing hat in their firms, managing proposals, advertising, and building business development. To get the most return on your marketing investment dollars, leaders need to help build dynamic, collaborative relationships with their marketing teams. When closely aligned with your firm’s goals and strategies and empowered to bring their expertise to the table, your marketing team will free up valuable principal time, maximize your firm’s marketing efforts, and elevate your organization.

Here are a few ways to empower and optimize your marketing team’s work and align efforts toward your common goals.

  • Build a go/no-go process. Bottom line, a go/no-go process to determine which project or PR opportunities to pursue is a smart move for calculating your ROI/ROMI and will drive better performance for your marketing team. Opt for quality over quantity. A go/no-go takes a thoughtful account of company skills and resources, where a scatter-shot approach to RFPs or ad and branding opportunities eats away at your marketing budget, creates a frenzied environment, and compromises end-product quality. Worst of all, it’s a morale killer if your marketing team feels their efforts aren’t purposeful and successful. The go/no-go ensures that the opportunity is a good fit for the organization. If there is not enough time to commit to the process, then passing on the opportunity is probably the best choice, but make that call before your team dives in to a project. Everyone wants to win, and marketers can really bite into the fact that they have a better-than-fair shot at success.
  • Establish a vision. Setting a clear vision of why you are pursuing a project, ad, or article, for example, is foundational to creating a relevant, quality product. When your team understands your purpose, they can set meaningful goals and develop an on-target strategy to meet your goals. Equally important is establishing who you are trying to reach. The why and who will orient your marketing team closer to the target. They will inform many of the core decisions your marketing team will use to put together a successful project such as type of collateral, content, voice, and where to publish, for example. Whether you draw a schematic for your team, create an outline or brainstorm together, give time upfront to get on the same page with your marketing team.
  • Leverage team strengths to get the best ideas. Collaboration yields a higher-quality, better informed product. If you want the best from your team, you need your marketing team participating as full and equal partners to your company’s success. It’s the nature of team dynamics that your staff defer to leadership. For that reason, it’s up to leadership to intentionally build a collaborative culture. A dynamic team asks questions that will help them articulate your vision, generate viable ideas, and produce relevant suggestions and recommendations. When you actively promote shared ownership of a pursuit, you will get the best out of your team. Work in your strength and allow your team members to work in theirs. Lean on your team’s knowledge about industry best practices and let them be experts in their field. Your team can establish editing protocol and liaise with the publication, platform, and client to ensure for deadlines, style guides, word limits, and publication goals. Invite push back from your team. If you’re the only one talking, step back and invite others’ input and give their ideas equal weight. If your team has differing ideas about how to approach a project, go back to the vision and goals to evaluate which ideas will best achieve those goals.
  • Give your time. Marketing is a time-driven profession, and your team needs to meet their goals and deadlines. They know best how much time they need to build in for research, writing, and editing to produce quality work. Make their deadlines your deadlines, since they will build in time for final editing, timely turnaround, and all the things that make our clients happy. Principals are a vital resource for marketing content and need to be available to answer questions, provide information, and respond in a timely manner. One strategy to get information to your team quickly and efficiently is have them interview the project manager, or subject matter expert directly. Concepts are clarified on the spot allowing your team to generate highly effective content. Finally, a good editing protocol should never be sacrificed because of a failure to get materials to marketing on time. A low-quality proposal or project is less persuasive to your audience and can even cast your firm’s credibility into doubt. When principals commit to a pursuit, they are investing time to work with the marketing team. Timely responses allow the marketing team to budget the appropriate time and resources to meet the deadline and produce a solid product, one that reflects well on your firm’s capabilities.

Supercharging your relationship with your marketing team will unleash marketing potential. It will help drive your team’s success in connecting your firm’s service, culture, and leadership to your clients and prospective employees. When principals use an effective go/no-go process and partner with their marketers, they set up their marketing teams for maximum efficiency and productivity that returns more of the wins your entire team can celebrate.

Megan Bergstrom, marketing manager, and Valerie Hendel, marketing coordinator, lead marketing efforts for PCS Structural Solutions, which provides structural engineering services to clients across a diverse array of markets. Megan and Valerie can be reached at and

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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.