There are no short-term marketing fixes

Aug 17, 2009

Short term marketing fixes? There aren’t any. You can hold a lot of meetings, make some calls, and get out and aggressively try to sell some new projects, but it probably won’t make any real difference. You really need to FIX marketing once and for all and get out of the “desperation cycle” that so many A/E/C firms seem to fall into. Fixing marketing means really fixing your service quality. It also means being consistent in every marketing activity. And it means building a brand name for yourself— one that actually stands for something that people know you by. The quality of your service is fundamental to your long-term marketing efforts. The reason is simple. Eighty percent (or more) of your business probably comes from repeat clients. And you won’t have repeat clients if you don’t do a bang-up job each time you have a chance to work for them. So, fix your service quality issues and you’ll be going a long way toward fixing your marketing. Consistency in marketing activity is the only way I know to get off the boom-bust roller coaster that so many principals working in firms in our business must enjoy. If they didn’t enjoy it, why would they tolerate it? I have looked at the companies that have performed consistently and one common thread is they spend consistent amounts of money on marketing and they always do what they are “supposed” to do to follow their stated marketing plans. If so much direct mail is supposed to go out, they get it out. If so many press releases are supposed to be put together, they do it. If so many conferences are to be attended, they are there. They do everything that they are supposed to do on schedule every time. Consistency is the key to solving the long-term marketing problem. Building a brand is the third leg of the marketing stool. A strong brand makes the phone ring and the leads will come in so your design and technical experts can close. It also increases your hit rate every time you submit a proposal or qualification document— essential to your long-term marketing success. And, this brand has to mean something. Your brand can mean that you will always do it right, even if it costs more. It can mean that you will always do a decent job, but be the lowest cost provider. It can mean that you have really nice people, that you have really smart people, or that you have really honest people. It could mean all of these things or none of these things. But it has to mean SOMETHING for it to have any value to you. The sooner you get around to working on your long-term problems, the sooner you will stop being ruled by your short-term problems. Because before you know it, the future is here. Short-term fixes are a job that is never done. You have to keep doing more and more of them and cannot ever stop! Originally published 8/17/2009

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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.