Would you hire you?

Sep 17, 2023

Elevate your marketing services by asking yourself what your firm’s request for marketing services would include and how your team would respond.

We are in the midst of a shift. Industries in numerous sectors are making unconventional decisions and rocking the proverbial boat in response to a sea of change in employment, employees, and the way we all work.

Here are just a few recent headlines:

Whether your company is engaging in this type of fresh thinking – bringing more services in-house, breaking off pieces of the firm to establish consultancy relationships, or any other new way of looking at services – for AEC marketers, it begs the question: If your firm was starting a marketing team today, would they hire you?

I am not advocating doomsday thinking. Rather, this is a thought-provoking question and a challenge to elevate your marketing services.

As AEC marketers, we are all intimately familiar with RFQ/Ps, qualifications, and proposals. Applying this same process differently, what would your firm’s request for marketing services include and how would your team respond?

Request and response. A request for marketing qualifications or proposals could easily be fashioned from your existing marketing plan – or could it?

Some firms may already outsource some marketing functions, such as branding and/or logo design, photography, website design/maintenance, and printing/production.

Most firms also draw upon other departments for project tasks. The most obvious example is project staff who assist with scope of work and fee calculations for projects.

Would incorporating any or all of these offerings into your marketing group strengthen your team?

Rates. Most AEC firms are built on an hourly rate platform for project staff. The connection to hourly rates falls away when “overhead” positions are considered. Why?

What would happen if you applied a billable rate to your marketing staff? How do the numbers stack up? What part of your marketing operations demand the most time? Are these time-intensive efforts yielding the biggest returns?

If your firm was outsourcing for these same deliverables, what would that financial picture reveal?

A recent Zweig Group article shared: Firms wanting to grow will need to increase their marketing spend by at least double, if not triple, of their current marketing spend.

If growth is a goal, and you are being charged or hired to achieve it, what does that look like for you, your team, and your responsibilities?

Range. Examining your marketing services from this more objective viewpoint of “would you hire you?” may also reveal an interesting range of services. Depending on your specific circumstances, some services might clearly fall beneath the marketing umbrella while others are just as clearly outside the canopy. Examples may include:

  • Human resources. For instance, training technical staff in marketing skill sets to help them sail through a trade show or conference.
  • Administration. Data entry and database maintenance tasks immediately rise to the surface.
  • Technical support functions. Marketers are often the experts in software and hardware that they use every day and therefore, also buoy other staff who use it only occasionally.
  • Sales/business development. Whether in the AEC realm or not, the spillover from sales and business development into marketing, or the tendency to pour all these services into the same pool, is classic. Separating marketing from sales and business development is about as easy as drawing a line in the ocean.

Identifying instances like these does not mean the services should be dropped. These offerings and many more like them may be key differentiators or strengths of your team. But at a minimum, they should be acknowledged and considered.

Results. Any quality proposal shares past results. What are the moments where your marketing team has really shined? If you needed to create five case studies that best demonstrate the strength of your marketing team, what would they be?

Reflecting on these shining moments leads to the next question – do you apply that same level of creativity, polish, and orchestrated execution across all of your marketing functions and efforts? If not, why not?

Rocking the boat. Good captains will tell you, you need to know your boat. And in order to really know it and how it performs under challenging conditions, you may have to rock it a bit by asking yourself, would you hire you? 

Jane Lawler Smith, MBA, is the marketing manager at Derck & Edson, LLC. She can be reached at jsmith@derckandedson.com.

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.