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Leading With Marketing
By Brian Gallagher and Kimberly Kayler, CPSM

Marketing as a Strategic Thought Leader
    The marketing function must be the strategic thought leader within an AEC firm. Marketing, whether an individual or a department, must look at the key drivers to of the firmís success and growth, and help align resources to deliver profitability and build firm value. If done correctly, marketing should provoke thought in your organization and with your customers. Marketing is more than branding and creativity, it is about setting the direction and driving the firm to attract clients and keep business coming in the door.
    To truly lead with marketing, a firmís marketing strategy must be an ongoing, dynamic process that enables a company to focus its resources on the right opportunities to increase profitability while satisfying the customer needs and achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.
    AEC firms can lead with marketing to:

  • Frame the vision and direction for your firm

  • Gain commitment to strategy

  • Provide direction and lead your company to focus on certain markets by researching, targeting and segmenting markets, understand customer needs

  • Make strategic choices and decisions

  • Align resources to invest in and grow the business

  • Define your competitive advantage

  • Differentiate your offering and define your value proposition

  • Define strategies targeting and communicating with your audiences

  • Link marketing plans, sales plans and account plans

  • Demonstrate a return on investment

  • Uncover unmet customersí needs

  • Establish a basis for how your firm creates, delivers and manages customer value

  • Set objectives, strategy & metrics

  • Measure performance

  • Make a profit

The following is an excerpt from Leading with Marketing, a new book written specifically for those seeking to create and manage successful marketing program in the Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) industry. More information about the book is available at www.leadingwithmarketing.com.

How do successful Architecture/Engineering/Construction (AEC) firms become leaders in their markets? Superior customer service, focus on niches, a deep understanding of customer needs, creation of value, impeccable quality, exceptional services, great relationships, a strong brand, a stellar reputationÖthe list could go on and on.

While there may not be a consistent formula for success for all leading AEC firms, a common characteristic is marketing. These leading firms donít view marketing as an expense, but as a strategic approach to business. Leading With Marketing embodies how a company approaches their business, their marketplace, and their customers. When companies lead with marketing, they choose which markets to target, what services to offer, how to differentiate, how to communicate, and how to win.

Marketing is an integral part of the business world, however, too many leaders in the AEC industry do not understand how to use and apply marketing tools and strategies that can help them establish a leadership position and have an impact on their bottom-line. But, todayís marketplace is more competitive than ever, and decision-makers are savvier than ever. If there is ever a time to take the lead and embrace a strategic and integrated marketing program, it is now.

Ultimately, the role of marketing in an AEC firm is a summation of activities designed to identify opportunities, win projects, satisfy client needs and win more work. Marketing is the art and science of creating awareness, delivering value, selling your service, satisfying needs, and getting customers to buy again. It includes a range of activities, including advertising, public relations, direct marketing, communicating during a crisis, web 2.0, Internet, and more. While marketing is a critical component of every business, it is one of the least understood and underutilized components, particularly within AEC firms.

For AEC firms, marketing must support the companyís business plan and strategic objectives. In the construction industry, marketing is about projects. Architects, engineers, and contractors earn revenue by successfully completing projects. The marketing efforts of an AEC firm must be built around strategies and actions to position the firm to get more projects on which it makes a profit.

As a key leader or marketing professional in your organization, your responsibility is to provide leadership to the marketing process. So how can you lead with marketing in your company?

Marketingís strategic role must include researching, segmenting and targeting markets; establishing a competitive advantage; developing a value proposition; positioning and messaging; as well as implementing integrated marketing communications programs.

The Role of Sales in an AEC Firm
Leading AEC firms donít stop at marketing. Rather, they have sales plans that are a natural extension of the marketing plan. In todayís challenging AEC business environment, itís more important than ever to develop a systemic approach to growing business in order to maintain a competitive advantage. Having an integrated marketing and sales strategy in place makes it easier to formulate valuable decisions, create and deliver value and measure performance.

Thereís no one-size-fits-all sales strategy that will work for every AEC firm. However, there are certain core principles of a successful sales strategy that can be tailored to each businessís specific needs. Having a sales approach requires a strategic, systematic method for identifying, satisfying and keeping customers.

Sales efforts in AEC firms include proactive skilled sales professionals who focus on specific activities and relationships that lead to profitable results. There are also relationship based sales activities that take place everyday that are executed by engineers, project managers and other in operational roles. Each activity is important and must be aligned to satisfy customer needs.

Once your market focus and sales team are in place, you can begin to develop systems that will define how you sell your product or services to clients. These sales activities that predictable, repeatable and measurable and are designed to facilitate the acquisition, retention or development of account revenue and relationships. Typical sales systems might include standard practices for lead tracking, account management, proposing, determining project capture strategies, estimating the projects and measuring performance. These systems must be designed with the business development professionalís perspective, not the operational or design perspective.

About the Authors: Brian Gallagher is Director of Marketing for OíNeal, Inc., an integrated architecture, engineering and construction firm. He can be reached at 864-551-0362 or bgallagher@LeadingWithMarketing.com. Kimberly Kayler, CPSM, is founder and President of Constructive Communication, Inc. She can be reached at 614.873.6706 or kkayler@constructivecommuncation.com.

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