Is it time to start selecting your own clients?

Will 2014 be the year that design firms start selecting the clients they want rather than getting in line with competitors to respond to RFPs? That’s the question posed by a recent thought-provoking article.
March 19, 2014 |
Steven Burns

Photo: imagerymajestic via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Will 2014 be the year that design firms start selecting the clients they want rather than getting in line with competitors to respond to RFPs?

That’s the question posed by a recent thought-provoking article in the DesignIntelligence journal.  

Author Doug Parker, managing principal of the Greenway Group, cites the “treadmill of hope” that many firms found themselves running on in a desperate attempt to distinguish themselves during the recent economic downturn. 

Although a reactive marketing strategy may have been an adequate choice for short-term survival, he says, it comes at a high long-term cost. That’s because the RFP system is inherently stacked and allows the client to make a decision based on price rather than value of design services.

“With the economy looking up for the design market, firms have the opportunity to step off the treadmill of hope onto firmer ground,” he writes. “Designers can cultivate the clients and markets they want to serve rather than using the majority of their marketing and business development resources in responding to the market.” 

This doesn’t mean firms will abandon RFP pursuits altogether, but rather, will invert their budgets and spend more resources on branding, marketing and developing relationships.

The key to selecting clients rather than being selected by them, Parker writes, is the development of an integrated brand, marketing and business development plan as well as a target account plan. 

“A target account plan establishes the strategic and project goals, key decision makers, and actions that a firm will use for each client or project opportunity,” he writes. “It documents what you currently know about each opportunity and outlines a step-by-step plan on how to gather missing information or expand your relationship with the client.” 

Parker continues, “Target account planning requires the courage to play the long game. Firms may need to say no to accounts that may be winnable but will not help to define the future they want.”

Read more from DesignIntelligence.

Editor's note: This is sponsored content. The text was provided by the sponsor company.

Steven Burns | The Business Behind Design

Steven Burns, FAIA, spent 14 years managing the firm Burns + Beyerl Architects, during that time the firm’s earnings grew at an average rate of 24% per year. After creating ArchiOffice®, the intelligent office, project management and time tracking solution for architectural firms, Steve took his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is refining their business strategy and product development.

Related Blogs

According to research by talent management firm Development Dimensions International, 89% of leaders with strong interaction skills have more engaged teams. Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr

July 10, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

Much of what’s written about employee engagement focuses on how leaders can help their employees become mor...

How to earn respect as a leader
June 18, 2015 | The Business Behind Design

Employees will give you minimum effort if the only reason they respect you is for your authority

Is your firm social enough?
June 09, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

The overwhelming majority of A/E/C firms are engaged in social media. But to what end? 

Succession planning starts with developing your leaders

A leadership-succession process should involving mentoring and coaching. Photo: HA0521-021/Flickr.

June 03, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

Two-thirds of U.S. companies still admit that they have no formal succession plan in place, a 2014 survey c...

Why it’s so hard to figure out what to pay top talent
April 03, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

Is your firm’s approach to compensation effective in today’s rapidly changing talent market?

Are face-to-face meetings still important?

It’s particularly important for sensitive communication, when having tone and body language for context makes a difference.

March 17, 2015 | The Business Behind Design

One CEO looks pass convenience and advocates for old school, in-person meetings.

How to give feedback effectively

If initial feedback doesn’t resonate, effective leaders also know how to turn up the pressure in a way that is progressive, but not too sharp.

March 06, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

A great feedback-giving leader evaluates the individual

What your employees really want

Employers can support employees' personal growth by encouraging them to take courses online or be mentored by more senior employees. Photo courtesy of Evan Bench/Wikimedia Commons.

February 24, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

Here are key aspects of a job that keep employees happy

Why diversity at work matters

In the U.S., there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance, a study by McKinsey found. Photo: Monisha Pushparaj/Wikimedia Commons

February 17, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

Companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial r...

The 4 leadership behaviors that really matter McKinsey & Company

Using a comprehensive list of 20 distinct leadership traits, McKinsey surveyed 189,000 people in 81 diverse organizations around the world.

January 30, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

It includes seeking diverse perspectives and supporting others.

 

Add new comment

Your Information
Your Comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.
Overlay Init