I don’t have to tell you what a challenge this last year has been for our industry. The global recession, and in particular, the credit crunch have resulted in markets freezing up, projects going on hold and layoffs at most AEC firms throughout the United States.
So, what’s a marketer to do?
1. Don’t bite the Hand that Feeds You. Be careful how much you cut your marketing staff. Remember, they are the team that supports you in getting new work. You need to have excellent strategy and produce outstanding RFQs, RFPs and innovative presentation materials to compete in a fiercer marketplace.
2. Be Your Own Worst Critic. Take an unbiased look at your branding (logo, website, brochure, etc.) Ask those you trust to do the same and give you their honest feedback. Are your offerings compelling? Do your materials look dated?
Often we fall in love with our own marketing, and fail to give it the necessary criticism it deserves and needs. Your brand needs to be fresh and relevant today.
3. Don’t Be a Creature of Habit. Often, we employ processes that become outdated and ineffective. A good strategy is to take something you are frustrated with and ask, “If I was hired as a consultant to solve this issue, what would I do?” Challenge yourself by asking “Is there a better, faster, more streamlined way to accomplish this?”
4. Take Advantage of the Climate. Unfortunately, many employees are restless and uneasy about their jobs right now. The upside of this unsettling climate is that is creates an environment that is more receptive to change. People are more open than ever to learn new skills and try new technologies. For example, has your technical staff been resistant to helping populate your projects database? Now is the perfect time to provide training and get them to embrace this important task.
5. Marketing is Not an Island. It is important to understand how your firm works. If you don’t know how a project moves through the company, go figure it out. The more you understand the synergies between departments, the more it enables you to collaborate on new ideas/initiatives for the firm.
6. Realize You are Misunderstood. Often, professional and technical staff lack an understanding of a marketer’s role and responsibilities within a firm. When layoffs ensue and budgets tighten, marketers become an easy target. Make sure to share with the entire company what your team is producing and the results. For example, we send out a monthly communications report noting proposals, press, emailers, etc. that have been generated in the past month.
7. Ignorance is Not Bliss! Embrace Social Media. The marketing landscape is changing. Don’t be in denial. Learn about the opportunities to promote your firm using social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. They are relatively inexpensive and aren’t going away.
8. Build Relationships. Now more than ever, who gets an opportunity is influenced by relationships. Are you building strong relationships within your company? How about outside of your company? Friends usually help other friends.
9. Stay Positive. Be one of the teams within your firm that stays positive. Senior management observes how people are managing through this downturn. Another benefit: You will feel better and enjoy what do you do more.
10. Focus on the Big Picture. As marketers, we need to focus on the big picture. It is human nature to fall into the trap of recessionary tunnel vision. We must think beyond the recession. How do we help our firms re-emerge stronger, on the other side?
Leading Design for Commercial Real Estate