There are paradoxes in business planning. You set out your expectations, budget, and schedule, prepare your resources, and then discover (generally) things don’t quite work the way they should.
Of course, if the results are better than plan, you pat yourself on the back, and admire your team’s competence. If things aren’t so good, you might search for scapegoats, accept and understand the specific reasons for the failure, or (hopefully) adjust your processes to restore business balance.
Marketing decisions, generally, follow these business planning themes, but there are some additional complications, especially for the AEC world.
- Because the AEC marketing/business development cycle is long, it can be hard to measure immediate results from your efforts. This results in a challenging vulnerability, that marketers in the US especially well remember from the major recession in the last decade. As conditions deteriorated, marketers faced the axe. The survivors: Seller-doers, who could multitask bringing in new business, while doing the job. (Another word: Rainmakers.)
- If you are fortunate to have a viable model, where you can track the direct results from your business development initiatives, you have a much better circumstance. This provision especially applies for residential contractors or smaller-ticket purchases, where you can track your marketing and sales cycle more rapidly. The most successful contractors can simply dial up their business development/lead generation opportunities to match any shortfalls.
- If you don’t have marketing experience or a marketing plan historically, the entire process can be extremely daunting. You may fall for “quick solution” schemes, that are anything but truly effective. You end up flailing around and digging a deeper hole.
Within these frameworks, the business with an operating marketing and business development plan will still be far better off than competitors who play things by chance and lines like “we simply rely on referrals and serving our existing clients”. They’ll have comparisons, data, probably tools to enhance their lead generation, and if things go really bad, some budget to cut/adjust.
Plans may not be absolute (and shouldn’t be) but they provide guidance for the unexpected events and circumstances that define most business experience.
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