The construction marketing (and business) planning process . . . and the real world

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This morning, we’ll conclude our annual planning meeting followed by an afternoon sales meeting.  Then, tonight, we will head over to Algonquin College for a four-course meal at the college’s culinary training restaurant — and the evening Ottawa Chapter Construction Specifications Canada Connections Cafe.

From purely internal work, we’ll head right a purely external initiative.  I’m on the local CSC chapter executive and volunteered to mobilize resources to promote and encourage participation at the Connections Cafe. I’ll also bring a significant cheque to pay the costs of a table for eight, including our staff and  some special guests from the sales department of The Ottawa Senators hockey team.

These activities demand significant amounts of time, effort, cash, and require me to be away from my family for two evenings, perhaps the greatest personal cost.  Yet, I realize they symbolize what is right about our business, its sustainability and its values and focus.

The annual planning meeting, for example, brings employees and contractors together into an open and direct discussion about the business health, priorities, expectations and goals.  As I’ve noted previously, the real world and imagination in the plans sometimes has a diverging reality, but the plan at least gives us a framework to consider our options and of course we now have had enough planning cycles that we can start to see trends in our expectations and assumptions, regardless of the economy.  (Alas, one of our more disturbing weakness is we’ve tended to overestimate our revenues by upwards of 20 per cent in projections.)

Today, we worked hard to contain our expectations and keep things realistic.  When one sales representative proposed projected sales totals based on his own personal needs/assumptions, others in the group quickly questioned these assumptions.  We didn’t want to overstate things.  We also took a hard and critical look at revenue streams and objectives and began to explore how to manage the shift from print to online media.

Tonight’s Connections Cafe participation and leadership reflects the business future, I believe.  We are much more engaged in the community now, contributing and supporting relevant construction industry groups and organizations.

This stuff is “expensive” but the financial budget/costs are in line with the overall business health and I’m happy to say, we are maintaining a prudent and cautious attitude towards expenses.

Do you have an annual planning process and meeting?  And do you allocate significant resources and time to constructive community involvement, especially among your current and potential clients.  If you do, you are following the guidelines of some of the most fundamental marketing principals.  You simply now need to systematize, manage and measure these activities and the rewards they bring.

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