There’s a big difference between mass market marketing and business development, and the circumstances most of us experience in the architectural, engineering and construction community.
In mass market initiatives (and by “mass” I mean the expectation to sell 500 to 1,000 units/orders in a reasonable time frame, say a month or perhaps even a year), you can build out a strategy/system and then test it. As you gather data, you can satisfy yourself of its effectiveness, and then build on your acquired knowledge with a reasonable degree of statistical certainty. In other words, you can scientifically evaluate your specific initiative with a reasonable degree of confidence.
But how can you do that if your market would be 10 orders a year, if you are lucky? The fact that the 10 orders could be for 10, $15 million schools doesn’t solve the statistical/probability modeling issue. The volume is simply too low to make any sort of statistical analysis for your specific marketing situation/plans possible.
How do marketers in our community get around this testing/validation problem. Here are some partial solutions.
You can rely on overall industry data and experience. Clearly, if you can compare you practices and model after other successful initiatives, you have somewhat improved opportunities for success. Equally, if you can see larger industry studies indicating an approach is likely to fail, you can avoid it.
You can base your marketing decisions on science, even if you cannot validate the specific application to your business. In this situation, you may apply the lessons of social psychology for example, in defining color scheme choices, marketing presentation formats and the like. You can’t be sure they will work specifically for your business, but be reasonably confident that they will be effective based on overall research.
Finally, you can go with your gut, memories and common-sense. This of course is utterly unscientific, but if you are casting for possibilities in the unknown, may still be a rational and reasonable option.
As it is, you will almost certainly discover most of your business through relationships with current and former clients, or through your community/industry reputation and connections. (There’s plenty of science to support these assertions.) However, we need to realize our sample sizes will almost always be too small to allow us to truly validate specific marketing campaigns or strategies. That is the way it is.