If you own or lead an architectural, engineering or construction practice/business, most likely “marketing” is one of those necessary evils, along with accounting, human resources/staffing and legal compliance. You have to know something about it, but it isn’t your core business interest (though finding and retaining profitable clients of course is a core business function.)
Like most aspects of business, you can find marketing easy or difficult. Just like having your accountant/bookkeeper keep good records can simplify (and often help minimize) tax obligations, and solid legal advice can allow you to either avoid or escape nasty problems, some strategic thinking regarding marketing will save you plenty of money as your business grows.
As I’ve seen plenty of situations where seemingly simple marketing decisions became expensive and painfully stressful mistakes, I’ll share three ideas to help you simplify your processes and decision-making.
Point 1: 70 to 80 per cent of your marketing energies and resources should be dedicated to existing clients (for repeat business) and referrals (because your existing clients are so happy to recommend your business.
This is plain simple logic — it is far less expensive to retain a good client than to attract new ones. And, assuming our current “best” clients are the ones you want to retain, you won’t have too much trouble developing common interests and perspectives. But you need to go beyond “relying” on your repeat and referral business. Think proactively and focus your marketing resources here.
Point 2: (With rare exception), don’t buy anything sold to you in the name of marketing.
I’m treading on dangerous ground here, I realize, because our business employs qualified sales representatives whose job is to get you to purchase advertising in our publications. And if you read this note the way I’ve written it, I’m telling you not to buy! Well, not exactly — the point is that you should generally be thoughtful and proactive rather than reactive in your marketing decisions. Advertising in relevant trade publications may make sense for your business, but it helps to build it into your budget, test it out, and determine your metrics/objectives first.
Point 3: (The rare exception): Leave some room for innovation, surprise, and experimentation
This is easy to do in a budget sense — you allocate perhaps 10 per cent of your marketing budget for the new and untried. So you can take the risk with a good idea that someone might pitch to you. Just keep it in perspective of the other two points above.
That’s it — a simple strategy, which you can embed in your annual budgeting and management cycle (which you should have, as part of your fundamental business management systems).
If you would like to test out any of these points with my support, you can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect via the “about” page.