Most of us enjoy spontaneity, and we all at times love instant gratification. But successful architectural, engineering and construction marketing can only succeed if you have a plan of action, some real guidelines and rules, and a willingness to stick to the course of your plan until you find reason to change direction.
In practice, failure to plan results in:
- Responding willy-nilly to “opportunities” pitched by self-serving interests;
- Chasing bids, projects and jobs either out of desperation or because you don’t know better that the time could be better spent elsewhere.
- A lack of cohesion in your marketing messages and image, resulting in confusion and failure to achieve the maximum potential.
So you need a marketing plan.
Now, I’m the first person to acknowledge that many “plans” gather dust, and also that well-intentioned plans may need revision based on circumstances. And sometimes we need to seize a quick opportunity not covered in even the most elegant and contingency-rich plans. We can overcome these challenges by keeping the plan simple, realistic, and easy-to-follow.
I think, at minimum, a good plan should include:
Your go-no go policy/matrix for projects and initiatives. Here you understand your likeliness of success, profit potential, interest, and whether you have built-in marketing advantages or disadvantages (such as excellent or negative relationships);
An advertising and promotional budget, with a schedule, and general guidelines, including systems to measure your results and conversion rates. You can include a “slush fund” for last-minute corrections and opportunities, and of course, pull the plug on ineffective advertising (but give it enough time to be sure of yourself.)
Relationship-building initiatives, schedules, and targets. I put great value on relevant client-centric associations. Conferences relating to your client base may also be part of the picture. Setting guidelines for communicating and keeping in touch with current and previous clients can also be part of this plan.
You can’t wing this stuff. Create, maintain and maintain a marketing plan. If you don’t, you will fail.
You may find useful guidance, support and resources through the Society for Marketing Professional Services (Smps.org). Residential contractors may find value in services provided by consultants such as Michael Jeffries and Michael Stone.