Your business (and marketing) culture: Can (should) you change it?


Every business has a culture that defines its uniqueness. Often, the traits that define the founders/principals set the standards for the entire organization. This is reasonable, especially in relatively new or entrepreneurial enterprises, which wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the drive of the business founders. Eventually, of course, the business generally settles into a state that might more typically reflect the norms of its clients and community, especially if the bulk of business arises from repeat clients.

In many ways, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this process, even though I think that over time a business can lose its entrepreneurial edge and slip into a bureaucratic trap. Systems, processes, rules and relationships exist because they are “there” — not because they serve a useful purpose. Change is difficult and sometimes the only thing that will cause needed corrections is a serious crisis or two. When survival is at stake, some people freeze but others fight to overcome the difficulties and discover creative solutions to overcome the emergency.

The relevance from a marketing perspective is that if you are operating a traditionalist architectural, engineering or construction business, best practices and techniques for marketing may go in one ear and out the other as you arrange for the ceremonial ground breaking and topping off events. You may have a brochure-style website, and possibly attend or even exhibit at some trade shows. All of this doesn’t matter as you provide “great customer service” even though almost all of your competitors do the same thing.

I’m not going to convince you that you could really improve your marketing and business development practices if you are happy with the way things have been done in the past. And I’m certain you can recall plenty of times you’ve thrown good money after bad for one-off projects defined as “marketing investments” (generally by the outside salespeople pitching the deals.)

However, I expect a competent marketing consultant could conduct a review/assessment and within a few weeks (and perhaps for a few thousand dollars) discover several inexpensive, actionable steps that would reasonably reduce your costs and increase your net revenue by many thousands of dollars. The changes may involve cancelling some long-standing marketing expenses and replacing them with inexpensive alternatives. (You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on website and e-commerce marketing, or you can achieve perhaps 85 per cent of the effectiveness of the expensive options for about $500 to $1,000 — especially if you have an employee in-house who is comfortable with basic Internet tools.)

Where can you discover the consultant right for you? My best recommendation is to connect through your trade associations or networking/peer groups, and listen most closely to the business owner with the enterprise closest to you in character, (but obviously not in competition against you).

If you called on me to take on the task, I would seek a $5,000 investment, of which $2,000 would be paid during the mid-project review — where you would have actionable information, suggestions, and an overview of the likely economic advantage of the project and $3,000 when it is completed. This approach also ensures you receive value for money.

If you are interested in exploring this idea further, you can connect with me for a free 30 minute initial phone consultation by emailing

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