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An Outsider Perspective, PSMJ A/E Marketing Journal

Many firms lack a thorough or current marketing and business development plan. If your firm falls into this category, I hope after considering that the benefits far outweigh the resources, you will take on the challenge.

First, if you use this valuable tool to chart and monitor your course throughout the year, it is the best insurance policy that your resources are being utilized effectively to meet your objectives and drive your business.

Second, since planning can predominantly take place once a year, you can utilize the approved plan to empower those involved to spend the rest of the year executing the tactical plan rather than sitting in reactive meetings.

Third, you can share the plan firm-wide to create the transparency that builds shared goals, as well as the sense of community which is capable of achieving far more than its individual parts.

Here is a breakdown and description of our successful marketing and business development plan at Watry Design.

Executive Summary and Branding Statement

In addition to providing highlights of the overall plan, we include the Branding or Positioning Statement which emphasizes not only who we are today, but also who we aspire to be. It is important to note that we believe the brand is a reflection of every design, every communication, and every perception of our firm. As such, it is imperative to have the plan stem from your brand concept.

Situation Analysis

There is a lot of wisdom in the old adage “Plan your work and work your plan.” My process starts each year with taking a fresh look at the Situation Analysis of our plan. Ours has four sections: The Market, Our Target Markets, Our Services and The Competition.

• The Market: In addition to the standard size, conditions, and submarkets, I include trends, such as sustainability, the issues within these trends and whether the trend is emerging, mature or waning.

• Target Markets: We go far beyond a cursory overview of the vertical markets we sell to in order to better understand our clients and prospects. We look at who they are, the titles they hold, issues they face, how they purchase, what conferences they attend, what they read . . .

• Our Services: Especially in this volatile market, we look for changes in how our clients are buying. For example, Watry has seen a substantial increase in Design-Build delivery. It now accounts for over 60% of projects. In addition to our existing services, we consider the demand for related services.

• The Competition: As important as looking at new entrants to the marketplace as well as how your services stack up against the competitive landscape, is understanding how your competitors view the marketplace and market their services. Make it your business to know what shows they attend, publications they advertise in, and most importantly how they sell their services.

SWOT Analysis

Far more important than the method you use to perform a SWOT Analysis is the conclusions that you draw and the priorities you set.

For example, this analysis could identify the substantial increase in Design Build delivery Watry Design has observed as a significant opportunity. In turn, we may decide to assign additional marketing resources. Keep in mind that many conclusions drawn from the analysis can impact other areas of your strategic planning process such as staffing and training.

Objectives, Strategies and Budgeting

I encourage you to set measurable goals that map to your firm-wide goals and assist in achieving your revenue goals. As our firm is positioned for growth, we have regional and new services roll-out goals, as well as awareness and direct response benchmarks. Utilizing the analysis of last year’s marketing and business development results, as well as new ideas, we develop the strategies we will use to achieve our goals.

To develop the tactical plan to support those strategies, we use the target market intelligence gathered in the Situation Analysis to select the events and publications we will use as well as the emerging trends that reinforce our Thought Leadership position through articles and speaking opportunities. We plan our events, direct response, public relations and business development trips to enable bottom-up budgeting.

Tracking & Monitoring

We have found significant benefits to tracking our efforts and results monthly. In addition to requiring less labor, identifying significant shifts in the components of your plan empowers you to adjust your course throughout the year.

About the Author

Hannah Brooks has over 25 years of experience in business development and marketing. She is actively involved with championing Sustainable Parking Best Practices and with DBIA, where most recently she has joined the National Design Advisory Committee. Internally, she is a member of Wary Design’s JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Council. In addition to having penned on topics such as Branding Versus Positioning and the Value of a Formal Marketing & Business Development Plan, Hannah has received Addy awards ranging from web design to music production.

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