Four Steps to Building Your Marketing Strategy - NU Marketing LLC

Four Steps to Building Your Marketing Strategy

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In the building industry, strategies are used for designing, engineering, and constructing projects. The marketing and business development plans should be no different. A marketing strategy is essential to grow your business and increase profit. Strategy is brainstorming and planning for the future, whether that’s a month from now or three years from now. There are four steps to assembling a marketing strategy for your design or construction business:

  1. Commitment and buy-in to the process
  2. Implementation of the marketing strategy
  3. Team accountability
  4. Celebrating success

Commitment

A successful strategy starts with determining who is going to be part of the strategic marketing plan. This usually involves marketers, business developers, principals, project managers, studio leads, and/or lead engineers. These people are involved with bringing in or retaining clients and projects. You must get commitment and buy-in from these people, so the marketing strategy will be implemented and drive the success and profit of the firm.

Once you have your internal marketing strategy team assembled, a brainstorming session needs to be scheduled. A good time to do this is right before budgets are finalized (September or October, if your company is on a fiscal budget year), so the team knows the budget they have to work with toward the strategic marketing plan. Without a budget, it’s very hard to put a strategic marketing plan together. Your plan will look very different if you have $50,000 versus $1,000,000 to spend on your marketing and business development efforts.

You should have no more than 15 people in these brainstorming meetings. If you have a large organization (500+ employees) or multiple locations, then set up focus groups and have a champion of each focus group report back to the larger group. Only the champion of each focus group would be part of the strategic marketing team. Make sure you have a scribe to take notes or record the strategy sessions, ensuring all details discussed are captured.

As strategies are determined, tactics or goals will be recorded and implemented. You should have 2-5 strategies within your marketing and business development plan, and then have 2-10 tactics or goals within each strategy. Writing these down is critical, so you can measure your success and make sure your tactical decisions direct you toward your marketing strategies.

If you struggle understanding what a strategic marketing plan looks like, here are some topics that are good starting points for discussion.

  • Complete a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). (Read more about SWOT)
  • Ask your customers what they want or need. They usually have great ideas for improving your company, and many of them aren’t afraid to make some suggestions. (Read more on gathering client feedback.)
  • Discuss what markets/industries you want to continue to serve.
  • Discuss what new markets/industries you want to start servicing.
  • Always ask “Why?” Identify what the reason is for the strategy. It may not be because you disagree but a “why” needs to be justified and discussed.
  • Discuss how and where you are going to market the company related to this strategy.
  • Discuss whether your strategy requires new or updated software — Customer Relationship Management (CRM), graphic design, project management, accounting, etc.
  • Discuss what processes or procedures are going to need to be changed or modified, once you make these changes.

Remember some of the marketing and business development activities from previous years. These might include:

  • Proposals
  • Sponsorships
  • Trade shows
  • Public relations
  • Advertising
  • Brochures
  • Customer appreciation events
  • Customer feedback
  • Business development activities
  • Website and social media
  • Promotional products
  • Presentations

The marketing plan should include a budget which is critical to the success of the plan. Ask your accounting department for marketing and business development budgets from the previous year(s). If your accounting department lumps “marketing” into one category, you’ll want to determine your own method of tracking expenses. Identify successes and failures for the above activities.

Implementation

Communicating and implementing the plan is an instrumental step in attaining your goals. Writing down strategies and goals will help you implement all the great ideas captured. Consistent communication with the strategic marketing team requires clear and concise expectations. Let employees know how they will impact the marketing strategy and how they can be part of it. This gives them purpose of how their day-to-day roles play into the strategic marketing plan. Most employees want to do the best they can at their job, so with a purpose and direction from the marketing or business development leader, they will implement the strategies. These directions, however, are meant to be a guide, not an absolute. Multiple forms of communication are imperative. Teamwork and buy-in are imperative to the success of a strategic marketing plan.

This is really where the rubber meets the road. Implementing the plan you’ve written allows you to see all the results discussed and noted. It’s truly what you are doing to get the most impact. Doing gets you somewhere. Talking doesn’t. By putting the plan into place, you can see which tactics and goals are working for your company and which ones to eliminate. Implementation can’t be stressed enough.

Accountability

Accountability is an important component of the strategic marketing plan. Having a scorecard allows the team to see where they have been and where they are going. Accountability allows the team to see what items still need to be implemented and who is responsible for completing those goals.

Create a scorecard that will work for your team. This can be as easy as using a spreadsheet or utilizing your Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). You must measure your goals so you know if you reach them — and in some cases, why you didn’t reach them.

Remember, if you don’t write it down, it’s not a goal. It helps you remember and stay accountable to the team.

Celebration

The 4th and final step is Celebration. Once the team accomplishes the goals, you must celebrate as a team. Celebration is important because it recognizes the hard work the team has contributed to reaching the goals. It gives employees pride in their work and motivates them to continue moving forward. Recognition is an underutilized tool yet one of the most effective ways to retain your current employees. As a good leader, you must celebrate the team’s achievements.

Here are some additional ideas to celebrate wins:

  • Have a company picnic
  • Go to a sports outing/event
  • Provide company logoed apparel or office supplies
  • Take them out to lunch
  • Encourage and invest in their professional development
  • Give them time off
  • Do a fun team building activity
  • TELL THEM THANK YOU (most employees just want to know they are appreciated for their contribution)

After the celebration, raise the bar a little higher. Expect more from your people. Consider it the next challenge. Do something every day that scares you a little bit. It will make you a better person.

These four steps will help your design or construction firm increase profit and build your business. Committing, implementing, being held accountable, and celebrating are the four ways to effectively lead your team through the strategic marketing plan. You must be ready to lead your team through this process, because it will grow your company in more ways than you realize. Don’t wait — start right now.

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