SMPS Marketer Featured: Three Marketing Plan Must-Have Characteristics

August 31, 2016

The following nu marketing article was published in the August 2016 issue of the Marketer magazine by the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS). The Marketer is SMPS’ bimonthly journal, “reporting on current business development and marketing practices, issues, and trends. Articles are contributed by industry practitioners and experts. Regularly cited as a top benefit of membership, Marketer provides original, knowledge-based content relevant to A/E/C professionals: innovative marketing, management, and leadership strategies, case studies, and lessons learned. Articles are written by industry experts who face the challenges of marketing professional services every day.” (

Three Marketing Plan Must-Have Characteristics

By Lindsay L. Young, MBA, CPSM

As a leader of your firm, you are held personally responsible for the overall success of the firm. For this vision to be carried out, many times leaders are charged with growing the marketing and business development initiatives for the firm.  The process of elevating marketing and business development to the next level within your firm quickly becomes a serious investment of both time and money.  The most important key to remember is that results are, in fact, are not instantaneous.  There are three characteristics you will need when investing or re-investing in your marketing and business development efforts. Whether you are a leader, principal, owner, director, or coordinator, you will experience each characteristic throughout the journey in making your firm stronger and effective.


It is imperative to have resilience when investing or re-investing in your marketing and business development departments. There will be highs and lows throughout your journey, but never give up. As you improve your efforts and implement your plan, you will have less highs and lows, and more consistency. By implementing a plan, it allows your firm to effectively prepare, from not only a marketing point but an operational point, a good and bad economy. When the market is busy, it will allow you to be more selective with your clients and prospects. You could actually be picky about what clients you want to partner with on projects. When the market is slow, you have already invested in your marketing and business development, so you have filled your pipeline accordingly, building those relationships. You have filled your pipeline with quality leads and contacts that appreciate your design and construction talents.

Remain optimistic yet realistic. This can be hard sometimes when you are really busy or really slow. Knowing your market, industries you serve, and your clients’ businesses are important. All of these things should be part of your strategic plan and your marketing plan. The more value you bring to your clients and prospects, the better your relationships, experience, and knowledge will be for partnering with them on their projects.  Nothing is going to go perfect, but your plan will navigate you through the good times and the bad times. Learn from the good and the bad, because those times will help you in the future when you encounter a similar situation. Remain resilient.


Believe in not only the process, but the journey that becomes the marketing and business development plan. If you believe in what you are doing, implement the plan, and measure the success, your efforts will not go unnoticed by employees or clients. Consistency is key. There will be times of doubt, but I implore you to keep going. There will be signs it’s working but it may take three, six, twelve, or even twenty-four months to see the incremental gains you have made. One day you’ll wake up and realize truly how far you have journeyed. It’s believing and having that faith in the marketing plan you have assembled.

Another key component is having the right people on your team. Make sure everything everyone is doing in your firm is in line with your business and marketing plans. All team members must be aware of where you are going and why you are going there. A vision, strategic plan, and expectations must be clear for the employees to be empowered to carry out the company’s purpose. Employees, too, must have faith in you, as a leader of the firm, to implement the plan. Faith can’t be seen or touched, but it can most certainly be felt and developed throughout the organization and even transferred to clients and prospects over a proven consistency track record. Be faithful to the process, because it will pull you through to company success.


Once you have a plan you can stand behind implementing that plan throughout the firm becomes the challenge. This is why it’s important to having the right people on your team and believe in the vision of the firm. As this process develops, having patience to work through your plan becomes crucial.  You will see some success quickly, while other pieces of the plan many take years to transform into tangible work. Just know that an investment now really means an investment in the future of your firm and its employees. Patience is something you must possess, because marketing and business development is not always a turnkey process. It’s a culmination of things within your plan that create opportunities. Those things include building relationships with clients and prospects, a robust website, memorable presentations, engaging social media, and consistent branding, just to name a few.

This plan will take time to implement. You must also re-visit the items in the plan, because you have to maintain them. In some cases, you will be improving them along the way, too. For example, your firm re-designs your website, but this is just the beginning. You continually gather feedback and improve your website content, therefore improving your traffic and generating more interest about your firm. You can’t just check things off the list in your plan, but continually monitor, adjust, and change them. You are really competing against yourself. Be patient. The work will come.

Remember that investing in your marketing and business development is that… an investment. Don’t see it as overhead. Few firms strive to be great but standout from the crowd. If you possess these three characteristics, you’ll be way ahead of your competitors. Be resilient, faithful, and patient throughout your journey, and you will have great success in your efforts.

Download a PDF of the article from the Marketer