It's Okay to Be Second

I’m not talking about the Winter Olympics, but a recent marketing rule of thumb that I read. I came across 6 Rules of Thumb for marketing in the A/E/C industry (Architecture/Engineering/Construction) while reviewing for my upcoming CPSM exam. The rule was that engineers spend less in marketing because their are not the prime on projects, they are the second tier of the project. Architects have to market to a wider market of construction companies, business owners, commercial realtors, bankers, and the general public while most engineering firms market to architecture firms. Obviously this rule has it’s exceptions, but it brings up a good point. Know where you stand in the transaction and how your pipeline for new work is filled. If you are fed new work through other firms, than you need to nuture your relationships and help make the firms you work with happier and life easier for them to ensure they will continue doing business with them.

Other rules of thumb in the book, Plan It by Lisbeth Quebe include:

  • 2/3 budget allocated to personnel costs with 1/3 to expenses
  • 2/3 budget on activities that place your firm in contact with potential clients, 1/3 communications
  • Small firms spend more than larger firms (percentage wise), unless in a niche market
  • Multiple offices costs more
  • Maintaining a client is cheaper than finding a new one

The author reminds us that each of these rules has there exceptions except for the last one. It is always easier and cheaper to maintain a current client than to find a new one. Remember as part of your marketing plan, you need to communicate with your brand community (current clients) and not just your potential clients. Also, one of the biggest parts of maintaining current clients is customer service – how you answer the phone, how your staff deals with problems, and the overall perception each of your clients is left with when a job is completed.