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Doing More with Less

December 9, 2010

“Voice from the Trenches” is written by Alex Moore, a freelance writer and the Marketing/Communications Manager for Prellwitz Chilinski Associates.

For those of us who have withstood the recession with jobs and sanity in tact, this season offers much to be thankful for. Many of our firms are busier, or at least more optimistic. And, after months of survival mode, we trench marketers are finally starting to see some payoff: proposals leading to wins, PR initiatives leading to credible new prospects, new collateral being put to use during walk-throughs and interviews. We’re getting our mojo back.

But we’re not necessarily getting our resources back. The marketing machinery may be cranking up, but there are fewer hands turning the gears, fewer dollars to spend on new parts.

So, as we look to the new year with a sense of optimism, we’ll also need to think critically about our capabilities and goals. We’ll need to think about how to do more with less. Here are a few of the strategies I’m considering for 2011:

1) Beefing up the go/no-go checklist

Amazing how a slight uptick in optimism creates a flood of new marketing opportunities—from stacks of new project RFPs to an inbox full of award CFEs.

A comprehensive “go/no-go” checklist for proposals (particularly public RFP advertisements) and awards has always been a great way to zero in on only the opportunities most suitable for your BD/marketing goals. This year, it becomes a must. With a rising tide of potential applications, and increasingly time-strapped teams doing the legwork, it’s essential to pursue only worthy, realistic targets. A critical “go/no go” process will keep you focused on only the most strategic initiatives, and help Principals and BD leaders resist the temptation to chase everything that comes across their desks.

2) Charting out “What’s Working/What Isn’t”

Many of us have been working with reduced resources for over a year now—a long enough period to draw some conclusions about our new, leaner marketing environment. One strategy I use is to create two columns on a sheet of paper with simple headings — “working/not working” – and brainstorm away. The conclusions can help form the basis of constructive suggestions for a manager or Principal.

3) Mining In-House Resources

After the year we’ve been through, it’s natural to be thankful just to have a job and to go with the flow. But what if the flow turns into a flash flood? There’s nothing wrong with knowing your limits and asking for help when needed. Many time-intensive marketing tasks—proposals, graphic design, brochure packaging and printing—can be performed, at least in part, by non-marketing professionals. Enlisting other folks within the firm to lend a hand will help streamline your department without compromising your products.

Remember, in today’s economy, we’re all pretty much in the same boat. Marketing departments are just the tip of the iceberg in an industry-wide shift. Whether it’s keeping projects properly staffed despite fewer technical resources or lowering fees to try to win a competitive job, firms are climbing out of the recession to face new questions about business efficiency. That shared experience creates a great opportunity for dialog. Make your voice heard as your firm, and your marketing department, plans for 2011.

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