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Ask the Experts: Planning for the Future

March 10, 2011

We hope you’ve been enjoying the expert advice of Kathy McMahon, the Marketing Director at CBT architects – on Tuesday she talked about recent achievements in marketing, and on Wednesday she spoke about how she developed her leadership style. Today, in the last post of the series, Kathy answers three questions about planning for the future:

  1. How do you plan for the future?
  2. What are the two best things a marketing professional can do to position their firms for the future?
  3. What do you see as a firm’s critical success factors in today’s marketplace?

How do you plan for the future? Do you develop business plans or strategic plans for 1 year from now? 3 years? 5 years? How are those plans developed? Who is involved with their development? How often are they updated?

We do mini-marketing plans each year along with an updated marketing budget and PR plan for the year. We look at business development opportunities by sector and staff capacity/capability to meet those goals. We have longer range plans for new initiatives and look for ways to expand our markets while maintaining focus on our core business. We involve sector leaders, the CFO, and firm management in the development of the plans. The progress is reviewed weekly at partner meetings and communicated monthly at senior staff meetings where feedback is encouraged.

What are the two best things a marketing professional can do to position their firms for the future?

  1. Fight the urge to use boilerplate and find ways to really communicate how you are different from your competitors. Figure out where you can or should customize material and either write it yourself or get help from technical staff in your firm to find the right words. Targeted marketing materials— when consistent with your firm’s methods of delivery, philosophy, and experience— will propel your firm farther forward and make you stand out among your competition. You have the power in your hands to make a good impression on potential and current clients in every piece of marketing, business development, and PR communication you send out.
  2. Be an organized, focused, strategic resource for your company and provide input on how it can pursue work better. Know your competitive landscape, keep easy to find and retrieve files and historic marketing data, build your network and use it to access information, add value where ever you can in the process. Work to improve your product, process, and hit rate every chance you get and not only will your firm have a better chance of success, so will you.

What do you see as a firm’s critical success factors in today’s marketplace?

Firms need to be focused, flexible, and dynamic as they differentiate themselves in the new economy. Yesterday’s skills and capabilities are passé unless they are focused on today’s client needs. Specialization is increasingly important as is partnering within the same discipline or with related disciplines to provide highly proficient yet integrated teams. Innovate your practice to reflect the latest thinking in technology, project delivery, and client expectations. Personal relationships are still important but you need to show value and attentiveness at every turn. Focus on your staff; finding, keeping, nurturing, and growing talent is the cornerstone of a firm’s future success.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 11:47 am

    This is great stuff! It’s clear that we have entered into a new way of doing business. I think we were heading this way, but the timetable has been foreshortened by this economy. The internal process is more focused than ever. Our firms need to be able to fill specialty roles, and general practitioners at other times. Thanks for sharing.

    We’ve got an upcoming roundtable program that this information will no doubt enhance the conversation. (March 15th)

    Lessons Learned and Best Practices Roundtable: Marketing in the New Economy:
    http://smpsboston.org/program/event.php?event_id=223

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