How Patricia Cantley creates a marketing mentality—an interview with the Regional Marketing Director of Brown and Caldwell.


As a firm leader, what have you done to create a marketing mentality in your firm/office?

I am a strong believer in creating a marketing mentality and have practiced this throughout my career. The marketing team should be a partner/trusted advisor working to support the firm’s sales and marketing program. This includes partnering collaboratively with the technical teams, since they are critical to the success of pursuit planning, as well as proposal and interview development.


Over the years, I’ve encountered staff who lack the understanding, mentality, and confidence to operate as strong business development partners. I have worked hard to give them the guidance needed to achieve their goals. I love working with staff to help them identify areas they want to focus on to help them be better BD partners and examine what helps drive the marketing process, what is important to focus on, and how we better to align with our clients.


While at WSP, I participated in a mentor/protégé program to develop our professional network. The program was a one-year commitment and required attending a quarterly meeting as a group and monthly meeting with the protégé. My first protégé was a six-year civil engineer who had never been on a pursuit or involved in an interview, but she had an interest in the business side. If I went to a board meeting, I took her with me. I invited her to pursuit sessions, and she began to do research and ask questions. It evolved into participation in the entire pursuit process and an invitation to participate in a client interview. I loved seeing her blossom and get involved in more pursuits and projects.


Is there someone who mentored you about marketing mentality?

A former boss taught me the importance of working 1:1 with the technical team and how critical it was to feel empowered and get teams to think beyond what is directly in front of them. Joining SMPS when I first was introduced to the AEC industry has been invaluable. The organization has helped me create a strong network of marketing professionals—many of whom are on my direct dial—who I can reach out to for advice and bouncing ideas. Through my membership, I’ve made strong friendships.


How do you get firm leaders on board for your marketing initiatives?

Forging strong relationships with a leadership team has enabled me to establish high levels of trust. Firm leaders turn to me when they have a need related to marketing, capture planning, and proposals. I have always enjoyed being a trusted advisor to business leaders. They trust me with highly confidential information and turn to me to brainstorm ideas and help them create a path forward.


How do you show ROI of the marketing program to other firm leaders?

At Brown and Caldwell we use Power BI to track metrics supporting the marketing and sales program. These tools help us view our capture rate, new sales in (wins), contracted sales, among others. During monthly sales and marketing meetings, we focus our efforts on client engagement teams as well as rigorous capture planning on all top pursuits.


How do you get non-marketing staff involved in/excited about supporting marketing efforts?

This aspect of my job is what really excites me. I love working with our professionals and pride myself in engaging staff and getting them excited and eager to participate in marketing activities. I like to focus in on individuals’ strengths and how it translates to BD, capture planning and prepositioning, proposals, and interviews. I remember working with a junior engineer who was interested in learning more about marketing but was new to the process and nervous as she was being asked to participate in an interview. I worked with her for a few months, bringing her into the fold on pursuit meetings and other interview prep sessions so she could start seeing firsthand what to expect. We also spent time running some interview activities to help her feel comfortable speaking in public.


What are three tips you give your marketing coordinators to help them progress and evolve in their role?

First, align and create strong bonds with staff at all levels. You want to be a trusted partner and advisor and continually establishing yourself in this way will serve you throughout your career. It’s key to build a strong team structure with your technical team. Second, always look at ways to challenge yourself and keep learning. Learn more about not only marketing and business development, but also about the industry and market sectors your firm supports. Finally, build your professional network by creating and fostering strong relationships with individuals at other firms.


Are there any books you’ve read or other media that you would recommend regarding marketing mentality?

Since I just took a new position at Brown and Caldwell, I just finished reading Troubled Water by Seth Siegel as a way for me to better understand water policy and how we can work to make drinking water safer for communities. I also finished reading Resonate by Nancy Duarte.


What are the biggest hurdles your team/office/firm faces related to marketing?

We are working to fill some marketing team vacancies, so I am spending a significant amount of time recruiting. Our technical sales team is re-engaging with clients where there have been some gaps due to the pandemic. As the state begins to open up and clients return to offices, we are evaluating what the next 6–12 months look like as they return to full capacity. Do we need to continue to be creative on how we will serve clients remotely? And how do we continue to drive our culture at the firm as we hire new staff and they start remote with little to no opportunity to forge relationships within the company? These are questions many of us in the AEC industry are asking.

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About The Author

Stephanie Craft, MBA

With over three decades of proven experience in effective business development and client relations practices, Stephanie brings a thoughtful, strategic approach to every new engagement. She has developed a reputation for producing successful proposals, discovering talented recruits, and coaching for unbeatable presentations.

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