How Cynthia Re’Mine creates a marketing mentality—an interview with an industry veteran.
As a firm leader, what have you done to create a marketing mentality?
I believe the key to creating a marketing mentality within your firm starts and ends with mutual respect among leadership, technical staff, and marketing. Collectively, we must each understand that the purpose of a business is to turn a profit, and the only way to accomplish profitability is when the technical staff is working on billable projects. Most firms have a doer/seller model. This model means that team members have a lot on their shoulders—such as delivering projects, meeting billable deadlines, business development. Then there is their role as parent, spouse, volunteer, son/daughter, etc. Understanding the gravity of their role helps me be more strategic in defining their marketing role. The result is mutual respect from marketing professionals.
Why do you think marketing/business development in our industry is so important?
Marketing drives business. Marketing your services is the only way you can grow your business. Without constant marketing, you will stagnate. If you were going to war, you wouldn’t just turn your troops loose and then see how it works out. In the same manner, you should not just turn your marketing troops loose to market without a well-thought-out marketing plan either. Marketing is your battle plan and tactics to make the plan work.
How do you get firm leaders on board for your marketing initiatives?
The best way is by building a strategy and showing firm leaders the benefits of that strategy. Firm leaders need to understand why it matters, followed by the objective and results you intend to achieve. Demonstrate the details of the plan with both hard costs, soft costs, and expected outcomes. Explain the tactics that allow the plan to be successful. Firm leaders focus on client satisfaction and the bottom line. Knowing that you are mindful of costs builds trust that you’re doing what is best for the company.
I’ve learned to tackle this early when interviewing for a marketing or business development position. Ask hard questions about the firm’s commitment to marketing in your interview. If it's a firm that doesn’t value marketing, nothing you do once you get on board will change. Ask them to explain how marketing is strategic to their business objectives. Are they fumbling for an answer, or can you tell they have thought about marketing as part of the overall business strategy? If marketing is valued, they will have a solid answer. If not, you determine if you can teach them the value of marketing by introducing its value right then and there. Make your decision to join if they are receptive and teachable.
How do you show ROI of the marketing program to other firm leaders?
“Return on Investment” (ROI) is an outdated term in our industry for measuring marketing efforts. ROI implies that every success must be tied to profit. A better term is “Return on Objectives” (ROO) or “Objectives and Key Results” (OKR). Marketing results are not often tangible—by focusing on objectives, tactics, and expected key results, you can better measure marketing success. Ultimately accomplishing those objectives increases the firm’s market position, but the mechanism to get there should be results-based.
How do you get non-marketing staff involved in/excited about supporting marketing efforts?
Make marketing efforts easy and enjoyable. Start slowly, let them have a little success, and then build on that success. A marketing leader is an excellent coach of technical staff.
What marketing-related training do you provide within your company?
First, teach your entire office—from admin and accounting to technical staff—to understand the clients' perspectives. One training we've done recently helped our doer/seller colleagues understand what it's like to be the lead firm in a pursuit. We discussed the processes the prime firm uses to find and cultivate leads, reviewed prime firms' go/no-go strategies, and covered how we can influence outcomes by providing our expertise to proposal or interview efforts. With more awareness of what it takes to win projects from a client's perspective, we can become more strategic in our approach to helping our clients win work.
Is there someone who mentored you about marketing mentality?
My previous manager at CRS Engineers, Matt Hirst, has had the most profound impact on me both personally and professionally. I wish I had worked for or known him much earlier in my career. Matt believes everyone has a role in marketing. As a firm CEO/President, he has elevated the importance of marketing to be equally respected. He pushed me to be better and, like me, challenges the status quo. Matt is a gracious giver of knowledge—he truly has the heart of a teacher and wants you to learn.
What are a few tips you give your marketing coordinators to help them progress and evolve in their role?
First, know your goal. Is it money or time? Early on in your career, you only get one. Once you're established and proven your value, you can negotiate both. Demonstrate your value by saving the firm time and money by finding ways to be efficient.
Track everything you are learning as well as your accomplishments. This makes your value tangible during your yearly review or when/if you decide to look for your next position.
Own everything in your world. If you make a mistake, own it. Don't worry about whose fault it is. Just focus on how to fix the issue and move on.
Finally, learn to write. When you know how to write, you control your deadlines and keep your marketing projects on track because you aren't waiting on someone else to provide content.