Mariel Attento, Vice President of Client Development, Twining Inc.


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

Twining has developed layers throughout the organization to create a marketing mentality. First, we have a robust and creative team of marketing staff to whom we give artistic control. We trust them with our brand as they consistently provide us clever ideas and use cutting-edge technology and/or software tools to send the desired message. Our marketing team is responsible for all outbound content such as e-blasts, press releases, proposals, social media, blog posts, and holiday cards.

The Twining Company knows that our content, deliverables, and marketing products represent how we care for our clients. As such, a thorough proofreading and QA/QC system is in place for every piece of material that leaves our desks. We couple this with client service managers who know their target market, monitor our competition, attend industry events, and above all, put our clients first. Furthermore, the executive team gets that we must be self-aware. Staff look to us for example and we must be accountable.


Is there someone who mentored you about marketing mentality? 

I have had many mentors along the way. Long before entering the industry, I had teachers and parents who taught me respect and manners. I learned that presentation and good first impressions were essential to success.

Since my career has been in developing regions, I did not have marketing mentors, but rather studied hundreds of proposals along the way. I’d ask for feedback from clients on our company’s proposals and took an active role in developing charts and graphs for proposals, as well as writing cover letters.

From an AEC-specific marketing standpoint, most of my growth was from study and years and years of trial and error.


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

Our firm has a comprehensive strategic growth plan that our leaders are committed to. Our leaders take to heart the health of the company for the sake of ourselves and our employees. Typically, a marketing initiative is a piece to the plan for strategic growth so it can be easy … sometimes. However, decisions or tasks come up for which we’re not aligned, so I try my best to put it in context of what is in it for them.

Each leader is motivated differently but if I can wrap up my marketing initiative in a package that demonstrates it will benefit them in some way, I’m usually on the right track. I’ve found that you “get more bees with honey” so being kind and respectful at all times is important. People like to help people they like.


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

I track marketing output through a workload spreadsheet. I interview salespeople and project managers after an event to get a tally on the specific clients who attended. We do a client prioritization workshop each year which helps us know in advance how to narrow our focus. We highlight investments made toward specific projects and those targeted clients. If the target audience/projects are established early on, it usually makes way for road mapping and buy-in from other leaders.

Educating the team on how to properly log and categorize marketing expenses is essential to year-end calculations with respect to profitability, percentages, and marketing dollars spent. Though it is hindsight, these calculations teach us how to proceed the following year.


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

Seldom can I get them actually excited, but I can get them on board! Although, if it’s a fun event then they do get excited. We go to the Airshow and hold a charity golf tournament each year which is definitely exciting and entertaining.

I work with our operations managers to make announcements and plan ahead for the campaigns that require effort. Offering an awareness of what we are doing and why helps, but preparing people by giving them tools they need to be successful is critical. As such, sales and marketing teams create training programs that non-marketing staff participate in. We also make sales a part of each employee’s compensation package. By incentivizing them to sell, we can often get buy-in on marketing campaigns. 

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