How and Why You Should Integrate Every Department Into Your Marketing Program
Did you know that a firm’s finance, human resource, management, and operations leaders are critical players in the success of marketing department organization? How, you ask? A successful AEC marketing program demands organization. Organization means efficiency on a macro scale. Including input from every department to establish processes will help your team work efficiently and effectively. Firms often overlook this ALL IN approach because they don’t realize that marketing is affected by all other strategic business components. Get everyone on board to maximize and integrate the information you need.
How can this integration help your AEC marketing department run in a more streamlined and organized fashion? There is a surprising amount of information to be gleaned from each of these four business functions.
Finance departments are responsible for managing the money coming in and going out of the business. They deal with all the financial aspects of the business, such as paying consultants and contractors, paying staff wages, and receiving payments from clients.
The accounting department is marketing’s best friend. No other team holds the key to the information marketing needs to update materials and streamline the proposal process.
- Milestones: Stay on top of critical milestones through regular check-ins with your accounting and billing team. Establish a process where you can review and track milestone data for every project. When the project number is assigned and consultant contracts are signed, you should be able to collect information on the projected schedule, budget, scope, and project team, as well as client information. The project scope will help you draft the project description. Other important milestones include bidding, groundbreaking, construction completion, ribbon cutting, and the final phase of close-out.
- Budgets: Establishing a realistic and manageable marketing budget is vital in the organization of your marketing department. Review budgets, analyze staff expenditures related to marketing, and understand profitability. Develop a process with your finance manager to guide the marketing efforts and keep everyone on track.
- Annual fee goals: A close coordination with your finance colleagues regarding the annual revenue of the firm, percentage of revenue per market sector, increase or decrease happening in each target area, and projections for future goals is the only way to make sure that the marketing and business development plan is achieving the revenue needed to sustain the overarching financial goals of the company. Marketing must know these numbers to direct the marketing efforts successfully.
Human resource professionals deal with the hiring, administration, and training of personnel. This department's manager links marketing to the most crucial asset the firm has to offer: the experts. Coordination and communication with these key individuals is invaluable to the professional development of your colleagues.
Here are five areas where human resources and marketing collaboration is beneficial:
- Training program: Establishing a marketing and business development training program that is integrated into the overall company training schedule.
- Finding or growing expertise: Are there strategic markets and projects the firm will pursue? What are the unique technical expertise, qualifications, or specialized certifications needed? Human resources can help evaluate and find the technical expertise required of firm professionals.
- Resumes: Gathering an AEC professional’s initial employment record, resume, licensing, registrations and job history can be helpful in getting resumes established for use in proposals and other types of promotion.
- Brand guidelines: Developing a marketing and branding section of the employee handbook is useful in ensuring a new employee understands the corporate culture, branding, and services provided so they have the background and understanding to market effectively.
- Recruiting: Recruiting efforts require a branded, culture-focused experience for potential hires. Marketing and human resources can work together to create this experience on the website, in brochures, throughout collateral, and other direct and indirect marketing efforts.
An ALL IN approach creates a coherent culture across departments and ensures a consistent message is cultivated and delivered, attracting the most experienced and professional candidates. This, in turn, assists marketing in winning work from targeted clients.
Do all AEC firms have an operations department? Some firms may have an established department, others may not. However, all firms have operational functions that are required to provide the services necessary to complete projects. Operations is the “making of a product or service.” Operational activities for AEC firms ensure that services rendered to a client are of the required quality that will satisfy the client’s needs.
Many areas of operations affect marketing through sometimes inconspicuous ways, including managing firm assets, choosing suppliers that provide cost-effective and quality products or services, and overseeing quality control. Without a sound operations plan, marketing would have nothing to offer. Without vendors or consultants that provide materials and design services, firm team members cannot deliver a finished project. If the design team is not creating quality documents, the clients will not be satisfied and return for future project opportunities.
There are numerous other ways operations activities assist marketing efforts and may be unique to your firm. We recommend sitting down with whoever is responsible for your operational oversight and discuss how your departments can assist one another in providing the best “product” possible and market these as firm differentiators.
While most positions and departments within an AEC firm are tasked with specific duties based on particular knowledge, expertise, or company needs, managers/management can have a broader and more complex set of responsibilities. More than just specialized knowledge, management requires an ability to navigate numerous procedural, structural, and interpersonal challenges in the process of guiding the firm to the completion of various goals.
There are typically four commonly accepted functions of management that encompass these necessary skills: planning, organizing, leading, and controlling. Let’s consider what each of these functions entails, as well as how each may affect the marketing program.
- Planning: The main role of management is to create a firm-wide plan that will guide the company with well-defined and strategic goals and objectives. This activity is a major part of a successful marketing program by leading the process of a measurable marketing plan. Without this plan and the oversight of management, marketing and business development will flounder without direction.
- Organizing: Management tasks and company-wide policies can ensure the marketing department runs smoothly. From establishing internal processes and structures to knowing which employees or teams are best suited for specific tasks, keeping everyone organized through daily operations is essential functions of management.
- Leading: Leadership can manifest itself in several ways, including recognizing when marketing efforts need some fine-tuning. Management can help make sure marketing efforts are on track to assist with company-wide goals.
- Controls: Marketing leaders need to work closely with management team members to ensure all functions of the business are working toward the success of the company.
When we include marketing, all five functional areas within an AEC firm are required to work together for the company to achieve its aims and objectives. Each department relies on the others to enable them to complete their specific functional activities.
Some examples of how functional areas are interdependent are as follows:
- It is the responsibility of the human resources department to recruit and select appropriate professionals to work within the marketing, management, finance, and operations departments.
- It is the responsibility of the marketing department to carry out market research to find out the needs and wants of clients in specific market sectors. The operations department will then ensure the services align to meet those requirements. Management will provide a plan in which to do so.
- It is the responsibility of the finance department to set budgets for the marketing department so they know how much they have to spend on marketing, business development, and promotion.
- It is the responsibility of the human resources department to organize training for staff so they can market the firm’s selected services that will deliver the project required to meet the revenue goals defined by the finance department and management team.
This ALL IN approach is a winning formula for creating an integrated AEC marketing mentality involving all areas of the firm with organized processes.