AEC Firms Find Success in Planning, Measurement, and Evaluation




Your strategic plan needs quantifiable data: Facts and figures that allow you to determine your return on investment. Quantifiable data proves how marketing efforts contribute to the bottom line. If you can confirm your marketing effectiveness, you will establish support for your budget requests and build stronger relationships with the rest of the firm.




When establishing your strategic plan, there are two categories for content: firm-related categories and market sector-related categories.


Firm-Wide Strategies


What are the questions you need to answer regarding the overall business? Firm-wide strategies focus on goals for the firm:


Client Maintenance

What percent of revenue will the firm earn from existing clients? To earn that revenue, determine how many client relations calls, meetings, and events will be completed throughout the year.


Size of Practice

In order to reach your revenue goals for the year, what adjustments will need to be made to staff so you can accomplish the increase or decrease in workload?


Geographic Distribution

How many offices will you need to open or close in order to meet your goals?


Marketing Support

Quantifying areas of your marketing support efforts can seem like an impossible task. Ideas may include: establishing a specific number of resumes to update on a monthly basis; a list of information to update in your marketing database with dates assigned to completion; or, as simple as a calendar of marketing training workshops to be completed each quarter.


Total Firm Revenue

Compare year-to-date actuals with projected year-end goals. Is your firm on track in terms of revenues, profits and expenses?


Overall Proposal Hit Rate

Establish a target hit rate percentage for proposals, short-lists and fee proposals per quarter.


Marketing Support

Don’t forget marketing goals! Identify goals to keep you marketing-ready, such as updating your database, resumes, and project information.


Market Sector Strategies

It’s important to pay special attention to your market sectors. If appropriately selected, after all, these represent the clients and projects that keep you in business and keep your staff motivated and engaged.


Targeted Market Sectors

Determine fee goals per market sector (i.e., 14% of your revenue will come from K-12 projects).


Targeted Clients

Take the time to list specific names of clients and/or agencies in which to target.


Direct Marketing

Face to face contact lets your potential client get to know you. Tactics can include tradeshows, brown bag lunches, and client association participation.


Indirect Marketing

These “touch points” keep you in front of the targeted audience year-round, and can include your website, social media, direct mail, collateral, advertising, and public relations.



An important aspect of achieving your goal is regularly evaluating where you are, assessing your progress, and making changes as needed to keep on track.


Frequently evaluating the big picture is crucial in adjusting your efforts so resources can be focused on the tactics that produce positive results. Evaluation will also help to eliminate or reduce time spent on non-productive activities.



Nothing is more frustrating than putting forth the effort to make something more effective and then find it’s not moving forward. If you feel that all the suggestions above are overwhelming, don’t stress! Pick one or two areas in which you feel you can start and move forward with a vengeance. Small daily steps will give you the confidence that you are moving in the right direction.

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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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