“Begin with the end in mind” is the second of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen R. Covey. It is also the simplest way of defining AEC marketing planning. 


Marketing Coordinators are typically tasked with implementing many of the tactics in a strategic plan. If this is your assignment, you might need a little refresher on the planning process. This understanding can help you keep your firm’s marketing plan on track for the end goal. 


Step 1. What is the End Goal?


The firm needs to know what it wants to accomplish in the coming year. Our approach includes asking detailed questions to understand this goal.


  • Where do you want to go?

    • Do you want to open a new office?

    • Add a new service?

    • Market a new client type?

  • How will you get there?

    • What are the specific steps you will take to achieve your end goal?

  • What do you bring to the table?

    • What are the advantages you provide that your competitors do not?

  • What are you missing?

    • What are the holes in your plan?

    • Are there people you will need to hire?

    • Alliances you will need to make?

    • Organizations you will need to join?


Step 2. What is the Image Our Firm Wants to Portray?


A visibility plan incorporates the many ways that your firm is seen by its clients and potential clients. These include public relations, social media, and the website. Consider the following:


  • How will you stay in front of your clients?

  • How will you ensure the information you share is relevant?

  • How will you communicate in a way that differentiates the firm from its competitors?


Step 3. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is


We recommend a proactive approach in planning a budget that supports the specific marketing efforts that will place you ahead of the curve. For a AEC firm who wants to break into healthcare, for example, it will be important to determine upfront whether the firm has the money to do it effectively. 


Understanding the budget is a big step in the AEC marketing career path. If it’s not already a part of your job, ask your marketing leadership to review the budget with you. How is it organized? How are your tasks incorporated? How can you help show the ROI of your team?


Step 4. Action Plan for AEC Marketing Support


Does your firm understand the difference between marketing and business development? While business development is external, marketing is creating the internal systems and processes that support the business development and sales efforts. If you don’t have your marketing processes and materials in place, your sales will suffer.


These are the questions your marketing team can ask themselves. See where there are gaps in your marketing systems and processes and help create and implement tasks that will fulfill the plan.


  • Do you have CRM?

  • Is your collateral set up?

  • Are you looking at analytics?

  • Are you signed up to display at tradeshows and conferences, and if so, do you have a booth?

  • Do you have a branded template for proposals and qualifications?

  • Are your staff trained in presentations?


Step 5. Action Plan for AEC Business Development


Often, a marketing coordinator will be tasked with providing research to ensure the strategies the firm develops are on point. Here are some common factors for a business development plan:


  • In what geographic areas does the firm want work?

  • In what market sectors can the firm compete?

  • Who are the key clients? Make a list of the firm's target, current, and past clients.

  • What projects do your key clients have upcoming?


Strategies, budgets, and tactics may change—both year to year and within a planning period. The marketing department should be working together to determine whether a tactic provides the ROI needed. If something is not working, make note and take it off the list.


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