The most impactful way to position yourself as a marketing leader is to lead your marketers, which includes everyone in your firm. Guide, teach, and inspire them through marketing training sessions geared to your firm’s specific needs. 


Create a program that is interactive. We all prefer to attend training that engages our minds and keeps our attention. Marketing is a dynamic force within a firm, and your training program should reflect that by engaging the participants. Ask questions, develop case studies together, talk about current clients and projects, quiz staff on their marketing knowledge. When you engage a person in the process of learning, you help them retain what they have learned. Keep it informal and fun!


How can you do that? Create a brown bag AEC marketing training series. A brown bag training series is a monthly interactive and informal training discussion. We recommend one-hour sessions, but they may be longer or shorter depending on your needs. Brown bag sessions are informal meetings that allow employees to learn and work out solutions to common workplace problems. In essence, they combine a meeting with an internal training session. Brown bag meetings usually happen during lunchtime. Employees may bring their own lunch or the employer may provide lunch. 


Training session planning. You should invite technical, marketing, and administrative staff to these sessions. The audience may vary depending on the topic. These sessions are easy to get buy-in from management because they are short yet informative. Getting principal-level involvement, participation, and attendance is very important. One of the main goals of these brown bag sessions is to use them to gather market research from participants within your firm that can be used for your strategic planning session. Some firms offer marketing training “credits” or form a “marketing university.”


Here are 12 key topics for increased collaboration that could be considered for your series: 

  1. Public speaking
  2. Strategic planning
  3. Client feedback
  4. Client service
  5. Presentation strategy
  6. Public relations
  7. Tradeshow marketing
  8. Networking
  9. Proposal writing
  10. Marketing while being billable
  11. Client association involvement
  12. Business development


A successful AEC marketing brown bag training series involves a general overview of the topic, a few interactive involvement sessions and then a list of “tips & tricks” for your brown bag topic.


A sample agenda for Presentation Strategy Topic:

  1. Discuss the purpose of presentations.
  2. Review recent presentation/interview materials. Discuss the process that your team went through to prepare for the presentation. What was the result? What lessons were learned?
  3. Involvement Activities:
    1. Conduct a presentation planning worksheet
    2. Create a selection committee review sheet
    3. Conduct 15-minute interviews and video
    4. Brainstorm potential questions and answers 
    5. Brainstorm typical competition per targeted market sector. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of each firm.
    6. Discuss potential debriefing questions
  4. Tips & Tricks
    1. Brainstorm what typically undermines your presentations
    2. Review presentation visual aid options
    3. Discuss how to make the project approach the focal point of the presentation


A brown bag session not only enables staff members to learn but also encourages them to work as a team. Learning is a never-ending process. An employee who isn’t learning something new will eventually end up unproductive. This is where brown bag sessions can be beneficial. It not only improves your staff’s marketing skills but also encourages them to continually seek new knowledge and improve themselves. In short, it promotes an ALL IN marketing mentality.


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