Marketing Marketing

My dear marketing colleagues:

If you are working for a professional services firm that sees marketing not simply as an overhead cost but as a profession and expects marketing strategy, expertise, training and measurement to come from marketing professionals, then you are very fortunate.  However many professional services practitioners had to do some business development and marketing before they found you, and thus believe they are as expert in marketing as you are.  When times are tight, they may value your expertise, but consider it a luxury rather than a vital strategic asset.  Whether they’re right or wrong depends on you and on them, as well as on your ability to market marketing inside the firm.

Over my 15 years as an AEC professional I’ve developed a number of ways to measure and communicate the value of marketing, as well as some arguments to help practitioners and marketers collaborate effectively.  True, marketing is a little squishy, mostly because much of its effectiveness is both cumulative and unconscious, making it difficult for people to tell you what marketing communications strategy influenced their decision-making.  But that shouldn’t stop us from measuring what we can and should measure.  Here are some of the things I track:

Shortlist rate – tells me how well our collateral is doing

Win rate from interviews – tells me how well our teams are presenting

Win rate from other sources – tells me how we’re marketing to existing clients

% of Market share – easier to measure with public than private clients, but still reasonably doable

Action on business development assignments – How I measure this depends on how the firm I’m working for goes about doing business development, but some kind of CRM tool (spreadsheet or system) is required to make this measurable.

Total cost per win – This is a combination of the average personnel and out-of-pocket cost of doing a proposal, multiplied against the win rate.  For example, if it costs your firm $1000 in time and materials to produce a proposal and you win 50% of the time, your cost per win is $2000.  I find this is helpful for combating the “it’s just a proposal” thing that happens when times are tough and firms are tempted to submit proposals for things far outside their wheelhouse, resulting in lots of marketing staff burnout with little to show for the effort.

Media exposure – I measure our exposure in the popular and trade press because it represents a very cost-effective way to shorten the sales cycle.  The more people recognize and think highly of our firms, the easier it is to convince people to hire us.  While there exists some fairly complicated and detailed impressions research (with  attendant mathematical measurement tools)  to support this notion,  the truth is it would cost more for most firms to implement that kind of measurement than it does to get the exposure it measures.  Thus I measure what I can and acknowledge that the way we measure is somewhat flawed but represents the best option we can afford.

Conference payback – This involves tracking costs of conference participation against leads generated there and following those leads for 2-5 years to see if they net work.  Any conference attendance that doesn’t net actionable leads doesn’t meet my criteria for calling it marketing activity.

Measuring what we can and reporting it to our colleagues makes it possible for all of us to assess our strategic value to our firms.  So, what do you measure?



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