Category Archives: marketing

The 5 Pieces of Advice I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Entered the Workforce

As someone who has managed a number of young professionals over my career in the AEC industry, I’ve had a chance to think about the advice I wish I had been given when I entered the workforce.  It would have given me a jump start on ensuring I was the kind of professional they would value and promote.

  1. Dress ready. – As a boss I’ve had more conversations than I care to with someone who came to work dressed unprofessionally.  The best way I can describe appropriate workplace attire is to dress ready.  For example, when firm leaders are going to a client meeting and looking for a junior staff member to take along, they base their decision, in part, on who looks ready for such an opportunity.  Be ready.
  2. It is your own job to protect your interests.  – Your boss is not clairvoyant and you are not the center of his or her universe.  If someone gives you more work than you can handle, speak up.  If someone is not clear about their expectations, ask.  Pouting and flashing a stink eye are no substitute for direct communication.  For example, if you are already at capacity working on three proposals and your boss brings you a fourth, you might want to ask, “Since I’m already booked solid, which of the projects you’ve already given me should I stop doing so I can do this one?”  It shows both that you’re busy and that you care about your boss’s priorities.
  3. Don’t just bring problems, bring solutions. – If you want a bigger title or more responsibility, show that you can handle it.  For example, instead of saying, “The binding machine is broken,”, you might want to go with, “The binding machine is broken so I’ve called the repair place. I found a local print shop that can do this week’s binding for us, but we need to complete our drafts a day sooner than we thought to make this work.  Okay?”
  4. Gossip generates more heat than light. – Palace intrigue, while tempting as a lunchtime conversation topic with your workplace bestie, should not be the focus of your professional life.  Pay attention to your job, not the resident character assassins.  All that focusing on gossip will do is demonstrate that you can’t be trusted.
  5. Find a mentor. – Either your company or your local professional association can connect you with someone who knows your industry and can be your sounding board when things around you don’t make sense, when you want something you don’t know how to ask for, or when you need a new way to solve a problem.  Someone with an objective view of the problem and the players is often all you need to get on the right course.

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Coloring Outside the Lines

I was having a conversation over lunch today which reminded me that the more I refine my practice of AEC marketing, the more it requires me to venture into subject areas that were previously thought to be outside of my purview or pay grade.   Let me illustrate:

Let’s say I’m charged with charting a course that will get my firm to a determined revenue goal within a determined amount of time.  Among the considerations I look at under the circumstances is how profitable we are with certain types of clients or market verticals.  While gathering such information, I may learn that, for example, we tend to do civic work more profitably than healthcare.  I may also learn that, within the civic realm, we are more likely to be profitable when working with client A vs. client B.  I may also learn that profitability within this sector is much more dependent on which project manager/supervisor is leading the work than on type of project or the client.  Each of these outcomes requires a different response.

If I know we are more profitable with civic than healthcare, my response may be to work on lowering opportunity costs for healthcare pursuits.  Many of the steps that can be taken toward this end are in marketing’s wheelhouse.  If I learn that we’re more profitable working for client A than client B, I can gather and share this information to help make informed decisions about who we want to pursue and how much we want to spend pursuing them.  Some of this is in marketing’s wheelhouse too.  If, however, I learn that the real difference is based on which employee manages the job, most of the solutions that need to be employed to address the problem are not traditionally in marketing’s “lane”.  However, in my opinion, they are still marketing’s business.

Marketing has historically been an amplifier, not a creator of the firm’s “brand” – which is the cumulative perception of all the various experiences those inside and outside the firm have in their interactions with you – something we now call “human experience”.    What marketing communicates becomes what potential clients/employees/project partners expect.  Unless our billable colleagues can consistently deliver on what marketing promises, we set ourselves up to fail.  Thus, in the age of instant, on-line ratings posted on, Glassdoor, Yelp and the like, the days of “staying in my lane” are, by necessity, over.

So, how do I broach the subject when I see a marketing problem that’s not really mine to fix?  I believe the correct course of action is to present the challenge to my firm leaders with enough data to demonstrate why it’s a marketing problem.  I ask them to fix it and to keep me in the loop as they do.  I then try to focus my marketing efforts on the areas when I know we can deliver on our promise.  I also trust my firm leaders to keep me posted as they fix any problems that compromise a complete and positive customer experience.

 

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Everybody’s Least Favorite RFP Question

I was having a discussion with some colleagues about those questions/requests we get in RFPs that we hate. It’s not that we dislike them because they challenge us in ways that are useful to the client, but because they are 1) difficult and/or impossible to respond to and 2) aren’t going to give the client an answer that is worthwhile anyway.   Let me take one of these recurring requests and unpack why it’s not a good question:

“Provide us with information on all the projects the team/your firm is currently working on, who on the team is working on those projects and the stage each project is in currently.”

So, why is this a poor question?  Here are my three reasons:

It asks for a large volume of information at an early stage of the pursuit process, some of which is proprietary.

Some of our clients don’t want people to know we’re working on their projects, much less provide details about them.  Most firms I have worked for have about 80-120 projects going at a time.  Do you really need info on all of them?  Can you imagine the work required to a) get permission to disclose this info and b) gather the data to provide it?   When the ones asking are brokers or PM firms see this more as a fishing expedition than a reliable way of determining if we have the bandwidth to do the project.  If you simply want intelligence, there are more appropriate ways to ask for it.

It doesn’t usually provide reliable data.

There was a time in the AEC industry when proposals were only good for 60 days from the date of issue, when clients made timely decisions, usually within 30 days, and when projects typically stuck to their schedules.  Nowadays, it’s not unheard of for clients to issue RFPs, put projects on hold, then come back several months later wanting the same team, and the same schedule, forcing the provider to “make up” the time lost in decision making.   In addition, most firms win about 25-30% of what they go after, requiring us to occasionally hedge our bets and put the same people on multiple pursuits simultaneously.

The landscape of project schedules is a constantly ebbing and flowing river of data, with projects often accelerating, going on hold, or changing scope.   An all firm/all projects schedule we give you today would likely be inaccurate by the time you’re ready to start the project.

It doesn’t really answer the question you’re asking.

Those who ask this question really want to know if the team we’ve assigned to them has the bandwidth/availability to do the job and will be with the project for the duration of the project.  Probably they’ve been victims of bait and switch in the past, which we agree is the best way to get a project off on the wrong foot.  Possibly a decision was made on another RFP before you decided so now the people you wanted are unavailable.  In either case, there are effective ways to ensure the team you’re offered is the team you get.  One way I’ve seen recently, which I think is genius, is to require the service provider to guarantee the submitted team for the duration of the project and requiring that all staffing changes be approved by the client in advance.  That way, if a service provider has to switch staff because someone leaves the firm, become incapacitated, or gets committed elsewhere, you can at least have a hand in selecting their replacement.

So how do I recommend AEC firms answer this question?

I recommend firms offer a schedule and team and promise that team will be available for the project according to the schedule submitted with the proposal – and stay true to their word on this issue.  Those providers who bait and switch intentionally make all of us look bad.  If you have a client who insists on detailed active project data, I recommend saying something like: “This question asks for a substantial amount of proprietary information.  If our firm is selected for this assignment, we will provide detailed data at that time.”   At least that way, the volume of work it takes to produce such data accurately will be worth the effort.

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5 Ways to Make Swag Meaningful

Wandering through another expo center at another conference made me think about swag: those little tchochkies, geegaws and giveaways we all create as gifts for clients and staff and tools for subtle name recognition.  Over the years I’ve created a lot of it with both hits and misses and think I now have some ways to make sure the swag we pick is meaningful, useful, and unlikely to end up in the circular file after a conference is over or in the Goodwill donation bin at home.

1) Remember your audience – Employees are interested in different kinds of things than clients.  There are also gender, cultural and generational differences that affect the popularity of some choices.  Be mindful of the recipients of your items, as well as the venue in which they’ll be used (and to which they’ll need to be transported.)  One of my recent missteps is a mini wooden Jenga-like game that everybody loves… until they have to cart 50 of them to a conference.

2) Be consistent in your identity – Ensure that your branding is consistent across gifts and giveaways.  It’s all too common to design different items for specific purposes (e.g., a conference, event or anniversary) and end up with hodgepodge of mismatched leftovers that are more likely to be donated than distributed.  The best way to make sure your swag has legs is to mark it with a consistent graphic identity.

3) Leverage economies of scale – While there are a few vendors who can make swag at reasonable prices in small quantities, (see 4imprint for example) this is the exception rather than the rule and you usually end up sacrificing either cost or quality.  I may have one principal who really wants a golf shirt and another who really wants customized name tags, but I have to weigh wants against costs and breadth of usage.

4) Respect quality – My go-to requirement when selecting gifts and giveaways is that the item has to be something I would use in spite of the fact that it has a logo on it, not because of it.  If it’s a good enough item to make my competitor annoyed that they can’t use it, I’m probably in the zone.  I have a tote bag I still use from a firm I no longer work for because eight years later,  it’s still the perfect bag.

5) Reflect values – If, for example, your firm has a mission to be environmentally sustainable, it makes sense to source products for giveaways that include recycled content and minimize off-gassing.  If your firm focuses on design, your swag should reflect high design as well.  What you give away says as much about you as how you conduct business so it should resonate with your firm’s overall values.

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5 Words of Advice About Networking

Our big summer client party is coming up soon and, though I’m ready for networking, I know that not all of my colleagues find it the most comfortable thing to do.  Thus, here are five tips for those who don’t do too much networking on how to be an ace at it during your next client shindig:

Party like a professional – Even at a party, whenever you interact with clients, project partners or colleagues you do so as a representative of your firm. Thus, its advisable to keep a close eye on how much you drink so you always keep your wits about you.  Work events are not a good time to cut loose.  You want to be memorable for your sparkling wit and charming personality, not for your ability to pass out sitting up or swing from a chandelier.

Dress to make your clients comfortable – Nobody wants to be the one person in shorts and flip flops at a black tie party.  Nor do you want to be the only one in a suit at a luau.  My rule of thumb is to pay attention to how my clients dress on a day to day basis, compare that against the dress code for the event, and dress accordingly.  That said, you’ll never be chastised for being just slightly better dressed than average but you might be for dressing down a bit more than is expected.  No matter what the dress code, as long as you’re covered from your shoulders to your knees, you’re probably 75% of the way toward professional.

Keep the conversation polite – Yeah I know. Even if you don’t like small talk, try at least. Avoid talking about religion and/or politics.  Don’t swear. Don’t complain about your work, your clients, your colleagues or your competitors.  I find it helps to focus more on being interested in what others have to say than in trying to be interesting yourself.   Usually safe topics are your kids/pets,  vacation plans, hobbies, cool projects you’re working on our interesting changes in how business is getting done these days.

Be inclusive – Everybody gets shy now and then and most people, upon entering a networking event, aren’t sure who to talk to.  Look around for people who are standing by themselves and introduce yourself.  If they’ve just arrived, introduce them to someone you think they might enjoy talking to. If you’re engaged in a conversation and someone is hanging around at the edge of your group, widen your circle to invite them in and catch them up on what you’re talking about so they can join the discussion.  If you don’t know anybody, walk up to someone, chat a while, then let them know you’re new here and ask them to introduce you to someone new and offer to do the same for them.

Exit conversations gracefully – Don’t be “that guy” at networking events who walks from person to person handing out and collecting business cards then moving quickly onward.  If your conversation is not productive or you’re running out of things to say, let the person know you enjoyed meeting them and excuse yourself to get a drink or “powder your nose” or greet a guest who has just arrived.  If you’re talking solo to someone, try to introduce them to someone new and let that conversation start before you exit so they’re not left standing alone.  When in doubt, pay attention to how others exit smoothly and follow their example.

Networking is like anything else.  Practice makes perfect.  Even if you don’t love it, you’ll probably get to like it.  Give it a try.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Important Things You Should Be Doing Now

Currently and uncharacteristically,  most of my colleagues in the AEC industry are experiencing a rare and joyous period of marketing by answering the phone.  What is a boon to architects, engineers and contractors can also be a boon to the marketing folks who serve them.

Throughout my career in this industry I’ve spent most of my time trying to fit in what’s important (strategy, social media, efficient and effective work process development, etc.) between the urgent tasks that need to be done by a specific deadline (e.g., proposals, award submissions, interview prep.)  Yet while reviewing my tasks assigned and accomplished over the past 90 days, I realized that I have been able to devote an unprecedented amount of time to things that will allow my entire team to work smarter when the urgent again takes center stage.  Not sure how to explain how satisfying that feels.

To those of you who find yourselves in the same boat I’m in, here are my recommendations for how to prepare now to work smarter later:

1) Ensure you have an effective system and process for gathering, tracking and retrieving project statistics.  Having good data and a solid system to manage it will substantially reduce the amount of time you have to spend looking for information when you’re in a hurry to have it. If you have a system that doesn’t work all that well, now is the time to tweak it.

2) Check and update your references, testimonials and standard collateral.  When you’re in the throes of a proposal deadline one task that often goes by the wayside is calling the references you’re including to make sure they’re a) still employed there, b) still accessible by the numbers and e-mail addresses you have and c) still willing to provide a reference when asked.  It’s also a good idea to look at the age of your testimonials.  Even the best reference letters don’t age well.

Likewise this is a good time to make sure that current project sheets for jobs that were completed last year don’t still have language in them that suggests the project itself is still a work in progress.  It’s also a good time to look over your standard firm introduction and other often-used tidbits of information that nobody has looked at in years to make sure they’re still valid, accurate, useful and representative of the firm. One caveat: while it’s a good time for you to update resumes, it’s probably not a good time for your practice staff who are slammed with work.

3) Teach yourself something new that makes you better at your job.
Want to know how to measure the effectiveness of your social media?  Wonder if HootSuite or Marketo or SurveyMonkey or MailChimp or BatchGeo would help you market better but don’t know how to use them?  Want to hone your management or negotiating skills?  Want to get in the trenches with your practice professionals and shadow a project to learn how they do what they do?  Now’s the time.  Do it.

4) Figure out the most informative and efficient ways to market marketing.    When firms are not flush with work, staff who aren’t billable are under increased scrutiny to ensure that they’re delivering value that exceeds their cost.  If you have an ongoing and effective way to let the firm know what you’re doing, how it’s benefiting them and why they should care, you go a long way toward ensuring you’re “at the table” rather than “on the menu”.  If you don’t, now’s a good time to create one.

5) Ensure that your brand promise is consistent across media.  When was the last time (since you first started your job) that you had time to verify that the essential messaging that underpins all of your communications media is expressed across those vehicles (website, collateral, mailers, social media, signage, etc.) in ways that are working in harmony if not in unison?  I’m going to guess maybe never.  You are unlikely to have this kind of time again anytime soon, so go for it.

After the uphill slog through the mud that was the Great Recession, it’s refreshing to have the time and opportunity to make hay while the sun shines.  Don’t squander this chance  to prepare wisely for whatever comes next.

 

 

 

 

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Leading From Behind

I have a quick lesson in role reversal for my billable AEC colleagues.  Imagine you work for a large, Fortune 100 public relations and marketing firm. You lead the in-house team transforming all their global facilities. Sound good so far?

You report to a leadership team that knows everything about marketing, and a little about workplace design. Thus, you need to learn the language of the marketing industry to communicate well in your job. Some of the billable staff don’t respect you because you’re overhead. Some of the people you are called upon to mentor sign your paycheck, and they are more accustomed to leading than being led. So how would you guide that firm’s leaders? What about those who don’t see your value but need your expertise?

For the architects, engineers and contractors out there, relax. This is not your job. For the marketing folks at AEC firms out there, I think you’ll recognize that this is exactly your job. Learning how to lead from behind is an essential skill to master if you’re going to do your job well. I was raised to command and control, so it took me a long time to learn how to lead from behind. Eventually I got it and I have some experience to share.

The term “leading from behind” comes from Nelson Mandela who compares being a leader to being a shepherd. Mandela says, “He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”

He stays behind the flock

Leading from behind requires one to inspire or nudge rather than direct. It provides a vantage point from which to see those who are confused about or distracted from the path, and to help these stragglers along. My first boss, Jerry Irvine, was excellent at this. In my 20s I was an eager and arrogant college grad. When I came to Jerry with an ill-informed idea, he never said, “Don’t do that; do this.” Instead he asked me questions about my idea. By answering his questions I figured out myself when my idea was flawed, which helped me make better decisions going forward.

“Letting the most nimble go out ahead,

If you’re going to bring up the rear, you need to inspire someone to lead the charge, and make sure they benefit from going out ahead. I learned this lesson my 30s when I taught college. Having practiced and studied my craft for over 10 years by then I had forgotten how I learned what I knew, so I wasn’t teaching everybody well. I made a deal with whatever students had “As” going into finals. If they would run a study group with at least five of their classmates, they could opt out of the exam. When test prep was done by their peers, more students attended and everyone in the class did better on the exams. All I had to do was let my own ego get out of the way.

“whereupon others follow”

Change happens on a bell curve. While early adopters may “go out ahead”, innovation is always in danger of dying until the majority adopts it. The majority needs to see the benefits before they opt in and my job is to show them something better than what they have now.   Lest you be tempted to disparage them, we need followers. I learned the value of following by taking dance lessons with my husband. Ballroom dancing only works with a leader and a follower. With two leaders, it’s just stand-up arm wrestling.

“not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind”.

Good leaders found the genius in me that I didn’t yet see in myself. Can you think of a more remarkable gift? They gave me the credit when things went well and took the blame when things went south. They didn’t just tell me the way, they showed me, so in watching how they handled themselves, I learned how to become a professional.  Just as you appreciate your own parents more after you have kids, so it is with some leaders.  You often only recognize them once you’re a leader yourself.

Those who have led with humility, by example, have been my greatest teachers. Their reward came from seeing light bulbs go on above the heads of those they have guided. Nowadays, I see the advantages of being the kind of leader most people can only see in the rearview mirror. I’ve been given many gifts. They need to be paid forward.

 

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National Cat Herders Day

Apparently today is a holiday that’s perfect for AEC marketing professionals: December 15th is national cat herder’s day.  Why do I think this is our own personal national holiday?  Here’s why:

We juggle multiple projects, multiple personalities, multiple deadlines and a broad and deep swath of information about people, projects and processes in our efforts to respond to proposal requests and prepare staff for interviews.

We have an expert command of our local language, the jargon of our firm’s practice and the nomenclature of our particular firm, as well as the ability to bend that language to the needs of a variety of different communications media, often after literally prying the information from the brain of a practice professional who doesn’t realize how phenomenal they really are.

We demonstrate unfailing patience as we motivate, inspire and activate our practice colleagues to overcome their fear of presentations, of business development, of public speaking at conferences, of talking to the press, all of which makes them more successful at their jobs, sometimes in spite of themselves.

We exhibit incredible grace under the pressure of immovable deadlines, shifting priorities, lack of understanding of how marketing makes practice professionals successful, strong personalities and the occasional lack of respect from some of our practice colleagues who make it clear they think that we’re not really professionals because we don’t do exactly what they do.

So, a shout out and a tip of the hat to all my AEC marketing colleagues on national cat herder’s day.  You continue to enlighten, amaze and inspire me every single day.

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AIDA: The Conscious and Unconscious Trajectory of Marketing

If you went to school for marketing, chances are at some point you were confronted with the acronym “AIDA”, which stands for Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action.  Let me illustrate how this process works with a personal story.

In my twenties I had a job that required a lot of travel.  I would be out for two weeks at a time, in a different city every day, with typically one week back in town before the next trip.  The only luggage I owned at the time was the set I had gotten as a high school graduation present and the backpack I used to carry my books in college.  My growing need to travel for work gave me an AWARENESS of luggage.  A few trips developed in me an INTEREST in what kinds of luggage might make business travel easier.  Thus, as I read airline magazines, I paid attention to the luggage ads more than I had previously.  One ad that caught my eye was for a piece of luggage that was the kind I had been looking for, which I noticed was being sold at a store where I had worked while I was in college.

One Friday in December, I was returning from a business trip and getting back on a plane the following morning to spend the holidays with my sister in another state.  I was at the baggage carousel at about 7:PM waiting for my luggage, when I saw my make-up case circling the belt.  Then I saw one of my shoes, followed by a slip.  I looked up to the top of the conveyer to see my backpack, caught on the metal corner at the top of the belt, a deep gash down the side, and my belonging spilling out.  I blinked a few times, got a trash bag from the airline desk and began grabbing my belongings as they came down the ramp and stuffing them into the trash bag.  Now I had a DECISION to make: how was I going to replace my luggage in time to board a plane the next morning? I needed to take ACTION.

While sitting in a taxi on the way home, I remembered that ad I saw in the airline magazine for the luggage I wanted being sold at the store where I used to work.  I asked the driver to take me directly to the store.  Once I got there, I asked about the particular piece of luggage I had seen.  I bought it, got back in the cab, got home, repacked, and left again the next morning.

This experience with the AIDA trajectory illustrated two key things that contribute to successful marketing:

  1. Much of the AI part of the trajectory happens unconsciously.  I was only able to unpack my experience of that part of the process in hindsight and I was only interested enough to do it because marketing is my profession. The average person is unconscious of these two phases as they’re happening.  This is what makes tracking how successful we are in these phases so difficult.  However, what happens in this liminal state informs our decisions.  Whatever projects you’re chasing, know what motivates the decision makers and become associated with those positive motivations.
  2. “Decision” is the part of this trajectory when things become conscious.  Decisions usually happen in response to circumstances and occur in tandem with deadlines.  This is when we become conscious about the process and can start tracking it.  The end of a fiscal year, the start of a school term and the need to meet staff growth projections are all triggers that create deadlines that require decisions.  Whatever markets you compete in, know the attendant deadline drivers.

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Christmas in July

As most people’s thoughts turn to Independence Day, mine turns to the winter holidays.  This is because, in my experience, selecting and agreeing on a holiday greeting, be it a card, video or e-mail, requires substantial planning in architecture firms where attention to and opinions about graphic design can run as hot as July weather.

At first figuring out holiday greetings was enough to turn me into a grinch. Nowadays I’ve arrived at a few strategies to help make this process, manageable, if not pleasant.  Here goes nothing:

1) The appropriate greeting is something along the lines of “happy holidays”.   It may seem fussy to some of you not to be able to say, Merry Christmas, but I prefer to err on the side of inclusiveness.  As someone who has lived in parts of the world where Christianity is not the dominant religion, I can tell you that those who do not share the dominant faith are typically both accepting and accommodating of that faith’s traditions.  It seems only polite to respect and acknowledge them back.

2) Who designs the card and approves the design?   This is one of the two parts of the process that has the greatest potential to turn unwieldy. Yes, there are lots of talented graphic designers among architects; but I prefer to let them focus on architecture.  In my experience designing holiday greetings by consensus generates  more heat than light.  No matter how equitable and inclusive you try to be, someone is not going to like the design.  Getting to a decision is usually a protracted and painful process for the marketing person who has to coordinate input and field the many frustrations voiced.  My recommendation is, if you have a respected graphic designer on staff, use that person to design the card.  If you don’t, outsource it to a capable graphic designer and limit the number of people necessary to approve the design.  

3) Do we or don’t we sign the cards by hand?  This question provides clusterbomb potential number two.  Recognize that, if you decide that hand-signed greeting cards are the way to go and your firm is larger than, say, 50 people, there’s a substantial logistical workflow accompanying this decision that must be managed by your marketing or admin staff.  There is also a substantial time commitment among practice staff to do the signing.  If you are the one managing this workflow, make sure you provide plenty of opportunities over at least a two-week period for folks to have access to and sign cards and make sure management is aware of the amount of time it will take for practice staff to do this.  I remember a principal being shocked when someone on his staff billed 18 hours to marketing for the time they spent signing holiday cards.  You want to set limits in advance and firm leadership has to back both the deadline and time commitment.

If you’re one of those doing the signing, understand that most firms don’t have the staff necessary to sort out the scores of cards you need to sign, bring them to your desk, provide multiple reminders to complete the task, and give you as much time as you need to sign them before they have to go into the mail.  It’s simply not realistic. Your firm will devise a way to allow you to personalize cards that is as minimally taxing to as many people as it can be and still get the cards out in a timely fashion.  Please work with that process and remember if it’s frustrating for you, it’s exponentially more frustrating for those trying to get all the cards signed.

4) Mailing list reviews  If your firm has a viable CRM system that is the recognized, “single source of truth” for contact information and people use it rigorously, then this is not likely to be a burdensome process. If you don’t, chances are that sometime around September those of you who lead teams or practice groups will be asked to review the  list to ensure that marketing has the most current postal or e-mail addresses for those who will be receiving holiday greetings.  They’ll also need a way to make sure the same client doesn’t get six or seven copies of the same greeting card, all signed by different employees/partners (or make the decision that this is an acceptable outcome).  Most firms don’t need to do this annually, but  I’d recommend that if 25% of your greetings are coming back undeliverable, it’s time for a thorough review.  It’s nobody’s favorite task, but good data hygiene is essential.

We all want the holiday season to be mirth-filled and peaceful even when we know it comes with its inherent stresses.  My holiday wish for you is that your firm finds a way to thoughtfully impart your good wishes to your clients and project partners in a way that is gentle on your marketing staff.

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