Skip to content

PODCAST

Transcript: Sales, and Business Development - What’s the Difference? with Judy Sparks and Katie Cash

Audio:
Welcome to AEC Marketing for Principals, brought to you by Smartegies, where we help design and construction firms, navigate sales and leverage marketing to win more projects. Here are your hosts, Katie Cash and Judy Sparks.

Katie Cash:
Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of the AEC Marketing for Principals podcast. Where we are talking about all things marketing as they relate to the design and construction industry and how to effectively sell and market to owners. I'm your host Katie Cash, and as always I am joined by my partner in strategy, Miss Judy Sparks, the founder and president of Smartegies, a marketing agency that focuses exclusively on the design and construction space.

Katie Cash:
Today we're going to be talking about one of the most common questions that we get in the marketplace, and some of the most common points of confusion that we see professionals stumble across, and that is this idea of what is sales? What is marketing? And what in the world is this term called, business development that we hear all across the industry? And so today we're going to talk about the difference between the three of them, how they're used interchangeably, which causes this level of confusion and then also why there is a role for each of them to play as you build your brand project by project and across the industry as a whole.

Katie Cash:
So I just want to cut right to the chase and Judy, you spent a great deal of time coming up in the industry, starting in marketing, transitioning to what we refer to as the dark side of sales, but then coming back to the marketing side. So I don't think that there is anyone in a better position than you to set the record straight on what is the difference between sales and marketing, and business development?

Judy Sparks:
Thanks Katie, and yes, there is a difference. And yes, I am eager to tell you about it. I think that this is one of the ... if I were to have a pet peeve, this would be it. When people use the terms sales and marketing interchangeably. Now I know if you Google, "What is the difference between sales and marketing?", there are a lot of really great answers out there. But I am a big subscriber to the kiss method, keep it simple stupid. And this is how I define the difference. One is sales are things that people do one to one. So if you request a meeting and you go meet with a perspective client, that is sales. If you cold call, that is sales. Things that you're doing one to one qualify as sales.

Judy Sparks:
You take a client or prospect out for a round of golf. You go to dinner. You meet for a cup of coffee at a trade show, those are sales activities. What I call marketing are the things that you do one to many. So when you think about the one in terms of marketing, it's not an individual, it's your brand. So how are you broadcasting and elevating visibility for your brand in a way that reaches the masses? So when you think about your website, when you think about any of your outbound marketing pushes, or your inbound marketing content, when you think about reaching the masses, your target audience, that is what I classify as marketing. One to many.

Judy Sparks:
So let's talk about this business development language, this is my favorite. In our industry business development usually is synonymous with this idea of not hard selling, but relationship building. But in my humble opinion, BD, business development, it's just a polite way of saying sales. So I think it's perfectly acceptable for sales and business development to be used interchangeably, but marketing is a standalone activity, and it is actually a very different skillset than to be successful compared to what you need to be successful at sales.

Katie Cash:
So appreciate you setting the record straight, we do hear that all the time, sales and marketing being used interchangeably. This whole idea of professional architects, engineers or contractors feeling like there's a negative connotation to being named a sales man, and so they want it to be very professional, they want to be consultative. So this emergence of the business developer came through from that. What else can you add to that discussion?

Judy Sparks:
Well I'll say the business development, those titles have gotten very creative. You see client service manager, or, project development director. At the end of the day I still say how you are measured is by how much revenue you can bring to the firm. And at the end of the day, that is at the heart of the definition of sales. Now they'll tell you, Katie, that I'm seeing a big shift in the industry. Really in the last few years.

Judy Sparks:
This industry, the design and construction industry, what I love about it is that it's a relationship business. Everybody knows that it is really really important that professionals build relationships and build trust with their target audiences because it's unreasonable to think that a building owner or an institution or a governmental entity will entrust your firm with millions of dollars without a relationship.

Judy Sparks:
Now I understand that a lot of people say, oh that relationship thing, I'm just not a schmoozer. I can't go wining and dining people. And I would argue that that's not necessarily necessary. But it is helpful for buyers if your service to A, have heard of you. B, say you know I've heard of that brand, I don't know anybody there. But I think that I have confidence in that brand because it's not unknown. So as the buying audience is getting younger, and they're practicing service provider is also getting younger, communication is happening differently. And a lot of that has to do with the way that they were brought up. The way that technology has played a role in their lives.

Judy Sparks:
Where we're starting to see a big shift between that gray-haired principle whose name is on the door, who over 40 years has built relationships with developers, has built relationships with healthcare institutions, has built relationships with state agencies. And three of those relationships and coupled with doing excellent work has led to more projects. We're starting to see a shift. And the reason why is because the buying audience is getting younger, and the service providers are approaching retirement, and the next generation of leadership does not have the same Rolodex.

Judy Sparks:
So it's become a brand war essentially.

Katie Cash:
I would also argue that just as technology has changed the way that we live and work everywhere else, it has impacted our industry as well. And the one thing that stands out to me that I learned earlier in my career, is that professional services be it architecture, engineering, construction, program management services, those services aren't necessarily sold. You don't sell those services, they are bought. And when people, I don't care who you are, if you're representing a healthcare organization, K12 school district, a large aviation firm, the number one emotion that people buy products or services from is through trust in our industry.

Katie Cash:
And so I think that is really playing into the brandscape, as you will, as our industry transitions aways from being a sales culture to a marketing culture. And you start seeing these more proactive intentional messaging to communicate trust. And like you mentioned, confidence and competence in terms of that area of service expertise, maybe industry, maybe the nuance of the project type itself. And that's coming across through other communication channels, not so much by knocking door to door and taking people golfing or out to dinner, or to drinks like it used to be in previous generations.

Judy Sparks:
Well, Katie, I think that's exactly right. And trust is a huge factor. I do think that the other thing that is very real in today's competitive landscape is that everybody has specialized, and so this idea that you can sell your services based on the premise of technical preeminence, that is really hard to do. So you can't really argue my engineers harder than his engineer. Or, my architect is better than his architect, so I think that having a strong brand really becomes prominent in the buyer's journey when looking for a professional service provider simply because of the old saying, "nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM" right?

Judy Sparks:
So when you have a buyer of professional services and you feel that everybody has an equal resume, and you are in a position to entrust, using your words, entrust millions of dollars with an organization you're [inaudible 00:09:52] measuring who do I trust in this endeavor? And where am I taking the minimum amount of risk? And so these buyers have to be able to form an opinion about their team and the brand that their teams work for. And know that the same thought process that we as consumers use in our private lives, does come into play in our business lives.

Judy Sparks:
For example, there's certain stores that we shop at that we have confidence when we shop there because we know that they stand by the quality of the goods that they sell. And we know that it's a hassle free return policy. There are certain brands in the industry that have reputations of being very contract driven, very transactionally based firms. But if it's not in a contract, we're not doing it. Or, if it is in the contract, we are entitled to it. There is very little flexibility.

Judy Sparks:
There are firms, I think everyone that's listening today can think of one or two or 10 firms that would fit in that category. There are other firms where they really manage their branded experience and at the end of the day they do have a contract, but at the end of the day they really put the relationship between their buyer and their brand at a higher level of importance than the contract terms. So we know those companies out there that are known for providing a superior level of customer service, even if it's not spelling out in their scope.

Judy Sparks:
And so when people think about brand, it's not limited to just the identity or the logo, it's the entire experience a buyer has throughout his journey of awareness, consideration and decision to choose your firm over another firm.

Katie Cash:
Yeah. And I think this whole idea of, we talk to owners all the time, public sector and private sector alike, and you're right, they are finding ways to view these potential service providers for them to weigh in terms of which one is going to provide a better customer experience for them. Which one might be the low risk. Which one might provide the best product or be the most creative.

Katie Cash:
And what we're hearing from them is that they are exercising this trust but verify methodology utilizing what's at their fingertips. So when they're getting proposals on their projects, they are matching up those resumes with the individuals LinkedIn profiles to see if the data matches. They are looking at the project sheets and seeing if they can read reviews about those online. And we're starting to see them really look and take that consumer mindset, hey before I go eat at this restaurant I want to look it up on Yelp and see what it looks like. They're doing that for professional service firms.

Katie Cash:
And it's starting to blur the lines between what those really really big firms are, and your local boutique firm is. The level playing field has kind of come down where everybody, like you mentioned, everybody has a relationship in a lot of these cases. Everybody has the resume. So they start thinking about who's going to be easiest to work with? Which one fits in my budget better? Maybe, which one can get me in my facility quicker? As they're starting to evaluate these firms.

Judy Sparks:
And, which brand can I hide behind that minimizes my risk? And I know I just made that sound really really unethical, but I think it's actually really smart. If you are working for a large healthcare system and they have a billion dollar healthcare program, and your job is to execute the development of a new campus for this healthcare system, you really don't want to be the guy who wasn't able to deliver. Right?

Judy Sparks:
And so you are going to consider who is that trusted brand that at the end of the day they are not going to treat this as a transactional relationship, but they are going to be a great partner? And so I think the best brands out there, and the strongest brands say this is ... I keep using the terminology brand, because brand is very much associated with the idea of marketing, not necessarily the idea of sales.

Judy Sparks:
So brand management, brand position, brand voice, brand promise, those are all of the things that have to be developed very intentionally by a company and communicated effectively to your audiences. Those brands out there that do a really good job performing and always delivering as promised are the ones that usually get picked for those high profile, high risk projects. And I think that at the end of the day if everything's equal, and we actually validated this in our 2017 survey of institutional clients who said the number one thing they look at is, do you have experience in my building type when hiring a firm.

Judy Sparks:
And the number two factor they consider is the strength of your brand. So those brands out there that are taking a bigger proactive position in instituting a marketing-centric culture within their firms, where they are intentionally and deliberately managing their brand message, are actually proven to gain greater market share than those that are very one off, one relationship at a time sales focuses firms.

Katie Cash:
I think as a marketer in our industry and having seen some changes through the years, one thing that I'm really excited about in this current shift that we're seeing is this idea where marketing is taking more of an active role on behalf of the brand. And we're starting to see technical professionals understand the role that marketing plays in helping to grow firms. You know, increase profitability, broaden service footprint areas, help with recruitment and all of that coming from the idea of marketing.

Katie Cash:
And so when I first got into the industry, we won't say when, but it's been a little while. Marketing was really reserved primarily for responding to RFP's and RFQ's, it was purely reactive. It was putting together your answers to a standard set of questions in a very concise, persuasive yet visually appealing way. Slowly we've seen that grow to include ... We saw the emergence of a big push towards internal communications, right? A lot of firms grew and then shrunk during the economic downturn, and so there was a big focus on internal communication so that people were aware of what was going on within the firm. Aware of what projects and what clients they were serving.

Katie Cash:
And then now we're seeing these more traditional and other industry tactics of marketing take place. And it's just funny for me to sit back and think, how many times I've sat across the table from executives and from principals that sit there telling me, no one's going to buy professional services from my website. Why do I need to keep it updated? Why do I need to do a new website every two years, or every three or five? Whatever your time period is. And then having the same conversation with them about, I don't get leads at trade shows, but if I don't go they're going to think we're out of business.

Katie Cash:
And for the marketer in me to sit here and know that brands in our space our adopting account-based marketing strategies where they are getting marketing qualified leads through those tactics and growing their brands is something that I am super excited about as we continue to see marketing play a bigger role in our industry in a more thoughtful way.

Judy Sparks:
So Katie, let me just make sure I heard you right. Are you telling me that marketing departments and marketers in the design and construction industry are actually generating leads online and at trade shows to give to their seller/doers to followup on? And their business development teams to followup on? Are you suggesting that marketers in the design and construction industry are actually capable of reaching strangers and generating new project opportunities?

Katie Cash:
Yes. [crosstalk 00:18:41].

Judy Sparks:
You mean it happens like occasionally like the lottery? Or it's happening every day, everywhere?

Katie Cash:
It is happening every day, everywhere with brands that are being very thoughtful and intentional in how they're approaching things. So we used to, in the industry, go to a trade show, throw up a backdrop. We would put a fish bowl or a bucket or a basket on the table with a little sign, drop your business card for your chance to win. You guys have probably seen this at Moe's, or any of the other quick service restaurants where you can drop your business card and win lunch for your group. That's what we used to call leads. [crosstalk 00:19:23].

Katie Cash:
But if you've ever been in that position where you get home after the trade show and you're sifting through all the business cards, one, half of them are from the other exhibitors that are not your target audience. And so you just wasted your time, maybe got a paper cut or two sifting through all those business cards. But the ones that do represent the brands of client organizations that you would want to serve, you have no context as to whether or not those are an individual's that are in a position to buy your services. Are they even interested in it? Do they have a legacy relationship?

Judy Sparks:
Do they have a project coming up?

Katie Cash:
Absolutely. So we're seeing more and more brands embrace creative ways at their trade shows to produce what we refer to as marketing qualified leads. And that may be through the form of a survey or other type of event activation where there is some type of data exchanged to alert the sales and marketing teams back home after the show as to which ones are the highest and best use of my time to followup with. And which ones ... I don't want to say aren't worth my time, but really aren't a priority right now.

Judy Sparks:
So my favorite story in those scenarios, and the listeners who are guilty of this, you know who you are. But what I love to watch is a firm throw up a booth, they have a fish bowl or something where people drop in business cards. They will go out and seek the owner of that they're courting at the trade show, make sure that they bring them over to the booth, they encourage them to drop his card in the bowl. And then miraculously that is the card that gets pulled. Now, that [crosstalk 00:21:05]-

Katie Cash:
-lead. That's a sales call [crosstalk 00:21:08].

Judy Sparks:
So I will just say, for those of you who are guilty of that, I understand the logic. However, you are really really doing yourself a disservice by not allowing your marketing teams to generate a process in which your target audience is lured to the booth on their own accord. While they're there, they're served up an entry form, which would be usually in some form of survey or something in which you can solicit information that then can be analyzed and distributed to your sales team. Whether that's a dedicated BD person or people, or group of seller/doers that have the ability to say, this person answered these questions the following ways.

Judy Sparks:
Yes, I am planning a new or renovated facility in the next three years. No, I do not currently have an architect. Yes, I do have funding. That might be somebody you want to followup with. And that might be somebody that's really worthy of winning your prize more so than the guy that you know that you have brought to your booth, forced him to drop a card in your bowl, and then put on an Oscar worthy demonstration of, oh my gosh you're the winner.

Judy Sparks:
So I think that everyone listening that's been in our industry for some time, and that have actually gone to trade shows know that this is stuff I cannot make up. This happens every day. And a lot of our listeners are probably guilty of it.

Katie Cash:
Yeah.

Judy Sparks:
But what I'm seeing more and more of is trade shows are for the strangers, not for the people that you know. And the same is true of digital marketing. I have to share with you, Katie, that we recently launched a digital targeted campaign for one of our clients whose in the criminal justice vertical. They provide a plethora of professional services in that vertical. And they were insistent that your prison wardens and your correctional officers, and your department of corrections and your cities and counties that have jail projects, that those people were not going to be able to be targeted online. That they were not hanging out on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Judy Sparks:
And despite their doubts, they trusted us and they let us run a targeted digital campaign with a content offer, and within three days that had generated 11 leads from the highest level decision makers in organizations where there were projects that required their services that they did not know about. And their entire ad spend was less than what they would have paid to take a client to lunch.

Judy Sparks:
And I think that our industry feeling like marketing doesn't work for our industry, yet it works for every other industry, is incredibly naïve. And I think that the savviest firms are starting to understand. They're not saying, how does digital marketing work for an architecture firm? Or, they're not saying, how does digital marketing work for a commercial contractor? We get all of our projects through relationships. The savviest firms are saying, how can it not? How can we be the only industry immune to this methodology? Every other industry out there, whether it's business to business, or business to consumer has found a way to generate leads online.

Judy Sparks:
Are you telling us we are so special that we cannot do that? And I think the savviest firms are starting to learn, no, not only can we do it, our chances of doing it yields even better results because there's not a lot of competition online. A lot of firms are not doing it right now. Five years from now everybody will be doing it, and the game will change once again.

Katie Cash:
Yeah. I think that's really true. As we've seen this emergence and this adoption of becoming more of a marketing driven organization, some of the conversations that I have with our clients and these executives and principals from architectural firms are really about, okay so proposals are a necessary evil. They're not going to go anywhere. Clients are always going to ask us to respond to their project solicitations. So that's not going to go anywhere. We're always going to need this marketing coordinator.

Katie Cash:
But where the frustration happens is they're also asking these marketing coordinators to take on additional roles to implement these marketing tactics in addition to the proposal workload. And we see one of two things happen, one, they don't have the bandwidth to do it all. And in some cases the technology that the trends in social media and digital campaigns have advanced where they're a little bit behind the curve and they don't have the expertise to know how to execute it.

Katie Cash:
The other item of that is a number of marketing coordinators in our space unfortunately are not privy to the business level conversation in terms of what really drives revenue for the client, for their organization. Sorry for that. And then also, how does our firm make money? Who are the right type of clients for us to target? Who actually buys our services? What does that buyer's journey look like for that healthcare executive that's looking to add an additional patient wing? They're absent of that conversation, and yet they are being given the responsibility to come up with a catchy campaign. Right?

Katie Cash:
So there's a gap there. And I think-

Judy Sparks:
Or there's a perception that because I have a new college graduate that grew up in the information age where social media was centric to their life, that they automatically know how to apply using social media to my business. I think that is an assumption that happens all the time. Let me find the youngest most social media savvy person in my firm and say, hey handle our social media for us. They're not looking at social media as a really really powerful distribution channel to be able to drive their revenue.

Katie Cash:
Exactly, yes, those are two big key areas that we see. And then the other thing that I think you and I see a lot is, I don't think I fully under ... These are coming from the principals and the executives, I don't fully understand what that marketing looks like. I don't really know how to articulate that to my internal staff. I don't even really know how to hit go. And so there's a gap of understanding there as well.

Katie Cash:
So Judy, I know that you've been on both the sales and marketing side, you've been in-house, you've been at the agency. We've worked with over 150 brands across North America, let's dive into a little bit of this skills gap in terms of in-house marketing staff as well as the gap in understanding general marketing for most of our technical staff that are running these firms.

Judy Sparks:
I'm really glad you brought that up, Katie. And I think that it's so smart to recognize that the gap exists on both ends. There is no question, because marketing for as long as marketing has been happening in the AEC industry, has been primarily focused on RFQ's, RFP's, reactive type exercises that really take a lot of effort. I mean, it's very time consuming, especially if you have a large amount of your work in the public sector where it is a legally binding requirement to publicly procure services.

Judy Sparks:
It takes a lot of effort and a lot of time. And so when an RFQ comes through the door everything else stops. So what we find is that there's this large parking lot of items that never really get addressed. So things like project photography, and things like a social media plan. And they're marketing forever has been just thought of as an overhead function.

Judy Sparks:
Now to be fair, most principals in our industry are technically trained. So there are some companies out there that are led by MBA's, and business people, but for the most part the principals of your design firms and your construction firms, and your engineering firms, are in fact trained and educated and licensed to provide that trade. So they are licensed architects, licensed contractors, licensed engineers. And they don't really have adequate training in things like marketing. But they are very very smart and intuitive and they've done very well for themselves in many cases.

Judy Sparks:
So it's never apparent to them that they themselves might have a skill gap. But how do you fill that gap? So I think with anything, if there's a gap in skill you have to provide training. And what's interesting to me, and this is not a popular thing for me to say but I'm going to say it because I think it needs to be heard, is that there's really not a great industry resource to teach marketing. There are professional organizations that are dedicated to marketing for professional services, and there are consulting groups out there that teach marketing best practices, or presentation coaching.

Judy Sparks:
There are a lot of things available, but I think anyone in our industry would admit that when it comes to marketing, our industry as a whole tends to be late adopters. So we learned that a long time ago, Katie, at our firm that if we really want our people to grow as marketers, as data driven, evidence driven, revenue driving marketers, we want to teach that, we have to go outside the industry. Now are they going to get a lot out of a large marketing conference that where the majority of the clientele might work for a soda company, or might work for some kind of consumer products company, probably not.

Judy Sparks:
First of all, it's apples and oranges. The budgets are different, the objective is different. They're not going to get a lot out of that. However-

Katie Cash:
It's like apples and tires. [crosstalk 00:32:19].

Judy Sparks:
We're not even produce, right? Well, so what we found at Smartegies has been really helpful for our young people is we teach the AEC side in-house. That is something that you learn by doing it and being around others that have done it, and working very collaboratively with your clients, and being very intentional about training. Your non-technical professionals, how our clients make money. What matters to them? What do selection committees look for? We teach all of that.

Judy Sparks:
However, when it comes to what are the latest trends in using AI in your digital outreach? And how do you use predictive marketing in generating leads online? You're not going to learn that from an industry resource, because the industry hasn't been doing it. It's just recently that the industry has started to do these things. So where do we go to learn? We go to other B2B conferences. A lot of large business to business enterprises have marketers in-house that really are accountable for things like lead generation and conversions. And they have a process in place for the purpose of speed to market and scalability.

Katie Cash:
Yeah.

Judy Sparks:
So those are the things that when we see the Siemens of the world being able to put a process in place and be able to measure against that process and provide training for their employees to be able to generate leads, manage to brand, increase sales, all of those things. You have to think, well those principles, and I'm using principles as in rules not people, but those principles that work for those large B2B enterprises scaled appropriately down to my budget, those fundamental marketing principles should work for me.

Judy Sparks:
And what we have found is, they do. So you and I have been to countless B2B conferences. We've come back and we have helped our clients adopt account based marketing strategies. And for those of you that are new to the acronym ABM, or account based marketing, it's basically an idea that you want to take a very focused approach to aiming at your highest value targets. And so this idea of I think what's commonly used in our industry is, we want to a rifle approach, not a shotgun approach. So this idea that you are going to prioritize your targets, and you're going to go an inch wide and a mile deep with every target.

Judy Sparks:
Thereby increasing your hit rate and increasing your return, and decreasing your spending overall. That is, we used to call it back in the day Katie you and I, I think, coined the term competitive intelligence selling. Or competitive intelligence marketing. Well, our counterparts in other B2B industries have really coined a better phrase, and that's, account based marketing. And it basically is saying, I'm going to be very intentional and deliberate about marketing spend. That's the other thing that people do not measure in our industry. And it blows my mind.

Judy Sparks:
Aside from labor, your largest cost is probably the cost of client acquisition. And very few principals, now I'm using principals, P-A-L, really understand what they spend on marketing. They can measure the hard dollars, but they don't measure the time. If they understood how much an average lead costs to generate. If they understood how much an average project costs to acquire, this cost of client acquisition is really getting out of hand simply because owners are demanding a lot just to interview.

Judy Sparks:
And so you can't afford to go after 100 projects a year, you could go after 10. Go after them well and win eight. That is much better than going after 100 and winning two.

Katie Cash:
Well, and what we're hearing day in and day out, right now the industry is really healthy in terms of the design and construction industry for the most part. And we hear our clients tell us all day, every day, I don't need more work. I need more people to do the work we have. And so they are being really really thoughtful in terms of which projects and which clients are actively pursuing and trying to find out what their ideal customer profile is. You know, which clients do we work well together? Which ones are we profitable on? Which ones can we have a longterm relationship with? And which ones do our staff really enjoy working with where we can retain our talented staff as we move forward?

Katie Cash:
And those are the qualifiers that they're using to build out their account based marketing plans.

Judy Sparks:
That's right. If you think about it in the terms of it takes just as much effort to do the small project as it does to do a large project. Well guess what, it takes just as much effort to sell to an owner who's going to have one project every 10 years, or 20 years, as it does to sell to a habitual buyer of design and construction. So be thoughtful, there might be a really nice project that you're qualified to do, but it's going to take a lot of energy and a lot of money to pursue it.

Judy Sparks:
And There's another project that ... or another client that is buying professional services on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or annual basis, and there's no sign of that slowing down. Wouldn't your time be better spent investing in the habitual buyer of your services, than the guy who's going to buy your service once every 20 years?

Katie Cash:
Absolutely. I mean, I don't want to discourage listeners out there that are like, yeah but what about that one marquee project happening in our back neighborhood that is only going to come around once in a lifetime? I mean, we heard about it here in Atlanta when we thought Amazon was coming to Atlanta, and everybody was all excited about it. And that was really never on anybody's ABM radar for that until it became more reactive to it.

Judy Sparks:
Right. I call those golden opportunities, and you will always need to leave some flexibility and be nimble enough to be able to pivot when the market calls for it. I think that that's just smart business. But in terms of 90% of your effort, the way you act, the way you go to market, the way you spend, that needs to be premeditated, and very very strategic. Because if not, at the end of the day it's like doing marketing by trial and error. Nobody wants to lend money to somebody who says, I'm going to start a business without a business plan.

Judy Sparks:
Well, I am shocked how many firms do not even attempt to put a marketing or business development plan together every year. Or, they do it in such a rushed fashion just to make the higher-ups happy, and then it sits on a shelf and they don't actually execute it. So I think that the firms that have gotten onboard with the idea that the buying audience is getting younger. They respond to different distribution channels. My leadership is getting older and my second tier, or succession plan, is not going to come with the same level of relationships that I had when I started this firm.

Judy Sparks:
The competitive environment is very over crowded due to the fact that there's just simply more firms than there ever have been for each discipline. And then on top of that, everybody's my competitor. My two man firm is competing with the 10,000 person firm. Each with their own value propositions. But all of these factors, it's gotten a lot tougher. And let me just say, if you're the firm whose aspirations are listen, my dad was an architect, I'm an architect, my son's going to be an architect, we've been a 20 person firm for 100 years. And we love our life and this is really all we want to do. Then do what you've been doing. Or, maybe do what you've been doing and a little bit more.

Judy Sparks:
For those firms that are looking for exit strategies to be able to monetize at the end of your career, for those firms that are looking to scale in terms of going to new geographic markets, or diversify into new verticals, marketing really needs to be a thoughtfully strategic driven process. And adequately budgeted for.

Katie Cash:
Absolutely. For all of our listeners, today Judy and I have been talking about sales, marketing and business development, what they all are, how they're used together to help drive business for your brand. So just to summarize, sales are things that are done one to one, marketing are activities that are done one to many. Business development is just a very nice way of saying sales. And you need both in order to grow your brand and to effectively scale your business. We hope you've learned something from today's chat, if you have any questions don't hesitate to look us up online, you can find us at Smartegies.com, or also on any of the social media channels @smartegies.

Katie Cash:
Thanks everybody, talk to you again soon.

Audio:
You've been listening to AEC Marketing for Principals, brought to you buy Smartegies. If you like this episode, please let us know by visiting AECMarketingpodcast.com, where you can learn more ways to position your brand and sell to owners.

Scroll To Top
0

Your Cart