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Deltek ProjectCon 2022: Be There or Be Square

Posted by Cate Phillips on September 14, 2022

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After two virtual years, the annual Deltek conference is back in person. Wondering if your firm should attend this year’s Deltek ProjectCon conference (formerly known as Deltek Insight)? Well first off, let’s use some math logic, so hear me out. 

In project-based businesses, like engineers, architects, consulting firms, and other professional services organizations, it is usually important to hit the mark for a successful business. What is a mark? It’s a point different from nearby points; something to shoot at or a visible indication that distinguishes something. 

However, think of a project lifecycle. I would say that most of the time folks in our world visualize the life cycle of a project as a circle. In fact, go ahead and Google “the project life cycle” and check out the images…they pretty much all include a circle. A sphere doesn’t really have a point, and by its nature, the circle is not like other shapes. As we can agree that the project lifecycle is usually a circle and that circles don’t have points like other shapes, clearly the next logical step is that since your firm really can’t “be square” then you should be there at Deltek ProjectCon 2022!  

My logic is not convincing? Here are other reasons you should attend, and as I know you’ve been thinking about it, let's just say that the new name for Deltek’s annual conference will in no way change the “insight” you will get for attending. 

Gain Some Valuable Deltek Product Insight 

We all know conferences are for learning; that’s basically the entire business case and why you or your firm is paying to be there. So, get knee-deep in your Deltek knowledge at ProjectCon. Obtain a certification through a free Deltek University exam. Add more skills to your resume and get paid more. Learn how to solve your complex challenges using Deltek technology. 

Meet, Greet and Network with Insightful Experts  

Go and have some fun gosh darn it; you’ve earned it. You made it through a pandemic and can finally see your friends and business connections in person for the first time in over two years. There are networking events being thrown just for you at Deltek ProjectCon, so don’t turn down a free party! Even better, you can finally connect with the actual experts about Deltek products, not just your colleagues.  

Fresh Insights and Latest Trends 

Best practices are game changers for professional services firms. At Deltek ProjectCon, learn how your peers are getting things done and get all juiced up on innovative new technologies. Attend the keynote and learn what “The Power of Connectional Intelligence” means. Think about robots; artificial intelligence is the future not just in cars but also in data-driven organizations. 

Future Insights Through Product Roadmaps 

For many project-based firms, there are upgrade questions such as when is Vision's end of life? At ProjectCon, you can find out more from Deltek representatives and see the updated road map. Here you also have the opportunity to ask questions that would make the Deltek staff seriously consider adding your favorite missing feature to the next version of your software. It is critical to understand the journey your firm is on, and that’s hard to do without a map.  

Deltek Newbie? Acquire Insight, Historically Speaking 

There is no better way to meet seasoned groupies than to attend a conference like Deltek ProjectCon. You know you want to hear about what happened at this conference 20 years ago. Go soak up the old-timers’ knowledge or attend beginner sessions and feel less alone.  

Upcoming Insights from Full Sail Partners at ProjectCon ‘22 

Want to see us walk the walk and talk the talk? Join seven of our incomparable consultants as they lead the following sessions. You can search out the sessions by title, topic, presenter, etc. by visiting this page: Deltek ProjectCon 2022 | Project Success Starts Here | Session Catalog 

[VPSPON-03] Single Source of Truth Between Vantagepoint and ADP 

Discover how Vantagepoint and ADP can work together to enhance your payroll experience. During this session, learn how the Blackbox Connector offering from Full Sail Partners securely and seamlessly integrates 3rd party software platforms with Vantagepoint. The Vantagepoint Payroll Interface allows firms to efficiently move Vantagepoint project hours to ADP payroll hours based on business rules. Employee data can now be integrated between ADP Workforce Now and Vantagepoint with a single point of entry upon the employee hiring process. Presented by:

Scott Seal, VP of Consulting, Full Sail Partners 

Rick Childs, Principal Consultant, Full Sail Partners 

Jennifer Wilson, SQL Developer, Full Sail Partners 

[VP-66] New and Improved Vantagepoint Accounting Features to Automate Your Business 

Join this session to familiarize yourself with the new and improved features in Deltek Vantagepoint to help automate your accounting department and business. The presentation will cover the latest and greatest features including approvals, billing, AR, reporting, dashboard, and other features to improve your accounting processes. This is a must-attend session for your financial team to learn from two consultants that have spent more than 1,000 hours helping more than 100 companies upgrade from Vision to Vantagepoint. Presented by:

Terri Agnew, Principal Consultant, Full Sail Partners 

Theresa Depew, Senior Consultant, Full Sail Partners 

[VP-22] Create a More Collaborative and Efficient Team Environment with Vantagepoint: One Firm's Story 

Welcome to the future of managing the project lifecycle for professional services firms! With Deltek Vantagepoint, see how one firm created a more cohesive and streamlined method for operating project-based businesses. JCJ Architecture will take you on a journey through its new project lifecycle. Learn how their team reimagined their processes from pursuit identification to final project execution, resulting in a more collaborative team environment. Better data provided better analysis, which resulted in better decision-making and a better business! Presented by:

Rana Blair, Principal Consultant, Full Sail Partners 

Amanda Roussel, Senior Consultant, Full Sail Partners 

Michelle Chapman, Senior Project Accountant, JCJ Architecture 

Jeanne Muscolino, Principal | Hospitality Sector Leader | Business Development Manager, JCJ Architecture 

Register for 2022 ProjectCon Today 

With all of these reasons to attend ProjectCon, we know you are thinking about what to pack already. Don’t miss the Full Sail Partners’ booth in the XPO hall. For all the latest information about ProjectCon 2022, hit up Deltek ProjectCon 2022 | Project Success Starts Here. This year it’s in Nashville from November 15 – 18th. I hope the insights you gain and the fun you have inspire you to do more in your own spherical world of projects. 

 

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The 43rd Deltek A&E Clarity Study Predicts Positive Changes for Business Development

Posted by Amanda Roussel on September 07, 2022

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According to this year’s Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering (A&E) Industry Study, it is looking to be a landmark year for the architecture and engineering industry with net revenue growth forecasted to grow to 17.6%. A&E is doing quite well despite the pandemic with the highest net revenue growth in the last ten years at 11.4%. This increase is assisted by A&E’s market position, which is expected to either grow or remain steady in markets across the board. Most notably water/waste/stormwater, transportation, and industries that fall under the “other” category (such as life sciences and senior living) are predicted to see great increases. As a result, firms will not only need to strategically pursue the right projects but will also need to grow and develop a staff to deliver on these projects.

 

Top Business Development (BD) Challenges 

The ever-changing nature of the business world is continuing to keep firms on their toes with new challenges. Unlike the previous year, a majority of firms (78%) have identified that finding and retaining qualified staff has been a struggle for them. This is coupled with other mass-reported problems such as staffing shortages and difficulty retaining employees. Staffing challenges have a direct impact on business development, not only lacking adequate staff to conduct business development activities but also not being able to provide the most qualified teams to win and deliver on projects. 

Time to nurture client relationships is the top business development challenge for A&E firms according to the report. With favorable market conditions, new opportunities will be plentiful which poses a challenge for firms to keep up with their clients. Time is money and time is also in short supply. With the reporting firms revealing an average work backlog of nearly 9 months, it is clear that companies must find a way to increase productivity. Upskilling business development talent and streamlining the BD process will help to free up time to strategically nurture client relationships. 

Other top BD challenges from the study include increased competition and identifying prospects. Firms must differentiate and hone branding across thought leadership and social marketing channels to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Additionally, with a positive industry outlook this year, firms will need to be more strategic in pursuits that work best for their company’s strengths. 

Increased Formal Business Development Process 

Of the companies surveyed, 45% have a formal business development process, which is an increase going up from 39% the previous year. Though this means that 55% of firms surveyed still do not have any formal business development process. In these cases, responsibility for business development tasks is most often pushed to the executive team, project managers, and marketing staff. While dedicated business development staff may not be necessary in every case, it is important not to overlook the kind of work they do. Most notably, they tend to client relationship development, proposal development and networking, but they have plenty of other duties as well. Their jobs help to create new business opportunities, and within the last year active client relationships, requests for proposals and networking placed in the top five sources of new opportunities in the surveyed firms. 

A Positive Year for Proposals Requires Evaluation 

As suggested by the Deltek Clarity study, operating in a market with limited resources but high demand, the go/no go process is significant to evaluate the projects firms will pursue. While the number of firms employing the go/no go process has increased in the last year, there is still a large population who do not utilize it in the slightest. Of the companies who reported, 22% don’t use any kind of go/no go process. Listed below are the top three questions that businesses ask when deciding whether or not to accept a proposal: 

  • Is it a good fit for the type of work we do? 
  • Do we have an existing relationship with the client? 
  • Do we have the staff to deliver the project?   

This method of weeding out less profitable projects is more useful than ever, as a significant rise in the number of proposals submitted and the number awarded in firms of all sizes was observed. In-kind, the average win rate of proposals has increased in the last year to 49.2%, the highest it’s been since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The average capture rate is also up from the previous year, now standing at 48.5%. 

Marketing Techniques Present and Future 

A majority of businesses reported using social media posts for marketing, with only 16% not indicating any use. This was followed by client-specific marketing at 67%, trade shows/exhibits at 56%, email marketing at 54% and thought leadership at 42%. The order of these marketing methods is projected to change, however, with the study offering up that client-specific marketing could overtake social media marketing within the next five years. Thought leadership is predicted to advance to third place among important marketing techniques, with trade shows/exhibits and email marketing falling more and more by the wayside. 

Business Development Initiatives 

Based on this year’s study, some of the priority business development (BD) initiatives for A&E firms are hiring additional staff, earlier identification of opportunities and requirements and expanding geographically. Since BD has not been spared from staffing challenges, and firms are seeing more proposals, projects, and nurturing opportunities, the focus on obtaining the best-qualified staff is of tantamount importance. Another area that has grown in importance is the geographic expansion of firms requiring yet again additional staff. One more initiative to identify opportunities and their requirements remains top of the list as well. Teams shouldn’t be wasting time and their resources on projects that are not winnable. 

Final BD Outlook from Deltek Clarity 

The 43rd Deltek A&E Clarity study found that while the world still is not clear about the pandemic, things are looking up for the industry. The top problems of participating firms are not dire, and by focusing on the employee base and current client relationships, these issues can be fixed. This year’s Deltek Clarity report also noted that freeing up time is necessary to clear the obstacles in the way of each business regarding BD. To remedy this, employing the go/no go process and better utilizing the tools provided by Deltek to streamline the BD process is suggested. 

How does your company stack up to those that participated in the survey? For a more in-depth look at the data behind the 43rd Deltek A&E Clarity study, use the link below to receive the report for free right now! 

 

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Driving Growth with Digital Marketing - Marketing Content Promotion for AEC Firms

Posted by Lindsay Diven on June 22, 2022

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So far in the “Driving Revenue Growth with Digital Marketing Series,” firms have developed their content plan and created content. However, creating great content simply is not enough. AEC marketers need a promotional plan that strategically shares content with the people that benefit the most from it. This article shares some common and uncommon promotional tactics.  

Search Engine Optimization 

Search engine optimization or SEO is a series of techniques firms can deploy for their content and on their website to rank higher for certain keywords on search engines like Google. Click here for a basic introduction to SEO. 

SEO should be the first strategy to be used as part of the promotional plan and should be considered when the content is being created, especially if that content is a blog article. Marketers should optimize the piece of content for the specific topics or keywords it wants to be found for. Another way to look at it is to think about the person that marketers want to read or consume that piece of content. What types of phrases or questions would that person be typing into a search engine as that person searches for answers? Make sure that marketing content has those phrases and key words included naturally throughout the content piece.  

Email Marketing 

This is the most overlooked and underutilized promotional tactic in the AEC industry. As a Premier Partner for Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint CRM, Full Sail Partners works with hundreds of AEC firms across the country specifically advising them on CRM and marketing strategies. So many of these firms have databases full of thousands of contacts but fail to have a consistent email marketing strategy.  

By using email marketing, there is a real opportunity for AEC firms to easily, affordably, and routinely get in front of clients and prospects with the content that is often difficult and time consuming to create. With tools like the Blackbox Connector for Mailchimp or Constant Contact that connect Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint to those email marketing services seamlessly, AEC marketers can get a leg up on their competitors just by using email marketing.  

Social Media 

This is probably the most popular and utilized promotional tactic. AEC firms often promote blog articles, white papers and case studies through their social media channels including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Each social media channel has its own pros and cons in terms of reach and engagement as well as best practices when it comes to getting in front of the preferred audiences.  

Finding out the social media channels where the ideal clients and personas spend the majority of their time is key for AEC marketers to develop the content, and they should focus their time on that channel first. Once that channel or channels are identified, marketers can research hashtags to utilize and optimize the visual content plus write engaging captions that keep both the tone of the social media channel and the brand voice.  

Live Events 

With a digital marketing campaign, often the content that is created is online. This includes blog articles, videos, case studies or white papers, for example. So, it isn’t a surprise that promoting this type of content is often forgotten when attending or presenting at live events. If the firm has technical experts or subject matter experts (SMEs) who present or speak at industry events, it’s a great opportunity to also promote the online content.  

Most recently, presenters have been including a slide at the end of a presentation with a QR code. The audience can snap a photo of that QR code, and it takes them to either a specific piece of content or to a webpage/landing page that has links to several pieces of content. Below is an example of a slide with a QR code from a recent conference. 

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It’s not just for in-person conferences or events either. If the firm’s SMEs are guests on podcasts or webinars, those can be other great opportunities to promote marketing content. AEC marketers should help SMEs prepare for these appearances, including identifying what marketing content to promote.  

Creating Great Marketing Content Simply Isn’t Enough 

Thinking about the content promotion while developing it is a great way to make sure that content performs well and meets the digital marketing goals. The content promotion plan should list the ways in which the content will be promoted including SEO, social media, email marketing, and live events.  

This article is part of the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing and will walk through how to gather and analyze the results for the digital marketing campaigns.  

 

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How AEC Firms Can Stay Ahead of the Talent Game with Reskilling and Upskilling

Posted by Tasia Grant, PHR on June 01, 2022

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IIn life, the good news must always be taken with the bad. In the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) industry, the good news is that a massive federal infrastructure bill was signed into law that will help keep the industry growing in 2022. The question, though, is whether bad news will outweigh that good news for the AEC industry. Much like the impacts of the 2008 recession, according to an article in Civil Engineering Source, throughout 2021, supply chains, high prices for construction materials and labor shortages were affecting the entire AEC sector. So how can Human Resources departments address some of the trends that are being seen?   

AEC Trends and Tackling the Challenges 

Many leaders in professional services firms are tackling labor-related obstacles by evaluating their retention and talent acquisition programs. With the ongoing retirement of Baby Boomers, the increasingly technical (and digital) nature of work, rising wages and the “Great Resignation” of 2022, many employers at professional services firms are faced with skill gaps, problems attracting and hiring top job candidates and employee engagement retention problems.  

 Let’s take a closer look at each of these challenges:  

  • Feeling the Boom: With the departure of Baby Boomers, replacing the most senior and experienced professionals is an overwhelming challenge facing the industry. Most firms agree they can find new graduates, but their employment doesn’t replace those with 40 years of experience.   
  • Transform or Die: The pandemic required firms to rethink their digital adoption, but much of the AEC industry is still managed on paper including blueprints, design drawings, supply-chain orders, progress reports, punch lists, etc.  
  • Under Pressure: In the past, the main challenge was finding the work. Now one of the main challenges is how to keep the workers. Employers are feeling the pressure to raise wages or be forced with losing key talent. 
  • Gap-o-Rama: Graduates unfortunately don’t learn all of the necessary skills required for real-life work in the AEC industry. Additionally, with the constant change in technology, existing employees require learning new technology skills to stay competitive.  
  • Retaining Talent: During the pandemic, many employees re-evaluated what they wanted in life and from their employers. Many firms learned this lesson the hard way.  

Despite these talent woes, there is a solution for Human Resources professionals that is right up under their noses. Reskilling and upskilling are trending talent management tools that are being explored and implemented to address these challenges and ensure that growth stays consistent and progressive. Let’s take a deeper dive into what reskilling and upskilling are and the benefits each can bring to the professional services industry.   

Reskilling Versus Upskilling 

Reskilling is theprocess of employees learning new skills to move onto new roles within their current company while upskilling is a workplace trend that facilitates continuous learning by providing training programs and development opportunities that expand an employee's abilities and minimize skill gaps. The primary difference is that reskilling prepares an employee for movement into a new role within the company whereas upskilling prepares an employee for movement in their current career track within the company. Reskilling and upskilling are not just trendy or popular remedies. The professional services industry has found benefits for both the employers and employees, so it ultimately is a win/win. 

Benefits to Leaders 

  • Improves retention. Employees stay longer when they see evidence that their company is invested in learning and development. 
  • Keeps up with the industry. Maintaining highly skilled and knowledgeable employees keeps the organization competitive in the industry. 
  • Moderates recruiting costs. With the increasing costs of backfilling positions, reskilling might be a good alternative to letting go of current employees and hiring new ones with a different skill set, if the needs of the organization change.  
  • Attracts desired talent. Offering continuous staff training enhances the company’s reputation and brand image as an employer. 
  • Improves employee engagement. Potential and current employees want professional development and training opportunities in their job, and they will look for opportunities that provide these options. Upskilling satisfies these employee demands. 
  • Optimizes employee productivity. Improving employee engagement will ultimately increase productivity. 
  • Bridges the age gap. While generational differences can sometimes be a source of conflict in the workplace, when managed effectively, they can be a powerful source of innovation and adaptability.  

Benefits to Employees 

  • Feel more valued. When employees believe that the company is investing in them to improve their professional profile or give them new opportunities, it reinforces their loyalty. 
  • Have more opportunities for career advancement. Upskilling focuses on improving current employees' skill sets, usually through training, so they can advance in their jobs and find different roles and opportunities within the company. 
  • Increases their professional confidence. One of the primary benefits to employees is that upskilling can help to boost confidence anddevelop stronger, more capable teams in the business. 
  • Builds better relationships between employees and managers. As managers and employees collaborate on their employees’ career paths and provide leadership and mentoring during the training and development process, knowledge sharing, trust, and respect evolve organically.  

Repurpose Talent 

The bottom line is professional services firms are in the best possible position with continuous technological advancement, growing leadership flexibility, and external financial resources to successfully develop and implement upskilling and reskilling programs. Executives, senior leaders, human resources professionals, talent acquisition professionals, training & development specialists, or even HRIS experts, should join the upcoming webinar “Rebounding and Staying Ahead of the Game:  Attract and Retain Top Talent using Reskilling and Upskilling” on June 9th. During this webinar, find out what the so-called “Great Resignation” of 2022 is, hear case studies about other firms (especially in the AEC industry) who have successfully implemented these programs, and learn steps that organizations can take to develop a program that caters to firms’ talent management needs and goals. 

 

 

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Driving Growth with Digital Marketing - How to Analyze Digital Marketing Campaign Results

Posted by Lindsay Diven on May 25, 2022

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If the results from the digital marketing campaign efforts are not tracked, how will the marketers know if it’s working or not? It seems simplistic when written like this, but for architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms, collecting and analyzing the results of digital marketing efforts is often the hardest part. And, because the results are often not collected, not analyzed, or not presented to the firm’s leaders, it’s hard for marketing professionals get buy-in for additional digital marketing resources.  

This article is part of the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing and will walk through how to gather and analyze the results for the digital marketing campaigns.  

Select the Metrics During the Planning Phase 

At this point, the digital marketing campaign is created and has been promoted. At this point it’s time to analyze the results and compare them against the original goals to determine the performance of the campaign. 

The hardest part about selling digital marketing strategies to firm leadership is showing the results. And choosing what to measure and how to measure the results is where AEC marketers often get stuck.  

The best time to select the metrics to be used in analyzing the marketing campaign results, is in the planning stages. Thinking through this while in planning, allows the tracking software or infrastructure to be put into place to gather the correct results.  

Using the original campaign goals along with thinking through how those goals can be measured, is the best place to begin.  

For example, if the original goal was to increase brand awareness in the Texas market by increasing web traffic in Texas by 25% in the first 2 quarters of 2022. The marketing department will want to make sure that they can track web traffic, including geography, and have a baseline number for the web traffic from Texas before the campaign begins. 

If the marketing department doesn’t have that ability or information before they begin the campaign, it's going to be very difficult to gather and analyze the results.  

That's why having very SMART goals outlined and agreed upon by leadership is critical to be able to track, analyze, and progress to achieving goals.

Understand that AEC Metrics May be Different 

AEC is different than other industries when it comes to marketing. It isn’t e-commerce. The AEC industry doesn’t provide online stores. AEC firm clients typically don't buy their services through their websites. So, this means that typical marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) like Cost per Acquisition, Customer Attrition, or even marketing-originated customers really aren't relevant.  

That’s why it so important to get the marketing campaigns SMART Goals determined. When those goals are clear, written down, and agreed upon by firm leadership, the metrics to determine that campaign’s performance become more clear. 

Possible AEC Marketing Campaign Metrics   

So, what should AEC marketers measure? How should they measure the results of their digital marketing campaigns? 

Marketers should identify quantifiable metrics that aligns with the goals of the organization and the SMART goals as mentioned above. These metrics should be either new leads (new to the firm’s funnel) or more interaction with current contacts to “nurture” the relationship until that content needs the firm’s services.  

And because each AEC firm’s goals are all going to be different, this article cannot simply provide a list of 10 example metrics. However, listed below are some potential metrics (KPIs) that could be considered. They are listed to help AEC marketers brainstorm metrics that are relevant to their specific digital marketing campaigns and firm goals.  

Possible AEC Marketing Campaign Metrics: 

  • Website traffic 
  • Search traffic/keyword rankings 
  • Backlinks 
  • Click-through rate 
  • Conversion rate 
  • Email sign-up rate 
  • Delivery, open, click rate 
  • Engagement/interaction rate 
  • Follower growth rate 
  • Brand mentions 

Marketers can then take those metrics and compare the marketing performance to a previous time such as: 

  • To the previous month, 
  • A 3-month average, or 
  • Specific goal(s). 

Metrics That Shouldn’t be Measured 

The things or results that the AEC marketer can’t impact should not be measured. If the marketer or firm can’t change it, there’s no point in tracking it or making it a KPI.  

Vanity metrics should also not be tracked, or at least, have too much weight or emphasis placed on them. Marketers are sometimes tempted to track vanity metrics like the Facebook page likes or Twitter followers, but if the marketing department is not currently implementing a social media campaign with the goal of getting more likes or followers, why track it? It’s not an effective KPI. 

Best Practices for Collecting and Analyzing Digital Marketing Campaign Results 

The following are some best practices that marketers should keep in mind as they plan for, implement, and analyze the results of their digital marketing campaigns.  

  • Use the campaign goal as the basis for analyzing the results. Marketers should tie what the goal of the campaign is to what metrics they collect and analyze.  
  • Connect marketing platforms. By starting with the goals, marketers can list what metrics they need to collect. But, this is also the time to evaluate what systems can be connected and automatically share information. A great example of this is the Blackbox Connector for Mailchimp or Constant Contact. These connect the email marketing statistics to the Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint CRM systems. A marketer can easily pull in the statistics for one email campaign or an email campaign series into the Deltek Marketing Campaign.  
  • Limit KPIs to only those that are needed. Marketers might be tempted to collect more data or statistics than necessary to see how the campaign is performing. Especially when first getting started, limit to collecting and analyzing only those metrics or KPIs that are needed to see how the performance is measuring to the goal.  
  • Tailor the KPIs to the audience. If the marketing campaign performance needs to be presented to firm leadership, make sure to tailor what is shown to that audience to just what they need to see how it’s performing to goal. For example, the marketing manager may be tracking email newsletter opt-in rates and email bounce rates. However, if that’s not a goal of the specific marketing campaign, don’t report those metrics in a presentation to the firm principals.  

How to Use the Digital Marketing Campaign Results to Improve Performance  

Collecting and analyzing the performance of the marketing campaigns is only half the battle! The next step is optimizing the campaign’s performance to get even better results. And the next article in this series share a few different areas to optimize when it comes to the firm’s digital marketing efforts. Subscribe to the series below to get the next article.  

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Full Sail Partners is Celebrating its Silver Anniversary

Posted by Sarah Gonnella on May 11, 2022

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For the last decade, Full Sail Partners has been a recognized project-based technology leader in the Deltek professional services ecosystem. We have much to celebrate and we attribute that success to our company culture -- fun, fast-paced, flexible and collaborative. Our team members comment every day how they feel privileged to call many of their co-workers true friends and even family.  

Since our inception, the number of employees has expanded 131%, and over our 10-year history, revenue has increased 145% while completing over 4000+ projects. The firm launched its Blackbox Connector product in 2015 increasing the team’s integration capabilities by being able to connect clients to outside solutions. Deltek and other industry leaders have recognized our firm with 15 awards over its history because of our relentless commitment to cultivating strong customer loyalty and focusing on the customer experience. We accomplished this and more all while being 100% remote, before it became popular.  

We plan to recognize this huge milestone with our clients at Deltek’s Annual Conference, ProjectCon, in November in Nashville, TN. Additionally, as part of our continuing 10-year anniversary celebration, Full Sail Partners will be selling a cookbook filled with recipes from its employees. Each employee that submits a recipe will be nominating a charity of his/her choice. Any funds raised will be then given to the charity that is voted upon by Full Sail Partners’ clients.  

While viewing our accomplishments, you can truly experience the fun side of our culture. We would love to hear from you, our clients, about any experience that stands out over the years in the comments or on social media. Thank you to everyone that has been a part of our journey. We are excited to continue this celebration and enjoy the moment while looking forward to our next milestone accomplishment. Cheers! 

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Review our recent press release to learn more about our firm and our accomplishments over the past decade. 

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Business Development Calls Made Easy with Deltek Vantagepoint CRM

Posted by Cate Phillips on May 04, 2022

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Before the pandemic, I used to volunteer to judge high school debate and often found myself sitting in a public-school library on a Saturday morning staring at those cheesy posters where the words say “Attitude is Everything” …those have not changed by the way. Except 25 years later, those words still ring true. I do not know about you, but if I am rolling into a Zoom business development (BD) call with a bad attitude, it is doomed to fail. Since attitude is important when it comes to developing relationships with clients, how can the new and improved Customer Relationship Management (CRM) power of Deltek Vantagepoint make it easier to keep those business development calls on track? 

Attitude and Deltek Vantagepoint CRM? 

I started writing this on a debate kick, and it therefore must continue… As any good debater will tell you, something should not be fully considered until it has been argued from both the pro and con sides. So, how can business development calls be made easy with Deltek Vantagepoint CRM? Let us compare how it would go from both attitude perspectives. 

Bad Attitude Scenario 

5am – snooze 

5:30am – snooze again, since I went to bed later than normal last night, that is the mental self-justification I will go through this morning. 

6am – wake up, grab phone, check calendar. Okay, good, first meeting is not until 8am, I can sleep more, reset alarm. 

7:15am – grab phone, what? Why? I should have gotten up earlier so I could work out and do my morning stuff. I am grumpy about it.  

7:45am – showered and dressed, sitting down, I must scramble to review a prospect’s info in Vantagepoint. I glance at some fields. I notice that I am about to be talking to the Facilities Director at an airport. My engineering firm has done the type of project they are looking to do but only in Europe. My job is to impress the Facilities Director and get him to introduce us to the architect and then hopefully she will want to bring us in on this massive project.  

8am – meeting starts, I am not as ready as I should be. It goes okay, but it is not a slam dunk. He agrees to let me call him back, but I know in my gut he is not going to be calling the architect immediately to sing our praises. 

8:30am – I guess I should get the notes in the system. I am super discouraged and annoyed at this point, but I try to rally myself to get my activity recorded with enough detail so that I can perhaps salvage this a bit when I do my follow-up. 

Here is the rub folks. The Deltek Vantagepoint CRM is there to help me, and it is a great tool in my toolbox. I did not use it here to my full advantage. 

Good Attitude Scenario 

5am – snooze 

5:30am – I am up! I am not necessarily happy about it, but it happened. I get started on my morning stuff. 

7am – sitting down in my office now, I will not bore you with the details of my morning ritual, but I fed my mind, body and soul before I walked in the door. I am happy I have an entire hour to prepare for my call.  

Here is what I do to prepare using Deltek Vantagepoint CRM: 

Since the project will a subcontractor opportunity to the architect that is always the prime at this airport, she is the contact record I want to peruse. I know I have only got 30 minutes to get this Facilities Director to agree to introduce me to her. From my networking, I know that if he says give this firm a shot, she will consider it. I immediately then go to look at the projects associated with these two contacts. 

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I also know that she has been a little unhappy with the engineering firm they used from a well-placed cold call by my Business Development Representative (BDR) last year. How do I know this, you ask? I have an excellent memory, and it simply always unfolds perfectly when needed. NOPE. My team and I always track everything inside Deltek Vantagepoint.  

I read my Activity notes from three years ago when I had drinks with someone that reports to the Facilities Director at a conference. She was the one that clued me in to how key the Facilities Director was in terms of getting the architect’s attention. Then I reviewed the notes our BDR had in there from the cold call. Those notes were in an Activity from the call placed and on the Competition tab of my project.  

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Next, I double checked his and her LinkedIn pages and saw no new connections between us that I did not already know about in advance. My project is at a Lead stage and being the awesome Relationship Manager that I am, I enjoy seeing my projects get into our system, and I lovingly monitor the data associated with them. 

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I also have a custom field in my Deltek Vantagepoint CRM that gives me something to brag about here. I can query my CRM to find past airport references, and I have 2 or 3 case stories (bragging rights) ready to tell if I get the opportunity in the call. 

8am – The meeting starts, and I am ready to kill it. During the call, the Facilities Director mentions another two of his colleagues that I was not aware of, and their roles could be important should we get this project to the awarded stage. I jot down their info so that our Marketing Associate can fill in the gaps with some research and get them entered in the system.  

8:30am – The call is over. It was the slam dunk I deserved. He was impressed with the stories I was able to tell, and since I was aware of the pain that the current engineering firm is creating with the Architect, this allowed me to effectively differentiate our firm. He said that he would be emailing her right away before he forgot, to ask her to get coffee and discuss what we can bring to the table. We scheduled our next steps. I was able to use the Outlook Connect to immediately get the appointment calendared and tracked in the CRM in one fell swoop. 

Which Attitude Won the Debate?    

Obviously, this debate was destined to go for the Pro - we all knew that, right? The bad attitude not only set me up to perform poorly, but it also affected my ability to leverage my Deltek Vantagepoint CRM correctly. So, here I have proven a good attitude + a great CRM = successful business development efforts. Ready to maintain a positive attitude in your business development efforts by fully embracing Deltek Vantagepoint CRM?  

Stay tuned for future blogs on this topic that cover other parts of the sales cycle and project lifecycle prior to the awarded stage. 

 

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Define Your Personas to Guide Marketing Strategies

Posted by Lindsay Diven on September 08, 2021

Professional services firms don’t just make a product that one consumer is going to purchase. The services that the firms sell are complex and involve different decision makers who have different needs and goals. Successful firms don’t just know who those decision makers are, but rather, develop personas that guide their marketing strategies.

Driving Growth with Digital Marketing for A/E/C firms series logo

This article will dive deeper into what personas are, how to develop personas, and how they are used to help create marketing strategies This is the second article in the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series.

What is a Persona?

According to HubSpot, a buyer persona is a fictional, generalized representation of an ideal client. The persona helps firms understand their clients and prospective clients better making it easier for them to develop content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.

Personas are based on insight gathered from existing clients and market research done by marketing, business development or outside resources. Due to the nature of project-based firms who pursue projects with multiple decision-makers, most firms will have multiple personas.

How to Create Personas

The first step in creating a persona is asking specific questions about current and ideal clients to find out as much as possible about who they are and how they interact with your firm. This can be completed through research, surveys, and interviews by a mix of clients, prospects, and those outside the CRM who might align with the target audience.

Potential methods for gathering information needed to develop personas are:

  • Look through the contacts database (CRM) to uncover trends about how certain clients find and consume marketing content.
  • Use form fields that capture persona information when creating website forms. For example, if the persona varies based agency role, ask each lead for information about their role at their agency on the website form.
  • Ask for feedback from the business development team about the leads and contacts they’re interacting with the most. What generalizations can they make about the different types of contacts served by the firm?
  • Ask for feedback from project managers and other project delivery teams. What generalizations can they make about the different types of client contacts they work with?
  • Interview clients and prospective clients to discover what they like about the services the firm offers.

Some example questions to ask during the information gathering phase:

  • What is their profession?
  • What does a typical day in their life look like?
  • Where do they go for information?
  • How do they prefer to obtain services?
  • What is important to them when choosing a firm?
  • What do they value most?
  • What are their goals?

Use this information to identify patterns and commonalities. Then the persona can begin to be recorded (written down!). This can include information such as:

  • Basic demographic information – Age? Income? Location? Gender identity?
  • Background – Job? Career path? Family? Lifestyle?
  • Identifiers – Communication preferences? Social media platforms?
  • Challenges – What does this person struggle in relation to meeting goals? What serves as a roadblock for this person’s success?
  • What can we do – To help this persona achieve their goals? To help this persona overcome their challenges?
  • Goals – Primary/secondary goals? Personal vs. professional goals? Role-related vs. company goals?

Once the persona is created share it with marketing, business development, executives, and operations to ensure the entire firm has the same view of the ideal client.

How are Personas Used to Guide Marketing Strategies?

Personas allow firms to personalize or target marketing for different segments. For example, instead of sending a monthly newsletter to all contacts in a CRM system, firms can segment by personas and tailor the newsletter content according to what is known about each persona.

Let’s say a firm called ACME Engineering has personas that include facilities directors, permitting coordinators, and prime architects. These personas have different specific needs, behaviors, and concerns, as one would assume. Sending a monthly newsletter that contains the same content to the entire list, wouldn’t be as well received as if ACME Engineering changed the newsletter content slightly that each project feature or blog article was written specifically with that persona in mind.

Other uses for personas for marketing include:

  • Building effective content marketing strategies by focusing on keyword research efforts.
  • Identifying and prioritizing the most relevant promotional activities.
  • Timing marketing campaigns for peak engagement rates.
  • Publishing content and advertisements on the channels (email, social media, etc.) most frequented by personas.
  • Personalizing marketing automation efforts.
  • Refining copywriting to reflect improved SEO strategies.

When the personas are used correctly, personas allow firms to produce highly targeted content that leads to better responses from new and repeat clients. And there is data to prove this. According to research from Single Grain, companies who used personas saw:

  • Websites were 2-5 times more effective.
  • Personalized emails had a 14% higher click-through rate (CRT).
  • Conversion rates* were 10% higher.

Using Personas Throughout the Firm

While this article focuses on the persona for marketing’s use, once the personas are defined, they can be used throughout the project lifecycle.

  • Business Development – Personas are valuable to anyone in the firm who is client facing. From crafting one-on-one message and building rapport to understanding the persona on a deeper level allows the business developer to be better prepared to address the client’s concerns.
  • Project Delivery – Just because the firm won the project, the firm shouldn’t stop building the relationship with the client. Because of this, involve project management team members in the persona development process so that it can be tailored to the project delivery process in your firm.

Persona is the Foundation for Driving Revenue Growth

Having a deep understanding of the personas is the foundation for building a digital marketing strategy. It’s critical to driving content creation, seeking out new clients and prospects, building relationships, delivering the projects, and really anything that relates to client acquisition and retention.

This is the second article in the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series. In this series, marketers and principals will learn how to develop a digital marketing program that is right for their firm. Sign up below to be notified when a new resource in the series becomes available.

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*Conversion rates can mean that someone took an action on a call to action. This can be filling out a form, clicking a link, etc.

Driving Growth with Digital Marketing: What is Digital Marketing

Posted by Lindsay Diven on August 18, 2021

This article is the first in the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series. This series will walk A/E/C firms through how to develop a digital marketing program that will raise brand awareness, capture new leads, and increase revenue.

But, before the series covers the nuts and bolts of how to do this, let’s define digital marketing, its history and how it can benefit A/E/C firms.

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Digital Marketing Defined

Digital marketing is defined as any marketing that uses electronic devices to convey promotional messages and measure its impact. Typically, these marketing practices include marketing campaigns that appear on computers, phones, tablets, or other electronic devices. It takes many forms including videos, emails, and social media posts. Additionally, it includes organic content and paid content such as display ads. Digital marketing is often compared to “traditional marketing” like magazine ads, billboards, and direct mail.

The History of Digital Marketing

The term Digital Marketing was first coined in the 1990s when customer relationship management (CRM) software became a significant factor in marketing technology. Then in 1994, the first clickable banner ad went live for the “You Will” campaign by AT&T. Over the first four months of it going live, 44% of all people who saw it clicked on the ad.

In the 2000s, with increased internet usage and the birth of the iPhone, customers began to search products and make decisions about their needs online first, instead of consulting a salesperson. This encouraged marketers to find new ways to integrate digital technology into market development.

Digital marketing took another step forward in 2007 when marketing automation was developed. Marketing automation is the process by which software is used to automate conventional marketing processes. With this new technology, marketers could launch multichannel marketing campaigns based on the customers specific activities.

After that, social media including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter made consumers even more dependent on digital applications in their daily lives. Now customers and potential customers expect a seamless user experience across different channels when searching for a firm’s information.

Digital Marketing Campaign Types

Digital marketing can consist of both online and non-internet channels and strategies. Common online digital marketing channels and strategies consist of:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Content marketing
  • Inbound marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Display advertising
  • Pay per click advertising (PPC)

Off-line or non-internet digital channels and strategies consist of:

  • Television
  • Text message campaigns (SMS and MMS)
  • Virtual displays or electronic billboards such as at conferences or events
  • Custom apps
  • Cold calling

The Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series will go more in-depth on several of these digital marketing strategies. Click on the image below to be alerted when a new article in the series is available.

Goals for Digital Marketing

We live in a digital age, and millions of people spend most of their time on digital platforms including their computers and phones. Marketing is all about connecting with targeted contacts in the right place, at the right time, and if the contacts are plentiful online, then that’s where the best marketing strategies should be implemented.

One goal of digital marketing is to raise brand awareness. Recent trends show businesses and digital marketers are prioritizing brand awareness, focusing more of their digital marketing efforts on cultivating brand recognition and recall than in previous years. This is evidenced by a 2019 Content Marketing Institute study, which found that 81% of digital marketers have worked on enhancing brand recognition over the past year. Another Content Marketing Institute survey revealed 89% of B2B marketers now believe improving brand awareness to be more important than efforts directed at increasing sales.

Another goal for digital marketing is lead nurturing. Many A/E/C firms work with the same clients for many different projects. Because of this high rate of repeat work, the marketing goals aren’t to raise awareness to new leads, but rather, keep the firm top of mind with existing clients. Also, the sales cycle in the A/E/C industry can be long, stretching out several months, if not years. Therefore, a firm might want to stay in front of those leads between projects.

Most likely, the goals for the digital marketing program will consist of a combination of both of these for different markets and clients.

Benefits of Digital Marketing for A/E/C Firms

The agency Hinge Research conducts original research for digital and thought leadership marketing specific to the A/E/C Industry. In their 2020 study of high growth A/E/C firms, they found high growth firms are dedicating almost 27% of their revenue to marketing, and are generating 50% of new leads from digital sources.

Other benefits of developing a digital marketing program for A/E/C firms include:

  • Cost effectiveness – Compared to traditional marketing strategies such as print advertising, conference sponsorship or attendance, digital marketing is relatively low cost. Some of the digital marketing strategies only cost the time to produce the materials and the technical knowledge. Others involved purchasing relatively low-cost software and online advertising like display ads or PPC.
  • High return on investment – Because of its relatively low cost to generate new leads that could result in thousands of new firm revenue, the return on investment is very high for digital marketing. And with the proper marketing technology in place to track and attribute the marketing campaigns appropriately, it’s relatively easy to track.
  • Easier to measure – Compared to traditional marketing strategies like a print ad or conference sponsorship, with a digital campaign you can know almost immediately how it’s performing. For example, an email marketing campaign’s performance can be known within hours or the next day. The opens and clicks are a good indicator of its performance, and marketers can use that knowledge to adjust accordingly.
  • Easy to adjust – Because the performance of the digital marketing effort is known quickly, marketers will have that knowledge and can adjust other campaigns with that knowledge.
  • Easy to share – Digital marketing channels like social media posts and email campaigns can be shared with a click of a button. This helps firms create a multiplier affect and amplifies the content.
  • Precise targeting – Traditional marketing is one to many and everyone. For example, an engineering firm places a print ad in an industry publication. The engineering firm hopes that a few people who like what they see in that ad would take a positive action. Marketing over digital platforms allows for targeted campaigning. The engineering firm can now place a display ad where that ad is presented to potential contacts based on their preferences or initial action.
  • Further reach – Digital marketing gives small firms, which make up most of the A/E/C industry, the opportunity to expand their reach. Using the benefits above of low cost, precise targeting, etc. every firm that deploys a digital marketing program can play on the same field as the mega firms. A small architecture firm in Iowa can be the worldwide leader in theater acoustical engineering through digital marketing campaigns and reach theaters in Moscow or Brisbane, for example.

Propelling Forward

The A/E/C industry has often been slow compared to other industries when adopting new marketing trends. But in 2020 with the global pandemic, A/E/C firms were propelled to rapidly make changes to their marketing programs, including shifting resources to digital marketing. Knowing this, Full Sail Partners has developed the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series. In this series, marketers and principals will learn how to develop a digital marketing program that is right for their firm. Sign up below to be notified when a new resource in the series becomes available.

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6 Marketing Trends That A/E/C Firms Shouldn’t Ignore in 2021

Posted by Lindsay Diven on July 14, 2021

As 2021 comes through its halfway point, it’s a good time to take pause to see what marketing trends are emerging for A/E/C firms. One thing that 2020 did for A/E/C marketing was accelerate the strategies marketers have wanted to bring from other industries. Highlighted here are six marketing trends A/E/C firms shouldn’t ignore in 2021.

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1. Increased Leads from Online Sources

High growth A/E/C firms generate half their leads from online sources according to a Hinge Research study. They looked across the entire industry and found that 50% of new business leads were generated from digital sources including website, email, social media, and digital advertising.

The report goes on to say that a third of high growth A/E/C firms report having mature marketing and sales software automation strategies in place, which make their digital lead generation more efficient.

This can’t be ignored. Marketers should be leading these marketing efforts and making sure the backend systems are in place to track and attribute the leads appropriately.

2. Hybrid Asynchronous Events Will Flourish

2020 was the year of Zoom meetings and virtual events. While there will continue to be a place for these types of events, they will become more hybrid. An example of this was the SMPS Southeastern Regional Conference. About 150 people attended the in-person live event in Nashville, TN while another 100 attended the virtual event during the same time.

Marketers will be tasked with finding ways to engage with their prospects with this type of event through multiple means. Often times, this is showing up in the chats of the video replays during the virtual portion while someone else attends the in-person event. Or, savvy marketers will create their own virtual experience dovetailing the organized hybrid events. Think about how private, in-person client dinners the night before a traditional conference can be transformed into a virtual experience.

3. The Emergence of Community Marketing

Speaking of hybrid events…the large industry event where all firm clients are in one place might be gone for a long time, if not for good. Most, if not all, annual conferences went virtual in 2020. But these large annual conference hosts are finding other ways to support their industries. Rather, the organizers are developing smaller, intimate, and more topical gatherings – both online and in-person.

Take for example, CXps. This once annual conference has transformed into a multi-day online experience with six, smaller regional events.

Marketers can help their subject matter experts by preparing them to be active contributors and bring practical value to the more intimate gatherings.

4. What’s Old is New Again – Email Marketing

While we might be tired of getting emails, the data doesn’t lie. Email marketing isn’t dead and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to Full Sail Partners’ own research, 20% of respondents increased their email marketing efforts and another 8% started email marketing during the past year. And, a HubSpot study found that roughly 80% of marketers have reported an increase in email engagement over the past 12 months.

This is probably the easiest marketing strategy to begin for A/E/C marketers. Many firms have a database full of contacts and prospects through the normal course of doing project work and regular sales and marketing interactions. And, many A/E/C firms already send out a holiday card or other types of email promotions. Email marketing is a no-brainer then for distributing the content the firm is already creating and publishing to blogs and social media.

5. Content Repurposing

One of the biggest challenges marketers face is to get good content from their technical staff, and many of these strategies rely on value-packed content. Quality content is essential to drive traffic to a firm’s website, to engage on social media, and to send in email marketing. Repurposing content is the proactive process of reusing all or a part of an old piece of content to expand its reach. It’s really about doing more with less content. And, target audiences have different learning methods. Some like to listen or watch while others like to read. Repurposing the same piece of content ensures that all preferences are being met while needing less original content from technical staff.

For example, take one long blog article and repurpose it into a few short YouTube videos, an audio file, several social media graphics, or a slide deck that can be shared on LinkedIn. A series of blog articles can be packaged into a whitepaper that visitors to a firm’s website can download after entering their email address.

6. Increased Investment in Martech

All of the previous trends have one thing in common – the need for integrated, marketing technology (martech) solutions. This new technology is not only critical for the deployment of these strategies, but for the tracking and proper attribution to the appropriate strategy. And, it’s not just the purchase of the software but adequate training for both the marketers and the end users to understand the importance of using the software correctly. When marketers get the software and the usage correct, then they can start tracking and reporting. This step is critical for both marketers and firm leadership. Marketers can quickly determine what’s working and what’s not and adjust, and firm leadership can see what their return is on the marketing investment.

Stay Abreast of Marketing Trends

While 2020 was a year no one wants to revisit, it did accelerate many trends that A/E/C marketers have been trying to implement for years as noted in the 42nd Deltek Clarity report. This tipping point will change marketing in the A/E/C industry like nothing else. While only six marketing trends have been presented here, it’s not exhaustive. Though every A/E/C firm is unique, all should stay abreast of these current marketing trends for 2021 and those moving forward.

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