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How to Set Digital Marketing Goals

Posted by Lindsay Diven on October 20, 2021

Without marketing goals, it’s nearly impossible to develop a marketing plan let alone know if the marketing effort is working. And without clear, actionable, and achievable metrics, how does an A/E/C marketing team know what they’re working towards? Setting goals for digital marketing programs should always be the priority.

In this third installment of the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series, let’s learn how to begin goals setting, what SMART goals are, goal examples, and best practices.

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Start with the Firm’s Goals

An A/E/C firm’s strategic or business goals is a critical place to start identifying digital marketing goals. The business goals of the firm give the marketing team a purpose and define exactly what they want to achieve.

The A/E/C firms that have strategic plans often have both long- and short-term goals. Some of those goals might not be relevant to the marketing team, but often they are. Some common strategic goals include:

  • Expand geographically – This includes opening new offices, pursuing new clients, or acquiring firms in new geographic regions.
  • Expand services – This includes adding new service offerings by acquiring firms, hiring new talent, or creating strategic partnerships.

Once the firm’s strategic goals are identified, the marketing team can begin to create digital marketing goals to align. This helps to ensure that the marketing efforts are contributing to the firm’s growth goals and gets buy-in for budget and resources.

Setting SMART Goals

Firms are most likely familiar with the “SMART” goal setting technique. This strategy is very popular to use in marketing and personal development goal setting. To apply these to digital marketing goals, be:

  • Specific: Marketing objectives should be well defined. Rather than simply saying ‘more website traffic’ be more specific such as ‘increase web traffic from Texas.’ Ideally the specificity will align with the firm’s strategic goals.
  • Measurable: To gauge the progress of the marketing effort, marketing teams need something to measure. This means the goal needs to be quantifiable. So, instead of ‘increase web traffic from Texas,’ the measurable goal would be ‘increase web traffic from Texas by 10%.’
  • Attainable: When firms begin a digital marketing program, it’s often hard to determine what goal is attainable. An example of a better attainable goal would be ‘increase web traffic from Texas by 10%’ instead of setting an increase of 30% or 50%. That much of an increase might not be attainable. Sometimes the marketing team needs to start with some number and adjust after a certain period. It’s more important for the firm to base the goal off the firm’s own data first and then adjust from there.
  • Relevant: The goals must be relevant to the firm’s strategic goals. For example, if the firm’s strategic goal is to expand into the Ohio transportation market, the Texas goal above would not be relevant.
  • Time bound: Giving the marketing goals a deadline ensures that a goal will be given the attention it needs to be successful. Often, when there is no deadline, a project or initiative flounders.

Every time the marketing department at an A/E/C firm sets out a new digital marketing campaign, the team should go through this goal setting exercise. Then once the goal is set, it should be clearly communicated with the firm’s leadership and stakeholders. This gives leadership the opportunity to ensure it’s aligned with business goals and for marketing to get buy-in as early as possible.

Common Digital Marketing Goals

Below are a few examples of digital marketing goals.

  • Acquire new leads or contacts. This is a common goal. Most firms cannot continue to grow without generating new leads, and eventually new clients and projects. Digital marketing can help attract new leads or contacts.
  • Activate leads and contacts. A/E/C firms often have leads or contacts in their databases that they haven’t worked in months, if not years. The firms can use digital marketing campaigns to encourage engagement, as well as remind the past contacts about the value the firm has provided to them and other similar clients. The digital marketing campaign can reactivate dormant leads and contacts and help keep your firm top of mind.
  • Cross-selling services. Acquiring new clients is often more expensive than getting repeat work from existing clients. And firms often provide many services to several different industries. Digital marketing campaigns can be used to educate existing clients on all the services the firm provides.
  • Increase website traffic. Digital marketing strategies can be used to increase website viewers, either to the entire website or to targeted landing pages.
  • Improve conversion rate. This is when a website visitor completes the webpage call-to-action. A popular example is when a website visitor completes a form on a website to get access to a white-paper or webinar, also known as gated content.

Digital Marketing Goal Setting Best Practices

Some digital marketing goal setting best practices are:

  • Don’t set too many goals. This could spread the marketing team too thin and risk not achieving any goal.
  • Begin with a pilot or test initiative. Identify one firm strategic goal and begin with that as a pilot initiative. Build the goals and a timeframe around that.
  • Clearly communicate the goals. When the marketing team communicates the goals, it creates a wider understanding of what your digital marketing efforts have set out to deliver and how those efforts align with the firm’s strategic plan.
  • Define who is accountable. Identify who is responsible for each goal. Making someone solely responsible for each goal makes it more likely to be achieved.

Don’t Skip Goal Setting

Setting goals can be intimidating when it’s the first time the firm is undertaking a digital marketing program. Don’t let that stop the marketing team from setting the goals. The goals will help keep the campaigns and marketing activities aligned towards achieving a common objective. They also help to set expectations and motivate the team.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the other articles in the Driving Growth with Digital Marketing series. Learn more about how A/E/C marketers and principals can 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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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.

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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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Preview: Email Marketing Trends for Professional Services Firms Survey Results

Posted by Lindsay Diven on June 23, 2021

In May 2021, Full Sail Partners conducted its first-ever email marketing trends survey. We wanted to gain insight as to how many firms have fully embraced email marketing as a proactive marketing strategy. And, if the effects of the worldwide pandemic, when many face-to-face meetings and conferences have been canceled, adjusted firms’ email marketing strategy and results.

Email Marketing

General B2B Statistics

Before the results from the Full Sail Partners’ survey are previewed, let’s take a look at some other statistics focused on email marketing and business to business (B2B) marketing strategies.

  • Billions of emails are sent every day. 306 billion to be exact. And, according to The Radicatti Group, that number is expected to reach 361 billion by the end of 2024.
  • Email helps you reach your clients as fast as possible. With the popularity of social media, you might think it has overtaken email as the fastest way to reach new and current clients. But the truth is that 21% of opened emails are opened within the very first hour of delivery.
  • In the annual research conducted by Content Marketing Institute in 2020:
    • 85% of B2B organizations use email marketing software to assist with content marketing
    • 81% of B2B organizations use email newsletters as part of their marketing strategy
    • 87% of B2B organizations use email to distribute their content
    • 90% of B2B organizations used email engagement as the top metric to measure content performance
  • That same research also found that email is the most reliable channel for nurturing leads to sales throughout the funnel.

Email Marketing Trends Survey Results Preview

So how do the responses from our email marketing trends survey compare to some of the national trends? Full Sail Partners invited our clients, prospects, and partners to complete the survey. The invitation was sent via email and shared on our social media channels.

Survey Demographics

The survey responses were from firms that provided mostly either engineering (41%) or construction (28%) services. Half of the responses were from firms that had either 1-50 (36%) or 51-100 (25%) employees. The other half of the responses broke down into the following: 101-500 (29%), 501-1000 (2%), and 1001+ (8%) employees.

Full Sail Partners is a Premier Partner for Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint. So, one of the questions asked if the firms responding were users of either software. Of the responses, 40% are either a Deltek Vision or Vantagepoint user, 58% were not users, and 2% said other. The one “other” response indicated that they are currently using another CRM software system.

Overall Firm Marketing Strategies

Before we asked about email marketing strategies, we asked respondents what marketing channels their firm currently uses. They could respond with multiple answers. The top three marketing channels included website, social media, and email. This seems to be consistent to the other independent research noted above.

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Today’s Email Marketing Strategy

The survey also wanted to gauge how professional services firms are using email marketing today. We asked questions including goal/purpose for email marketing, frequency, type of email campaigns, and how the firms track success of their email marketing efforts. These were asked in a combination of quantitative and qualitative questions.

The biggest goal/purpose for email marketing is for brand awareness (41%) with lead nurturing well behind at 26% of the responses.

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The main types of email marketing campaigns sent by the respondents included regular newsletters (33%), highlight emails (23%), and promotional emails (23%).

When asked for a brief overview of the firm’s email marketing strategy, objective responses ranged from simple holiday greetings to organized targeted campaigns. Some of the consistent qualitative response themes include:

  • Holiday greetings
  • Announcements such as new hire, employee promotions, new office, or office move
  • Sharing content produced by the firm like blog articles
  • Teaming and bid opportunity alerts to contractor and subcontractor lists
  • Event invitations around either webinars or attending conferences/tradeshows

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When asked how frequently email campaigns are sent, nearly half of respondents send their email campaigns quarterly (46%) with another 21% sending monthly. Some of the other responses included bi-weekly sends as well as sending depending on specific promotions.

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Email Marketing Changes Due to Pandemic

Another reason for conducting this survey was to gauge how email marketing strategies and engagement have changed, if at all, during the pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many face-to-face meetings and conferences have been canceled or transformed into virtual events. Staying in front of clients and prospects is critical for maintaining relationships for professional services firms. And, email marketing may be one way the pandemic has affected this.

First, we wanted to know if the firms’ email marketing strategy changed during the pandemic. Nearly half of the responses said their email marketing strategy DID NOT change (45%) while 20% indicated that they did increase the amount of email marketing efforts during the pandemic. Interesting is that 23% of the responses were not doing any email marketing before the pandemic and still haven’t started.

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Next, we wanted to gauge the results of the firms’ email marketing efforts during this past year, regardless of any changes to their email marketing strategy. According to the responses of this survey, the majority said that everything has stayed about the same (38%). However, 18% did say that their email engagement has increased.

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What’s Next

This is just a preview of the email marketing trends for professional services firms’ survey results. More results and recommendations will be shared on the June 30, 2021 webinar. During that webinar, Full Sail Partners along with a very special guest will be talking about:

  • Why email marketing is a must-have for professional services firms,
  • What’s working right now for B2B firms,
  • How to get started in email marketing,
  • Resources available from Full Sail Partners and SubjectLine.com

To register for this free webinar, click the image below.

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Common Blunders Made by Marketing Teams

Posted by Full Sail Partners on April 28, 2021

What were they thinking? #SendNoods was a social media marketing campaign launched by Kraft foods in October 2020 to coincide with National Noodle Day to promote its famous macaroni and cheese. Back in 1985, Coca-Cola released a sweeter new formula known as “New Coke” to win back younger customers that switched to Pepsi only to be mocked for sacrificing its own identity. Then in 2010, Gap decided to redesign its beloved and established logo. After what must have been countless hours in meetings and who knows how much money, Gap released its new WordArt inspired logo. It caused a massive backlash from loyal customers and is known as one of the largest rebranding blunders in history. 

 

Whether your company is a big national brand or a small to medium sized business, everyone is prone to having a mishap when executing a marketing campaign. 

 

Perplexed by a blunder

Architecture and engineering firms are no different. Have you heard of the same firm submitting on the same proposal? Or, someone from your firm meeting with the same client the week before and you had no clue? 

 

However, it seems like many of these marketing snafus were avoidable if more due diligence was practiced. Reflecting upon the aforementioned marketing blunders, here are some common areas marketing teams overlook when creating an effective marketing campaign.  

 

Not Really Knowing Your Clients 

 

Thinking you know what your clients like and want can quickly upend any marketing effort before it begins. Because believe it or not, your assumptions are likely wrong. However, you can gain insight into your clients by practicing some due diligence by asking about feedback on previous marketing efforts and having conversations with key decision makers about their experience with your firm. What you thought your firm excelled at might actually be one of its biggest downfalls and this is something you surely do not want to promote as it will lead to future failures.  

 

At A/E firms it’s common to make assumptions about what’s really important to a client for a particular project. Your marketing and business development teams may craft an entire message campaign, including the proposal and presentation, based on those assumptions. What happens if you made the wrong assumption? Getting that feedback directly from the client helps to minimize the risk of making assumptions. 

 

Unclear Messaging 

 

Convincing a consumer to make a purchase is already difficult enough. Adding confusion with misleading or hard to comprehend information is for certain a marketing campaign killer. When creating your core messaging, you need to identify what problem you are solving with your product and how this benefits the end user. Additionally, this needs to be tested and optimized to resonate with your audience in a clear and concise fashion.  

 

Common in our industry is messaging that includes industry jargon and overusing acronyms. To ensure a more effective message, make sure the content can be understood by even those with no technical background. 

 

Using Bad (or No) Data 

 

Today, great marketing efforts are formulated around data. There is so much data out there and your firm probably collects and stores endless amounts of information about your clients, contacts, and projects. However, if your data is poorly organized and maintained, it’s likely old and misleading. In other words, bad data is just as bad if not worse than having no data.  

 

Having a robust CRM system, like Deltek Vantagepoint, will allow you to organize your data, and be able to analyze and find trends you can use to strengthen your marketing efforts. A CRM system also allows you to track what potential projects your firm is pursuing and contact interactions. This helps avoid the embarrassment of multiple people from your firm bidding on the same project! 

 

Testing 123... 

 

Great marketing campaigns are the result of trial and error. Even the brightest of marketing minds will agree that not all great ideas are effective. However, there are things that can be learned by testing that can be incorporated into a strong and impactful marketing campaign. Furthermore, most marketers use a A/B testing which uses two forms of something to learn which is more effective. This testing allows marketers to ensure their messaging resonates with their audience and does not offend anyone. 

 

Failing to Follow RFP Instructions  

 

In the AEC industry, many proposals are crafted with a focus on team qualifications rather than fee. Strong proposals can take countless hours and may never be “perfect.” The hope is that your client will read your proposal and select your team for the work. However, what if it never makes it to the review team?  

 

When a request for proposals is advertised, there are often fine-print details regarding the deliverable, such as font size, spacing, and page limitations. Even one page too many could disqualify your team from the review process. Before you put countless hours into that large, or small, proposal, be sure you read, reread, and understand the submittal details before getting started.   

 

Learning from Past Experiences 

 

Doing the same thing over and over again is considered insanity to many people. Well, if anything, it will probably drive you insane to continue to see the same poor results repeatedly. During the execution of a marketing campaign, it’s important to keep track of what is and isn’t working, and noting lessons learned that can be applied to future marketing efforts.   

 

Noting the results and best practices in a marketing campaign record is easy with Vantagepoint. This way your entire marketing and business development team can access and learn from the past experiences.  

 

Are You Willing to Share?  

 

Have you experienced a marketing blunder at your firm? Or, seen one in the industry? Share your experience in the comments below so we can learn from each other.

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Finding Success in Marketing Efforts with Deltek Vantagepoint

Posted by Amanda Roussel on March 03, 2021

Marketing is a necessary function in business, and AEC firms are no exception. First off, there’s general brand awareness, and then there are the marketing campaigns that firms spend resources on to drive quality leads. Marketing efforts cover a variety of outreach methods such as conferences, sponsorships, golf tournaments, and email campaigns. Can you name the projects awarded to your firm as a result of particular marketing efforts? What campaigns would you consider a success based on the efforts and dollars spent? Let’s see how Deltek Vantagepoint marketing campaigns can help you with your marketing efforts.

Marketing Campaign ROI

Organize Marketing Efforts

For each marketing effort, information can be collected and organized in one place inside a Vantagepoint marketing campaign record. The marketing campaign name, its description, associated promotional project used for budget trackingmarketing campaign manager, and marketing manager are all fields that may be useful to planning efforts.

Beyond the marketing campaign record, organizing a marketing plan in the same system as your CRM allows for efficient associations. With Deltek Vantagepoint, teams can associate resulting projects in pursuit and awarded projects to the marketing campaign that led to that effort. Therefore, you have visibility to:

Measure Costs Against Goals

A Revenue Goal can be identified as you begin the campaign. Other monetary fields are populated based on project information in your system. There are fields for Actual Revenue, which recognizes dollars from awarded projects associated back to the campaign, and Potential Revenue, which recognizes dollars from projects in pursuit. A promotional project can also be created for the marketing campaign to track time and expenses. Using the promotional project number, Actual Costs are populated on the marketing campaign. This gives a quick view of the success of the marketing campaign as it relates to resulting projects.

Build Email Lists or Tally Responses

It’s not always about the dollars. For events in which attendee information should be collected, responses can be tracked using contacts in CRM. The responses, or contact list, can be used to create mailing lists or distribute follow up information.

Stay on Target with Activities

With each marketing campaign comes tasks and to-do lists. Those activities can be managed and tracked in the marketing campaign record. This brings all activities together, whether it’s registering for an event, completing sponsorship information, creating marketing materials, or making reservations. Deltek Vantagepoint allows Activities to be assigned to other employees so the appropriate team members will see their Activities as well.

Measure the Effectiveness

Tying actual revenue to a marketing campaign gives firms the opportunity to measure the effectiveness of various marketing efforts. By doing so, firms can determine which efforts to repeat and which ones to modify or discontinue. One example is conferences. Many dollars can be spent on industry conferences, and we simply cannot attend all. Using marketing campaigns, teams can see the return on effort. These metrics can help prioritize event involvement for future years and be an integral part of strategic marketing and business development plans.

Be Smarter with Vantagepoint

As Deltek users, marketers can take advantage of the marketing campaigns in Vantagepoint and discover which marketing efforts work the best. Based on what these marketing campaigns identify, your firm can strategically plan better. Additionally, by using marketing campaigns in Vantagepoint, the marketing department can easily translate their outreach efforts to a monetary value.

Track Marketing Efforts with Deltek Vantagepoint

The Value of Vantagepoint for Business Development

Posted by Lindsay Diven on December 09, 2020

For professional services firms, business development can be completed both with dedicated resources and/or “seller-doers.” Because our firms have touchpoints with multiple people at our client organizations, information gathering and sharing becomes a critical piece to the success of our business development. When our firms can successfully manage the numerous interactions, identify projects that add to our pipeline, and collect the right information to position our firm better than our competitors, we win more projects, improve client satisfaction, and increase loyalty.

CRM on the go

The abilities of Deltek Vantagepoint CRM can provide business developers, project managers, marketing staff, and executives with real-time information on all of the client touchpoints, project pipelines, marketing and service efforts. This ensures all firm goals are being met and provides for the shared resource of firmwide data. Deltek Vantagepoint’s CRM strengthens your business development in the following ways:

Record Interactions On-the-Fly

The power of a CRM comes when everyone records conversations or information related to interactions with clients and contacts. Vantagepoint CRM provides users several ways to record these Activities and Touchpoints.

  1. Web Brower – You can access Vantagepoint to record a contact interaction from your computer, laptop, tablet or phone using any web browser.
  2. Hey Deltek! – Watch out Alexa, because there’s a new voice command in town! Deltek has developed its very own voice automated service. You can use this now in the web browser and coming soon to the CRM mobile app. Simply record an activity by speaking to Hey Deltek!
  3. Mobile CRM App – The Vantagepoint CRM app is available for both iOS and Android devices. Access all of your Firms, Contacts, Activities, and Projects inside the app. You can use your phone’s native talk to text feature to automatically log activities and meeting notes.
  4. Outlook Connect – Coming in early 2021 is the new Vantagepoint Outlook Connect. This integration includes a contextual email pane to view contact details, search Vantagepoint and create new records from your email. You will also be able to sync your contacts and calendar directly from Outlook to Vantagepoint. Connect also includes a scheduling assistant to help you find the perfect meeting time without all of the back and forth emails.

Vantagepoint makes it easier than ever for busy business development and technical professionals to log the critical information needed to build strong relationships with your clients.

Easily Uncover Client and Contact Relationships

Vantagepoint associates its Hub and Record information throughout the database. There are Hubs for Firms, Contacts, and Projects that are all interconnected. This means that you can associate any firm that is involved in a project – from teaming partners to program managers and general contractors. And, each time a firm is associated to a project, that project then appears on that firm’s record in the Firm Hub. This same association works for contacts and employees as well. It also gives your business development team the insight into the relationships of your firm with your clients, contacts, employees, and projects – all in one location!

Support the Entire Business Development and Project Lifecycle

The business development process often begins with targeting clients, then getting to know contacts at those client organizations. Through this effort, projects are identified. At this point, your team begins preparing for the pursuit of that project through teaming, proposals, and/or presentations. The goal is to win that project and perform so well that you are awarded with repeat work.

Deltek Vantagepoint is designed specifically to support the entire project lifecycle beginning with the earliest business development stages. When you are targeting clients, you will be utilizing the Firms, Contacts, and Marketing Campaigns Hubs. In those you can begin to gather information about contacts and activities.

Then as a project is identified, it’s logged into the Projects Hub in a pursuit stage. You will continue to use this same record through the pursuit and proposal stages. When this project record is created, a plan is also created so your project manager can begin to allocate resources and develop estimates.

When you are awarded the project, you will continue to use that same project record and update the stage and budget. All of the intelligence gathered in the pursuit of the project remains in the same project record you will continue to use to perform the project. This gives your business development and marketing staff the complete picture and history for that entire project.

Bring Everything and Everyone Together

Not only does the Vantagepoint solution encourage a collaborative environment, but it brings all your firm’s business development processes into one unified platform. This enables business developers to do their jobs better. Be sure to check out our entire Deltek Vantagepoint mini-series to see how the product can help your employees and firm.

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Focus on the Future with Sales Forecasting

Posted by Lindsay Diven on October 21, 2020

Forecasting

Are you simply betting that your future will be bright? Or are you using your data to plan for tomorrow? As my data-loving, gal-pal, Stacey Ho, CPSM, puts it: “Forecasting is a little bit of science, and a little bit of crystal ball.” In this blog, I’ll share what forecasting can tell you, and how to get started today using anything from Excel to a major ERP finance software system. Your firm, no matter what size, can take small steps to plan for a bright future.

What is forecasting?

Forecasting is a way to use your pipeline to demonstrate potential future sales. It helps your firm make smarter decisions or know when to course correct. Forecasting can tell you if you need to identify more work, improve your hit hate, recognize “must-win” opportunities, or even when to hire more staff.

Get Started with Forecasting

To get started with forecasting, you will need to set yourself up for success. This is done through aligning the right people, process, data, and technology:

PeopleYou will first want to have a good understanding of who is responsible for data collection, maintenance, input, etc. and who will be gathering and reporting on the data. Consider who has both the knowledge and the time to put the forecast together. Lastly, make sure you have buy-in from your firm leadership.

ProcessOnce you have the people identified, it is time to start working on the process. This includes setting sales goals for your firm, so you have them to compare the forecast to and which can be developed using a top-down or bottom-up approach. You will also want to determine the frequency in which you report the forecast and how often you will update it. The frequency can be weekly, monthly or quarterly. I recommend beginning with quarterly and eventually increasing to monthly for firms just starting to forecast, Additionally, you will need to decide how far out into the future your forecast goes. The two most common forecasts are the current calendar or fiscal year and a rolling 12-month report.

DataTo build your forecast you need data. This includes dates, dollars, and status. I will go into more detail regarding the minimum data you need to build a forecast in just a bit.

TechnologyOnce you have identified people, process, and data, you will have a pretty good idea of what type of technology is needed. CRM systems, like Deltek Vision and Vantagepoint, are developed specifically to make reporting forecasts seamless and automated. Once the information is entered into the system, you can build reports or dashboards easily, segment the data by office or market, and schedule the reports to be delivered automatically.

What are the Minimum Pieces of Information for Effective Forecasting?

Since a forecast is predicting your sales into the future, there are some minimum pieces of information you need to record to develop a forecast report. Those pieces of information are:

  • Opportunity or Potential Project Name – The report is a cumulation of all your future potential projects. So, ideally every opportunity or potential project would be entered into your CRM system.
  • Anticipated Fee – In order to forecast expected sales, you will need at least an estimate of anticipated fee for each opportunity.
  • Date – This can be a date for when you expect the contract, when the proposal is due, or when you expect to begin work on the project. Again, because the forecast is based on a date range, you need to input some date to base the report on. I would recommend capturing a contract or expected start date. No matter what type of date field you choose, be sure to enter and update that data field consistently among all your opportunities.

There are some other data fields that will make your forecast reports even better:

  • Probability – Chances are you are not going to win every opportunity you pursue, so I like to apply a probability to each opportunity. This probability is the likelihood your firm will win the opportunity.
  • Weighted Fee – Weighted fee is what you get when you multiply the estimated fee by the probability. When you calculate this, and use the weighted fee in your forecast, it is more conservative than just using the estimated fee. Sometimes, this gives you a better idea of what your sales will be.
  • Office or Market Segments – I like to develop my forecast reports around the same segments as the other financial reports my firm does. So, if your firm reports P&L around offices, divisions, or studios, then you can set up your forecast reports the same.

Maintaining the Forecast

Now that you have set up your initial forecast report, make sure you maintain it on whatever frequency you decided above. Maintenance encompasses:

  • Data Auditing – This includes routine data updates such as updating the contract or estimated start dates, updating estimated fees, and probabilities.
  • Actualizing – Data actualizing happens when you turn the opportunity into a sale. This involves marking opportunities as wins or losses, updating the estimated fee to the actual final negotiated contract amount, and changing wins to 100% probability if you are using a weighted fee.

How to Use Your Forecasts

While forecasting can tell your firm if it will meet its goals, there are some other uses of sales forecasting. In my experience, forecasts have been used to:

  • Identify your top 10 or “must-win” projects that will allow you to meet or beat your goals
  • Know where your future work is coming from, specifically what clients or markets
  • Understand how increasing your probability (chances of winning) can affect your entire forecast
  • Develop estimated plans of efforts for all your potential projects and combine those with your contracted backlog effort. You can assign resources (named or generic) and see how utilized your teams are.

Get a Clear Picture of the Future

Stop guessing what the future will look like for your firm by developing a sales forecast. With some minimum information that is tracked in a CRM like Deltek Vision or Vantagepoint, you can easily build a forecast report that will give your firm a clear picture of the future. Ready to get started?

Deltek Vantagepoint Visuals

Marketing Plays Well with Others

Posted by Amanda Roussel on October 07, 2020

Marketing can integrate

Those in marketing for professional services have a level of knowledge they had to build, likely for a field they did not pursue, and use that knowledge of services to build a brand. In doing so, marketers paint a picture of the firm that they promote. Usually marketing professionals find themselves helping many departments throughout the firm. Not only is collateral client-facing, but marketers often have a responsibility to market to the firm internally. Over the years, I have found many marketers to be integrators in a firm so let’s check out how marketing plays well with others:

Know the Brand

The brand is more than the firm’s identity and reputation. According to an SMPS article, “…strong branding is viewed through three lenses: overall firm branding, personal branding, and employer branding. All three are crucial to a strong brand foundation—and all three are connected in important ways that contribute directly to your firm’s success.”

Marketing has the fun responsibility of viewing the firm with a broader lens and shining the best light on firm strengths. As marketers believe in the services the firm can provide, they can use various channels to get the right message to the right audience. Therefore, knowing internal teams is just as integral as knowing clients.

A lot can change in a firm, whether it be people, services, or goals, and marketers need to be in the know of company happenings to properly communicate the appropriate message. After all, the only constant is change. Marketers find themselves having to be very flexible with messaging as well as keeping up with the dynamic structure of the firm.

Master the Service Lineup

Professional services firms typically have printed material, a digital footprint, and many proposals created for specific clients. Marketers must have knowledge of the firm’s services and a strong bond with technical staff to collaborate and create content. While a majority of technical staff has vast knowledge of what services its group offers, it’s important to educate everyone on all of the firm’s offerings, even if at a very high level. This can lead to more aware project managers as well as cross selling. All marketers should take advantage of education opportunities.

Knowing that many marketers have a great understanding of the firm’s services, they can become integrators within the firm, matching up employees that can benefit from bigger discussions. Collaborations do not stop with technical departments.

Recruit Like a Pro

Great minds come together for the greater good when human resources and marketing collaborate. Recruiting can be quite time-consuming; however, attracting top talent can tighten the candidate funnel. Pulling together human resources’ knowledge, the firm’s brand, and creatively crafting the right message can yield strong new recruits for consideration.

To that note, a firm’s digital footprint can play a huge role in a candidate’s interest. Using social media as a recruiting strategy can have phenomenal results. According to harver.com, 92% of recruiters use social media in their efforts. It is a way to engage passive candidates and employees, make connections, and share quality content.

Naturally, recruits or potential candidates google the firm and can be quick to judge on initial findings. It is imperative that a firm’s brand stand out on social media, such as LinkedIn, and on the firm’s website and network.

Set Standards from the Start

After an offer is accepted, it is also beneficial to include marketing in onboarding efforts to educate the new hire on the following, at a minimum:

  • Branding guidelines (colors, logos, firm names, and more)
  • Branded swag
  • Proposal resume building
  • Email signature
  • Collateral that covers all firm services

As marketers share branding guidelines and set brand expectations from the start, new hires are immediately in the know when it comes to firm resources that are client-facing.

Own that Hat Closet

Marketers may notice that they wear many hats as time passes at a professional services firm. Each hat will give different insight into the firm and potentially challenge the “norm.” There are conversations with all roles of the firm, from C-suite to staff level. All of these collaborations help build the firm’s message that is distributed through email campaigns, mailers, proposals, onboarding, and both digital and social content. With each hat that is worn, many areas are weaved together for a more cohesive firm and a stronger brand.  

Talent Management