Be Your Own Captain…Man The Plank

How many times have you been knee-deep in a proposal and had 3-4 fellow colleagues standing in line clamoring for marketing materials to take to some new business development initiative? Sound familiar. If you are anything like me, when I am in proposal mode…my only response is to LEAVE ME BE! I have had others tell me to close the door (if I had one) or put up a sign stating that I was unavailable until after the proposal deadline. Yeah…as if that really worked. Most of them would walk up, laugh and proceed to interrupt. “Just two seconds…” they would say. Thirty minutes later I am stuck trying to regain my train of thought I had before I was so rudely interrupted.

Marketing professionals (AEC especially) are the only individuals that do not have a personal life. Not only do we have the day-to-day 8 to 5 job, but we also have the after and before hour networking events, tradeshows and special promo events. Personal life? What’s that?

Anyway, off the soapbox! As promised in my last blog, I will be blogging on how to incorporate internal marketing systems to allow those troublesome colleagues the ability to help themselves to marketing materials when needed. My last marketing position was for a large international construction management firm. I was responsible for all internal and external marketing needs in a multi-county area covering the upper two-thirds of the State of Florida, from the Okeechobee line to the Florida/Georgia border. When was originally hired, I had another coordinator to help with the workload, but the recession nixed that early on. I was putting out on average 1.2 proposals per week, on top of my other responsibilities, which included, shortlist presentations, miscellaneous tradeshows, regional marketing collateral, new project photography, etc. The list DOES go on and on. Talking with fellow peers within the industry, I am finding that more and more are in the same position. Too much work…not enough hours in the day.

The economic situation is forcing more and more firms to enlist the entire organization in business development efforts. Field personnel and technicians are now hitting the pavement to drum up new business. With that comes an increased demand for the marketing tools necessary to effectively pursue new work.

What I have successfully done in the past is to work closely with my IT group to set up a separate internal server or dedicated space on an existing server that is reserved to uploading PDF versions of the various marketing tools needed for Business Development efforts.

The server would be formatted and organized for easy access company-wide and easily maneuvered. The basic tools that were available included project cut sheets, resumes, firm and industry specific write-ups, case studies, reprints of articles and anything else that could be utilized for introductory qualification packages to a potential prospect. Server functionality can be further simplified with drop down menus, front-end screens, etc. depending on the capability of the IT department.

I also found it extremely useful to upload small or med JPG images of project photos and staff headshots. Anything that be needed to pursue new work. I would also preorder labeled section tabs and specific industry qualification covers and file them in an area of easy access, like the marketing lay down area.

What I found by doing this is that 60% of the unplanned interruptions that I encountered in a normal business week diminished, freeing me up to concentrate on proposals or the other marketing responsibilities. There are only two things to keep in mind when establishing a program like this. First, make sure the server is set up as a “Read Only” server. This way the “user” can only download files and cannot upload or save to the server. Secondly, anything that is uploaded to this server needs to be monitored and updated regularly to make sure the information is kept current.

So next time you are pulling your hair out and ready to throw in the towel, remember that your are … captain of your own ship…creator of your own destiny…you control the wheel… OK, that’s enough, you get the picture.

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