What does marketing strategy look like at your company? 

Too often, when I ask this question, the answer is hesitant, “Um, what do you mean?”

Or, sometimes I hear about the onslaught of proposal requests, keeping pace with deadlines, updating project pages and re-branding resumes and cover designs.

RFP/RFQ responses are reactive marketing and, while this is a critical marketing function, it is only half of the equation.

What about the other half? 

Proactive marketing – the put-yourself-out-there-in-the-marketplace-kinda marketing – positions and differentiates and, ultimately, generates the fertile ground upon which your business development efforts can take root to grow your business.  

If you’re ready to move beyond reactive marketing and get in the driver’s seat with your business, answer these three questions and you will begin to create the foundation for a solid, proactive marketing strategy (in fact, it will help your reactive marketing too!). 

1. Who are you?

If you’re thinking things like “client-centered,” “high-quality service” and “leading edge design” you need to think again. 

We’ve all heard vagaries like these too many times. In effect, they’ve lost all meaning and it’s likely that your target client won’t even hear them.

The call to action with this question is DIG DEEPER.

Begin to define your firm in terms of what really matters in your work. What do you stand for? What is your vision? Does your firm’s culture, staff and processes reflect your values? Does the staff know and share in the vision?

Everyone in your company has the power to attract (or repel) a current or potential client. Do you trust that staff is able to effectively represent the firm or do you feel compelled to attend every meeting?

If you answered yes to this last question, you’re marketing strategy isn’t working for you. 

2. Who is your client? 

No. It is not potentially anyone. Never. 

Impactful (i.e. useful) marketing requires that there be a target – you need to be able to aim the arrow at a specific “ideal client,” the one who allows your firm to do it’s BEST work. 

You can begin to define your ideal client in terms of demographics depending on what you do; however, you will definitely need to understand them psychographically.

What are the values, desires, needs and fears that surround the project with which you hope to help them? Studies tell us that decision making is emotional so understanding how your client feels is critical to impacting their choice to work with you…or not. 

3. How are you different? 

Very few businesses operate in a vacuum. Most of us have competitors and some of us have a lot of them depending on how we define our work and our vision. Who are your top competitors and why?

Again, vague generalizations will not serve you here. A well-defined vision (see Question #1) brings boundaries to your competitive landscape. Why consider hundreds of competitors when you really only have a handful? 

Ask yourself: What is our specialty? Is it a type of project? A type of client? Your philosophy or process? 

Beginning to understand where, how and for whom you do your best work will refine your competitive landscape, eliminating those on the periphery who, really, aren’t even playing the same game you are. This allows you to focus on key competitors, noticing how they are positioning themselves, which will help to reveal opportunities for your firm to truly differentiate and SHINE.

Developing a marketing strategy is very much like any design process in that it requires fluency in vision and objectives, client needs and desires and a keen understanding of the landscape challenges and opportunities. 

Ready to get proactive with your marketing strategy? I have a process that can help. Let’s talk

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