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Sept. '05 Build Business: Marketing from the Inside Out

by KeriLyn Hammond, CPSM, MARKETLINK
September 7, 2005

Editor’s note: As a monthly contributor to, the Society for Marketing Professional Services is sponsoring Build Business. This series, written by industry experts, focuses on marketing and business development best practices to help you build business and advance your career.


I remember when, as a newly promoted marketing manager, I was asked to educate the technical staff members of my firm about marketing professional services. I worried for weeks that I was going to disappoint the principals of the office who had entrusted me with the training necessary to expand the firm’s army of rainmakers. However, once engaged in the training session, I realized that the technical staff, including seasoned project managers, was grateful for every ounce of wisdom and enthusiasm I was able to offer. They had not been formally educated in marketing while studying physics and structures. Yet, every firm is now relying on these individuals to move marketing efforts forward in order to keep the doors open.


From this experience, I realized that marketing professionals have the ability – and the responsibility – to assist management with accomplishing strategic marketing directives. This task, known as internal marketing, is defined by the Principles of Marketing as what service firms do to train and motivate client-contact employees and support staff to work as a team to ensure client satisfaction. In short, internal marketing focuses on the people inside the firm.


One key element of this task is to create a training program focused on educating and gathering information from all staff members. If given the right marketing tools, technical staff can be invaluable in assisting the firm with strategic planning. Consider the following ideas for establishing your training program:


  • Schedule a monthly marketing hour for all employees. Usually breakfast or a brown bag lunch (supplied by the firm or bring-your-own) is effective. The most important factor is that the meeting is held consistently.


A branch office of a large firm I know found this very effective on a project manager/director level. It started informally (as a gripe session) but turned into a regular lunch event once the sessions turned from complaining to solutions to client and project challenges. They learned they all experienced similar challenges, and a solution that worked for one was often of benefit to another. But to have this happen takes communication and to facilitate that, a regular time needs to be established.


  • Invite the entire firm. This effort will boost marketing enthusiasm and create a “marketing mentality” within the firm. It fosters training and motivation of employees – principally those with client contact, but for administrative staff as well. Receptionists are important marketers – they are the first line of contact with clients. The more they know and understand what the firm does and who they do it for, the more they’ll pay attention in providing excellent service for clients who call, and watch for project opportunities in their community.


  • Promote your training program when recruiting. Marketing internally gives your firm the competitive edge when seeking good employees who are becoming increasingly harder to find in the highly skilled technical and professional fields of the design and construction industry. Many of your new employees can share with you what the training programs were like at their previous firms to help create and promote your training program.


  • Brainstorm topics with firm members. In order to create a program that will truly train and motivate staff members, involve them in the process. This could be the topic of your first marketing training sessions. The firm mentioned above never uses a pre-selected topic. Everyone comes with their own “issue of the day” to discuss and the conversation goes from there.


Ideas may include:

·        Presentations

·        Verbal communications

·        Non-verbal communications such as posture and gestures

·        Technical or proposal writing

·        Negotiating or conflict resolution

·        Project initiation and maintenance

·        Client contact

·        Leadership development

·        Motivation

·        Time management

·        Team building

·        Listening

·        Personal image and attire

·        Consensus building

·        Effective communications

·        Contracts and legal administration

·        Closing strategies


  • Include marketing training as part of job requirements. If staff members realize that marketing is part of their job description, and the office has provided a forum for them to be educated, they will jump on the marketing bandwagon. Many of them want to market, but they just don’t know how. Also knowing it is part of their yearly evaluation will boost interest.


  • Establish a firm training library. A small civil engineering firm in Salt Lake City has established a “credit” program for education advancement. The firm requires every employee to earn a particular amount of “credits” each year from their educational library (books, manuals, DVD/VHS, newsletters, etc.) and training sessions.


  • Utilize training as an opportunity to prepare for your annual strategic planning retreat. Schedule some of the training sessions as an opportunity to gather valuable information that can be used in your strategic planning process. Brainstorming topics may include:


o       Understanding the competition and your positioning strategy for each

o       Evaluating the firm’s strengths and weaknesses in various areas such as: marketing strategy, market research, business development, client relations, public relations, web site, proposals, presentations, etc.

o       Developing a list of marketing tasks for each position in the firm – include marketing and billable percentages assigned to each

o       Reviewing lists of past clients that need to be included in a firm client relations program

o       Reviewing project cut sheets – rewrite to include client benefit statements.


There are many advantages for firms to address their internal marketing efforts. The net result is that not only the employees increase their knowledge and marketing performance, but also the firm increases its army of rainmakers.



KeriLyn Hammond, CPSM, is a partner in MARKETLINK, a marketing consulting firm with offices in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Sacramento, California. The company specializes in helping A/E/C firms develop long-term relationships with clients by conducting Client Perception Surveys, Business Development Activities, Strategic Planning, Public Relations, and Marketing Training Seminars for both marketing and technical staff.


The Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) was created in 1973 by a small group of professional services firm leaders who recognized the need to sharpen skills, pool resources, and work together to create business opportunities. Today, the association has 50 active chapters and a membership of 5,500 marketing and business development professionals representing design, building, and related firms.

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© 2005