Session 2: Marketing and Business Development

Date: November 07, 2014
Location: RTKL
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Scott Cryer, AIA, LEED AP BD+C & Joshua Hill, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Session 2 PDF


The second session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was held at the offices of RTKL on Friday, November 7. Scott Cryer and Joshua Hill led the session on marketing and business development, which featured segments on how buyers are buying, how to successfully pursue project opportunities, and understanding the benefits of becoming a “visible expert” in the field of architecture.

session 2_1Sylvia Montgomery of Hinge Marketing kicked off the session with a presentation entitled, “How Buyers are Buying.” Based on research compiled and synthesized just last year, Sylvia discussed the revolution and change in how people, or buyers, find information that lead to buying a service. Her company’s findings noted that traditional networking of friends and colleagues is still a huge part of marketing, but a company’s digital presence is just as important to the effort of attracting and bringing in clients. Buyers/clients of professional services like A/E/C are now going online to find the information they need, such as the philosophy, focus, expertise and product samples of a company. Sylvia also noted that unlike marketing of the past, a brand’s strength is established by having more than merely a solid reputation; a company must have visibility as well to be successful. A buyer is looking for a company that they can trust. This trust is established through effective marketing and communication with the buyer whether it is in person, online, through writings or through speaking engagements.  Marketing is the single most important function in the modern A/E/C services for the simple fact that if nothing is sold, nothing can happen.

session 2_2In the second session entitled, “The Ins and Outs of Marketing Pursuits”, Amy Adye, the Marketing Manager at Smith Group JJR, discussed the marketing steps required in the successful pursuit of a project. Amy reviewed the steps needed to put together a project proposal and prepare for the client  interview. Ideally taking two weeks, the timeline for preparing a proposal includes: 1) Go / No Go Decisions – remembering you do not need to pursue every RFP; 2) Kick-off Meeting – establishing a strategy to win; 3) Breakout Groups – creating tailored content; 4) Quality Control – making edits and asking questions; 5) The Final Edit – catching errors in content and formatting; and 6) Production & Delivery – creating a high quality proposal delivered on time. Amy also reviewed the importance of a proposal cover letter by critiquing cover letters that each scholar prepared earlier in the week. In the last segment of this session, Amy laid out the steps needed to prepare for a successful interview with the client that include: 1) Alignment – understanding the RFP, interviewer and possible questions; 2) Strategy – evaluating previous established strategy and selecting speakers; 3) Choreography – a “stumble through” dry-run establishing content and brainstorming possible questions; 4) Rehearsal – the final run through, establishing of blocking for the interview and logistics for the interview day. Overall, Amy emphasized that the key to winning work is establishing a connection with the client as soon as possible and having the client see you as a value throughout all steps of your project pursuit.

session 2_3In the afternoon breakout session, Laura Ewan, Firmwide Communications at RTKL, led the group on a tour of the RTKL offices pointing out how the workplace environment affects and is affected by marketing strategies. Laura pointed out that the RTKL offices are showplaces for the firm’s work and philosophy; from the sustainable pamphlet provided to all visitors, to the internally designed office spaces, to the rotating gallery space of employees’ personal artwork. The office also has flexible event space that is used for both internal and external functions, thus continuing to strengthen their relationships with other companies by providing use of their event space.

session 2_4Following the RTKL office tour, Alison Carney, the Director of Business Development at Balfour Beatty Construction, led a roundtable panel discussion entitled, “Cultivating Your Personal Network”. The panel included: Robert (Bob) Fox, Principal-in-Charge at Fox Architects; R. William Hard, Executive Vice President and Principal at LCOR; and Michelle Monnett, Associate Vice President of Business Development at RTKL. The panel began by defining a network as a fabric of personal contacts that provide support, resources, input and feedback. The panel made clear that to be leaders, relationships are as important as technical skills. Through a 3-minute breakout activity, the moderator made the point that networking is about sharing life and relationships while enjoying the process. In a few key points, a network:

  1. Should be made up of trustworthy people that tell the truth whether one likes it or not.
  2. Should be made up of a diverse group of professionals and viewpoints.
  3. Should not be about generating business opportunities, but instead be concerned with creating genuine relationships.

Some insight the panel members related to the scholars were following: to broaden their organizational involvement, start networking now while early in their careers, follow up if given networking contacts, keep track of important conversational notes by way of a well organized address book, pick one or two committees and be as involved as possible, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to ask for advice (even from someone you have never met), and ask to go to seminars and then offer to share what you’ve learned. Overall the theme of the panel was that networking is not about what one can gain, but instead how one can be sincerely and genuinely helpful to others and build lasting relationships.

session 2_5To conclude the afternoon, Sylvia Montgomery of Hinge Marketing gave a closing presentation on “Becoming a Visible Expert”. Sylvia described how visible experts are able to leverage their status in order to provide significant growth and profit opportunities for their respective firms. She explained how marketing and business development are about sharing and educating. Scholars were made aware of tools and techniques for building their reputations and ascending to prominence.

Sylvia noted that a great strength of the visible expert is “the halo effect”, when the expert pulls up the notoriety of the entire firm. She noted that a visible expert explains complicated things easily, attracts strong partners and makes talent recruitment for the firm easier. In beginning the path to visible expertise, Sylvia suggested that the scholars should take their unique point of view and share their own experiences. She suggested finding something one is passionate about and finding one’s voice in that area. Sylvia advised that by choosing a narrow niche, scholars would be able to grow in notoriety more quickly in order to ascend a level in visible expertise. After gaining this platform, scholars could broaden their scope more easily. Lastly, Sylvia encouraged scholars to take advantage of the changing media landscape now while there is a chance to easily have an edge in the market, which would allow for greater influence in the years to come.