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How a Marketer Can Launch a BD Culture in a Firm that Doesn’t Have One

Five years ago, three unrelated things happened for my firm that created an opportunity I didn’t see coming:

  1.  My company changed its name. (Marketing logistics heaven.)
  2. We upgraded our CRM (client relationship management) system.
  3.  I took the CPSM exam.

The thing about studying for the CPSM exam is that the material quickly exposes where the gaps in your skillset are. For me, there was a gaping hole in business development (and another one in market research, but that is not what this article is about). 

Prior to studying for the CPSM exam, I knew nothing about BD. In fact, it seemed to be the exclusive domain of those polished people who are never at a loss for words. But in the recommended reading, there was a book called Rainmaking by Ford Harding. This book demystified the process. It was an amazing resource that didn’t just talk about the “what” but it explained the “how.” Suddenly BD processes felt like something that could be developed. You didn’t have to be born with a gift for saying the right thing every single time.

Exposing the need

Our new CRM system’s capacity to visualize data revealed something we knew anecdotally, but could now see in stark graphs and charts:  Our firm was completely reliant on two rainmaking principals for new work.

It looked something like this:

So what was going to happen to our firm if anything happened to one of the principals? What if one of them wanted to retire someday (or, quite frankly, just take a vacation)?

Something had to change.

Armed with the chart above, I began to tell this story to our senior leadership. Each of the blue bars represented a person on our team who had sold something. We either needed to hire a BD professional or become way better at being seller-doers.

Everyone could see the problem, but there was pushback….

Barriers to making the change

  1. I don’t want to become THAT salesperson. Bad salespeople have created a bad image, and the minute we started talking about sales, there was an immediate revulsion to that image. No one wanted to become the kinds of salespeople we encountered each week that accosted us on tradeshow floors or swung by unannounced to our office (or who overly said, “I get you.”).

  2. I’m not an extrovert. Most identify “business development” with “extroverted.”  We are a firm of consulting engineers. Introverts are the norm. No one on the team felt like they had a “business development” personality.

  3. How do I fit this into my workday--which is already overflowing? Professionals in the AEC industry know that there are few 40-hour work weeks. How is a person who spends so much time in their craft supposed to take on what feels like the super-human task of selling?


Working on a mindshift

We purchased eight copies of Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human. The beautiful thing about this book is that it takes on the old stereotypes and presents a more relational view of selling. It puts to rest the annoying ABC (always be closing), and focuses on attunement, buoyancy, and clarity.

In short, Dan Pink talks about selling for the rest of us. Those of us who are normal people with normal professions.

Best of all, it's a quick read--most of our team finished it in a plane ride.

We also hired a skilled business developer--Lea Kaltenbach--to come in and talk with our team. She started the session asking what people wanted to know about BD. Our team was transparent. We didn’t know anything. We asked about everything.

She scribbled the questions on a flip chart and went through them one by one. There was no magic to business development. It was about relationships. It was about helping people. It was about putting some structure into reminding yourself to connect, because in the fast-paced design world months could whizz past like days.


The AA for BD meeting

The leadership team left that session feeling like we knew what to do--and we knew that we needed to do it--but there was a big learning curve. We decided we would learn it together.

We set up a weekly meeting which we tagged the “AA for BD” meeting because it felt more like a support group than an actual business meeting. The rules of the meeting were simple:

  1. You can only talk about relationships in the meeting--no leads or proposals. Business comes through people, not paper.
  2. Share who you are going to reach out to this week.
  3. Share how it went when you reached out last week.

We focused on reaching out with real value. Tim Sanders in his book, Love is the Killer App focuses on success in business being tied to your ability to share knowledge, your network, and compassion. It was a good template.

The weekly accountability meant we actually put ourselves out there. It’s easy to just set up comfortable meetings with people you know and never try to build new relationships. But when you are sitting in a room of your peers talking about it, that kind of stuff doesn’t fly. Someone is bound to notice. Plus, when everyone else is stretching out of their comfort zone, you have to also.


Building a culture of business development works

The results were surprising. We grew 24% in new work the first year we implemented this.

Full transparency -- we went backwards the next year because we all became so busy doing the work we had won that we dropped off on the BD plan. It made us change the way we do work in order to free up people to have more time for BD efforts. We got back on track the next year.

Remember the graph that sparked this?  Here’s how it compares to last year. Keep in mind that each of the blue bars are people. Look at the shift.

Want to know what’s crazy? One of our VP’s moved from his spot as the 8th bar on the chart to the first bar. He sold more than the person in the first position--who also increased their sales.


Coaching young people on your team

One of my favorite things to do is to encourage the young people on our team to start building their networks now.  

Our firm pays for their memberships in client organizations. We have a budget for them to take people to lunch to get to know them. We teach people to use LinkedIn as a tool to stay connected to their professional network. After all, it’s the only place that everyone they’ve ever met professionally shows up with all of their current information.  

Rana Severs, who I met through SMPS, taught me the concept of zippering -- if people on your team build relationships with their peers, then there are strong links between firms at all levels of the client firm which means the connection isn’t easily broken. Too often the link to a client is a single person to a single person--which means when someone retires or leaves, the relationship with the client is over.

It’s easy for entry-level people on a team to feel like their professional relationships don’t matter. Teaching them where these relationships can go over time encourages them to invest and to see their network as a valuable part of their career.


What I learned about the power of marketing in business development

While some firms might see sales and marketing as the same thing, business development professionals and marketers know the difference.

BD professionals are able to coach and train seller-doers using the skills they leverage daily, but as a marketer, you aren’t off the hook. As it turns out, you can market a “business development culture” to the rest of your team.

You have the tools to communicate the need, to bring in training, to share the books, and to provide the support needed for people to make the shift.

For my team, it changed our culture--and created a sustainable path for business going forward. 

 

Cathy Hutchison, CPSM, is a Vice President and Director of Marketing with Idibri--a firm that provides acoustics, technology design, and theatre planning for the spaces where people come together to share an experience. Cathy joined the team that became Idibri in 1996 and wishes she had discovered SMPS earlier in her career. She became a CPSM in 2015. In her spare time she teaches people to sketchnote over at yourvisualjournal.com

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Beating the Work From Home (WFH) Blues

Surprisingly this is not my first WFH stint. Several years ago, I experienced a major softball injury which left me to work from home for nine months (hoping this time won’t be that long). This leads me to bring you some tips and tricks I picked up along the way.

Step #1 – Don’t work where you sleep

In the beginning, I worked straight from my bed, which in turn really brought down my mood. Finding a dedicated area to work is essential to your attitude and overall productivity. If you live in a studio apartment or live with roommates, you’re probably saying, “I have no choice.” This is not true! You can find a table to put in your room or talk with your roommates and find a dedicated open space where you can use headphones. Just stay out of your bed. I also highly recommend a space by a window. With the nice weather approaching, you can open the window and enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of your workspace. This will definitely improve your mental state.

Step #2 – Be workday ready

It’s so easy for us to stay in our PJs all day. You really need to get ready for your day as if you were going to work. For the ladies, I’m not saying you need to do full hair and make-up, but we all need to get cleaned up and change our clothes. Again, this will help with attitude.

Step #3 – Be mobile around your home

Most of us work on laptops with Wi-Fi connections. Be mobile as to where you can do your work. For example, I have my desk set up for all the regular day-to-day and deadline driven activities. But when it comes time for me to read a RFQ/RFP or provide a document review, I’ll unplug my laptop and either move to the couch or out on my patio. This way I haven’t been situated in the same seat stagnant all day.

Step #4 – Connect with your co-workers

Try not to rely on email or instant message. I am still definitely working on this. It’s so easy to get in this mode of communication. At a minimum, try to have a few phone calls in one day. This can be work-related or even casual. I have found it to be helpful just to call my co-workers and see how they’re doing, or to tell them I need some adult interaction. One thing we’ve implemented at my firm is virtual happy hours. This was extremely beneficial to everyone involved. It’s just nice to hear other humans laughing and smiling during times like this.

Step #5 – Managing family vs. work

For those that are responsible for small humans, such as myself, not only are we trying to balance the new normal of WFH, but also managing parenting, home schooling, and our children’s cabin fever. The younger they are the harder it is. It’s OK to have a non-traditional work schedule.

Option 1) Work out a schedule for whoever you co-parent with. Also, talk to you kids if they are old enough to understand. My youngest is seven and I have found when I’m honest with him (even when he was five or so) and let him know that at a certain time after a call or specifically 10:37AM I can take some time to play with him, he understands.

Option 2) Schedule your kids’ day with activities. If they are not in remote schooling, make a schedule that includes reading or math (workbooks) or utilize some of the free web-based platforms that have been offering free educational activities such as Disney, NASA, and others. I recommend setting them up a makeshift workspace next to yours.

Option 3) My family has a scheduled time of the workday that we take a break. For example, during lunch we don’t just make food, we go throw the ball outside for 10-15 minutes. At 5:00PM we take our dog (yes, this is my little Frenchie, Sheldon) for a walk together. We also will do a family activity (i.e. movie, board game, etc.) each night.

Step #6 – Mental and physical health

I have found that I am looking at this time as a reset for everything I said I’d do at New Year’s that I didn’t do. I start the day stretching (by all means this is NOT exercise). We need to keep physically moving- it impacts us mentally more than we think. Sometimes, when NOBODY is paying attention in my house, I’ll have my Airpods in and rock out to music and stand up and have a little dance party. I typically feel so much better afterwards.

Step #7 – Make a personal professional goals list
I found this extremely helpful. Not going to lie though, I do need to practice what I preach here (uh….study for CPSM…). I have found that utilizing this time to figure out improvements to process or efficiency is extremely valuable. It’s also a good time to evaluate how to help some of your other co-workers and yourself keep busy. For example, since most people here are marketers, create a process and have administrative staff handle resume and representative project sheet updates. Let them help you clean up your network. Think of the things you wish you had time to do but had no time for because due dates are normally swishing by.

Step #8 – FUN

You need this just as much as your co-workers. Besides virtual happy hours, think of other fun things that can bring your teams together. The following are a few ideas that have been generated for my firm:

  • Office Fun Days: Friday Hawaiian Shirt Day, Crazy Hat or Sock Day, challenge other offices.
  • Clubs: Books, tv shows, sharing ideas for kid activities, home health, etc.
  • Professional Team Support Days: March Madness (college-wear days where you could ask them to support based on the different “regions” of March Madness), start of the baseball season.
  • Tell me Something Good Days: Similar to a radio show in Los Angeles.

Other helpful tips

  • Microsoft Teams for team collaboration
  • Video Chats/Group Meetings

Any idea at this point that you think can help morale is a good idea. We as marketers need to lead the way and help people through this time. This is really where our out-of-the-box creative ideas can be critical to the long-term success of our firms. The impact we have directly affects business productivity and collaboration, staff retention/recruitment, and so much more.

Brandi Barr
T.Y. Lin International | Associate Vice President, West Region Marketing Manager
2019-2020 SMPS Arizona Chapter Immediate Past President

Brandi holds a BA in Communication from Arizona State University and has 20 years of AEC marketing professional services experience. For the past 11 years, she has worked for T.Y. Lin International. She has also been recognized by the SMPS, Arizona Chapter as the recipient of three Marketing Communications Awards: Best Proposal (2014), Marketer of the Year (2015), and most recently Best Project Pursuit (2016). Her favorite thing to do is hang out with her husband, three kiddos, and French bulldog. To find her outside of work, check her daughter’s dance studio, son’s soccer or baseball/basketball/swimming practices, or watching sports (probably checking on her fantasy football teams).

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Five Tips for Passing the New CPSM Exam

Oh good, another “Top Things” article! Well, hopefully this one includes tips for something that you’ve been eyeballing for a while – the Certified Professional Services Marketer credentials! 

As someone who successfully passed the “new” CPSM exam, my hope is to lend some confidence and insight to those with the CPSM certification on their radar for the near future. My personal experience included everything that is entailed in this article, followed by the ultimate curveball before test day – “We’ve completely overhauled the CPSM exam with new and exciting questions!”

I thought to myself, “All good, we got this, right?”  Well, those “automatic” questions that were supposed to be a “gimme” were totally out the window. Thankfully, I had studied for conceptual understanding and attended the CPSM bootcamp. The ultimate tip: understand the underlying principles. If you learn the principles and not just the surface information, you’ll be able to cross that finish line and throw some confetti after that name of yours!

Luckily, you can avoid this pitfall by downloading this nifty new study guide that is tailored to the CPSM exam content. Download that now while you’re at it, so you’re ahead of the game.

Now, on to the real tips…

Disclaimer: This article does not include any magic potions, crafty shortcuts, or brilliant algorithms that will take the test for you. You will still have to put in the work! Fret not, my friends – the juice is worth the squeeze.

1. Decide To Certify!
The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, or a single click in this scenario. This is an important one, folks. Deciding to register and confirming your game plan with some personal goals and firm milestones will put the whole process in motion. If you’re serious, register for the exam ASAP (let’s not jump the gun. First, go ahead and confirm that you meet the CPSM eligibility requirements in order to sit for the exam). Once you’ve confirmed, select a date, register for your exam, and get ready to rumble! If you need some help justifying the expense for yourself or your employer, SMPS provides some great resources that include templates and tailored content.  

Register for the Exam to give yourself a hard deadline

2.  Easy Button: Pick Up Markendium
You may be thinking to yourself, “of course they want me to buy the book series they’ve published”, and you’d be right. We do, because it’s the best, easiest, and most efficient (read: affordable) solution for you to find success in your CPSM journey. SMPS has pooled information from numerous resources and publications into a succinct format that walks you through a logical progression for the Six Domains of Practice. Markendium (available on Amazon) is a six-book set that includes all knowledge necessary to pass the CPSM exam, and includes interactive study activities and practice test questions throughout each of the books. 

Purchase the Markendium book series and equip yourself for success

3. Hit the Books
Pick the study tactics that work for you. UCLA has posted a nice summary of Study Skills & Learning Tactics that can get you started with some valuable ideas. Personally, I’m big on a couple of these. Surveying, or skimming, for general context, followed by deep-dive reading and highlighting seems to be a good primer for strong understanding of the information. I’m also big on outlining (see: Listing or Concept Mapping) as you’re reading.  According to Colorado State University (and countless other educational resources), writing while studying or learning can slow down the cognitive process in a positive manner and allow for deeper digestion of the information. Outlining serves the purpose of forcing this mental absorption, and also doubles as a personalized study guide down the road.

Choose the best study tactics for you and implement them from start to finish

 

 

 

 

 


4. 
Form Study Groups & Practice Exams
CPSM Boot Camps can be tough to come by, but if you catch wind of a boot camp taking place in your region, register immediately! CPSM Boot Camps are invaluable to the upcoming class of candidates, as they are often taught by current CPSMs who may be inclined to drop a few gems along the way. Often times, boot camps may not fall within an individual’s personal timeline for certification. The best solution is to seek out fellow SMPS members in your chapter to form study groups. Although this may sound daunting or boring, it is a wonderful tool for understanding the concepts that are difficult to grasp. If you’ve taken the GAP Assessment you may already know where your weak points are. (Hint: Download and complete the GAP Assessment prior to studying in order to understand your own strengths and weaknesses and so you can work on those areas.)

Once you’ve worked your way through the Markendium series, be sure to check with SMPS HQ for any available practice exams online. Again, these were unavailable after the revised exam was released, so take advantage of any and all resources at your disposal. Practice exams and sample test questions are also available within the Markendium series and the CPSM Exam Study Guide provided by SMPS.

Form Study Groups & Take Practice Exams

5. Test Day Routines & Rituals
Chew Gum, knock on wood, wear your rally hat inside out, bring your lucky rabbit’s foot, whatever gets the positive vibes flowing. The exam will be computer based with 150 questions and runs approximately three hours. Check out the CPSM Handbook for specifics on the exam and related details. You will want to be on top of your game. That being said, read each question carefully. You are always looking for the BEST answer. There may be multiple choices that appear to be correct, but the BEST or MOST correct answer wins, amigos. Think in terms of “in a perfect world”, not necessarily how you or your past firms would have solved the problem. Again, the BEST answer will take home the points. Remember, you can move past questions you’re not sure about, and circle back to them after working your way through the rest of the exam. This tactic can be useful in thinking through additional concepts or deducing answers based on additional test information.  Whatever you do, take a deep breath, and proceed with confidence. Hard work will deliver the results you want, so start hitting the books!

Crush it and become a champion!

Signing Off
If you run into any questions or need clarification on study materials, reach out to your fellow SMPS members! We’re all in the game and quick to lend a helping hand. Those who have taken the CPSM exam understand the added stress and will be rooting for you. Hang in there, you can do this!

Godspeed to all CPSMs and all hopeful CPSM candidates!


Bill Pelham, CPSM
Senior Proposal Strategist, Burns & McDonnell

Known for his positive team mentality, Bill strives to support Burns & McDonnell in “creating amazing” as the Senior Proposal Strategist in the Phoenix regional office. With almost nine years in the AEC industry, he has worked with some of the nation’s top firms, including MONOGRAM, BBGM, CallisonRTKL, and Arcadis, providing proposal development, graphic design, marketing strategy, and digital marketing expertise. He has been an SMPS member since 2016, and currently serves as the Communications Chair of the Arizona Chapter’s publicity committee. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration with a double concentration in Marketing and Human Resources from SUNY University at Buffalo and is a valedictorian graduate of Full Sail University with an A.S. in Recording Arts. When he’s not working with a rock star team at Burns & McDonnell, Bill enjoys producing music, watching soccer, and rooting for the Phoenix Rising and New York Jets.

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Traffic, the Workplace, and Resiliency

Here’s the deal with the workplace: it’s challenging, and it’s not getting any easier. There are more challenges and there is more pressure than ever before. The cliché “do more with less” is now a staple in our workplace vernacular. Our days are filled with impossible deadlines, endless projects, “firefighting,” and juggling multiple, ever-changing priorities.

To get through these challenges, we tell ourselves things like:

 “As soon as this project is completed, things will get back to normal…”
“Once the new person is trained, I won’t have to work on these long hours…”
“As soon as I meet this deadline, I can relax…”
“If only traffic wasn’t so slow, I could get to the office on time…”

The reality is that once you complete a project, there will be three new projects that require your attention. As soon as one deadline is complete, there are more to take its place.  And, for most of us, annoyances like traffic are a daily occurrence. These challenges are not going to slow down.

So how do you perform at your best in spite of all this? You must strengthen your resiliency muscle.

Imagine you are running late on your way to the office because you are stuck in traffic. You do the speed up/slam on brakes routine to try to get ahead. You tailgate the car in front of you. You weave in and out of the lanes to get into the fastest moving one. You feel frustrated and annoyed that everyone else is going so slowly. “If only these people would hurry up, I could get to the office on time.” Finally, you arrive at the office flustered, grumpy, and 15 minutes late. “Sorry I’m late,” you grumble as you walk in, “traffic was horrible.”

So, you’ve spent a chunk of your valuable time stressing about something that you have no control over (traffic) and blaming everyone else for your tardiness. The time that could have been spent mentally preparing for your day was wasted cursing the cars in front of you. You are emotionally spun up over something you could not change, and that energy follows you into the office and sets the tone for your work day.

Here’s what the same situation looks like when you’re flexing your resiliency muscle. You realize you’re running a few minutes late. You text your manager to let her know. On the way to the office you are clear headed and use the opportunity to prepare for the day. You arrive at the office a few minutes late and apologize for the tardiness. You are fully prepared and ready for the day and what it will bring.

Think of your challenges as opportunities; opportunities to strengthen your resiliency and better prepare yourself for the next time an unexpected project pops up or the co-worker who was supposed to help you on that proposal calls in sick. The next time a challenging situation arises, big or small, think about these guidelines for building resiliency:

What is my role in this?
How am I impacting the situation? Am I looking at someone else as the problem or is the problem me? In the traffic example, the driver placed blame on the other drivers. However, the more likely issue is that he didn’t allow himself enough time to get to his destination.

What’s my story?
What is the story I’m telling myself? In the example, the story was “These people are so slow! They’re messing with my schedule! If they would just hurry up I could get there on time!” As a result, his frustration grew. When feeling frustrated, tell yourself, “practice patience.” This will quiet the story and keep emotions neutral.

How flexible am I?
In this case, the driver was determined to get to the meeting on time, regardless of traffic. He did not consider other options like letting his colleague know he was going to be late. This rigidity creates unnecessary stress and a heightened state of emotion. The ability to go-with-the-flow increases your resilience and alleviates unnecessary frustration.

Want to learn more about resiliency in leadership? Give us a call at (888) 529-0240 or send us an email at [email protected] We’d love to hear from you!

Brandy Ferrer  is the President and CEO of Pathfinder Strategies, and is skilled at harnessing the power of the people to achieve organizational success. Her diverse experiences and unique skill set help organizations navigate challenges, shape culture, attract and retain talent, and develop tomorrow’s leaders. She has worked in the professional development space for 14 years. During that time, she has created national training programs, leadership programs, management coaching, team alignment projects, career ladders, and strategic plans. She is a certified practitioner of Emotional Intelligence EQi-2.0 through Multi-health systems, a certified consultant and coach of Behaviors & Driving Forces through Target Training International, and one of the only certified BioCode System™ practitioners in the country. She holds certificates in Adult Learning and a certificate from the Association of Talent Development for Managing the Learning Function.

Brandy proudly serves as a board member for Friends of Pima Animal Care Center and Animal Welfare of Southern Arizona. She also serves on the board of the Better Bureau of Southern Arizona and is a graduate of Greater Tucson Leadership.

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Five Tips to Help AEC Professionals Design Great Infographics

Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” That’s something that you should keep in mind with infographic design. The purpose of graphic design isn’t only to make things look good, it’s also to make content more organized, easy to read, and understand.

Why do infographics work so well? Consider these statistics:

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • We process visuals 60,000x faster than text
  • 65% of the population are visual learners
  • Social media posts with images receive 150% more shares
  • Sites that use infographics generate 12% more traffic on average 

The best infographics simplify raw data by using well-designed graphics to represent and explain the data in a fast and eye-catching way. The real power of infographics is that they can transform complicated or repetitive information, which might otherwise be overlooked, into something that’s inviting, interesting, and easier to comprehend. Infographics can be used in all aspects of your marketing, including printed materials, online marketing and social media marketing. They can also help enhance your project presentations and planning materials, and they can be translated to video.

5 Tips to follow to create better infographics

Creating great infographics isn’t a walk in the park. It requires skill in translating raw data into engaging visual information. Many AEC professionals already use similar skills in other aspects of their daily work, so it's not a big leap to adapt to creating infographics.

To get you started, I have put together five of my favorite tips for creating awesome infographics!

1. Outline your content first
The biggest mistake that you can make with infographics is to start with the visuals instead of the content. Always start by outlining the key points you want to communicate. Once you have the rough outline, then add any references or research you want to include to support your claims. Once the outline process is complete, it is much easier to sketch out how information will be visually communicated and how you want your text and graphics to be arranged. Decide on a hierarchy to show which content is more important than others, and which content is supporting detail or reference. Your infographic’s information should flow seamlessly. It should be obvious to the reader where their eyes should go, and the order of what they should be reading.

 2. Answer two important questions
According to recent research, the human attention span has shortened to as little as seven seconds. Your infographic needs to grab your readers’ attention quickly.Stop to think about “The Hook” — how are you going to attract their attention and get them engaged enough to want to read further?

One way to do that is to ensure your infographic clearly answers two important questions:

  1. What is the topic?, and
  2. Why should they care?

This may seem very basic, but it can’t be overlooked. If it’s not immediately clear what your infographic is about and why it’s important, then your readers will not stay to read it.

3. Design for your target audience

Think about your audience. You’ll want to create something that appeals to their specific interests, design style, and expectations. Don’t make the mistake of designing your infographics for everyone. For example, let’s imagine that you’re with a commercial architecture firm and you want to create an infographic that explains new trends in design visualization to potential contracting or development partners. Your infographic should be designed with these specific audiences in mind. Consider what will appeal and communicate to them visually, as well as in content tone and style.

4. Keep the colors and typography simple

Since infographics are typically viewed on a screen, you’ll want to create a design that is easy to read no matter what device your reader is viewing it on. I recommend keeping colors simple, a color palette of 3-5 colors is ideal. If you have branding guidelines and your company’s color palette is already defined, we’d recommend sticking with those colors. If you need help with color, Adobe offers a simple and effective tool to help you create the perfect color palette.

When it comes to fonts, keep it simple. Again, reference you brand guidelines first, but if you do not have defined guidelines, be sure to use fonts that are easy to read on different sized devices. Contrast also helps. If your header and subheads are bold, heavy fonts, consider using a lighter font for body text. The folks at Canva have a great article on good looking font pairings to help you get started. Getting the color and typography right can make or break the design and impact of your infographic, so be sure to consider these aspects very carefully, and, if necessary, hire an expert to ensure you get the most from your design.

5. Include a clear call-to-action

Lastly, your infographic should answer the viewers' question: “What do I do next?” By the time someone finishes reading your infographic, they should know what the next step is. A typical call-to-action to include is a link to a page on your website where they can get sign up or download more detailed information. This is a great way to use your well-designed, engaging infographic to attract potential customers and get them onto your email list to continue receiving more high-value information from your firm.

Put Your Infographic to Use

Once you have your infographic designed, look to publish it in a variety of places, such as on your firm’s blog and social media pages, such as Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Infographics are perfect to add to your online marketing and social media because people love to share them! And they can be helpful tools for engaging clients in the details of project planning. You can take it a step further by contacting relevant industry blogs, websites, associations to see if they would be interested in sharing it as well.

Infographics are a great way for AEC professionals to make data-driven information more visually interesting, easy to understand, and memorable. Have questions about infographics or interested in having one designed for you? Contact Archmark for details.


Bryon McCartney

Chief Idea Guy & Managing Partner, Archmark Branding & Marketing. Bryon has been in the branding and marketing industry for more than 30 years and has worked with AEC firms for the past 20. His career has taken him on assignments around the world, including living and working in Switzerland for 12 years. When not working, Bryon enjoys golf, traveling, and building with Legos. 

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The Accidental Salesperson

The Accidental Salesperson

I did not start out my career wanting to go into business development. In fact, I went to college for architecture and got a job in virtual design and construction, working on MEP coordination and 3D modeling for clients throughout the US. And I liked it. But once I got into my groove, an opportunity presented itself. My area leader asked me if I had ever considered business development. To be honest, I never had considered it, nor did know what business development was. I was happy doing what I was doing, but he saw the potential in me. And I had a decision to make.

Now, I’ve always considered myself to be a planner - someone who has a one-year, five-year, and even a ten-year plan. Becoming a business development manager was NOT anywhere in those plans. My plan was to work, become a licensed architect, and take on management level roles within the VDC department. 

Then this opportunity popped up, and my plan had the potential to change. Dramatically. I had to ask myself some tough questions. Would I enjoy doing business development? Would I be okay starting from the bottom again? What the heck IS business development? Would I be successful – both from my perspective as well as my company’s perspective? What did my manager see in me that made him think I would be successful in business development? 

So, I did what anyone would do -  an internet search for “Top Skills for a Business Development Manager”. I sifted through the plethora of results. It turns out, I had many of the characteristics listed out – I was just using them in a different way. People skills? Check. Working with internal clients throughout our organization has taught me a lot about people and how to customize the message for your audience. Strategic mindset? Business development is all about strategic action plans, and that is definitely in my wheelhouse. I find that structure actually allows for more creativity and helps define a path to success. Knowledge of the company and the market? I realized I had a unique perspective because I have a background in architecture and am an Arizona native. I specifically understood building in Arizona, and that, it turns out, is invaluable for business development. Organizational skills? People who are successful at business development have many balls to juggle, and I am a master juggler! Goal focused? Um, definitely! To say I am competitive is an understatement. Failure is simply not an option, and I feel that mistakes and setbacks aren’t failures, they’re just learning opportunities to succeed next time. 

That’s when I realized that sometimes you just have to take your one-, five-, and ten-year plans, wrinkle them up into a big ball, and throw them away - hopefully making a three-point shot into the can.  

Then the real work began. I quickly realized that while I had similar characteristics in my VDC life, they didn’t always translate smoothly into my business development life. There was just so much to learn. I did have people skills, but selling and closing a deal is a completely different aspect. I also thought I knew a lot about building in Arizona. However, I had a lot of homework to do on the market and the trends that shape it. And as far as organizational skills, I quickly realized that organizing tasks is easy, but figuring out how to organize and qualify relationships in a business development role proved to be an enormous challenge. So, two years in, I’m still learning each and every day. One of the most important things I’ve learned is, sometimes, you just need to “fake it ‘til you make it!” 

Were there moments when I’ve regretted my decision? Absolutely. But here’s the thing - I really love what I do. I love the challenges, the new interactions, the strategies, the wins, and even the losses because they show me how we can do better and be more successful.  

The point is don’t be afraid to become what you never thought you’d be. A co-worker of mine loves to say, “Be afraid, but do it anyway.” And she’s right. For all of the questions and concerns I had walking into this new career, I knew, ultimately, that it was the right decision for me. Don’t let opportunities pass you by. And if someone sees something in you, believe them. And maybe you, too, can become an accidental salesperson.

Michelle Rousseau
Business Development Manager

Michelle Rousseau is a business development manager for Gilbane Building Company’s Western division and began her career as a VDC manager with Gilbane in 2014. She is currently slogging through her architecture exams and is looking forward to the day when she doesn’t have to study for a test. She lives in Phoenix, has an addiction to working out, and has recently adopted her new best friend, her pug Rosie.

 

 

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President's Message: Let's Say What We Want and Go After It

When I left New York and my dreams of being the real-life version of Carrie Bradshaw in 2012, I had no idea what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, or even who I was at that point in life. Everything I thought I wanted or the person I thought I’d be when I was in the Big Apple didn’t align with how I felt. Fast forward seven years, here I am embarking on a journey as the President of SMPS Arizona – something I never imagined, let alone knew existed. But atlas, the time has come.

As we step into this new year let us not forget a few of the top things we accomplished last year:

  1. Identified our strategic plan for 2018-2021.
    • Be the go-to resource in education, creating connections, and developing leaders in the industry
    • Leadership development for you within your firm and our SMPS chapter
    • Elevate the SMPS experience
  2. Membership Retention and Recruitment. At the start of the SMPS Year (August 8, 2018) we were hovering around 150. A year later, we are at 170+ members!
  3. Had 2 new Community Outreach Projects!
  4. Updated our Chapter Bylaws.
  5. Implemented the new SMPS branding.

The reason I chose to highlight those five accomplishments out of 20+ is because those achievements reflect the actions of you. Our now Past President, Brandi Barr, set the barr (lol 😉) high as she went into her year as President with fresh, fun, and strategic eyes to make sure we all rose up to make sure we did what was best for our Chapter/membership. From our elevated programming featuring national speakers, dedicated community outreach efforts, to our new branding, we were able to appeal to our members and non-members as a “new” SMPS.

So, what’s happening this year? We’re going to continue to bring you premium program and education events and ways you can give back to our community through volunteering. We’re also going to have a:

  • New training program for marketing and technical staff
  • New CPSM bootcamp
  • Members only Thank You event
  • New E-blast template for our Chapter’s communications
  • Joint event collaborations with other local organizations
  • Increased volunteer member (and firm) recognition
  • Present on marketing and business development topics at local professional organizations


While that list is no small feat, I am confident the work we have all done up until this moment will be the reason we accomplish those goals. We have a Chapter full of dedicated individuals (and firms who support them) who I am so excited to see flourish as we charge forward together.

I had a conversation with someone recently about what it will mean to me to be the President of the SMPS Arizona chapter, what did I want my legacy to be? I didn’t have an answer for them at that moment, but it did make me realize, this year as your President is a part of my life legacy. But this year isn’t just about me, it’s about you. I want each and everyone one of you to go after something you want. I want you to imagine yourself as the President of SMPS, or the Director of Marketing or Chief Marketing Officer at your firm. Whatever you desire, go for it!

A dear friend of mine shared this Epictetus quote with me, “First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”

When I joined this industry almost five years ago, I was just like you when you landed your first job in this industry. As eager as I was for my new role, I was equally as confused as to how I got here and how I could be the best marketer for my firm. I took on my new role with a supportive boss and a co-worker turned mentor who showed me the way and encouraged me to join SMPS. I knew that everything I did for this Chapter was for the greater good and I was going to give it my all. So, whatever your role is in or organization, give it all you got.

Hear me clearly: Do not edit your desires. You are here in this space, you are entering this world to want what you want, regardless of how big the dream. You may have to get there in stages, you may stumble along the way, but the journey is worth the work. And do not allow logic to be an excuse for setting low expectations.”  Stacey Abrams

Let’s all move forward into this year, saying what we want and going after it. One of my desires for the next year is to make sure our members feel seen and heard. I encourage you to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or ideas you have. Take a moment and leave a comment below to tell me something you desire and one way you can turn it into a reality.


Tiffany Johnson
2019-2020 SMPS Arizona President

Tiffany Johnson is a current SMPS President; she has served on various committees throughout the years and is excited for this new role. She has worked for architecture and engineering firms leading all marketing and business development efforts for the last four and half years. In her free time, she enjoys brunching with her friends, plotting on how to become the next Martha Stewart (cooking, home design, lifestyle hacks), writing and beating everyone she knows at Jenga!

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Small Changes Lead to Big Success for SMPS Arizona

SMPS Arizona…. I honestly don’t know what to say (imagine that, I know). This year has gone by as if I was Barry Allen and my secret identity is the Flash.

When I think about this past year, I remember the advice that Society President, Chris Rickman, FSMPS, CPSM, gave me. “You don’t have to make huge changes. If you make enough small changes in the end, you’ll see a big impact.” He couldn’t have been more right!

Some of the progress made during 2018-2019 includes:

  1. Update all Chapter media and information to new SMPS Branding.
  2. Modifying our Chapter Leadership Organizational Chart to also show Functional Responsibilities. This was to continue our push as a business, where we could provide opportunities for growth to the chapter volunteers.
  3. Programs are focused on bringing out-of-town, or non-AEC speakers or clients to the lunch programs.
  4. Diligently working to find a new Program location home (to be unveiled soon!).
  5. Transparency – Chapter Goals are posted and updated on the website monthly to keep the membership aware of what your Board and Leadership team are doing for you.
  6. Drastically increased the number of Program Sponsors to support the goal of out of town speakers.
  7. Membership Retention and Recruitment. At the start of the SMPS Year (August 8, 2018) we were hovering around 150. A year later, we are at 170+ members!
  8. Had 2 new Community Outreach Projects!

These are just a snippet of the things we have accomplished! To see all of our goals and accomplishments please checkout 2018-19_Chapter_Goals on the website.

To the Board: It has truly been an honor working with all of you! Your companies don’t know how lucky they are to have you. I know you were pushed and challenged at times this past year, you have done an excellent job! For those continuing on, keep it up, there’s still so much to do. For the others, the Chapter and myself appreciate all that you have done for us!

To the Leadership Team: Thank you for all of your hard work! It is because of you that we succeed! I can’t thank you enough for all of the time you have devoted to our Chapter. Keep exploring improvements and learning new things.

To our Membership: It is because of you, I took on this role. I hope you feel as though the Chapter is working hard to keep pushing our profession. This truly is a place to find your life long compadres no matter what company they work for. We are all here for each other! Don’t hesitate to GET INVOLVED!

This is not good-bye, I will still be involved in the Chapter 😊 You all will have to kick me out!

In true tradition to the inaugural post, I leave you with another playlist.

Eminem - Not Afraid

Marvin Gaye | Aint No Mountain High EnoughDestiny's Child | Survivor

Christina Aguilera | Fighter

Journey | Don't Stop Believin

Kelly Clarkson | Stronger

Queen | We are the Champions

Your Gladiator,


Brandi Barr
2018-2019 SMPS Arizona Chapter President

Brandi holds a BA in Communication from Arizona State University and has nearly 20 years of AEC marketing professional services experience. For the past 10 years, she has worked for T.Y. Lin International. She has also been recognized by the SMPS, Arizona Chapter as the recipient of 3 Marketing Communications Awards - Best Proposal (2014), Marketer of the Year (2015) and most recently Best Project Pursuit (2016). Her favorite thing to do is hang out with her husband, three kiddos and French bulldog. To find her outside of work, check her daughter’s dance studio, son’s soccer or baseball/basketball/swimming practices or watching sports (probably checking on her fantasy football teams).

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Increase Your Confidence in 5 Areas of Negotiating

One of my favorite Will Smith movies is Hitch. It’s a romantic comedy about a professional "date doctor" who helps a client impress the woman of his dreams. And, in the process, falls in love with a gossip columnist named Sara Melas.

From the very beginning Hitch puts a lot of planning into his first date with Sara. They start with offshore jet skiing and end with a private tour of Ellis Island. Thinking Sara will be impressed by his effort, Hitch arranges to display her great grandfather’s signature on a historical document. However, Sara’s reaction is...unexpected. She runs off in tears and Smith delivers one of the most-memorable one-liners from the movie. “I saw that going differently in my mind.”

https://youtu.be/ouUTjtDevHk

Have you ever had a meeting with your manager that left you feeling the same way as Hitch after that first date? Despite your planning and intention for the meeting, somehow things didn’t go the way you intended. Maybe you rambled on incoherently never getting to the “point” of what you wanted to discuss. Or maybe you were able to start the conversation, but didn’t have a confident response when you got push-back to your idea, request or pitch. Either way, you walked out of the meeting thinking, “I saw that going differently in my mind.”

As the old adage goes, “confidence is key.” Confidence starts with having a clear idea of what you want and the evidence to support its validation. Most people only think negotiating applies to a raise or promotion, but there are other requests you should know how to confidently pitch. The acronym S.T.A.M.P. will help you easily remember them.

Support

Many firms offer professional development or on-going education as an employee benefit. Even if your firm has a formal continuing education policy, you may still need to initiate a conversation to garner your manager’s support and approval. You’re more likely to get that support if you can show how your training will benefit you in your current role or prepare you for additional responsibilities. Prior to your meeting research the program, understand the commitment and clarify the outcomes with the coach or program facilitator.

Time

Employers are getting more flexible with non-traditional employment arrangements like remote work and flexwork. This is especially true as work-life balance is a top priority for today’s workforce. Having proof or evidence to support your request will boost your confidence as you prepare for your meeting. You may want to show evidence of your actual hours worked if you’re requesting additional PTO hours (especially if you are a salaried employee). Or, if you’re proposing a later start time or different work hours, be prepared to discuss how the change will or won’t impact your team.

via GIPHY

Assignments

Your firm gets shortlisted for a high-profile project. You weren’t on the proposal team, but you have some amazing ideas for the presentation and want to be on the creative team. You also think this is the perfect opportunity to show your leadership skills and position yourself for a raise or promotion. When you meet with your manager be clear that you view this as a leadership opportunity, then present your creative idea and get ready to show ‘em what you’ve got!

Money

Wouldn’t it be great if you could scream “show me the money!” and get the Jerry McGuire treatment?

For a lot of people, requesting a raise is probably the most intimidating “ask” on this list. With so much secrecy and confidentiality surrounding salaries (and salary inequality) it can be difficult to quantify and qualify a pay raise. Having a baseline of data for your city, industry and title is extremely helpful. SMPS’ Marketing Compensation and Metrics Survey and Career Contessa’s Salary Project are two resources you can mine to help you determine where you pay could or should be.

https://www.smps.org/smps-marketing-compensation-and-metrics-survey/

https://www.careercontessa.com/the-salary-project/splash/

Promotion

Most employees don’t think about asking for a promotion until the end of the year. It's more proactive to communicate your career goals as early as possible, and to revisit your expectations throughout the year. Start by sharing your strengths and areas of work that you enjoy most. Then communicate how you plan to utilize them more in an advancing role. Ask if and how a transition is possible, then give some thought to how you can facilitate a win-win for you, your family and your firm.

Maisha Christian Hagan
Owner and Head Coach, Beauty & the Boss

Maisha is the owner and head coach at Beauty & the Boss, a professional development and career coaching service for women in male-dominated industries. Prior to starting Beauty & the Boss, Maisha's career was concentrated in the A/E/C industry as a professional services marketer, Director and member of an executive leadership team. She has a passion for people, a mind for business and a gift to teach and has leveraged those strengths into teaching, mentoring, coaching and public speaking opportunities in public, private and non-profit communities.

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A Blueprint for Prime and Subconsultant Partnering Success in SOQ Development

Lately, it feels like we are continually responding to requests for qualifications, which may or may not include fees. We have all had occasion to request qualifications information, we have all submitted it, and in my 26 years of experience, some Primes absolutely request it more efficiently and consistently than others. Putting together a collaborative and cohesive submittal package requires extensive and dedicated creative experience. I often think of it as ‘designing’ and ‘constructing’ a winning story, which if relayed successfully allows your team the coveted opportunity to provide the desired architecture, engineering and/or construction services.

The following items are a few guidelines that should help A/E/C Primes & Consultants work together better on their submittals:

PRIME PREREQUISITES

  • READ the RFQ/RFP before requesting information. Consultant information is not always needed or is limited in scope. Restrictions on font size and content is critical, etc.
  • SEND the RFQ/RFP to the consultant when you request their information. Don’t assume they have it.
  • NOTE the page numbers and items in the RFQ/RFP you want responses for, and anything additional or special.
  • ENCOURAGE participation on the project approach. A consultant may know or have information you are not aware of.
  • CLARIFY if confidentiality of information is required. Lead sharing is common and should be addressed.
  • EXCLUSIVITY for consultants is rare. Be sure it is necessary before requesting and consider if limited exclusivity of specific team members rather than a firm would meet your goal and intent.
  • GIVE as much time as possible for your consultants to respond. Last minute requests don’t allow time for innovative or thorough responses.


CONSULTANT CONSIDERATIONS

  • READ the RFQ/RFP and the request from the Prime carefully before submitting your information. Don’t be the reason your team could be disqualified.
  • CONFIRM the due date and time and delivery method for your information.
  • ASK what the preferred format is for your qualifications and if the Prime has a template you can use or follow.
  • OFFER project approach information, etc., if previous experience or knowledge of the site will provide insight or clarification.
  • PROTECT a Primes’ data, approach, formats or templates. Remember not to share or duplicate them.
  • REQUEST a proposal format if a fee is to be included. A fee by phase is very different than a lump sum. Be efficient with your team members time.
  • SEND your qualifications before the deadline to allow review time, and for a follow up request if anything was missing or misunderstood.

 

Design and construct a successful submittal story by collaborating with your consultants in a diligent and consistent way.

Margie Luster
Director of Business Development, Caruso Turley Scott Structural Engineers

Margie is a 5th generation native Arizonan and is a perpetual optimist about the future.  She has over 30 years of experience in the AEC industry and values the relationships she has made with knowledgeable and respectful Partners and Associates.  In her free time, Margie enjoys working in her garden, growing trees, flowers and fat birds. 

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