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Take it Slow: Five Ways to Have a Happier and More Peaceful Season

A local radio station has been playing Christmas carols since Halloween. While that might be exciting for some people, for many it’s a nerve-wracking reminder that the end of the year is screaming down on us. Between the holidays and trying to wrap up all those year-end work projects, it can be a hectic and chaotic time. But it doesn’t have to be. You, too, can be one of those people that cruises through all of the reports, proposals, cookie-baking, and decorating while seeming to never break a sweat. It just takes a little focus, some guts, and a healthy dose of selfcare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Pace Yourself.
You wouldn’t try to run a marathon at a four-minute mile pace because you’d end up passed out by the side of the road long before you ever reached the finish line. The same is true for the last few months of the year. Realize there are only so many minutes in every day, and you can’t fill all of them with non-stop activity. Prioritize what needs to be done, focus on one thing at a time (sorry, multitaskers), and then move on to the next.

Pomodoro is a simple tool to help get tasks finished. Set a timer for 25 minutes, then work at ONE task until the timer goes off. Take a five-minute break, then repeat. After four cycles, take a 30-minute break to recharge. Depending on what I’m doing, I might set the cycle a little longer, like 30 minutes, or take two-minute breaks. But I always do four cycles and then take a longer break. It works like magic.

Pacing yourself becomes important at those holiday gatherings, too, when you’re tempted to eat every cheesy, chocolaty, sugary morsel that shows up on your plate and drink every drop of libation that appears in your glass. You don’t want to wake up on January 2 fifteen pounds heavier and feeling like you need a week at the detox center. Ignore the tray of cookies in the lunchroom and go for a walk instead.

2. Learn to say no.

This is obvious, but it’s something many of us still struggle with. You get a momentary rush of happy when you say yes, but if you do it too often, you end up overwhelmed, ineffective, and wearing martyrdom on your sleeve. Only say yes to things you know you can get done, that bring you pleasure, and are part of your job description, whether at work or at home.

It’s hard to say no, but start out small and it will get easier. People really won’t hate you—although they may be grumpy with you until they get used to it. They WILL respect you for keeping your commitments, and you’ll feel better, too.

Saying no is especially important when it comes to holiday celebrating. It seems like every weekend from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is filled with merry-making opportunities. If you’re not up for spending the evening eating bad food and drinking cheap wine with those neighbors you don’t really like, then politely decline the invitation. Pick the events that bring you joy with people you love, or at least like. Spend those other evenings soaking in a hot tub with your own glass of really good wine.

3. Reject consumerism and embrace simplicity

Christmas at my family’s house was always an over-the-top event. I have four sisters, and we all bought gifts for every member of each other’s families, including husbands, kids, and pets. The living room would be so crowded with presents there was no room to sit. It was great fun, but just too much. Several years ago I decided none of us needed more stuff, so, instead of gifts, I started making a charitable contribution on behalf of the family, usually to Heifer International, which gives livestock to families around the world to help them become self-sufficient. I asked the extended family to do something similar for us. We could still be generous, but to people who could benefit from our largesse.

This one act changed my holidays radically. It eliminated the time, money, and stress that go hand-in-hand with gift-giving; it cut down on the enormous amount of waste that comes with wrapping paper, ribbons, and gifts that the recipients never wanted in the first place. Most importantly, it helped us all focus on what’s really important about the season.

It takes nerve to pull the plug on excessive gift-giving, but the no-gift movement is picking up steam. Here’s how they do it in England.

4. Create a new tradition

People very rarely remember the gifts you’ve given them, but they almost always remember the special experiences they’ve shared with you. If you ask my grown kids, they’ll tell you they can’t recall a single toy they got, but they do remember driving from Denver to Tucson singing cowboy Christmas carols all the way, something we did every year.

Whether it’s a tamale-making day with your friends or a night at The Nutcracker and dinner with your sweetheart, find something you all enjoy and get it on the calendar. And then do it again next year. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive—maybe it’s as simple as taking a walk around the neighborhood to look at the lights and then drinking hot chocolate at home. It’s about spending time together, enjoying each other’s company, and making memories.

5. Remember to find the joy.

When you open your eyes in the morning, before you start running through your mental checklist and feeling overwhelmed before you even get out of bed, take a few deep breaths and think of the things and people you appreciate. What are you grateful for? Spend five minutes reflecting. Your day will get off to a happier, more manageable start, both mentally and emotionally.

During the day, look for those little moments that give you a thrill—the morning glow on the saguaros when you’re stuck in traffic, the feeling you get when you hit send on that big project, or the lights on your neighbor’s Christmas tree. Let that feeling sit in you for a few seconds before you jump back into the fray.

The end of the year can be productive and exciting, and the holidays really can be fun. You just have to slow down a little, connect with yourself, and remember what’s important.

Happy Holidays!

Marilyn Noble has been the Arizona regional marketing director for CIP Information Service for 16 years. She also served on the board of BILD (formerly SAAEMA) for four years. In addition to her work in the A/E/C industry, she’s a freelance food writer and cookbook author, and one of her recent articles was just included in Best American Food Writing 2019. In her spare time, she serves as the Arizona governor for Slow Food USA, an international movement working toward good, clean, and fair food for all. [email protected], Twitter: @mariwrites FB: marilyn.noble LinkedIn: marilynnoble website: https://marilynnoble.com

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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. 

Free Offer for SMPS Arizona Members
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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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Getting Them to Show Up - How to Use Internal Marketing to Drive Employee Involvement

Internal marketing is about selling the brand of the company to the employees and part of creating the culture of the firm. Internal marketing and campaigns are often overlooked or executed in a haphazard manner to where internal clients miss the message. When employee engagement is strategically planned, the overall impact is more powerful and leads to higher employee involvement and overall satisfaction in the company.

But how do we as marketers do that for our company? Well first, you need planners from different parts of the company: someone from HR, marketing, and a representative of the people makes for the best team to collaborate on events. And then you get started. Kinda.

Messaging
Planning really can’t commence without having a universal message to be the driving force behind the planning. Why are you doing this? What is the take away from this engagement? If you don’t have a specific goal in mind here are some ideas:

  • Align the external with the internal: Sometimes our employees don’t always know what the message is to our external clients. So flip the script and market to your employees with the same message. By aligning the two you make that message something employees live and breathe.
  • Work Hard, Play Hard: We tell our clients and prospective recruits that we “work as hard as we play” (or some deviation of this saying). And between deadlines and new projects, we always up hold our “work hard”, but often times the “play hard” gets missed. That’s where a fun internal campaign can make up for that.
  • Target Campaign: Maybe it’s as simple as a food drive or maybe a corporate anniversary, but there are times when a targeted campaign is effective for specific events.


Execution

For anyone who has Googled how to do something, this is the part we fast-forward to – how do I do this? Sadly, there is no magic “Top Five Things to Do” bullet list because there are many avenues that can be customized depending on a variety of things such as time, intent of the message, man-power, or money. But here are some good starting points:

  • Planning: Now you have a message, let’s make a plan! If you’re planning for a year or for a short-term targeted message, planning allows you to coordinate messaging with all the tools in the marketing tool box: graphics, social media, blogging, etc. Then create a schedule to see how events and tasks work with the bigger picture. Need graphics or collateral materials designed? Need a leave behind or giveaway ordered? Did we schedule a release for the 1st of the month and that’s a Saturday? All of these things will drive the execution of your message.
  • Get ’em Outta Their Chairs: One of the biggest struggles I’ve had with internal events is getting people to participate. If we can build anticipation about an event, then we draw them into the event and honestly that’s half the struggle. Even if they don’t participate, they might have just as much fun being a spectator.
  • Mix It Up: Competition is a healthy thing, especially with highly driven people, but not every event needs to be a battle-royale of wit or brawn. On that note, not every event needs to be a potluck or catered. Social events are just as engaging as volunteer events. Providing a variety of events keeps people engaged.
  • Let the People Speak: Sometimes it’s beneficial to arrange to get feedback through a survey. You will always hear the voices of the extremes. They love or they hate, but what about the people who are meh about the event. Try using an anonymous survey service, like SurveyMonkey, to get an idea of what the people like. We are often victims of our own groupthink, so doing a little crowd-sourcing allows you to back up what you think the people want and don’t want.


Potential Pitfalls

Like many endeavors there are pitfalls. Sometime being aware of them will help you work around them, but more often than not they are unavoidable.

  • Beware of Overkill: Even in internal marketing there is “too much of a good thing.” If we overindulge on message or concept, there is a chance of burnout from your audience. Your funny, company battle-cry can quickly be accompanied by eye rolls and groans because it’s been used too much.
  • Lack of Turnout: Like I mentioned above, turnout is always a problem. It’s not just the technical staff who are busy. Everyone has deadlines and tasks and goals to meet, and that might not include playing games at the Halloween carnival. Don’t be discouraged. A little FOMO generated by post-event hype can drive participation in your next event.
  • Criticism: There will always be criticism. They didn’t like the food vendor. The room was cold. It was too hot. The trivia questions where too hard or too easy. We know that everyone has an opinion and we should turn our cheek to criticism, but there are times when criticism is actually just someone wanting to be a part of something. Recently my firm celebrated Pi Day with a selection of pies from a local bakery. The day before someone asked if there would a gluten-free option. I had completely overlooked this part of the planning. I ran, well it felt like, all over the Valley to no avail and ended up making a gluten-free pie that night. I did this because this was a person wanted to be a part of an event, but through my poor planning, was not able. I was able to see past this criticism of my planning to an opportunity to include someone.

 

While we know that more goes into the culture of a firm than pot lucks and parties, a well –structured internal campaign can help drive the message.


Sara Reynolds
Marketing Coordinator, Wood, Patel & Associates, Inc.

Sara has been in the A/E/C industry for more than a decade and has been a SMPS member for the three years - ever since joining Wood, Patel & Associates. She is a mother to two boys (ages 9 and 5) and her free time is consumed by lacrosse, Cub Scouts, Legos, and sharing the refereeing duties with her husband. She enjoys good whiskey, a good book, and good conversation. 

 

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Why Positive Workplace Culture Matters

Workplace culture is a term that we are all accustomed to hearing by now, but what does it mean and why is it important to have a positive one in an organization?

Workplace culture is the foundation upon which great companies are built. It all begins with developing a strong company purpose and the values that guide your employees towards fulfilling that purpose. However, your purpose and values are not something that employees are just told they should believe in. It is important to feel like they are truly a part of the company and want to strive to make themselves and the company a better place. Culture lives and breathes through the words and actions of your peers. A Harvard Business Review article (HBR), How Company Culture Shapes Employee Motivation, defines culture as “the set of processes in an organization that affects the total motivation of its people.” They have compiled three questions that help explain how this is accomplished:

  • How does culture drive performance?
  • What is culture worth?
  • What processes in an organization affect culture?



Driving Performance

Giving employees a purpose gives them a drive to do more and perform at a higher rate. Empowering people to go above and beyond is essential for success. In the above-mentioned article, HBR adapted a study to distinguish the six main reasons why people work:

Play (motivated by the work), purpose (valuing your impact), and potential (work that benefits your identity) are all motivators that increase performance. The last three are ones that reduce motives; emotional pressure (external forces that threaten your identity), economic pressure (feel like you have to work), and inertia (you do not know the motive anymore and feel removed). Successful workplace cultures are the ones that focus on maximizing the first three motivators on why people work and reducing the last three.

Culture’s Value
If your employees are inspired and motivated to work, most likely the company as a whole is performing better. Company culture is always important to employees because workers are more likely to enjoy their time in the workplace when they fit in with the overall culture. When these relationships with others are developed, they become more productive. This is also tied to employee retention, as people are less likely to leave companies where they feel comfortable and supported.

Organizational Processes
There is not one “tried and true” method to creating an ideal workplace culture, it is a combination of a variety of factors. HBR goes into detail about how a role is designed can greatly affect motivation. Be sure to have a clear definition of a role and find the motivators of what that position entails. The next factor is the actual identity of an organization which encompasses the purpose and values. Depending on the work, develop ideas on how to play into those motivators to make the employees feel like they have an impact through their work. The last factor mentioned was a structure for growth. Employees want to know they can grow within an organization and be given the tools to succeed.

Lindsay McGregor, co-author of Primed to Preform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation, summarized it best, “A great culture is not easy to build — it’s why high performing cultures are such a powerful competitive advantage. Yet organizations that build great cultures are able to meet the demands of the fast-paced, customer-centric, digital world we live in. More and more organizations are beginning to realize that culture can’t be left to chance. Leaders have to treat culture building as an engineering discipline, not a magical one.”


Mandy Brown
Marketing & Recruiting Coordinator, Small Giants
Mandy has been with Small Giants for 3.5 years and in the AEC industry for 7.  She is an active member of SMPS but hasn’t made the leap to leadership yet.  In her free time, she likes to attend concerts, travel and hike.  On a recent trip to Sedona she went skydiving! Next time you see Mandy, ask her how it felt to jump out of a plane over those famous red rocks. 

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Top 10 Tradeshow Essentials for Success

Tradeshows generate income and improve the bottom dollar. Tradeshows are a great way to meet new prospects, connect with clients, position your firm as experts in the market and gather competitive intelligence. Unfortunately, we often see firms spend thousands upon thousands on tradeshows, without maximizing their time and money to ensure top results. In the past two decades of exhibiting at tradeshows and conferences, I have learned a lot of lessons – most of them the hard way.

Here are my Top 10 Tradeshow Essentials for Success:

1.  PLAN FOR THE WORST, EXPECT THE BEST

Make some goals. Every solid plan starts with clear goals in writing. Goals guide important decisions, helping you determine the best decisions on everything from booth placement to giveaways and provide a yardstick to assess whether the tradeshow was ‘successful.’ Some sample goals could include:

  • Get at least 20 genuine prospects.
  • Ask customers 3 specific things about their business or buying habits.
  • Find 10 good recruiting prospects
  • Talk with 10 industry leaders.


Set a schedule.
Remember, a failure to plan is a plan to fail. Create a schedule for everything from securing your exhibit space, to producing pre- and event-marketing materials, including the day of set-up, etc.

2. DEVELOP YOUR MESSAGE

You have 3 seconds. Three seconds is about all you get to attract attention with your booth space. You need to decide what your message is early on, and use it often and consistently.  Hint: a photo collage of all your past projects is not a message. The goal is to get people to stop, not to explain everything about who you are and what you do.

3. DON’T FORGET TO PRE-MARKET

Send a personal invitation. Reach out to clients and prospects ahead of time to let them know that you will be exhibiting and give them a good reason to stop by. Direct mail can, and does, work in this instance. Offer something cool and expensive at your booth, but only if they bring the postcard to you. Then, because you collect their card, you have their contact info to follow up later. Don’t forget to put provide your booth number! Emails work as well because you can use the tradeshow’s name in the subject of the email inspiring people to likely read your email blast.

Promote the show. Add a line to everyone’s email signature with the show info and your booth number. If you have a giveaway or something else interesting, say that, too.

Make a date. Set up meetings ahead of time with existing customers, new targets, vendors, editors/publishers and potential alliances.

4.  HAVE A BOOTH THAT STANDS OUT IN THE CROWD

Location, location, location. Pick your booth location wisely. Think about how people move through a show. They have to pass by end caps, are likely to visit the restrooms, and will gather at food stations. Be in their way. Also, avoid being clustered with your competitors, and try to be adjacent to teaming/project partners.

It’s all about the design. How is your design conveying your one message? How is it showing the unique offerings of your firm? Attendees will see a ton of booths, all essentially identical. You have to do something different. It doesn’t have to be amazingly unique, just different.

5.  SWAG AND TECHNOLOGY, DONE RIGHT

Everybody loves swag, right? No! Most of us have many pieces of useless plastic. Try and relate your swag to your message. For example, if you tout technology, don’t have basic pens and notepads – have a cool techy device instead.

Moving pictures work. We tend to look at moving images, especially when they’re bright. Your booth should have a big monitor or a bright projector using video to tell your story. And remember, your story isn’t all of your past projects/experience, it is bigger than that. It should be focused on your UX or unique selling position.

6.  PROPER STAFFING

Plan on at least three people to staff the booth. One person should be walking around and going to meetings, and two people at the booth consistently allows for busy times, restocking items, and taking breaks. Most attendees don’t want to talk to sales people; they want to geek out with their peers so make sure you have staff ‘working the room.’

Invest in some pre-tradeshow training. Just because staff have attended a conference before, don’t assume they know what is expected of them when exhibiting (as well as attending). Go over the expectations with staff, review the tradeshow plan with them (see #1 on this list). Take the time to honestly assess if they have the business development skills needed to do well as an exhibitor. In other words, don’t put your most introverted person in the booth just because they are the subject matter expert. If they need to be there, pair them with seasoned business developers and marketers who will help them make connections.

7. MAXIMIZE YOUR TIME THERE.

Have a pick-up line. What gets people to stop? To laugh? To say, “Ok, fair enough, tell me more.” Test your pitch all show long. After the 100th pitch, you’ll know exactly what gets people’s attention — now put that on your marketing materials! Your opening line should engage them with something you specifically have to offer. Do some research and develop 3-5 questions that you’re going to ask of people who walk by the booth, then ask away.

Ask questions. Instead of constantly pitching to prospects, have a real conversation. Be genuinely interested in the other person — what do they do, what are they interested in.  If you’re good, they will actually ask you for a pitch as a form of reciprocation.  Don’t ask how they’re doing.

Take names instead of pushing brochures. How often do you dump all of the printed materials you received before you head back home? Do you think your prospects are any different? Scan their badge or get a business card and mail them something after the show.  Remember quality over quantity; if you take their info vs handing them materials, you now have a reason to follow up with them with materials that are customized to their unique issues that, obviously, only you can solve.

Wear comfortable shoes. Stand, don’t sit —sitting looks like you don’t want to be there. Get your body into the aisle. Just because there’s a table there doesn’t mean you have to stand behind it.

Use the time to gather competitive intelligence. Walk the floor and talk to everyone. You can commiserate about how the show is going and how it compares to others. Scope out the competition.

Build your own party. Who can resist free booze and free food? Rent a room at or near the conference site with wine, beer, and basic food. Pass out invites at the show and on your pre-show mailers.

8. LEAD TRACKING*

Take notes. You’ll talk to 100s of people: write it down within 10 minutes. How often do you finish a conversation and then can barely recall it? Use their business card to take notes on what you discussed as soon as possible. Use LinkedIn every night to follow up with contacts quickly.

Have a system for lead tracking and train all your staff on how to use it. You have likely spent thousands of dollars to exhibit, make sure you get your money’s worth by tracking all of the contacts you have made and any
potential leads. This is the #1 missed opportunity at tradeshows and the #1 reason why you are there.

*Sample tracking tools: CRM database, card scanner, tablet, or a simple lead sheet.

9.  FAILURE TO PLAN IS A PLAN FOR FAILURE

If you don’t plan for an emergency, the likelihood of it happening is 10x greater (note this is not scientific, rather based on personal experience). Prepare a tradeshow emergency supply Box of Everything. Here is a starting list for you:

  • Pens (multiple, different colors)
  • Sharpie
  • Scotch tape
  • Masking tape
  • Zip ties
  • Extension cord
  • Batteries
  • Electric plug bar
  • Post-it notes
  • Rubber bands
  • Tiny stapler
  • Highlighter
  • Paper clips
  • Scissors
  • All-in-one tool (screwdriver, can opener)
  • Medicine (Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, Dayquil, etc.)
  • Generic business cards (in case anyone runs out)


10. FOLLOW UP FAST



The key to getting your money’s worth from exhibiting at a tradeshow is to capitalize on every encounter there. Sadly, more often than not, firms return to the office after a show and get right back to business as usual. It is not surprising, you all have been out of the office for days and there is work piling up! Really, what is the point of all of that time and money if you do nothing with what you learned at the show?

External tasks. The marketing department can do a direct email campaign with lessons learned at the conference, who won your giveaway, or just a Thanks for stopping by email. This is a good time to get prospects integrated into your marketing process. Your business development team should be scheduling follow-up meetings, making CRM entries and sending any follow up information that was promised.

Internal tasks. Don’t forget to debrief internally to improve your processes and make decisions on next year’s attendance. Did you meet your stated goals? Why or why not? What could you do differently?  Also discuss the competitive intelligence you gathered (see #7 on this list). And lastly, apply what you learned. You talked to many firms, pitching a hundred different ways. What did you learn?  How can you use it to improve your firm?


Deirdre Gilmore, CPSM
Founder of Tank Girl Marketing and Co-founder of TGM Development
Deirdre is a Certified Professional Services Marketer who understands all aspects of marketing, from business development through research and operations. She specializes in setting strategies, business and marketing planning, training and coaching, strategic project pursuits, strategy, and brand development.  Deirdre sits on the board of the Arizona Association of Economic Development and received their Member of the Year Award in 2015. Furthermore, Tank Girl Marketing won three SMPS marketing communications awards. When not fulfilling her duties as Sergeant Strategy, Deirdre enjoys spending time with family and traveling the world.

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