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Desperately Seeking "MC"

WANTED: Marketing professional seeking opportunity to stagnate their career in a long-term position where their knowledge, experience and technical acumen will be sidelined, minimized or underutilized altogether. This position is with a company that discourages growth and development while pigeon-holing employees into repetitive tasks. Ideal candidate will work best under leadership that suppresses creativity, resists innovation and micro-manages assignments. Self-starters need not apply.

OK, you got me. This isn’t an actual job board announcement. But despite what the majority of the job descriptions may say on the surface, the subtext reads loud and clear. And whether companies realize it or not, the marketers on the receiving end are NOT oblivious to this type of “window dressing.” In fact, some may even refer to this sort of camouflage as a classic bait-and-switch.

We’ve all seen it happen at one time or another with project pursuits. A firm proposes the expertise of an individual or team (the “bait”) with the full intention of substituting another individual or team once the project is secured (the “switch”). If the Client is lucky, then the substitute is equal to the initial promise. If they’re not, then the Client is left with an inferior team and not much recourse. This same maneuver is now being used to lure in ambitious marketing applicants; the promise of growth (the “bait”) is quickly replaced by an enduring lack of upward mobility (the “switch”) once an offer has been accepted.

No doubt the war for marketing talent has begun in A/E/C, and companies are clearly in reactionary mode. But while bait-and-switch has started to manifest itself, this tactic isn’t necessarily intentional. The list of reasons is varied and extensive. Some companies may have an internal disconnect between their need to respond to immediate tasks and their desire to have a long-term growth strategy. Others might lack the corporate culture necessary to facilitate employee growth. Or maybe they simply copied a generic job description from the internet and claimed it as their own, not realizing how it might be interpreted by job-seekers.

But as hiring managers continue to fight for qualified marketing candidates (actually, ANY candidates) to fill their firm’s vacancies over the next few years, marketing professionals continue to become increasingly savvy (or dare I say, suspicious) of the underlying messages conveyed by companies during their searches. This goes for both publically-posted and behind-the-scenes job opportunities alike. And as the distance between what companies actually need and what marketer’s actually want INCREASES, it fuels the fire of a progressively drawn out battle.

Nonetheless, A/E/C doesn’t have to exist in a perpetual stalemate for marketing talent. Whether you represent a firm in need of a marketer or you ARE a marketer in search of a new place to call home, below are a few things to keep both sides of the equation honest and “fighting fair.”   


For Companies Looking to Hire:

To better understand your candidate pool, it’s best to start with what happened to them during the recession. Because of their classification as “overhead,” marketers were generally the first ones in an office to get laid off, and at a time when NO ONE was making any new marketing hires or adding to overhead. As a result, many of them left the industry or the state entirely in search of viable employment. In essence, they became A/E/C marketing refugees. And the handful of newcomers that have entered the industry within the last two years aren’t looking to jump ship any time soon because they are still relatively new to their current positions. In other words, the candidate pool is already EXTREMELY limited.

If you also take into account the fact that almost every posted position is for a Marketing Coordinator (MC) with somewhere between three and five years of experience IN the A/E/C industry, then the pool shrinks even further. Why? Because the marketers that actually stayed in A/E/C and survived the carnage have long-since moved UP in their careers with the firms that supported them during the recession. Most aren’t likely to be interested in anything less than SPECTACULAR.

So how can a company in search of an MC make the most of hiring during this marketing talent shortage? Here are a few thoughts:  

  • The Benefits: No, I’m not talking about your healthcare and 401K plans. I’m talking about what sets you apart from the hiring competition. Does your company offer flexible work hours? Or work from home options? What about training and development opportunities for non-technical staff? Is there an employee-recognition or appreciation program in place? And what kind of workplace perks have you rolled out lately? Ask yourself what YOU have to offer. If the answer is “a job,” then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
  • The Description: Think twice before pulling the old “cut-and-paste” routine; this is a time to invest in some careful thought and consideration of your job description.   For example, who wrote it? Was it someone in your local office or someone in another state? How old is it and has the position evolved since then? Does it include percentages to show how much time will be designated to a specific task or responsibility? Does it reflect a hierarchy of priorities? Your job description should be specific, current and above all else, transparent.   
  • The Role: Not to be confused with “the description,” the role of a marketer can and often does vary greatly from firm to firm. But there ARE distinct differences between several roles that are often intertwined or confused with one another. Prominent snafus include the muddling of Marketing and Business Development and the jumbling of MC and Marketing Manager. So familiarize yourself with the disparities between each and develop your description accordingly (HINT: SMPS Blueprints is a great place to start). And steer clear of substituting a more senior title than what the actual position is for; this will only result in high turn-over rates that future candidates are sure to take notice of.
  • The Timing: As with most things in life, timing is everything when it comes to snagging a solid marketer right now. With almost twenty postings on SMPS’ job board alone, an efficient interview-to-hire process is more important than ever in not losing out on a strong candidate to a competing firm. If you aren’t prepared to act decisively, then postpone publicizing the job opening until you ARE. And if you’re searching on the “down-low,” be aware that qualified MC’s are probably doing the same. In other words, you'll still need to be decisive once you've found the right person.
  • The Training: Training has always been a crucial component to onboarding a new MC. But having an available marketing supervisor to train these days allows for a much larger candidate pool because you can consider individuals that are entry-level. Check out your local universities for graduates with decent written and verbal communication skills. And don’t be afraid to engage the Liberal Arts majors in addition to the more traditional contenders like Journalism, Communications and Business majors. After all, Liberal Arts majors are often required to take extensive “writing intensive” courses and are generally adept at creative problem-solving. Remember that proficiency with Adobe Creative Suite can be learned on the job, given the right on-site manager.
  • The Resources: As an add-on to “the training,” the presence of an experienced marketer serving as supervisor also allows you to contemplate candidates from other industries. If services marketing is the primary skill-set that you seek, then consider checking out organizations such as LMA or HSMAI. If a comprehension of general marketing is more your speed, then you might want to set your sights on AMA or BMA. And if interactive marketing or proficiency with Adobe Creative Suite are “musts” for your firm, then AZIMA or AIGA might be right up your alley.
  • The Salary: Whether you like it or not (and whether you believe it or not), it’s an MC’s market right now. They’ve got plenty of options with no shortage of interest in their skill sets or offers on the table. And as simple supply-and-demand dictates, the salary ranges for these positions are well on their way up. Throw in the diverse laundry-list of qualifications now typically being sought by firms, and you’ve got a job easily worth $10K MORE than it was just five years ago. In addition, you might find yourself in a bidding war with another company for the same candidate. Start thinking NOW about how you might sweeten the pot. Are we entering an era of signing bonuses and stock options? As far-fetched as it might sound, prepare yourself for all possibilities.


For MC's Consideration:

It’s undoubtedly a great time to be an MC, but it might also be a very precarious time to be an MC right now. So without rehashing everything that was discussed in Think Before You Shuffle, here are a few things for you to keep in mind as you head towards the front lines:

  • Value Alignment: Cultural fit is HUGE right now, for both job-seekers and hiring companies. Some have even gone so far as to say that it is just as important as technical ability now. When starting the dialogue with a potential employer, be sure you have a firm grasp on your core values. Are you more reserved and conservative, or do you crave a dynamic and diverse environment? Do you operate best in a highly structured “habitat” or someplace more organic and innovative in their approach? There is no right or wrong answer here, but you WILL want to find a company whose values align with your own. It could be the difference between long-term and nomadic employment.
  • Running Out the Clock: If you’re gainfully employed right now, then there’s NO CLOCK on investigating job opportunities; you can take your sweet time. Interviewing for a job should feel like a series of casual dates, not a night of speed dating. If a company seems more rushed than decisive, it could be a red flag. They may be looking for ANY person, not necessarily the RIGHT person. Let’s not forget that we spend approximately 40-45 hours a week at work, so it’s important that you invest the time to make sure that the company and opportunity are a good fit for you and your long-term goals. 
  • Get it in Writing: These days, what companies say to prospective employees matters much less than what they are willing to commit to in writing. So if you’ve actually found a company that you’re interested in working for and they’ve offered you XYZ (whatever that may be), then be sure you GET IT IN WRITING. And be sure you get it BEFORE you put in notice at your current job. It’s still not what I would consider an iron-clad guarantee, but it gives you much more recourse should any issues arise going forward. 
  • Go with Your Gut: Weighing the pros and cons are great and all, but there’s still a lot to be said for going with your gut. Of course, you should ask to meet with multiple people within the company (ex: the marketing manager, the business development, and/or member of executive leadership). And of course, you should ask yourself a few questions. Do I get a sense that there is a consistent corporate vision? Is their team really in agreement of what the marketing position in question entails? Are these the people that I really want to work with every day? If you’ve got a bad feeling in your gut that you can’t quite put your finger on, despite all evidence to the contrary, then don’t be afraid to walk away.  But if you're getting "warm fuzzies," then go for it! 


About the Bloggers:  BeatBlogger worked hard to bring together two great minds in Phoenix A/E/C for this lengthy introspective. Representing two sides of the same coin on the topic of marketing talent, here are their stories:  

  • Maisha Christian Hagan is a juggler. No, seriously. Not with bowling pins or flaming torches, but with projects, deadlines and to-do lists. As Marketing Director at Jokake Construction, Maisha is responsible for internal and external marketing efforts including support for all Business Development efforts as well as marketing support for Jokake’s sister company, ProKure Solutions. When she’s not at work, Maisha writes, sings, is actively involved with her church’s leadership team, and participates in mud/obstacle races with her husband and friends.
  • As a Sr. Account Recruiting Manager, Dan Nedoba zigs and zags his way through recruiting of candidates and working directly with hiring managers of key customers.  With nine years of recruiting and account management in Phoenix’s A/E/C industry for Aerotek Inc., Dan knows the market well.  In his free time, he gets out to the plethora of Spring and Fall events that the Valley has to offer in addition to golf, baseball, and old fashioned R&R poolside.  Friends and co-workers have nick-named him “Tan Dan.”

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Perfectionism & Procastination: A Tale of Two Traits

As I sit here gearing up to write this post that I personally suggested to BeatBlogger, I find myself wary…wary of what to say, wary of how to say it and wary of how much to write.

  • Will this idea resonate with other professionals in my industry? Or will I make a fool of myself for admitting that I suffer from this mentality?
  • Should it be argument-based (i.e. does this personality “defect” really exist at large or is it just me?) or should I come in with a funny story about the time I couldn’t get something done until the pressure of the looming deadline meant that I couldn’t put it aside any longer (a scenario which happens far too often).
  • And is “short and succinct” the way to go? Or should I give my readers something substantive to chew on for a while?

What I’m experiencing as I write these thoughts down is typical of what happens in my head every time I prepare for a new task. I over analyze each and every option and fully expect failure if I don’t get it done “just right.” I AM the “perfectionist procrastinator.”

Although I like to think that I am anticipating potential hurdles and finding solutions to them, what I’m really doing is creating roadblocks to my own success. I find reasons for why my results will be less than perfect and therefore why I should obviously wait to start whatever task I am trying to tackle until later when I’ve got it “sorted it all out.” What actually ends up happening is that I get to it when the deadline is around the corner and I don’t have a choice anymore. I’ve romanticized this fail-to-start pattern by telling myself (and others) that I am highly motivated by deadlines. Nice marketing spin, right?

Here’s an example for you. Although we are now on the cusp of June and I’m finally making the time to write this piece, I initially brought this topic up to BeatBlogger WAY back in February at the SMPS Southwest Regional Conference. I mentioned to her that I thought it would be great if someone (not me, of course!) would write a post about this very issue, since I had been inspired by something that had found its way into my inbox. That somethingwas an e-newsletter by Sandler Training and I received it four months prior in OCTOBER of 2014!

The good news is Sandler Training did their job at least: their email had piqued my interest so much so that I am still thinking about it six months later. I knew I’d get to it eventually. But what did this e-newsletter say that resonated so much with me? It discussed perfectionism and procrastination as two sides of the same coin.

Perfectionism is a mental obsession with achieving the ideal as a minimum requirement. For some people, it is a conscious form of procrastination that prevents them from getting started on goals and projects. For others, it’s an unconscious form that prevents them from completing projects, accomplishing their goals, and adding value to the world.  In either case, it’s a debilitating condition.” Sandler Brief, Volume 13, Issue 10.

I had never really thought about it in that way. Or at least I had never put words to the fact that I may be a victim of this very condition…delaying doing all sorts of things for fear of not doing them perfectly. Case in point, here are a few additional examples from personal experience:

  • In my professional life: Need to think about how to refresh the design on that proposal template? Too much! I’ll need to research the latest trends, try to find out what my competitors are doing these days, and come up with a few options to choose between. And then the “reveal.” What if my boss doesn’t like it? What if it’s no better than what I had already designed? What if I make a mistake? Let’s just leave it the way it is “for now” and I’ll try to redesign it sometime in the future…
  • In my personal life: Need to hang a piece of framed art at home? Too much! I’ll need to measure where everything else is spaced on the wall, the exact height they each need to be from the ceiling and perfectly hammer each nail so that I KNOW they will be level when I place that wire on the hook. Don’t even get me started on when it’s off by a quarter of an inch… my level eye (aka anal retentive tendencies) can’t take it! Can’t we just do that tomorrow?
  • As a volunteer: Need to write that blog post you suggested in the first place because the deadline is in two days and you’re still not sure what to say? Too much! Oh wait… That’s what I’m doing here isn’t it. Hey, I’m finally getting something done! Thank goodness for deadlines…

But here’s the thing. YOU control your own destiny. You can stop this counter productive routine in its tracks by simply saying “YES.” If you start with saying “YES, I can do this,” then you will get so much farther than if you never started in the first place (due to fear of not being perfect). Never mind the “I shoulds,” or the “but, what ifs.” Never mind with the “I can’ts” or the awful “I’m not good enoughs.” You ARE good enough. In fact, we are all better than we give ourselves credit for.

If we always kept our ideas to ourselves for fear of failure, then no one would ever improve. Methods of doing all things would stay stagnant and we would never discover innovative approaches to solving common problems. All it really takes is the courage to ignore your inner critic and try something new. In case you need some additional inspiration, here are three quotes by Albert Einstein that are helpful when dealing with your own perfectionist/procrastinator complex:

  • “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”
  • “The person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.”
  • “You never fail until you stop trying.”

Who knew I could get through this blog post if I just silenced my perfectionist tendencies and let go. Is it perfect? No. But is it something that wasn’t out there before NOW that I personally accomplished? Yes. Was it helpful for other A/E/C marketers and business development professionals? I hope so.

So if any of this rang true for you, I challenge you to say “yes” FIRST and figure out the details later. You will be amazed with what you can accomplish if you just get out of your own way.


About the Blogger:  Maria Leshner is an inner perfectionist and outer procrastinator extraordinaire who decided to say “YES” as her 2015 New Year’s Resolution. She spends her time letting go by laughing with her husband and two dogs, Rylie and Jett. She can sometimes be found getting stuff done, but usually only at the last minute for an impending deadline. She is an artist turned graphic designer who loves ctrl+z (undo) so that she can fix any unintended mistakes.  She also provides marketing and business development to a great MPE engineering firm in the valley that embraces her tendencies to make things “just right.”

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Mr. Perfect... No Such thing...

Leadership. What exactly are the elusive qualities that make a perfect leader? And is there a set formula? I’ve sat through tons of classes and presentations on this particular topic, and the theme is always the same. Treat people with respect, project an unwavering passion, and empower your team to carry out your vision. But what if all your best efforts in the leadership department aren’t making the dent that you thought they should? Does that mean that you’re not cut out to be a leader? Or perhaps worse yet, that you’re a bad leader? Hmmm…

I remember my first boss in A/E/C. She was well respected in the industry and quite direct in her approach…she just expected you to do your job, no more and no less. The environment in which I was groomed was very much like this: don’t try to make small talk about the weekend, never ask for a raise because you did your job, and avoid making excuses for missing a deadline. I never interpreted her as “mean” in her approach; it seemed to me that she had a fierce passion to succeed and wanted to push me to be my absolute best. And I thrived in this environment. She was an awesome role model in my eyes… exactly what I needed to kick-start my first real job, not to mention my career.

Fast forward ten years and I had found myself in my first “management” role, very much emulating my first boss’ “no-nonsense” leadership style.   After all, it had worked for me! But my marketing coordinator had just resigned and the exit interview didn’t cast me in the best light. To sum it up, I needed to be less abrasive, more caring, and give more kudos…otherwise I was going to get a reputation in the industry as being an unreasonable person to work for.

I was shocked. I thought everything had been going so well. A deadline had never been missed, we had been updating marketing collateral that hadn’t been touched in years…virtually all of the goals of the department were being met. But apparently I was missing a “touchy-feely” component to my management approach. In all honesty, I didn’t know that was a requirement of the position. In fact, I was quite perplexed. How could the same approach that had worked so well for me almost a decade ago be yielding such different results?  

I nearly quit over this “bad review.” I couldn’t help but think that I was beyond help…maybe even beyond hope. Ithought I was doing all the “right” things as a manager. I thought that I was doing all the things that would position me as a mentor to an industry newcomer and solidify my position as a leader within the firm. But I had clearly failed at both. I was feeling as low as I had ever felt, both doubting myself and doubting my future within A/E/C.

I needed help… I needed an epiphany…I needed a shrink…hell, I needed a drink! And that’s when both fate and fortune stepped in, because that’s when I happened to run into one of my long-time trusted mentors. She took me to happy hour (of course) and after listening to my story, she gently reminded me of one simple fact: there is no such thing as a “perfect” leader. She was also quick to remind me that there are as many leadership styles on this planet as there are people on this planet! These words of wisdom were just the boost that I needed to pull myself up out of the doldrums…and it wasn’t long before I got my “groove” back.

Add another four years onto this equation and I am still in hot pursuit of my unique leadership style. But the one key difference now is that I stopped focusing on being a “perfect” leader. There is just no such thing. And I was reminded of this once again when I attended the SMPS President’s Leadership Symposium (PLS) last year and was shown a TED Talk by Drew Dudley called Everyday Leadership.

In the video, Drew makes the point that too often people are afraid to step up into a leadership role, or even put themselves into the category of “leader,” because it seems so far out of reach. We make leadership about changing the world...something that is no small feat. But the reality is that there is no world; there are only seven billion views of it. And if you change just one of those viewpoints, then you’ve actually made a difference as a leader. Powerful stuff, huh?

In fact, this idea struck such a chord within me that I decided it would be the basis for my entire tenure as Chapter President. SMPS Arizona’s 2014/15 year would be dedicated to growing leaders through “Lollipop Moments” (watch the video and you’ll get it). And now that I’ve got four years of management under my belt, am nine months into my SMPS Presidency, and just got over the hump of submitting for the Chapter’s “Striving for Excellence” award, this is what I’ve learned on my journey towards “Lollipop Leadership.”

  • Tell people your expectations up front. If you expect people to work hard, never miss a deadline, and stay late to finish a project, then be clear in your expectations. Think of it as a verbal job description.
  • Recognize your weaknesses and work on them one at a time. I firmly believe that in order for something to become part of your “DNA,” you must continuously practice that "something." My weakness as a leader? I tend to focus on what’s next instead of stepping back and celebrating what has been accomplished. I forget to give kudos when someone has done a fantastic that's what I have focused on THIS year.
  • Get in touch with your emotions. I don’t mean this in a “crying at work” or “screaming at the top of your lungs” kind of way. I just mean that every experience comes saddled with some type of emotion. For instance, when I am stressed, I become extremely direct and I forget how this can come across to others.   My “director” mode is entirely unintentional, but not unavoidable…as long as I am aware of it.
  • Know when to apologize. If we could go back in time, there is always something that we would do differently, say differently, or approach differently. But since we are still waiting on the invention of the time machine, the only thing we can do is learn from our mistakes and say “sorry.”
  • Last but certainly not least, just be YOURSELF. I openly admit that 99% of the time, I am being 100% ME. I’m direct, I’m stubborn and I can be a little bit bossy. And I am nothing like a lot of other leaders out there. But if I remind myself that there is no such thing as a “perfect” leader, then I am better able to embrace my unique valueas a leader…especially when someone is chiding my weaknesses as one.

So what if you’re not a leader? Well I say that’s just absurd. Each one of us is capable of leadership in our own way; we are all “lollipop leaders!” And the beauty of this is that you don’t need a specific title to be seen as a leader, nor are you required to manage a staff or even achieve a certain number of years in the industry to be considered one. All you need is the passion to make a difference and the drive to encourage others to do the same.

Oh…and one more thing. If you ever catch me on one of those days when I’m in “director” mode, I apologize in advance. That's next year's focus LOL!


About the Blogger:  When not serving as President of SMPS Arizona or developing a strategy to win the next project for Concord, Grenee Celuch, CPSM can usually be found having her patience and her stubbornness put to the test by her German Shepherd. After countless years and hours of manipulation, she finally realized 5% of dog training is for the dog and 95% for the human. She credits her dogs with teaching her that you should jump for joy when excited, that snuggling and wet kisses can cancel out even the crappiest of days, and that stopping to smell the roses from time to time is not without its merits.

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Beatblogger is Buried Under a Pile of Paper Today...

So I PROMISED myself that I would NOT miss a weekly post for ANY reason, whatsoever.  Basically, hell was going to freeze over before I let it happen.  BUT, I guess hell has frozen over, because I need to take an unscheduled break in posts.  This has been an unusually hectic couple of weeks...I know that most of you will understand.  Despite this small hic-up, I WILL return in full force next Tuesday, May 19th and hope to never use this graphic AGAIN. 

In the meantime, if you have any ideas for a blog post that you want to talk to me about, please send me an email.  Or post your ideas in the "Comments" section below...


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Fresh Off Hollywood

Not too long ago, I was rubbing elbows with several Hollywood A-listers…like Christian Bale, Olivia Wilde, Steve Carrell and funny-man Zach Galifianikis. Hell, I once brought Jim Carrey his apple juice and took Steve Buscemi’s lunch order! And when Dave Franco was in Scottsdale promoting his 2013 release for “Warm Bodies,” he asked MEif it was ok to have an adult beverage at 11 AM in between his interviews with the press. Of course, I answered with a resounding “Yes!”

Before coming over to the A/E/C industry, I worked for Hollywood. More specifically, I was a publicist at a Public Relations agency that represented movie studios in the Southwest region, along with the studio’s stars and their films.  The job offered some insanely glamorous opportunities, like flying to Las Vegas to work a press junket, coordinating film premieres and wining and dining actors, actresses, directors and filmmakers when they were in town on tour in support of their films.

When I mentioned my history in Hollywood to BeatBlogger, her eyes practically fell out of her head and she asked me why I would give up such a glamorous gig to market for A/E/C ….an industry, which she was quick to point out has not been known for its glamour as of late.  Which got me to thinking…was the grass really greener working for Hollywood? 

Truth be told, my history is not really all that glamorous.  Yes, I matriculated to A/E/C from a Hollywood PR agency…but I did so with absolutely NO experience to speak of within the professional services world, let alone the engineering side of things.  And being “fresh off Hollywood,” I was a little intimidated to start a job where I was responsible for leading projects in an industry that was entirely new to me.  BUT my dad is an engineer…and I literally grew up with his “engineer speak” (or rather lack thereof), and I soon found that my ability to translate this jumbled techno-jargon into actual understandable English was an asset here…in the real-world of A/E/C.  

My confidence boosted by a little engineering “street cred,” I was quickly realizing that the best practices that I once used for Hollywood to build the foundation for a big-budget film campaign were exactly the same as the ones that I had been using to build an effective marketing plan for A/E/C.  The need to understand the ultimate end goal and the strategy that goes into finding the best and most effective solution to achieve that end goal (whether it be a successful movie opening or securing a project ‘win’ for my firm) actually ran parallel to each other, despite variances in industry.  The basics of marketing remained:  it was STILL all about understanding your audience and communicating value in a way that causes them to stop and take notice.  

My day-to-day “bread n’ butter” as a publicist was to interact with the major decision-makers in Hollywood (i.e. the studio executives), to plan and execute promotional events and deliver publicity opportunities to market a specific film.  But if you just change out a couple words within that sentence, you actually get what I do today:  My day-to-day “bread n’ butter” as an A/E/C marketer is to interact with the major decision-makers in the built environment (i.e. engineers, architects, contractors, etc.), to plan and execute winning proposals and deliver marketing collateral to market a specific team. 

Just as the A/E/C marketer receives periodic RFQ/Ps, chock full of requests for project descriptions, scopes of work, project approaches and team resumes, a PR representative receives a set of directives that details what sort of promotional activities the studio would like to see, who the targeted demographic is, and what the proper formatting will be for final reporting. Just like the popular 90’s saying goes, “same diff.” 

So let me be the first to tell you that there are more similarities than there are differences between what I was doingthen as a publicist and what I’m doing now as a practice-area marketer.  There!  Have I dispelled the myth of all the glitz and glam that comes with working for Hollywood? 

I only mention this because I suspect that at some point in our A/E/C careers, we all get to thinking that the grass is greener elsewhere…like in another industry.  And maybe we start to see marketers in those industries through rose-colored glasses.  We get to thinking that they get to do all the fun stuff in the marketing world (like put together a nifty press junket) while we get stuck with translating techno-jargon for selection committees …WOOPIDY-DO!  But realizing that their harsh realities are mirror images of our harsh realities should help bring us back TO reality…in A/E/C that is.

No matter how you choose to spin it, everyone’s job under the marketing umbrella is to discover and build upon their strongest and most creative strategy.  Whether you’re trading phone calls with the “top dog” at Sony regarding a film, or trading emails with the leading wastewater firm about a project, you are being called upon to provide your insight.  And ultimately, you are the middle man between the public’s eye and the client’s, no matter WHO that client is.  And, that’s not something to take lightly.

Maybe we are EXACTLY where we are supposed to be.  And maybe sealing the deal on that huge proposal (you know, the one that took you three years to land) really does hold the same weight as sharing a ride with an actress as she narrates the text messages between her and Daniel Radcliffe regarding their next big film (true story). OK, so one might not sound as fancy as the other, but consider your audience…


About the Blogger:  Lauren McConnell has a ton of flair; and no, not like Jennifer Aniston’s ‘pieces of flair’ in the movie Office Space.  She has a flair for details that has taken her far in her short period of time in A/E/C.  Outside of the industry, Lauren splits her time between epic classic video game play a la the original Nintendo Entertainment System and long walks with her furry four-legged children, in failed attempts to keep them from eating her couch.

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The Seven Year Itch

My technical colleagues ask me all the time why marketing people are so “finicky.” It appears that we are guilty of changing jobs frequently over short periods of time. In comparison to whom I’m not really sure, especially throughout the recession, but somehow the stereotype stands. Having amassed nearly 16 years in the profession, I can now say with confidence what I have long since suspected…and I declare it to whomever asks me with a somewhat comical response. I say simply this: “THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH.” Let me explain…

The phrase “seven year itch” has been around for quite a while and has been used to describe any number of conditions including rashes, punishment for bad behavior (huh?) and even hopeless situations (double huh?). But the more modern acceptance of the phrase has to do with reaching a metaphoric fork in the road at the seven year mark of a long-term relationship (or marriage). Epitomized by the 1955 movie starring Marilyn Monroe, it’s a phenomenon that is actually backed up by psychological studies showing this point in time as a period of general restlessness and angst. And the relationship between a marketer and their firm is not much different.

In the early years of our careers, we are incredibly enthusiastic with a seemingly endless amount of energy primed to tackle the marketing world. Whether it’s because we are so young in our occupations or just plain naïve is debatable, but regardless of which it is, we are pretty much willing to do whatever it takes during this phase. You need me to work until three in the morning? No problem! And you want me to come in this weekend, too? Sure thing! Both days? You got it. Did I mention that we somehow manage to do all of this with a smile?

The “honeymoon” phase in a marketer’s profession is not dissimilar to the “honeymoon” phase at the beginning of a serious relationship. Dismissing tedious flaws and red flags in favor of massive rationalizations are a mainstay of this chapter, and in both scenarios we risk forfeiting quite a bit of ourselves in the process. We tread dangerously close to becoming someone that our friends used to know and used to hang out with; two years in and we are barely recognizable as ourselves.

Enter the “temptress” firm…donned in a white flowing dress, luring us away with the promise of “a little affection” (i.e. more money and a better work-life balance) as Marilyn suggests to her co-star Tom Ewell in the famous “subway scene.” This is why so many of us move from firm to firm and on such a predictable two year cycle; this is why we come across to so many in A/E/C as “finicky” job hoppers. Basically, our relationship has soured and we haven’t yet figured out why. All we know is we had NOTHING to do with it LOL! I actually had a two to three year rebound cycle and at three separate firms early on in my career. The job roles were always the same, but there was something forever holding me back from fully committing to any of them.  

I was at my fourth (and current) firm, and coincidentally also at my seven year mark (in A/E/C), when I first started to hear people say to me: “You’ve changed. What happened?” Initially, I wondered what they were talking about. After all, I was still the same person. But their inquiries prompted me to give this perceived “change” some considerable thought. What HAD actually happened?  

At that particular point in time, I had been with my firm for a little over a year and I had no intention of leaving. I had staked my claim on the position, and was functioning much more decisively both as a team member AND as a team leader. I had also reached a point where I was more willing and able to own and manage my own workload. I was like “hey…why am I killing myself for a snowball’s chance at winning this pursuit? Especially during the wee hours of the morning. What am I thinking?” And I became much more assertive about it.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had reached the “fork” in my professional life; that “seven year itch” point when you decide you’re going to buckle down and stick with it or you’re going to bail. Like the point in a relationship when you’re NOT yet married and you are wondering what the other person is waiting for. But making THAT kind of long-term commitment means “sugar-coating” the flaws goes out the window; you have got to “grow a set” and own yourpart in the relationship if you want it to LAST. And that’s what I had done!    

Pushing past the “seven year itch” and coming out committed on the other side is an important rite of passage that not all marketers will achieve. What can I say? Some of us are just destined to be wooed by the “temptresses” of A/E/C. But those of us who do reach this point are no longer distracted by white dresses and blowing subway vents. Instead we start wondering why some ditz is standing over a fan without giving a care in the world about shining the entire modern civilization with a view of her “moon.” Thanks, but no thanks…we’ll just work on improving the job that we’ve got…  

Which brings up an interesting twist to this analogy. If you ARE “married” to your firm, like I have been to mine for the past decade, then how does one keep things fresh and interesting? I say don’t be afraid to spice things up! Hey, what you do in your relationship is your business (hee hee hee), but strapping on your red “power” pumps certainly commands attention…and in both instances! Assert your voice and become a force to be reckoned with. Establish boundaries and SHARE your opinions. Have confidence in your portfolio of knowledge. You know what you‘re doing…  

It is actually this attitude adjustment that led my colleagues to take notice of my abilities, ultimately earning me a seat at the “big boy’s” table. And if you’re anything like me, once you get to this point, there is NO GOING BACK. The animal has been let out of its cage! If you have eclipsed the “seven year itch” and come out the other side a stronger marketer, when did it happen for you? Was it actually at the seven year mark? Was it sooner? Or later? I only ask because you don’t HAVE to wait seven years before you take the bull by the horns and make this transition. Despite the label, you can actually sidestep years of heartache if you have the vision and drive to make it happen.     


About the Bloggers:  Brandi Barr is SMPS Arizona's 2015 Education Chair, is a marketer and business developer by day, mom of three and wife 24/7. When not chained to her office, she's an avid sports enthusiast with four fantasy football teams and a passion for the San Francisco Giants. Recently crowned the 2015 Marketer of the Year, she buddied up with the Inaugural 2014 Marketer of the Year, Amy Villasana-Moore CPSM, on this quirky little blog post and was pleasantly surprised by Amy's movie buff contributions.

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What does your "Why" Look Like?

If you have been following my posts on this blog, you know that I am a self-proclaimed movie buff.  Even my comments on other people’s posts tend to involve movie quotes or links to scenes.  But only slightly behind movies (at least in my mind) are commercials, probably because some of them are like mini-movies…at least the ones that I really enjoy are.  Some of my absolute favorites to date include:  Guitar Center’s “Greatest Feeling on Earth,” GE’s “Ideas are Scary,” and Beats by Dre’s “Game Before the Game.”  An eclectic line-up to be sure, but there is a connecting factor between them all; they all start with “why.”   

The simple yet fundamental question of “why” touches on the core of what actually motivates people to TAKE ACTION, whether it be to purchase items relatively small in nature (like a guitar, an appliance or a set of headphones), or to pull the trigger on something pretty HUGE (like hiring a contractor to build a sports stadium, for example).  Even though I have always inherently understood this concept, I don’t think I really become consciously aware of it until I viewed a TEDTalk by Simon Sinek called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.”  To sum it up in Sinek’s own words, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it…the goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have; the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.” 

After watching this video, I got to thinking about our industry and contemplating whether or not A/E/C was successfully tapping into the “why” in our marketing campaigns.  As soon as I asked myself this question though, I had my answer…and it was simply “no."  For the most part, as an industry, our campaigns focus only on the “how” and the “what.”  We talk about delivery methods and getting projects done “on time and within budget,” and we boast about “exceeding expectations.”  No doubt, these are all extremely important points…but they don’t help us to differentiate ourselves…and they certainly don’t INSPIRE.

In the TEDTalk video, Sinek poses an important question to the audience.  If your company is appealing to one side of your audience’s brain using logic and facts, but humans actually make decisions with an entirely different part of their brains (the part that controls feelings and behaviors and begs the question “why”), then how is your company going to effectively convince anyone to take any action in your favor?  It’s no mystery to me then, why A/E/C campaigns are missing the mark…they are all details, facts and logic for our neocortex to dismiss…and no 'heart' for our limbic brains to digest. 

But what if A/E/C collectively shifted its marketing focus from “how/what” and instead started with “why?”  What then might our campaigns (or commercials) look like?  To make this question a little less lofty, I decided to tackle it on a personal level using my own background as the basis for my imagined commercial.  But as it turns out, this is not as easy as I originally thought.  As I quickly discovered on this self-initiated mini-journey, starting with “why” means revealing the stuff that really makes you tick.  Starting with “why” means divulging the driving factor behind everything you do and everything you aspire to be; it means opening up about the stuff that’s 'in your guts.'  And pulling back the curtain on something like that can leave both people and companies alike feeling vulnerable.  Hmmm…I guess I’ll take one for the A/E/C team on this…here goes…   

My Own Background:

My grandfather was a contractor AND a very dynamic individual.  He was the type of guy who people loved being around; the type of guy who could talk himself and everyone else into almost anything.  His contracting business was just one of MANY in his lifetime; when I think about it, his true profession was probably more “adventurer” than anything else.  I had on occasion thought that he would pass the business down to my father, who would then eventually pass it on to me.  Regrettably, that did not happen…but I still play with the notion of “what if” sometimes.  So if this HAD become my reality, and I HAD taken over my family’s contracting business, THIS is what my commercial would look like… 

My "Why" in Commercial Form:  

The setting for my commercial would be me sitting at my kitchen table, going through a box of old family photos and reminiscing about my grandfather.  My narration would coincide with close-ups of old photos and would be spliced with snippets of family film, both of which would visually assist the telling of my story.  The dialogue would go something like this: 

“I’ve been in construction for as long as I can remember…one of my first tasks on site was to level off a wet slab of concrete for someone’s sidewalk…I was probably five or six years old.  My grandfather would take me onto all his work sites, OSHA be damned.  He wanted to take me everywhere…he wanted to show me what he had built. 

Amy and Grandaddy_01

And he was always telling me crazy stories about his life.  I remember him telling me about his time prospecting silver in Mexico.  He would take this beat up Volkswagen ‘Thing’ up the side of the mountain to the mine entrance and the roads were so narrow that the car would always tumble over onto the side of a slope, and he would have to call his crew out to come help him set it up-right again.  That one always made him laugh…he had a mischievous laugh.

Toppled Truck   

For the longest time, he had a small office off of San Pedro Avenue in San Antonio.  And he used to loan the office space out free of charge to start-up business owners.  There was this one owner who ended up making it big in the distribution business and as a ‘thank you,’ he included my grandparents in the sales trips for top performers EVERY YEAR for more than a decade.  They saw Europe and Japan, South America…

I remember him getting really active in the community as I got older.  He sat on the City’s Planning Commission for a while…he even built San Antonio’s first two Habitat for Humanity homes and founded the City’s first Hispanic-owned bank.  I think he just wanted to make everyone’s life better…I think he wanted to share his good fortune… 

He used to say that he was blessed with adventures and a family to share them with.  He said he was living the good life.  When I was younger, I didn’t really have the capacity to appreciate what he was saying.  But now that I’ve got a few grey hairs on my head, I totally ‘get it’…I totally ‘get HIM.’  Granddaddy…wherever you are now…if you can hear me…here’s to the good life.  I love you…and I miss you…”

Queue the Tagline:  The Good Life…for your family and ours.  Villasana Contractors, Inc.

I imagine that there would be music intertwined with the dialogue (something that conveys a sense of nostalgia).  I also imagine that the film quality and camera angles would be more indicative of a hand-held camera…slightly grainy, sporadically unsteady and intermittently out of focus. In other words, it would be nothing glamorous.  There would be no shiny buildings and no parade of awards flashed across the screen; there would be no exchange surrounding schedules, budgets or expectations.  There would be nothing to distract the viewer from the STORY itself. 

The Final Question:

So there you have it; my imagined commercial…the stuff that’s 'in my guts.'   It shows my would-be clients that there is more to me (the narrator) than construction and business ownership.  Is it personal?  Absolutely.  Have I put myself 'out there?'  You bet.  But I think it’s a commercial that people would want to see and would probably respond well to.  Because it draws on a feeling that everyone shares and answers the question of “why.”  This now prompts me to ask YOU the very same question that I asked myself.  What is your “why” and what does it look like?  Think about it…


About the Blogger:  Amy Villasana-Moore, CPSM is SMPS Arizona's 2015 Blog Chair, is a marketer and business developer, art and music enthusiast, fan of all animals, darkroom-trained photographer, recovering “workaholic” and movie buff.  She can meet you at the intersection of “strange” and “brew” and if the need arises, can have an entire conversation with you using only movie quotes.

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The Perils of Ignoring

“The busy man is a lazy man.” This has been one of the most convincing quotes that I have read recently. What C.S. Lewis was really getting at is that it is incredibly easy to fill up your schedule while never truly getting anything of significance accomplished. It is a habit that we have all grown quite accustomed to. We fill up our time with those “oh so important” projects, rush around like mad men trying to get it all done, and slowly but surely let everything else fall by the wayside. After it is all said and done, our to-do lists have only gotten longer and we have totally missed out on that sense of fulfillment that comes with getting things done WELL.

If I had to make an educated guess as to what every person reading this post would say is the source of most of their “busy work,” I would guess “proposals.” Case in point, there was a somewhat controversial article recently published on the subject called Welcome to the Machine…the Proposal Machine which detailed one marketer’s view on this topic. Interestingly though, I would also venture a guess that as soon as you have this thought, you talk yourself out of it. You tell yourself that proposals are the shot at the work that your firm wants and NEEDS; that they are essential and are never going away. THEN you convince yourself that nothing is going to change and that you are going to be busy doing proposals forever. Perhaps you fantasize about looking for another job with some fictitious firm that doesn’t do proposals. And then after your general malaise has worn off, you think about how much you love your company…and how much you love this industry…and before you know it, you have just strapped yourself onto the tracks for another train of “busy work” to slice you in two.

But marketers don’t have to play the part of “damsel in distress” to the industry’s proposal “villain.” We don’t need rescuing from “busy work”; we need to refocus! Let’s dissect this dysfunctional thought process before we get run over again:

RFQ/Ps are the end game. Yes, they most certainly are. There’s no denying the obvious. Sadly for many A/E/C firms, their marketing efforts don’t END with the RFQ/P issuance; they BEGIN. There is just something fundamentally wrong here. To show team work and interest in a project, technical teams regularly spend between one and two years preparing for a big win; they are hard at work designing conceptual buildings or putting together conceptual estimates to position themselves as the top choice when it comes time to direct select. On the flip side, though, marketers are regularly doing NOTHING before the RFQ/P comes out. Whether self-imposed or dictated by our firms, this “end game” as the ONLY game is a broken model that keeps us buried in “busy work.” Have we forgotten the most essential fundamentals of marketing strategy? Have we forgotten about Awareness, Interest, Desire and Need? I hope not…so say it with me: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Need…

  • Awareness: In case you (or your firm) need reminding, it’s “Awareness” that marks the beginning of marketing; it represents all of the activities that earn your firm great exposure WITHOUT the guarantee of work. This is the stage when we build our brand promise and gain exposure for our firm’s name. This is also the point at which we should be learning about the opportunities that are going to take time, strategy and some serious trust building with the client in order to win. During this stage, we have no idea who is actually taking note, but we have put some serious thought into getting our firm’s name and message “out there” in a targeted manner. So when your boss says “All my buddies commented that I placed an expensive ad in the local business journal, but I didn’t get a single job out of it,” you can feel confident that the ad did its job; it got NOTICED! Do that six more times and you are really getting somewhere.
  • Interest: This is the stage when your targeted audience now knows your firm’s name and you have earned some brand recognition. Not necessarily because of ads, but because of a variety of marketing activities (think speaking engagements, networking, social media, etc.). Your audience is probably ready to learn more about your firm, but not really ready to buy. Remember, it’s not “no,” it’s just “not yet.” They are investigating your team and checking out your website to confirm information like specializations and company size. They are also viewing LinkedIn profiles and website projects and perhaps even looking you up on social media to see if your firm’s “personality” is in alignment with their own.   People are doing this with your firm RIGHT NOW. How does your firm measure up?
  • Desire: Things are starting to get good at this stage of “the game.” Your audience has built up positive perceptions of your firm and connected the dots between your expertise and their needs. And you also know that they have a project coming up in the future. You are the perfect fit for them and it’s time to talk! Your knee-jerk reaction may very well be to quickly point out all the parallels between the client’s project and those that your firm has completed in the past…especially when your firm desperately needs the backlog and the project in question is “exactly” the size that your firm could use to fill the gap. But your focus should really be on learning everything that you can about the key players, about what success looks like to them, what their perceptions of the vital project issues are, who the unexpected stakeholders might be…and, of course, all the other things that make this project unique to and for them. This is a critical point in the overall pursuit timeline and your opportunity to absorb everything you need to win! So what is your marketing approach here? Start with case studies, proprietary software that you use to overcome issues critical to them, sell the team and their qualifications, go beyond your paper resume…dig deep!
  • Need: This is when the RFQ/P comes into play. Now you are ready! And if you’ve gone through the first three stages, then you have vetted your clients and their opportunities to the point where your “busy work” proposal load is much lighter…AND your win rate is much higher.   Forbidden communication? No problem. Because you already did all the work you needed before the RFQ/P came out.

RFQ/Ps are not going away. There is also no denying this one either. But bringing back the “strategy” in your strategic marketing efforts can probably get rid of one-third of your “busy work” burden. If you have a marketing plan and a targeted prospect list – and you actively work the plan and the list – then you can spend A LOT less time going after proposals that your firm has only a snowball’s chance of winning.

I will be busy forever. I certainly hope so! It beats the alternative. But my marketing hope for everyone reading this is that you put your leadership hat on and take control of your marketing processes. Don't continue to live in peril of ignoring the "strategy" in strategic marketing.  Educate your peers and colleagues on what success COULD look like if your firm’s marketing efforts were approached differently. Show them that you are invested in the effort. Show them the numbers on wasted marketing dollars and hours on unworthy proposals and LEAD them through the marketer’s mantra: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Need. Awareness, Interest, Desire, Need. The busy man is the lazy man? Not necessarily…we COULD be busy with worthwhile work from here on out…if we are brave enough to get up off of those tracks.


About the Blogger:  Danielle Feroleto, MA, CPSM is the owner and president of Small Giants LLC. But the real fun in her life begins with her husband of 12 years and her 6-year-old daughter. What other dynamic duo could convince her that two chickens in the backyard would be a good idea? When not tending to livestock, they love to hike, have princess tea parties and family movie nights!

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"Sticky Note Motivation" (The President's Mid-Year Update)

Rewind to last August (2014), and I specifically remember a wise person telling me to write my future-self a piece of advice, something that I would need in six months (the halfway point through my SMPS Chapter presidency). I looked at this woman with a slight smile…probably more of a smirk…and said, “Yeah okay, I’ll do that.” But as I was walking away I thought, “Why would I do that?” And what did she mean by “my future-self?” However, two days later I was STILL thinking about what she said, so I figured that my mind (or my gut) must know something that I didn’t. And that’s when I really began to think about my current situation.

During any given work week, I would probably find myself occupied with approximately six BD meetings, a proposal to review, an interview to prep for, four internal meetings to attend, a strategic plan to implement, an SMPS event to make an appearance at, a dog to train, a husband to entertain, a happy hour with a friend, and…yada, yada, yada. Like many of us do, I bury my face in my computer screen most nights and some weekends just trying to “keep up” with the demands of work. And now I would have to find more time!

Piled on top of my typical fun-filled (and hectic) week would now be an additional serving of responsibilities as the SMPS Chapter President. And just like that, I had an epiphany - or maybe it was just a heavy dose of reality - and I knew exactly what that woman had meant. My future-self was going to be totally overwhelmed at some point during the Presidency. So I took her advice, wrote myself a sticky note and stuck it to my computer…and then stuck one onto the dash in my car and one on the top of my laptop for good measure…and there they remain to this day. My message to myself was short and sweet: Swimming. Stage. Smiling.

  • Swimming – Following the advice of Dory in Finding Nemo, I wanted to remind myself to “just keep swimming.” Apparently, my past-self knew that my future-self would need to see this statement on a daily basis. And it has worked wonders, even on an hourly basis! When I find myself with 150 emails in my inbox, action plans to review, a strategic plan to keep pushing forward, and a to-do list that keeps getting longer, I remember to “just keep swimming” and it motivates me to keep on “keepin’ on.”
  • Stage – I knew last August, when I was getting ready to step up into the Presidency, that I had put together a powerhouse of an SMPS Leadership Team for the 2014/15 year. Seriously, the 30 individuals that are making this organization Thrive are absolutely amazing! I would put their collective powers up against any of the other 56 chapters within SMPS every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Each one of them deserves to be put on a stage and recognized for their achievements, and the word “stage” would help me keep the idea of recognition at the forefront of my mind.
  • Smiling – Did your mother ever tell you that you look much more attractive when you smile? My mom did…and still does…especially when I get overwhelmed or have a lot going on, and I forget about my facial expressions…or rather lack thereof. So I decided to test this theory about a month ago on a particularly stressful day, and it turns out that my mom was right (add that to the list of 3,456 other things she was right about)! Well, mostly right anyway. As it turns out, I may not look prettier when I smile, but I look 20-times more approachable…and I always want people to feel like they can talk to me, regardless of anything else that might be going on.

So how do sticky note messages tie in with this mid-year progress report for the Chapter? Well, it has been six months since the start of our fiscal year and the honeymoon is over. The thrill of the “big picture” has faded and the day-to-day grind is starting to wear us thin…at least, I’m starting to wear thin on certain days. I figured that we could all use some “sticky note motivation.” SOOOO, here goes!

The Mid-Year Chapter Update

At our Mid-Year Chapter Retreat on March 20th, I gave each Chapter Leader a baseball so that they could write down what “success” would look like for them at the end of August (when the 2014/15 SMPS year concludes). I remember getting lots of blank stares, but I was happy to see that they obliged. But what did they write? Although I find myself curious about each Leader’s “sticky note” message, I realize that it isn’t for me to know. Success is determined by the individual. What matters is that each Leader utilizes the baseball as it was intended; a reminder of why they work so hard and a motivator to keep them doing what they do.

Our Leadership Team is making our Chapter’s vision a reality, and I know that they must be exhausted. I know that they work tirelessly (both day and night) to plan programs, meet with new members, balance budgets, conduct surveys and create publicity pieces. And I know that they are all VOLUNTEERS, working on all-things-SMPS as an “add-on” to their careers and family life. The effort and sacrifices that they make for this organization are pretty amazing and a little overwhelming. And now that we are in the midst of year two of our Chapter’s strategic plan, here’s an overview of the greatness happening at our local Chapter level:

  • Membership: We started the year with 141 members and just crossed the long-anticipated 160 member threshold! If you take into consideration the fact that on any given month we have around 5-6 memberships expiring, and that we stayed stagnant for almost three years at 123 members when the economy was down, then achieving 160 members is the stuff of myth and legend. We have been at the absolute top of our recruitment AND retention efforts!
  • Education/Programs: As always, we have continued to offer quality educational opportunities through ourMarketing CouncilCRM User’s Grouplocal events, and Adobe training. And as always, our programs have allowed our members to not only earn CEU’s, but also acquire the skills and training necessary to achieve their career development goals. Additionally, our Chapter has teamed with ACE for the first time in almost seven years to offer Deconstructing Construction, a two-day program focused on giving new professionals within the industry and non-technical staff the education to navigate every part of A/E/C.
  • First Impressions: You asked for it and we delivered. Our newly formed First Impressions Branch has been planning Leverage Your Beverage (LyB) events nearly every month since the beginning of the 2014/15 year. Not only has attendance been amazing at these events, but they continuously bring in a large number of both SMPS members and non-members alike! After all, who doesn’t love an informal networking happy hour?
  • Publicity: Struggling to keep up? Don’t I know it! Our Social Media group has really amped it up this year. They are constantly updating all of us on upcoming events and member highlights, and are sending out awesome event recaps with fun photos. The Publicity Branch also launched a new video series (now viewable on our YouTube channel) and re-launched the Chapter blog. Breaking away from the standard “best practices” approach, A/E/C Beat’s personality (BeatBlogger) serves up a healthy dose of human with a little bit of controversy and whole a lot of humor mixed in.
  • Financial: The good news keeps on coming with not one, but TWO Build Business Scholarships (a $2200 value), another TWO Southwest Regional Scholarships (a $550 value), a $500 donation to StreetLights USA and a $1000 donation to St Mary’s Food Bank. Enough said!

These are just the highlights of what the SMPS Arizona Chapter has achieved this year; the tip of the iceberg, if you will. Our mission to “Advocate, Educate, Connect to Thrive” is truly coming to life and I am so excited with the growth that our Chapter has experienced. But I am even more proud of the team that has been working so hard to get us to this point. So here’s a huge “thank you” to our Leadership Team! Thank you for all of your efforts!!! I am so grateful for everything that you are doing for SMPS Arizona and am hopeful that each of your baseball "sticky notes" proves to be as inspirational to each of you as you all have been to me!


About the Blogger:  When not serving as President of SMPS Arizona or developing a strategy to win the next project for Concord, Grenee Celuch, CPSM can usually be found having her patience and her stubbornness put to the test by her German Shepherd. After countless years and hours of instruction, she finally realized 5% of dog training is for the dog and 95% is for the human. She credits her two dogs with teaching her how to jump for joy when excited, that snuggling and wet kisses can cancel out bad days, and that we should all learn to stop and smell the roses from time to time.

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A Marketer's Mind, as told through "Memes"

meme is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."

I love the Internet and everything it has to offer. I like to consider myself a respectable “Gen Xer” with a closet “Millennial” inside me blaring Brittany Spears and saying “like” a lot. Probably because of this, I’m thoroughly amused by pretty much all memes and I use them to express myself often. In the words of Sam Smith, “I know I’m not the only one.”

But that’s on the inside. On the outside, I’m growing up in the A/E/C world. I’m becoming a more professional marketer, business developer and industry peer...and SMPS has played a big part in that. As I get to know the broad range of personalities in A/E/C, I continue to meet marketers who are jettisoning themselves into leadership stardom; every time I see them out and about, they are even more awesome than the last time I’ve seen them.

But maybe they are closet Brittany fans, too; maybe they love memes as much as I do. So I decided to put together a few memes straight out of the world of A/E/C marketing. Some of these already live online and some I made myself. But they all poke fun at the thoughts that we, as A/E/C marketers, deal with every day.  

I’m sure that all of you out there have had a “meme moment” when you wished you could just hold up a picture up above your head - a picture with some giant white text screaming your uncensored thoughts - and make your point. But since we can’t, go ahead and scroll through these memes and try to forget about the weight of our real world issues. Laugh a little today and embrace your tribe (the A/E/C marketers of the world that totally “get” you).


The expectations...

That would be Great


The wardrobe...

Business Womans Special


The printer...

Half Inch Bleeds


The outsourcing...

Live Dangerously


The communication breakdowns...

Sure I Love Revisions


The website relaunch...

We Dont Need SEO


The platforms…

Social Networking


And the buzzwords...

Aint Nobody Got Time for That


The events...

Actually Just Networking 


The lingo...

I Like Big Opps


The big wigs...

What Would You Say You Do Here


The planning...

A Bunch of Memes


No, my Marketing Plan isn’t just a bunch of memes, but I’d be happy if it were! What can I say? I’m easily amused. But seriously, we all work really hard to make our messaging impactful, and we do it with consistently diminishing resources, time and space. Taking the time to craft your message with a little extra thought and humanity can make the difference between totally “getting” your clients and completely missing the mark. Can we create messages as poignant as a meme? Hmmm…  


About the Blogger:  Between bike rides with the kids, Nicole Rodriguez juggles client meetings as an A/E/C industry consultant. She’s positively thrilled at any opportunity to shine, support and succeed, which usually means that she works part-time for SMPS as a volunteer in addition to her full-time position as “Major Marketing” for TankGirl Marketing. Nicole thoroughly believes she can change the world one graphic, one event, and one client at a time and will never give up trying. She also believes that we are all lucky to be alive and well and able to read this very post!

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