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Senior Roundtable: Thought Leaders Share Perspective

While in the midst of economic uncertainty and firms trying their best to stay ahead of their competition, it was refreshing to see firms sharing information to help fellow A/E/C members survive in today’s market at SMPS Atlanta’s Senior Roundtable event. With more than 60 people attending, Steve Setzer, Senior Correspondent with ENR Magazine moderated a panel of esteemed professionals which included:

  • Monica Bell - Senior Vice President and Global Director of Marketing and Business Development with HDR CUH2A
  • Pete Kienle, FSMPS, CPSM - Business Development Director with McDonough Bolyard Peck, Inc.
  • Bruce Lea - Senior Business Development Manager with Gilbane Building Company
  • Bill Viehman - Chief Marketing Officer with Perkins + Will

Although the panel discussed some of the negative impacts of the economy, Peter Kienle posed the question, “If marketing professionals aren’t positive then who is?” Reflecting on the event, Beth Harris, President of SMPS Atlanta and Regional Business Development & Marketing Manager with McDonough Bolyard Peck (MBP) commented, “We had great questions and comments from the audience. The panel was totally willing to open up and share ideas and activities that set them apart. They encouraged us to think outside-of-the-box, now a requirement for survival in these times.” The panel discussion revolved around three questions:

  • What are your thoughts about the existing market?
  • Where do we go from here with a difficult economy? What outside of the box and provocative ideas can you share?
  • What should your firm be doing to cope?

 

Firms tend to have amnesia and forget the key fundamentals when things get desperate and fear steps in. The panel focused on the do’s and don’ts to be successful. Bruce Lea stated firms should “focus on how to come out stronger”. For example, is your firm maximizing time in front of clients? Do you have a focused, aggressive business behavior, identifying a champion for key clients? Are you reducing the proposal mill versus increasing the number of proposals?

This is a great time to be out in front of your clients, so spend your time wisely by getting involved with clients. Don’t forget the top three things you can do in marketing: hold a seminar/training session, volunteer for a speaking engagement, and write an article or white paper. Always follow the money trail and make sure your client has funds to pay for the project. Lastly, the panel strongly discouraged firms from buying work, as that practice tends to delay the inevitable. Firms buying work now, will ultimately be hurting later leading to reduced staff levels, and clients ultimately pay the price in the end.

All panel members shared some out-of-the-box examples. Monica Bell mentioned her passion for measuring accountability which led to developing a system for measuring face time. Additionally, they are conducting Post Occupancy Evaluations (POE) for work done by their firm and other firms, to identify areas that could be more efficient. Bill Viehman suggested not waiting until a client comes to you with a problem, but rather identifying an area that could help people in a certain industry.

Several panel members discussed how marketing plans are becoming less about the company’s business approach and more about developing an action plan for each individual. Additionally, panel members mentioned that their firms are also focusing on more robust personnel programs by developing staff and taking advantage of down time. There was some concern that a “brain-drain” would occur once things return to normal and firms will be scrambling to find good people.

If you have any additions or out-of-the-box ideas, please add a comment to this blog.

Sarah C. Mackley
Innovative Solutions Group, Ltd. (ISG)

SMPS Atlanta, Director of Communications