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Business Development

Baking business development into your culture: how this firm did it

In my many years of advising AEC and environmental consulting firms on effective business development practices, I’ve seen that firms who are successful have several things in common:

  • They understand the need to position themselves within their key markets using a one-to-many marketing strategy (instead of relying solely on 1:1 relationship-building).
  • They put systems in place that allow that strategy to deliver valuable data that can drive and inform BD strategy and implementation.
  • They align both business development and marketing efforts to clear and client-focused business plans for each of their key markets.

This level of strategy and focus is what allows firms to successfully drive growth, brand and client relationships. But it’s not always easy to implement. Trying to drive the effort from the marketing department without enforcement and accountability from the top is rarely effective. Employing marketing and BD tactics without clear […]

Client selection is more important than ever

When the economy starts to look rocky and project opportunities may be diminishing, it can be tempting to start saying yes to work that’s not a great fit (but it’s work) or chasing RFPs.

I saw a lot of this happening during the Global Financial Crisis (2008–2009), and I’m seeing it again now. In times of uncertainty, of course, we may be more willing to take on a project that is not ideal. But too often, firms start to convince themselves that throwing best practices out the window is their best option.

In this issue of The Friedman File, we’re talking about why that’s not a good idea and offering some helpful guidelines for creating and implementing a thoughtful client selection process, one that strengthens your firm for the future.

What we’re doing that isn’t working

Many firms do have informal go/no-go processes in place. But the […]

Client relations in the era of COVID-19

As COVID-19 turns business as we know it—and our global communities—upside down, there are no easy answers or sure projections. While some AEC and environmental consulting firms have not experienced a disruption to projects, others are seeing warning signs and are increasingly nervous about what’s next and some are already slashing costs to contain the bleeding.

Multiple industry surveys reveal that the business impacts, like the virus itself, could vary widely and may well get worse before they get better. I’m hearing from many firm leaders who are doing their best to balance the day-to-day pandemic response with planning for project delays and revenue declines.

None of us knows when our business life will return to any sense of normalcy, but we do know this: firms must prioritize their relationships with current and prospective clients now so that those relationships come out stronger on […]

Are you waiting for opportunity to knock? Or making it yourself?

We talk a lot about market sectors in the A/E/C industry—whether they’re up or down, which ones we can compete in, and which strategies will help our firms stand apart as leaders. What we don’t talk enough about is how our firms can be out in front, helping to develop a market and essentially creating demand for their services.

In this issue of The Friedman File, we’re talking with a firm that isn’t content to wait on future opportunities—they’re making them. At 300-person MEP and building services firm Jaros, Baum & Bolles (JB&B) (New York, NY), they’re rolling up their sleeves and bringing constituencies together to build a market from the ground up.

JB&B has been working in institutional life sciences design—and in New York—for years. So when local real estate brokers began asking what it would take to reposition a property to serve these […]

4 questions to ask before you finalize your marketing budget

It’s year-end, and you know what that means: budget season. It also means that your marketing efforts and expenditures may be under the microscope. As firms grapple with how much to spend in this critical area — and what to spend it on – one of the most common questions we hear is, “What percentage of net service revenue should we spend on marketing and business development?”

While there are benchmarks, the real answer is, “It depends.” And, in fact, there are other important questions that I encourage you to answer first. In this issue of The Friedman File, we’re diving deeper into marketing and BD expenses and how you can create a budget that’s aligned to your business goals and better designed for success.

The role of benchmarks

On average, it’s fair to say that AEC industry firms spend 5-6% of net service revenue on […]

By |2019-12-05T17:14:46-04:00December 2019|Business Development, Marketing & Branding|

Curating conversations: how one firm took a nontraditional approach to market positioning

In the years that Friedman & Partners has been in business, we have again and again seen the power of successful thought leadership efforts to ignite business. And yet, there are still many firms that get stuck in effectively adapting this proven marketing strategy and implementing it consistently.

That’s why, in this issue of The Friedman File, we’re sharing how one firm has taken a creative approach to becoming a trusted advisor in a niche market. Here’s what 120-person A/E firm GLMVArchitecture (Wichita, KS) did in their zoos and aquariums practice, and what they’ve learned along the way.

“In many industries, we become insular in the way that we think,” says organizational development consultant and self-proclaimed zoo nerd Michael Clifford, GLMV’s Curator of Innovation and Partnerships, who runs the firm’s ECHO Initiative. “Zoos are established organizations, often run by municipalities and private 503(c)3s, and are not […]

8 strategies for more successful presentations

If your firm has implemented a strategic business development process, then you’re spending plenty of time identifying and researching prospective clients, pre-positioning for work, and making thoughtful go-no go decisions.

But what happens when you’re in the room where the final decisions are made? Over many years of conducting client interviews, we’ve heard the horror stories and the success stories. If you want to impress your clients—and win more work—then it may be time to raise your shortlist and client presentation game.

As one client we spoke with recently put it: “Nine times out of ten, deals are made in the interviews. You think you have the front-runners selected from the proposals, and then they go in and bomb. It’s all about how they connect with our group.”

While there is no cookie-cutter formula to a winning presentation, there’s also not as much mystery as you […]

By |2019-08-05T11:45:56-04:00August 2019|Business Development|

How strong are your client relationships? Here’s how to make them even better.

Many times, when AEC and environmental consulting firms think about business development, they’re focused on bringing in new clients and expanding their reach. While this is an incredibly important part of your business growth, what’s equally important is building your relationships with the clients that you already have.

This month in The Friedman File, we’re focusing on how you can—and must— actively strengthen your relationships with existing clients on an ongoing basis. It can be easy to fall into the trap of putting this type of engagement on autopilot, especially when you’re managing a heavy workload. But having solid client relationship management practices in place can streamline the process and help to protect your firm from changing economic or market cycles.

Not only is it more cost-effective and easier to sell more work to your existing clients (and have them refer you) than to continually […]

By |2019-04-04T14:41:32-04:00April 2019|Business Development, Market/Client Research|

It’s time to change your story about business development

As readers of The Friedman File know, business development is one of Friedman & Partners’ specialties. And over the years, I’ve witnessed many AEC and environmental consulting professionals and firms shroud this topic in a level of mystery and complexity that’s just not serving them well.

In fact, when I conduct business development training, I ask people to share what comes to mind when I say the words “business development.” Often what I hear is that BD is “salesy” and reserved for extroverted, outgoing people who like to play golf. In other words, many folks are telling themselves a lot of false stories about BD!

So, in this issue, we’re examining what business development is—and is not—and what it really takes to succeed at it. I truly believe that anyone can learn the skills and develop the mindsets to get great at BD. Here are a few […]

By |2018-12-02T16:00:58-04:00December 2018|Business Development|

The one social media tool you must master

We’re switching gears with this issue of The Friedman File to address a question that often comes up during our training workshops and client engagements: What should we be doing with social media?

Many A/E/C and environmental firms remain skeptical about social media—and that skepticism can be well-founded. While some firms have jumped in with both feet and even mastered this area, too many are overwhelmed or simply not sure where, or even IF, to focus their efforts.

For most firms, creating a sustainable, realistic and effective social media strategy means starting small and mastering what we call Marketing 101 before moving on to more.

The social channel you need to master? LinkedIn.

Why Linked In?

LinkedIn has carved out a clear niche as the world’s largest social media platform for business. Starting out as a top recruiting tool, it quickly became the place to network. Now, with […]

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