Long Term Benefits to a Better RFP Review and Decision Process

With the official launch of GoNoGoPro only days away, I couldn’t help but write a post detailing some of the long term benefits to using such a simple, yet powerful tool. Sure, the day-to-day use will save time, money and likely prevent your firm from going after ill-suited opportunities (not to mention babysit your kids and change your car’s oil)…but what about the strategic benefits?

During the numerous demos and client conversations I’ve had about the tool, some great benefits and uses have come up. Here are just three of the many ways that GoNoGoPro does more than help your A/E firm evaluate RFPs.

1. Improve Accountability
GoNoGoPro has robust reporting that goes way beyond measuring hit rate. Your A/E firm can run reports to ensure the right stakeholders are seeing the right opportunities – and better yet, they are evaluating them and participating in much needed firm dialogue.

2. Monitor Client Activity
The competitive landscape for architectural and engineering services has changed dramatically in the past few years. More competition, tighter budgets, fewer projects…even if your firm is in a “go after it all” mode right now, you can’t be forever. GoNoGoPro’s reporting allows you to compare the number of RFPs you’ve evaluated against the number you’ve pursued AND against the number you’ve won. This is where the typical CRM tool falls short – even if it has a pipeline feature. Knowing what you’ve evaluated helps determine the abundance of projects in a given market. CRM tools don’t house that piece of information since you usually only input items after you’ve written the proposal.

3. Enhance Strategic Marketing
Beyond knowing which clients actually have work, you obviously want to know how much you have pursued and won. GoNoGoPro allows A/E firms to not only track this information, but analyze it by industry or project type to make better marketing and operations decisions. Is your hit rate incredibly low in an industry that you used to dominate? Did you significantly invest in a new market last year and need to determine the ROI? Marketing in our industry rarely, if ever, has a one-to-one ratio with new projects. GoNoGoPro’s reporting allows your firm to easily capture marketing success over a longer term and plan for the future with good information.

Be sure to check out the website for GoNoGoPro and, of course, if your firm would like a demo we’re only an email away! Look out for our launch on 10/10/10!

Sending Mixed Signals

Last week I walked by a neighborhood barbershop, and for the first time in all the years that I’ve lived here I noticed that they also sold hats. I had to chuckle.

Why would a barbershop sell hats? I imagined that somewhere along the way the owner decided maybe they could make a little extra money and hey, people were already “thinking about their heads” when they were in there, so why not?

As funny as it was to me – maybe not that funny to anybody else – I couldn’t help but think about it from a branding or marketing standpoint. To me, it tells me that I should be worried about the haircut I would get there. Perhaps enough people had bad haircuts and demanded hats when they left that it became a necessity?

So I thought next how many times do we, in the AEC community, send mixed signals to our clients?

How about the General Contractor that positions itself for luxury/high-end work but offers handyman services?

Or the award winning, multi-disciplinary firm that only features two people on the website that are both in the same discipline?

Or the dedicated government contractor that doesn’t list their contract vehicles anywhere?

What clients see, hear and think about your firm IS your brand. What you think about your firm may or may not have anything to do with it, unless you can eliminate mixed signals and consistently communicate the right brand attributes.

When Do You Need That By?

Working as a marketer, whether in-house or on the agency side, when colleagues or clients come to me with a request there is one thing that I ALWAYS insist on giving or getting before I start work – a due date.

As projects get more complex, you need more due dates. They’re never so simple that you don’t need at least one though.

Clearly communicated due dates do a lot for marketers. They help us manage time and priorities appropriately. They help us communicate with clients or stakeholders better. They allow us to manage expectations. They allow us to under promise and over deliver – to sound cliched.

Perhaps most importantly, they prevent micro-managing. Nobody likes to be micro-managed. Due dates let over-anxious managers know a time when they’re allowed to check-in. “We set a date of XX. If I don’t hear from him by then, I can follow up.”

From an internal perspective, in an AEC firm the clients are almost always senior, highly billable team members with a lot of balls in the air. The worst part…their deadlines are usually contingent on other people meeting milestones on time, which rarely seems to happen. So, if marketing can be the one area that establishes deadlines and always hits them, it makes life just a little easier.

I’ve worked with a lot of vendors and partners, and inevitably, the ones I continue to call on will provide me with schedules, or at least a date that I know I can see progress by. The ones that can’t commit to a date are the ones that scare me.

Is Your Firm Making an Impression?

The last three weeks have been pretty difficult for my five year old son. He has been to the ER twice now for head injuries, once for stitches (bike accident) and another for the medical glue (playground accident at recess). Needless to say, we’ve all been pretty upset about it and we’re a little on edge now every time he starts running.

For him though, the most upsetting part wasn’t the injuries, but the fact that he had to go to the hospital. The first words out of his mouth after the bike wreck were “I don’t want to go to the hospital!!” Of course, it broke my heart knowing we’d have to go because he was hurt pretty badly. He then cried again when we had to go to the doctor to remove the stitches, even though it wasn’t a painful process.

What does this have to do with marketing for A/E firms you ask? Well, maybe a lot. It’s been weighing on me for a while now, how do we convince our son that the hospital and the doctor’s office isn’t that bad, if the only time he has to go is when he’s sick, hurt or getting a shot? We can’t. We have even tried giving him “treats” after every visit, but it doesn’t eliminate the negative impression.

I’ve decided that we have to get him to see the positive sides of those places by taking him at other times. Maybe we can go visit a friend’s new baby, or work out a deal with the doc that we can go and check his height for fun or something. (Not certain they’ll go for it, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask, right?)

So here’s the parallel I draw for the A/E industry, and the question I ask. If your prospective clients only hear from you once a year when you’re looking for work or they have a new RFP out, what kind of impression do they have of your firm?