In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…

My son has recently become a huge fan of Star Wars, which means I have recently become a huge fan of Star Wars. I guess there are plenty of worse things, right?

The other night we were watching Episode IV (what our generation knows as the actual first Star Wars) and I caught a scene that had me laughing until I cried. A stormtrooper walks through a doorway and clocks his head on the door. Here it is, for your enjoyment.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBQaLuqwtl8?fs=1]

I still can’t watch it without a chuckle.

Anyways, the reason I’m sharing it (besides spreading the joy) is to pose a question. Star Wars had a resurgence in popularity to a whole new generation which allowed them the chance to edit this scene upon re-release. But Lucas’ team didn’t. Why?

My vote, in marketing terms, they knew their target audience. They knew this scene probably makes the movie BETTER to many people, instead of worse.

When it comes to branding, and understanding your target audience – a great brand goes way beyond the normal “our people”, “responsiveness” and “good design.” It has to do with the small details of your firm that you may not even necessarily control, but your clients can’t do without.

Working Globally: How to Successfully Engage Clients Anywhere (once they already know you…)

I just finished reading a nice post on AIArchitect entitled Working Globally: How to Successfully Engage Clients Anywhere.

The timely piece is a great look at many tips and tools for managing international projects, written mainly because a lot of firms have found themselves pursuing new work overseas during the slow US (and global) economy. However, I think it misses a huge opportunity to discuss what happens BEFORE the project. After all, the title of the piece is about successfully engaging clients.

Here’s a brief blurb from the opening:

“…along with many of our competitors, as the domestic market slowed we compensated by pursuing work overseas, particularly in the Middle East and Asia. The work ranges in size from millions of square feet of institutional work to small satellite offices for an existing client. The one thing that all of these projects have in common regardless of size is that they are regionally unique. We had to learn how to manage them on a case-by-case basis.”

There are several items mentioned in the opening that scream “marketing” to me but the piece really only delves into the management aspects of the projects – not the initial engagement of clients.

  • Increased competition
  • Pursuing new markets (specific markets, not all projects)
  • Diverse service offerings
  • Culturally and regionally sensitive communications

When it comes to actually winning the project – these items aren’t overcome without a sound brand or marketing strategy. I mean to take nothing away from the billable team that delivers top-notch work; but the communications strategy needed to overcome those bullet points is how the successful engagement has to begin.

Increased competition in your own backyard is a challenge for all firms, especially in recent years. Many great firms haven’t been able to overcome it successfully. So, is it really just a skilled team and good project management that wins jobs with two major factors in play: increased competition AND a brand new market?

I say no. The difference (or at least the big one) between firms that win the work and don’t isn’t just skills, nor is it resources/size. It’s powerful, dedicated, engaging marketing.