Questions to ask yourself before setting up a marketing program:
- How do your design goals affect your business goals?
- What matters most to you as you go about your work?
- What are your feelings about going after new work?
- Why are your running this business anyway?
How to assess your own finances:
- Do you use standard accounting methods to keep track of the firm's income and expenses?
- How stable has the office been (size of staff, gross income, amount of work, and so on) over the past few years?
- How muc can you set aside for marketing each year?
- Would setting aside 10 percent of last year's earnings for marketing cause cash flow problems?
Analyzing your service capabilities:
- Have you become known for high-quality client service? Or are unhappy clients a constant, nagging problem?
- What in the past have been the strongest services that you have offered?
- Do you have a "full service" practice?
Examining your specialization potential:
- Do you avoid specialization?
- Are you considered an expert in any area of design or practice?
- What is your firm's history or project specialization?
- Could you associate with others to offer a joint speciality with a variety of expertise?
Assessing your personnel strengths and weaknesses:
- Do you have turnover problems, or is your staff stable, loyal, and enthusiastic?
- Have you individuals on your staff who could carry out marketing support functions?
- What are teh individual qualities of your staff that could contribute to your marketing efforts?
- What areas of expertise should be strengthened, or should personnel be brought in fresh to open new marketing possibilities?
Cataloging your project management abilities:
- Have you documented the time table and cost of your past jobs?
- Are there patterns of inaccuracy or irresponsibility that can be identified from your records?
- If you have a strong record on budget and schedule control, do you emphasize it to prospective clients?
- How can you improve your project management capabilities?
Reviewing your location considerations:
- Is your office cramped for space or unable to expand should a lot of new work come in?
- Are there possibilities for work nearby that have never been tapped or explored?
- What are the likely kinds of work to be found within an hour's drive?
- How do transportation networks and geography affect your practice?
Facing the realities of your local regional economy:
- Are things so slow that the size of your prospecting area should be substantially increased?
- What re the business sectors in you area that will definitely not need your services?
- What are the specific growth possibilities there that relate to your practice?
- What is the long-term economic prospect for your region?
Looking for opportunities in the national economy:
- How does your firm deal with a deteriorating national economy?
- How do foreseeable future trends in national consumer demand affect your design field in particular?
- What potential economic developments can you capitalize upon?
- How do population/age statistics influence your expertise?
Here are some ideas for immediate sources of work and promotion.
- Ask your former employers if there is any work that you could do as a subcontractor?
- Approach contractors and suppliers for leads and possible jobs?
- If you have a specialty (or can define one based on prior work), contact individuals and organizations that might need such services.
- Present yourself as a practicing professional to as many people as you can. Try relatives, neighbors, church members, PTA members, acquaintances, old school friends, local alumni of your school, and everyone that you meet.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club, and other service organizations.
- Contact local newspaper reporters and editors and arrange for articles announcing your practice.
Good luck and don't give up. Marketing success is around the corner.