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12 Oct, 2020

Strengthening Business During COVID: Interview with Justin Jacobs

Irene Kwon

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Member Spotlight  
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Read time: 2 minutes, 23 seconds

SMPS DC is profiling members of our Chapter to learn more about how business development strategies have changed during the COVID-19 era. Through this series, we hope you have a chance to learn more about how our members are adapting their tactics and approach to new business, continuing to mine leads, and strengthening their respective businesses and firms during these challenging times.

Meet Justin Jacobs, Director of Business Development & Marketing at Gordon, and learn his tips for strengthening business during this uncertain time.

Justin Jacobs is a Senior Associate at GORDON and a Past President of SMPS DC. Leveraging 18 years of experience in the DoD, aerospace, and A/E/C industries, he oversees all business development and marketing efforts companywide, including outreach for the firm’s civil engineering, surveying, landscape architecture, and physical security practice areas.

What are your top three tips on continuing business development during COVID?

  1. Deliberate Engagement – In a time when networking events and happy hours are non-existent and Project Managers don’t have the opportunity for side conversations with clients before or after a project meeting, it’s imperative to employ purposeful outreach as part of your business development strategy. I’ve been using the phrase “Deliberate Engagement” to address this with our seller-doer staff, and it can be implemented in any format that they are comfortable with. There has to be a mind shift from “taking the opportunity” for client engagement to “creating the opportunity.”
  2. Social Media – Statistics are showing that social media usage has risen 15-27% during the pandemic, depending on the specific platform. Personally, I’ve also seen a rise in social engagement from clients that I would not have previously considered “active.” With this in mind, the reach of your firm’s social channels and the value of pushing thought leadership through these outlets has been multiplied. Failing to rethink your strategy or emphasize your social presence in 2020 is a pretty big oversight.
  3. Unique Experiences – Marketers always look for ways to differentiate themselves in the eyes of their clients. Opportunistic business developers can utilize the current lockdown on traditional networking to further distinguish their firms by creating individual or small group experiences for clients such as bike rides, trips to outdoor venues like wineries and breweries, or even project tours. This will need to be preceded by other engagement to understand your clients’ interests and comfort level with meeting while the pandemic is still ongoing.


What are you doing with the newfound time that you’re saving from traveling?

Our internal team is increasing our focus on planning and organizing our business development approach. This involves anything from database cleanup, to market research and forecasting, to formalizing our business development and marketing plans for 2021. This additional effort will allow us to pre-position for many more opportunities.

Any tips on how to build a stronger, lasting relationship with new clients during COVID when it’s difficult to meet in person?

This unique time has provided business development professionals an opportunity to strengthen connections with our clients. We have access during extended hours, we have mobile numbers for executives who are traditionally sheltered by the front desk, and we are literally (well, virtually) being invited into the homes and personal lives of our clients. Use this time to relate on a personal level. Empathize with challenges – work/life balance, virtual learning, best delivery services, or how great it is to have your dog as a co-worker! When you combine personal connections with respect for your professional competence, you create a strong customer relationship that will result in repeat business for the long haul.