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Sectoral focus is the key to optimising the impact of your marketing effort.

A common subtheme has been running throughout this column, and that is the importance in all the bewildering chaos of leading a firm within a tough market, to cut to the chase, to reach and sustain a coherent focus, how to prioritise, how when you have no room for the false luxuries of time and cost wasting, how to optimise the scarce resources and competence of your best sales people.

Well, this week’s column is going to cut to the chase itself and examine how to bring all these aspects together to maximise your client development impact through “sectorisation”.


The purpose of all marketing endeavour is simply to put your best qualified salespeople in front of a receptive target at the most relevant time to make a sale.

And the single key to this is to know your market – and to know it in the perception, language and culture of the buyers – hence the need for sectoral strategy. Anything else is capricious fantasy land. The sectoral strategies will both follow the lines set by the mission statement and will inform and change that mission as your experience and knowledge increases. They will include your plans for working with the most appropriate networks, media, intermediaries and advisors. They will be led by senior staff, champions whose overriding passion is to follow their sector to the point where they know and are known by it. As an example a large firm could well be focussing on just five sectors, each nationally enormous, each with its own peculiarities, networks and culture.

The 5 might be Higher Education, Healthcare, Transportation, Commercial Offices and Public Realm.

A smaller firm might focus on its regional market for Schools, Care Homes, Barn and Domestic Conversions.

All champions will link their approach to your record, your client base and your mission statement. They will read the relevant press, visit appropriate conferences, investigate the sector’s special needs. Each will be leading their own 8 step awareness campaign:


As the champions’ experience increases so will their confidence in participating, questioning and even leading debates at sectoral gatherings. You will start to anticipate skill needs and create advisory groups* to support individual bids. The smaller regional practice might include teaching and learning experts, a major employer interested in child education, a local university committed to supporting academies and employer linked teaching.

Sectoral leadership creates a legitimacy for frank inquiry: “I am leading our firm’s interests in schools and I’d like to meet with you to discuss your views…” is an entirely legitimate approach to a cold call.

*Advisory Groups

Most major bids demand specialist local advice. A hospital might be interested in translational medicine; a research station in maximising multi dimensional planning. It is unusual indeed for a firm to have all the essential skills in house. Consortia teams go a long way to adding to the skill base. However it always surprises me how few firms create project specific advisory boards to provide the extra input, access to high level contacts, and specialist experience that can give a sector champion an edge over the competition. I think most professionals underestimate how attractive it is to create a new design and how flattered we all are to be asked to provide a little help and wisdom.