All marketers will tell you how important is the About page of your website. Well, it is, but mostly when it is the only page to differentiate you from the competition. Back in the time, almost all sites had a Mission page.
Marketing for Architects is the outcome of 20 years of struggle, trials, and errors in marketing my own architectural practice. There are no recipes to follow, nor a single marketing strategy that really works.
Back then I started to build my website. I was thinking about a nice site with a Portfolio section, a Mission page, and, of course, a Contact. Although my portfolio was tiny, I intended to add some nice renderings and plans for unbuilt houses. Smart, huh?
I am an architect and I thought everything was about the design. So I searched for web design ideas. I had this vision that there was a single best presentation format that will blow every single visitor!
Well, I didn’t find what I was looking for. As a matter of fact, it didn’t exist. It still doesn’t exist. And, of course, it will never exist.
But I am stubborn. Usually, I don’t quit.
I started to look for web design that helps you sell services, and I read blog posts about selling techniques. From site to site, from search to search, I found out that what I was looking for was not web design, but marketing. Online marketing.
This is the hard way to learn that nobody is looking for you online. Everybody is looking for information.
Once you start to provide valuable information, your website will get traffic. You are building trust. This is the moment when you can pre-sell, to show how your services can help. Now you can monetize.
But how to decide what a piece of valuable information was? Well, it was exactly what people used to ask. And how to deliver it? Write an article, stupid!
I was kind of lucky:
- I was living in a country that had one of the most liberal markets. Everybody who had some money dreamed to build a house, although both architects and clients had no idea what to expect from each other.
- That Internet thing? It was pretty new during the early 2000s. But Google search engine already become the number one.
- My market was quite uneducated. Almost anything was valuable information. Many of the prospective clients were trying to build cheaply. Their concerns were the building permits and how to build cheaply.
- The online competition was quite low.
I decided to tell everybody how to build an affordable home. In my language, affordable and cheap are synonyms.
I wrote this killer article: “The Secret Of Affordable (Cheap) Houses”. It was a hit! Actually, I started what later was called content marketing. I think the term was coined later.
Dozens of websites republished it. Google wasn’t punishing duplicates at that time. Some of these websites forgot to link to my page. I called them, and they linked the articles.
A respectable financial newspaper published my article, with my photo on the first page, above the fold! A few tv stations interviewed me! One of them was a business television.
Again, I was lucky. The phone started to ring. Lots of prospective clients came to my office. But I convinced only one in ten to sign a contract. Although I started to learn selling techniques, it didn’t help. It wasn’t a matter of selling, but marketing.
Every step I made was only after I failed 2-3 times. Each time I tried to cut corners, I failed. All my cheat attempts hit me back. And they hit hard.
Marketing changed during those years. It evolved from the beginning. It started as an appendix for advertising. But during the ’80s and 90’s something happened. Some of the market agents started to gather information and use it. Although the mass producers still had the means to extend their market shares through advertising, they also had to be more and more oriented to the clients.
The Internet’s success is embedded in search algorithms. While half the world produces content (information), the other half searches through it to find the best answers to their questions. This changed the marketing, from mass delivered, expensive, and interrupting messages, to genuine efforts to help people live, work, and be better. Just the same time, the Internet made obsolete other marketing techniques.
Despite we think this is all-new, it’s not. We still can find evidence that helping people is an excellent solution. But except the recent years, those visionaries had a hard time spreading their messages.
It’s amazing how lucky we are. The Internet is the single greatest invention since the printing press. It is a welcoming place for both authors and readers. Meanwhile, it is the best place to disseminate ideas just at the fingertips of those who will most benefit from them. It is even better than talking face to face. While our prospective clients learn to avoid the pitfalls, they turn into trustful followers of the professionals who invest time, effort, knowledge, talent, and love to carefully and considerately guide them.
Although it is obvious, we don’t really think of what the Internet does for us. For every piece of information published online, there is somebody searching for it. For every query, there is a website that best fits it. The marketer’s job is to anticipate what a prospective client is looking for. And, of course, to provide it, to be really helpful.
It’s time to rethink why we are doing architecture. Isn’t it to help people build better? Can we say that architects’ primary role is to help people? Yes, we can!
Marketing is all about giving. We, the architects, are givers. It should fit us. This is what Marketing for Architects is.