Marketing Strategy for Architects and Architecture Firms

Marketing For Architects / Marketing Strategy for Architects and Architecture Firms
Marketing Strategies for Architects and Architecture Firms

What Is a Marketing Strategy?

A marketing strategy is an organization’s comprehensive actions and tactics (an architecture firm) to achieve specific marketing objectives and goals. It involves identifying and understanding target markets, developing a unique value proposition, and designing coordinated activities to reach, attract, and retain customers. A well-defined marketing strategy provides directions and helps align the marketing plan‘s execution with the broader business goals.

Therefore, understanding the basics of marketing strategies is the first step to deciding how you should start attracting clients and projects.

Word of Mouth Recommendations for Architects and Architecture Firms

Word of Mouth Recommendations

“Make great architecture, and clients will come!” That’s what most architects will tell you. It’s not only about architecture, though. It’s also about the customer’s experience, and, sometimes, a matter of luck.

Nevertheless, word-of-mouth recommendations still work. They will always work.

A satisfied client recommending you or your architecture firm is pointing, more likely, to benefits you wouldn’t think about. Although you would be rather unhappy to hear what a client appreciates, this is a recommendation for true leverage.

You might think that your strength is your architectural design. Clients might appreciate more that you answer your phone. They might like the fact they negotiate better deals with you than with your competitors.

Your reputation is not what you think it is. It’s what your former clients think it is. A client considers that the most important quality is their relationship with the architects. They will say something like this: “Architect A is not as talented as Architect B. But A is reliable, and that’s the only thing that matters.”

If your client’s authority is high enough, that’s what will bring you the next architecture project.

This marketing strategy is slow. Results depend on persons who might never have the chance to make a recommendation. Nevertheless, it works with professional clients, and their staff, project managers. They are a small community and they often talk, share experiences, and ask for recommendations.

Pros and Cons of Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategy

The main pro is that it is an effective marketing strategy. Besides that, providing good services and a good client experience should be a constant concern for your architecture firm.

Word-of-mouth has results only in years. Well-established architecture firms, after reaching a critical number of clients, can get a constant influx of recommendations. But a new firm can hardly rely on recommendations alone.

Nevertheless, word-of-mouth recommendations can get a boost. Testimonials published on websites and interviews with satisfied customers positively impact a firm’s credibility and attractiveness. Thus, all architecture practices must put efforts into getting word-of-mouth recommendations, even if they can have a better effect promoted digitally.

Learn more about word-of-mouth versus online marketing.

Digital Marketing for Architects

Digital Marketing Strategy for Architects and Architecture Firms

The entire online presence of an architecture firm falls under the name digital marketing: websites, social media, advertising, videos, podcasts, you name it. It’s about the media used by this strategy.

Living in the Digital Era, embracing a digital marketing strategy is logical for several reasons:

  • Digital marketing costs less than any other media
  • Virtually all audiences are online and consume online content.
  • Digital media offers the most sophisticated market segmentation.
  • Digital media allows the sharpest market targeting.
  • Digital marketing strategies can benefit from viral dissemination.

Also, digital media can support offline marketing campaigns and attract offline leads. Applying QR codes on offline prints such as business cards, blueprints, printed documents, brochures, or flyers can drive important traffic to an architecture firm’s websites, consolidating brand awareness.

Digital marketing is often called online marketing, including e-mail marketing.

Offline Promotion

Offline Marketing Strategies

Some offline expressions will always be a part of your architecture firm’s marketing plan. First, and most important, are the branding elements, used both online and offline:

  • name
  • logo
  • tagline /slogan
  • typography
  • color palette
  • visual style
  • textures and patterns
  • imagery and photography
  • visual language for data
  • layouts, etc

All architecture firms produce important quantities of prints, starting with blueprints, but not limiting at prints. As we’ve already mentioned, offline elements also contribute to digital marketing.

However, offline marketing extends beyond prints. Some of the most common elements are:

Direct marketing

  • personal relationships
  • networking
  • cold calls
  • client loyalty programs
  • mail

Traditional sales techniques consist mainly of direct interactions with potential clients. Direct interactions with potential clients are time-consuming and only efficient when executed properly.

Classic media

  • TV spots and appearances
  • Print media: newspapers, magazines
  • Books and own publications
  • Press collaborations

Traditional press audiences are hard to estimate compared with online. Thus, architects should pursue being featured in the press, as a viral effect of digital marketing.

Events

  • Professional conferences & Events
  • Community Events
  • Sponsorships
  • Affiliations with professional, business, and commerce organizations, such as commerce chambers.

Competitions:

  • architectural competitions
  • private competitions
  • governmental competitions

Collaborations and Partnerships

Partnerships with construction companies, developers, etc.

Almost all offline marketing uses outbound techniques. They interrupt audiences, having problems targeting potential clients. Implicitly, they are more expensive than digital marketing and harder to measure its efficiency. All offline media have bigger costs than online.

Outbound Marketing for Architects and Architecture Firms

Outbound Marketing Strategy

I already mentioned outbound marketing. It includes tactics that interrupt your target audiences by delivering your message. It’s like a call in the dark. Those interested, hearing it several times, head towards the source of the sound.

Its most common expression is traditional advertising. Even if a TV spot targets specific demographics, the TV network delivers it to all its audience. The only tool advertisers have is to place it during the shows with specific audiences.

Marketers still use outbound marketing, even online. The annoying banners you see on a website are the best examples. Of course, they choose carefully the pages to display them.

Online media has excellent measuring tools. You can find out how many exposures had your ad has, how many interactions it had, etc. Almost all online ads are outbound techniques, although you can precisely target a specific audience.

If I had to promote this website online (and sometimes I do), this would be the simplest way. On Facebook (and Instagram), I can narrow down my audience to architects from specific countries. You can get similar tools on LinkedIn. Of course, exposing architects to an ad from Marketing-for-Architects.Com does not guaranty that they would be interested. But if anybody would be interested in this website, they would be architects, right?

Also, most of offline marketing is outbound marketing, as networking, cold calls, etc. But, in particular cases, it is extremely efficient.

Before checking out the differences between outbound and inbound marketing, let’s talk about inbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing for Architects and Architecture Firms

Inbound Marketing Strategy

In contrast with outbound strategies, inbound marketing aims to attract potential customers freely. The key tactic is to post quality content (but not only content) that attracts customers. Although it is almost confoundable with content marketing, some inbound strategies might use other attractive features, such as gifts, discounts, and freebies.

I bought my latest glasses this way, benefiting from a 400 Euros discount. I wanted a new pair of glasses.

The principle is simple. Create a benefit that will attract clients. Content is the least costly. In architecture, because of the asymmetrical information, the information architects hold is extremely valuable for potential clients.

sales funnel

An inbound marketing strategy builds a sales funnel. Potential clients go through four main stages:

Sales Funnel

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Conversion
  4. Loyalty

Using this strategy, architects create awareness. They attract attention. Finding a solution to one of their queries is what it takes for potential clients to notice them.

During the second stage, they take into consideration using your product or services. As we will see later, this process is simultaneous with gaining the trust of potential clients. This is the moment when they contact you.

As all impediments fall away, conversion follows. However, this is not the final stage of the sales funnel. All satisfied clients become your brand supporters, it’s the loyalty stage. Using a different technique, architects can benefit from old word-of-mouth recommendations.

We can reach a deeper understanding of inbound marketing next. Let’s talk about content marketing.

Content Marketing Strategy for Architects and Architecture Firms

Content Marketing Strategy for Architects and Architecture Firms

Content marketing is the most efficient strategy for architects and architecture firms. With minimum costs, in time, it attracts a constant flow of clients and new projects. The only drawback is that it takes time to create quality, informative, and search engine optimized content, as well as to see the results.

The principle behind this strategy is simple. Content drives traffic. Traffic pre-sells. Then comes monetization.
Potential customers actively search for original, quality, informative, and useful content during their research phase, preceding their decision to build. In architecture and construction, public information is scarce, misleading, or held only by professionals.

Traffic pre-sells, gaining the trust of content consumers because of its quality, and showcasing architects’ expertise and goodwill. Potential clients identify solutions for their problems, or professional services to help them.

Monetization (conversion) is the next logical step. Website visitors take action, engaging architects, asking questions, inquiring about services, awarding their projects. So, they enter the sales funnel.

Check out more about content marketing!

Project-based marketing for architecture firms

Project-Based Marketing Strategy

Project-based marketing is a strategic approach designed precisely for architects and architecture firms. It starts with the dual nature of architects’ clientele. The architecture market is part of the construction market. Therefore, we must understand our clients by this duality.

Our clients’ major goal is to build. It’s their solution to their needs or problems. Therefore, contracting an architect is only a necessary means to reach these major objectives.

To build, they must go through, as far as possible in this order, a series of steps, a process:

  • Idea
  • Land acquisition
  • Design Brief
  • Feasibility study
  • Architectural design
  • Building permit
  • Builder selection
  • Construction quality control

Each step in this process requires an immense amount of information regarding costs, zoning regulations, construction codes, project management, etc.

Project-based marketing includes two distinct battle plans:

  • Creating relevant content for potential clients’ research
  • Designing professional services to provide, synthesize, analyze, and interpret necessary data as preliminary design services.

These tactics aim to target potential clients during the initial stages of this process before they even have a project.

The classical marketing mix (the 4 Ps of marketing) has four marketing leverages or dials: product, price, place, and promotion. Although they are functional, no other strategies focus on architects.

A project-based marketing strategy not only creates the content to get clients’ awareness but also sets additional services to help them during their pre-design and post-design stages:

  • Product: Services to address clients’ needs during all project phases.
  • Price: Monetize additional services.
  • Place: P-B Marketing places content in various project phases, attracting clients earlier.
  • Promotion: Content for all project phases.

Please understand that in this case, a project doesn’t mean to architecture project, but investment project.

Read more about Project-Based Marketing for Architects!

Email Marketing for Architects and Architecture Firms

Email Marketing for Architects and Architecture Firms

Often, email marketing is a waste of time for architects. Chances are that subscribers don’t need the information within a newsletter. But there are specific circumstances when it brings a steady source of projects. It’s the case of clients having recurring projects: developers, constructors, project managers.

Those project decision-makers constantly inform themselves about industry trends and insights. They are avid consumers of quality, informative, helpful content in their field of activity. Being well-informed is in their job description. They are the guys that can put your architecture firm on a shortlist for their new projects. So, remembering them about your expertise and encouraging them to interact with you is a winning bet.

However, never buy databases containing their emails! Also, don’t scavenge them from their companies’ websites! Unsolicited emails are unsolicited emails. They will end up in the spam folder, growing your website’s spam score.

If you don’t have the patience to grow your email lists in time, use this old outbound marketing technique: cold calls. I wouldn’t, and I bet you wouldn’t do it also! Still, you can hire a specialized agency to call them and ask for their emails.

To establish strong email marketing, you need those targeted potential clients to subscribe voluntarily. Create quality, informative, high-in demand content, and ask them to subscribe for more. Like this:

Well, I don’t think it’s appealing enough!

What about offering them a gift, like the next one?

Subscribe & Download a Marketing Plan Template (PDF & DOCX) for Free!

Email Marketing Content

Email marketing is content marketing. So, the same rules apply to the content. Don’t sell! Never!

Don’t brag! It’s boring. Keep your awards away from the newsletters! Write case studies about your innovative solutions you adopted in your architecture projects! That is interesting. Now you can mention that a jury awarded your masterpiece. But your copy shouldn’t be about this mundane fact.

Explain your design decisions and how your clients benefit from them. Show how you save money, space, and time. Explain how unfortunate decisions lead to unwanted compromises.

All building materials and technologies have pros and cons. Explain how to make use of pros and how to solve cons. You are a professional, writing to other professionals. So, be honest and show your genuine desire to provide information that one day could save their projects!

Don’t write emails! Create content freely available on your website and share it via email. Maybe, from time to time, engage them! Ask them to pick interesting topics, to ask questions, to share their valuable insights! Remember, they are also professionals! They are in the same game. One day, you might be in the same team!

Read more about email marketing!

Architect writing an article.

Articles Marketing

Articles Marketing is also a form of Content Marketing. Its strategy is to create content (articles) on 3rd party platforms, like specialized or academic websites, national media, etc.

Articles marketing combines the benefits of SEO tactics (earning backlinks to boost their own websites rankings), gain visibility, brand awareness, showcase expertise, etc. An article posted on an architecture firm’s website takes time to gain traffic, as rankings in search engines don’t happen overnight. But an article on a national or local newspaper’s website ranks quickly on news sections.

If an architecture firm targets wine makers, having expertise in wineries design, they can publish articles in the wine industry’s publications, both digital or offline. Winemakers read them. So they hear about you, your architecture firm.

An architecture firm specializing in health care architecture can write and publish articles in specialized magazines and websites on various architecture related topics. I red once a great article by an architect about recommended dimensions of operating rooms. They made a study showing that operating rooms too large are inefficient, as doctors, nurses, and other OR specialists move too much during surgical interventions. Very interesting!

Specialized websites are among the most respected, only articles from academic publications have a higher performance than those from specialized sites. Prestigious websites cite and link them. Therefore, publishing articles on such platforms transfers their authority and respectability to the authors.

These articles not only capture the attention of key decision-makers but also attract significant traffic to their architecture websites. The architects who contribute to these articles are industry experts, projecting their unmatched expertise over their architecture firms.

As I already mentioned, all earned links, either do-follow or no-follow, send extremely precious visitors, and transfer ranking juice. Google learned how to match names and brands over the Internet, even in unlinked content.

SEM - Search Engine Marketing for Architects and Architecture Firms

SEM – Search Engine Marketing Strategy for Architects

If you decide to develop a strong content marketing for your architecture firm, seeing results takes time. First, it is a constant work, you can’t do it overnight. Second, each piece of content takes time to rank in search engines pages. New pages and websites ranks in months, sometimes up to a year.

But if you combine your content strategy with SEM (Search Engine Marketing), at a small cost, you can pick the fruits immediately. SEM is the strategy to pay for results.

In almost all searches on Google (and Bing), before the first results, you can see the sponsored results. Those pages don’t rank organically (or don’t rank very well organically). However, they are relevant for the searches, although their owners pay for special exposure. Anyway, the search engine lists them on top of the result pages for specific keywords.

The guys from Google want that all results to be relevant for searches. If not, Google users won’t use their platform anymore. So the amount you pay for a sponsored result depends both on your content, and the competition for the keywords you are targeting.

SEM’s costs

Unlike old advertising, online, pay-per-click (PPC) is among the most popular form of advertising. You pay only for the results. You can also measure your results in cost-per-click (CPC). Back in the old days, the most common way to pay was CPM – cost per mile. The website displays your ad 1000 times, so you pay for 1000 exposures. But you could get 1000 clicks, or none.

In SEM, it doesn’t matter if Google shows your result once or 1000 times. You only pay for the clicks you get. However, Google measures the CTR (click-through rate). It is a percentage of clicks per exposure. Because Google wants a good CTR for all ads, your costs are lower if you get a better CTR, and higher if your CTR is low.

So, why do people click? They see only a little information: the page of the name, the name of the domain, a brief description, an icon, and, sometimes, a small pic.

So, in Search Engine Marketing, the quality of your sponsored result’s copy (ad) is almost more important than the content itself. Actually, this is a concept that applies to all search results. It affects your content marketing, your article marketing, your project-based marketing strategy.

Also, when conducting SEM campaigns, it’s extremely important to identify the most relevant keywords that can bring you not only traffic but quality traffic, traffic that turns into actual clients.

Search Engine Users

Chances are that from 100 users who search online for how much it costs to build a block of flats, about 10 of them are developers, project managers, their employees, or private individuals who are considering building. I don’t think that a promoted social media post having this information can target any of those potential clients.

On my websites, search engines send visitor who consume 2,3, or even more pages. The visitors from social media platforms usually read only one page. That’s it! They are not really interested; they are curious.

This is the difference between search engines traffic and all other traffic. On all other referral sources, you can grab a person’s attention. You can make them curious. They satisfy their curiosity and leave. The visitors from the search engines want information. Finding a piece of information makes them consume more content to find even more.

Analytics show exactly how some of the users visit tens of pages on a webpage in only one session. Others visit it day after day for a while. They are the future clients!

Read more about Search Engine Marketing (SEM)!

Social Media Marketing for Architects and Architecture Firms

Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social media users get bombed with content and ads. Their feeds grab their attention every second. They get curious, read something, then swap again and again, and again. If they find something really interesting, they have to share it.

If they don’t act the immediately, they won’t be able to find later the post they found interesting. So, when you advertise on social media, you expose the same individuals to the same ad again, and again, and again. First, they find it interesting. Second, they remember it. Then, they remember you. Next time, they might make a move.

This is why everybody says that, on social media, you must post constantly. Daily. A few times a day. If a user consumes a post, the algorithm will show another one, expecting action (like, share, etc). If not, another user. This is how the algorithm can estimate how many impressions will have, how many reactions, how much a reaction will cost, etc.

Impacting on Social Media

Isn’t it amazing how easily do some people get followers, earn money, and have fun on social media? We all have social media accounts, and we spend too much time swapping our screens. We know social media marketing works because we are their targets.

But setting up some media accounts and sharing stuff doesn’t bring us the success we are expecting, right? This is happening because social media has some rules:

Keep the users on the platform

They want to keep the users as much as possible on their platforms. So they favor the content that does that, not links that point to other platforms.

Limited space

Each user’s feed has a limited feed. Platforms can’t realistically show everything that their friends post. So they filter the content by engagement.

Social Media Companies Need Profit

The organic reach is lower and lower, as you get more and more sponsored content. On social media, the success depends on the advertising budget. You either pay to boost your posts’ reach, or an influencer to drag you up. Or both.

Going Viral and Getting Clients

I don’t deny that some guys really know how to go viral. But I don’t think that going viral can be a marketing goal. It’s very hard to achieve it, so it should be a nice reward, not a goal.

After all, we are architects, not entertainers. A good content and a consistent posting schedule can get us the followers we want. Maybe some clients.

All social media platforms are good places to drive sales, but jewelry, not architecture. However, I don’t think architecture potential clients hire architects on Facebook too often. But I think that, when potential clients notice an architect, a respectable number of social media followers boosts credibility.

Architect creating a marketing plan

Implementing Your Own Marketing Strategy in a Marketing Plan

Deciding what marketing strategy fits your marketing plan for your architecture firm, depends on your marketing goals, market segment, the clients you are targeting, etc. As we already seen, some tactics are appropriate for specific clients. Others are very good for other kinds of clients.

More likely, it’s not about choosing a strategy, but a few strategies. Content marketing brings faster results with SEM marketing. Being published in prestigious, relevant websites consolidates your reputation. Also, it is a link building strategy that will boost your offline SEO. This helps the content marketing, as a large social media tribe.

Adopting a marketing strategy is less important than executing the strategy. Executing it is as important as analysing and adapting it constantly.

Architecture and marketing are very similar. You can learn a lot about both of them. But designing depends on your creativity. It is the same thing in marketing. You just have to do marketing using your knowledge.

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