Project-based marketing for architecture firms

The project-based marketing for architecture firms is a marketing strategy to target potential customers in specific decision phases of their investment cycles. It is an effective approach. It sounds complicated, but it’s rather simple and logical. This is what it’s called inbound marketing. It consists of creating quality content that is helpful and informative. Potential clients, while searching for information on their future projects, find your content, and finally, they become your clients.

Project-based marketing for architects and architecture firms

Building something requires a few steps. First, the customers have to identify a problem or opportunity that might have the solution to build something. Then, they have to do their research.

All decisions we make have a research phase. Before we buy a car, a laptop, or a new suit, we check the market: makes, models, technical data, colors, and so on. We rarely jump to the first showroom. The building process has quite a few decisions, also research phases.

A family needs a house, so building one is a solution. A company needs office spaces, and again, the solution is to lease or build. They might become clients of an architecture firm in the foreseeable future. But will that firm be your architecture firm?

So, they are doing some research. How much will this cost? How long does it take? Is it better to build or lease? What are the pros and cons? However, these are legitimate concerns.

The next step is to identify a proper land, right? But a series of questions will arise. Is it proper for what they intend to do? How should the land be? What are zoning codes? How do you get a building permit?

The project phases your architecture firm marketing should target

The process is foreseeable for every project:

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

Each phase has its own questions to be asked: why, how, what, costs, etc.

All these questions are marketing opportunities for project-based marketing for your architecture firm. Often, the architects are involved only in the 4th phase. Not even the design brief, although our expertise is the most valuable.

These questions get their answers, but other professionals are involved: project managers, real estate agents, lawyers, you name it! The project management firms offer constant guidance. They keep their customers informed all through the project with costs, time schedules, and so on.

But still, the majority invests based on pieces of information compiled by themself.

Create content that helps prospective clients to get answers to their questions

After all, all those prospective customers need help. As soon as they can get answers, as soon they advance, and they get ready to hire an architect. If you help them get the answers, you are building trust. You are not only noticed but also get their gratitude!

The content you are creating helps them. But it also helps them to understand the complexity of their endeavor. Meanwhile, you are a benevolent expert. You know what qualities the land should have. You know how to fit their needs and desires into the zoning rules and construction codes. But you are also capable of estimating the investment parameters, costs, and time.

The architecture firm that provides such valuable information becomes a de facto business partner. Or a family’s best interest guardian. But you have to make some changes!

Rethink your mission!

“We are an award-winning residential architecture company committed to sustainable design”

What does this say? It says you are an egocentric bunch of arrogant guys with no concern about your clients.

Why don’t you make a minor change? What about:

“We help families to build sustainable homes, protect the future of our children with award-winning architectural design”.

This focuses on your client’s needs (home), leaving the merits to their efforts. But also it establishes common goals (protecting children’s future). Meantime, you are mentioning your work excellence, not your egos.

Seth Godin: Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.!
Seth Godin: Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.!

I am paraphrasing Seth Godin now: marketing is about helping people. So it is not about changing your differentiating text on your website. It is about a mindset, a vision change. Help people by doing great architecture!

The project-based marketing as content marketing for architecture firms

Content marketing is an effective strategy if done right. However, it’s always a part of project-based marketing.

The content you are creating, blog posts, infographics, videos, or podcasts, has to be the answers to the questions prospective clients could ask. The beauty of this content is that they ask it.

A person that wants to estimate the costs would definitely look for “construction costs of new office buildings in ….”. Answering this exact question through a blog post means that you are optimizing your content to rank better in searches: on-page SEO.

This is exactly what your content should be about, answering potential clients’ questions that you are anticipating knowing all the project (process) phases.

Use the information asymmetry

Both the architecture and the construction industry are asymmetric informational sectors. The architects and builders have most of the information, and the clients have little to no information at all.

Having this valuable information, the clients could not replace architects, not builders. But they would understand the process. They could have better control and lower risks.

Helping them can only make them aware of the process. Your project-based marketing just lets them have better and easier decisions.

When they research, they are looking for the information only you, the architect, can synthesize and deliver. But this only strengthens your position. You trade knowledge that only helps to design and to decide. The more you give away, the more valuable you are.

In his Four Books of Architecture, Andrea Palladio describes how to choose land for construction. This didn’t replace the architect. It just showed how important the architect was.

This is not the first example of excellent content marketing in architecture. Even older, Vitruvius wrote Ten Books of Architecture. These books are not handbooks. The architects had to work with their masters, though.

I am sure more architects wrote such books. They are lost.

Content marketing is not a 21st-century invention. Only the term is newly coined. But the contemporary audience is something new. A blog post can have in one month as many readers as Palladio has up to date. Or even more.

Our readers spend little to no effort to find great information that is not decades or centuries old. Our costs are nothing but a fraction of Palladio’s.

The value of project-based marketing for architects

The architects know the project. They know the successive phases. Although we know everything, we have only a little risk appetite.

Our customers know little about the process/project. But they have the will and the means to take the chances. They need help and guidance. They are willing to pay for it.

There are more benefits to this marketing strategy:

  1. The prospective customers notice your firm before starting to look for architects.
  2. You will gain the trust of prospective customers.
  3. You’ll be in the project before there will be a project.
  4. You can expand your service range, boosting your revenues for each new project.

Let’s think about the number 4 benefit.

Build your process-based services to fit your project-based marketing

Remember the project phases?

  1. Idea – Prospective clients usually need advice on the feasibility of an idea. Besides the process guidance, the investment estimates are prerequisites to moving further. The architecture firms are familiar with construction costs, construction volumes, and elements of the design brief are welcome.
  2. Land acquisition. How is the zone suitable for the project? Is the land fit for the needed construction volumes? Are zoning codes proper for the idea? What are the cost estimates and the return on investment?
  3. Design brief. We can easily transform this into a feasibility study: architectural concept, cost, and ROI estimates. We have a project!
  4. Architectural Design. This is what you already do, right?
  5. Building Permit
  6. Builder selection
  7. Construction quality control

The 5, 6, and 7 are the phases when architects are involved. But why don’t you take a step further? Why don’t you be the Project Manager? You already started.

It’s not that hard to organize the construction bids. Have you already provided estimates, the bills of quantities, the design, details, and specifications?

You can team up with surveyors, engineers, and economic construction specialists.

Controlling the execution of the building site is a great way to financially consolidate your architecture firm, offer unique services, and gather data and experience for the next project. aims to help architects to build their architecture practices’ success.

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