Marketing your firm

by Ofentse Sefolo
Marketing your firm

Most small architectural firms don’t have in-house marketing departments or big budgets to spend on PR, so they need to be strategic in how they spread the word and keep bringing in new business. Marketing your firm is doable – if you pinpoint the right marketing tactics. Sometimes, it’s even free. Here are a few ways to market your firm on a small-business budget:

Build trust in your brand
According to the U.S. Small Business Association, branding “is about the sum total of the experiences customers have with your business. This includes the visual elements of your business, and also what you do, how you do it, what your customer interactions are like, and the type of information you share in your marketing and on social media. All these elements help establish the trust and credibility of your business.”

Your website is a major component of your brand so if there is one thing you should invest your marketing budget in, this should be it. Many times, architects design their websites for other architects instead of designing with their clients in mind. Think about what clients would want to know about your brand and the projects that you have been involved in. Clients often have their own built-in story about an architecture firm’s brand and it is your job to replace that narrative with your own stories.

Don’t underestimate the power of social media
Social media pages are free to set up and they can be the gateway to new clients if you use them well. The biggest mistake businesses make is setting up social media profiles and leaving them stagnant.

If you are going to embark on a social media strategy, plan a content calendar and posting schedule so that the profiles are consistently updated. You can create a social media task force within your firm so that creating content and other social media activities are spread among a few people.

It’s also important to carefully decide which social media platforms you want to be on. LinkedIn, for example, is the largest professional networking site and the place where you should be establishing yourself as a thought leader in the industry. Pinterest, on the other hand, is an image-based network where you can share pictures of projects that could inspire people to reach out to you.

Many architectural firms don’t make full use of social media, so adopting a social media strategy can give you an edge over your competition.

Give free advice
Most business owners are hesitant about giving away advice for free and architectural firms are no different. When people go online, however, they are searching for information (and nobody likes to be sold to). You know what your clients’ problems or questions are. Now you need to convert that into content that can highlight your expertise in the market.

Convert the questions you receive into titles that answer clients’ questions. Here are a few examples:
1. FREE REPORT How much will my sustainably designed home cost me? Top architect reveals how to work out your ballpark number.
2. FREE REPORT What is the process for converting industrial sheds into office units? Top architect shares the 12 step-by-step process you must take to avoid overpaying.
3. FREE REPORT Who are the building experts I’ll need to hire to build my modern home in Cape Town? Free directory of all the local experts you will need in one handy booklet.

These problem-solving educational reports don’t need to be longer than a few pages. Many times, flow charts, checklists and mind maps are more popular than long, detailed documents.

Partner with niche publications
Advertising in commercial newspapers and magazines is not only expensive, the target market is also broad and the results are difficult to track. Industry-specific magazines, such as FLOORS in Africa magazine, can help you showcase your expertise, noteworthy projects and services to the right people.

“We love getting input from architects, whether it’s in the form of commentary and industry insights, feedback on local events or an advertorial showcasing their latest projects. The Building and Décor website and popular social media profiles are a great way to spread awareness about your brand and to be seen by the right people,” says Marlene van Rooyen, Managing Director and Editor in Chief of FLOORS in Africa magazine.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.autodesk.com, www.sba.gov, and www.archmarketing.org for some of the information in this article.

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