Of all the types of marketing available, one of the best marketing tools for architecture firms is content marketing. Content marketing provides a way for architects and architecture firms to showcase their experience and knowledge without coming across as too salesy or “dumbing down” their work. If you’re trying to grow your firm, land better projects, or recruit top talent, read on to learn how content marketing can help.
What Is Content Marketing?
Simply put, content marketing means marketing your firm through content that isn’t an ad. It involves creating, publishing, and distributing content where your prospective clients will see it.
The point of content marketing is to show that you know more about what you sell than your clients or your competitors do. Why? Because people will hire companies who know more than they do about the product or service they’re buying. Content marketing allows people to learn how you’re different from other firms and why they should hire you.
The most effective content is created with the goal of sharing information, not making a sale. Architecture firms have longer sales cycles and a sale requires a greater commitment than, say, buying a lamp. Content marketing will not turn someone into a client immediately after they read a blog post – and few qualified clients would make the decision to hire an architect based on reading one blog post.
This means that when you’re creating content, you need to think about the long game. What does your prospective client worry about, and how can you share information that they will find helpful? For example, architecture firms that focus on education might write a blog post about acoustic considerations in classroom design to support children with auditory processing differences. That’s the kind of post that establishes subject matter authority and credibility.
We’ve all seen blog posts or articles that are only thinly disguised sales pitches. If your content is coming from a place of “I have to tell everyone everything about our firm and how great we are and ask for a sale,” that’s a good sign that your approach is rooted in short-term results. No one piece of content should be carrying the entire weight of earning a commission.
Why Content Marketing Works Well for Architecture Firms
Content marketing is a great tool for architecture firms for several reasons. First, architects have a wealth of knowledge and experience that other people don’t have. It’s as simple as that. When you’re in your day-to-day practice, it’s easy to forget that you have specialized knowledge. You don’t have to wrack your brain for a novel architecture theory – just share the knowledge you have.
Second, content marketing is shaped by the knowledge and personality of the firm. Architects can avoid marketing because they wrongly equate it with spammy, high-pressure sales tactics that alienate their target prospects and diminish the accomplishments of the firm. Content marketing involves none of that and is more akin to being published. Even better, content marketing can lead to being published, because editors see that you are knowledgeable and can communicate that knowledge to others.
Third, content marketing helps differentiate your firm from your competitors. Most clients don’t have the depth of architecture knowledge necessary to look at project photos or drawings and make an informed choice about which firm to hire. Content marketing gives your prospective clients an insight into how you think, what it would be like to work with you, and why you approached a project in a particular way. This information gives people something besides cost to consider when comparing firms.
Types of Content Marketing
For an architect’s audience, valuable content can include blog posts, white papers, slide decks, quizzes, e-books, case studies, podcasts, reports, photos, videos, infographics, charts, presentations, VR, or even interactive experiences.
Blog posts are a great centerpiece for your content marketing strategy because they can encompass so many different types of content. You can include photos, drawings, videos, and even expanded or less formal case studies. Blog posts can also be written in a slightly different style or voice than traditional web copy. They can also be written by architects and designers at different seniority levels or ghostwritten by an outside writer.
Coming up with new ideas can feel daunting, so a good place to start is with pain points faced and questions asked by good clients or prospects. The reason we emphasize “good” clients is that you want your content to resonate with the types of clients you want to work with. Examples of this are a residential firm that receives a lot of inquiries about creating a dedicated home office space, or a commercial architecture firm whose clients are asking about a recent change in local building codes. Other ideas for blog content include:
- A day in the life of your practice or an architect (helpful for recruitment)
- Thoughts on developments in building or zoning codes in areas where the firm works
- Responses to developments in the architecture field
- Expanded project profiles, including drawings and renderings
- Video hardhat tours
- Architecture trend forecasting
- Lookbacks at previous significant projects
- Identifying emerging issues for particular building types (for example, what are the challenges of healthcare facility design presented by climate change?)
No matter what topic you select, the content should be interesting to the reader. Use the dinner party test: if you were seated next to someone at a dinner party and talked about the same thing your post is talking about, would the person engage? Or would they ask to change seats?
Videos are becoming increasingly more popular, especially as attention spans shrink. They are easily shared on social media, and they can quickly convey more complex ideas. The best part about videos is that they can be created from other content, like blogs or case studies.
Videos of completed projects are great, but people also want to see behind the scenes. Most non-architects don’t have any idea what goes into designing a space, and the chance to see that not only engages prospects but also helps them feel a connection to your firm.
Instagram Photos and Stories
Instagram is ideal for sharing all aspects of your firm, from office scenes to completed work. Showing your firm’s culture and its point of view are great employee recruitment tools in addition to being effective in client marketing.
Tip: Keep a balance between sharing completed projects and sharing the day-to-day of projects in various working stages. This content is valuable to your audiences, so let go of the idea that you can only market completed work.
Podcasts can be highly effective in reaching busy prospects. They can be listened to at the gym or while in transit or traveling, and they can be replayed and shared. Your firm can produce its own podcast, or reach out to other relevant established podcasts to be featured as guests.
If there’s a stat or process that’s interesting to you, it will likely be interesting to your target audiences. This could be something like the number of new affordable housing units that will be needed in the next 20 years or a diagram that shows what goes into LEED certification.
VR and Augmented Reality
Virtual and augmented reality may already be in your client presentation toolkit. These are also approaches that resonate with prospective clients, who enjoy – and increasingly expect to – an immersive design experience from wherever in the world they happen to be.
Content Marketing Is Worth the Time
It’s always easier to do nothing than to do something. Content marketing requires time and investment, but it delivers results. Without consistent content marketing, people can conclude that your firm isn’t as active as it is. There should never be any doubt that your firm is in high demand, and content marketing supports this.
Content marketing gives architecture firms the opportunity to educate their prospective clients before meeting with them. It also provides a platform to establish the firm as a trusted architecture authority. Perhaps most importantly in this market, it can also help attract top talent.