Mid-sized architecture firms may find themselves sailing through their marketing efforts without a rudder to steer the ship. They have the personnel and the skills they need but don’t have a specific destination in mind. If this sounds like you, there are some questions you can ask to help your firm plot the course you need to reach your marketing goals.
What are the types of projects the firm is known for?
Most mid-sized architecture firms have two or more major project types that they focus on or have in-house expertise on. For example, your firm may have performed several education projects, or restaurants. If you are looking to continue to work on these types of projects, then you should highlight them in your marketing efforts. Feature these types of projects on your website and highlight them in your social media posts.
What are the primary projects that the firm has completed for each project type?
For each project type that you identified above, put together a list of primary projects that you can highlight in your marketing. For example, if you specialize in education projects, choose a few of them to feature on your website or in social media. Highlighting projects you have completed is a great way to showcase your work.
In a project profile you should identify the following:
- Unique aspects of each project
- Challenges and how you overcame them
- Lessons learned
- Parties involved in the project
When putting together a project profile, don’t just include pictures. While photos can be worth a thousand words, it pays to also provide a narrative of the project, including challenges and how you overcame them. Customers are looking for experience on projects similar to theirs, so the more detail you provide the better.
What unique attributes or experiences does your firm have?
Your marketing should reflect and highlight the things that make your firm unique. These are things that will make you stand out from the competition. Your unique selling point may be a skill set or a type of project. For example, many firms have completed education projects, but maybe one of the projects you completed was targeting a small carbon footprint. Highlighting this in your marketing will draw both customers looking for education project design and those looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Another example may be showcasing that all the partners in your firm have a master’s degree in education, providing a unique knowledge base when designing educational projects.
What is the intention of your marketing?
Marketing for architectural firms should be targeted at two purposes: business development and recruitment. Before you begin marketing, you must determine the percentage of effort that you will direct to each of these purposes. If you are fully staffed and are hungry for work, your marketing should be tailored to attract potential clients. If the company is expanding or has open positions, you’ll want to highlight that. It’s important to remember that your company should always be recruiting so you can continue to attract the best talent.
How will you communicate your experience and unique selling point?
Once you have determined the projects you want to highlight, your unique selling point, and your intention, you can begin planning how you will market your firm. All of your marketing efforts should revolve around highlighting the same experience or skills. This is part of your branding.
Make sure that your website is updated and designed to reflect the projects and experience you want to showcase. In addition, you should be sharing information about your expertise and experience on your social media channels. Many architecture firms have been slow to adopt social media in their marketing. “Social media isn’t a fad,” said architect Jody Brown in his conversation with the AIA. “It is the place where the public is talking about their lives. Architects should be interested in joining that conversation.”
Finally, if you have created marketing collateral, either printed or digital, make sure it highlights the same set of skills and experience.
It pays to be real and authentic when talking about your company and its services or products. This helps create trust and build relationships with potential clients and employees.
Who is responsible for coordinating your marketing?
After you’ve decided how you will communicate, it’s time to assign tasks to the appropriate personnel. While many of the marketing tasks will be assigned to your marketing team, they often need input from other departments or employees to create the marketing assets, like project profiles. Make sure that your marketing team is empowered to get the information they need from others and to hold them accountable. If not, your marketing efforts may stall while waiting for information from employees.
When assigning tasks, pay attention to any gaps in the skill set of your employees, and identify if they should be filled with additional personnel or training. Make sure that your marketing team has the training they need to stay on top of the latest trends and technology.
Once you’ve answered the questions above, you should be ready to implement your marketing plan and start attracting new clients and employees. It’s a good idea to review these questions periodically to see if your focus has changed. You can also use them to help design a plan for rolling out a new service or area of expertise.