The digital era provides a wealth of opportunities for architecture practices to be more nimble and to communicate more effectively. However, like any tool, digital opportunities can be misused and abused. This guide for architecture marketing highlights some common challenges.
Behold: the Seven Deadly Sins of Architecture Marketing:
You know the architecture portfolio website that has every single project that the firm has ever completed? That’s gluttony. This tends to come from the firm’s assumption that this is just what one does, or because the firm doesn’t want to pick certain projects over others. The problem with gluttony is that it overlooks the exhaustion your audience feels when trying to take everything in. A great way to put yourself in the place of your prospective client is to think about how you like to look at e-commerce sites. How much do you see before you start to get tired and look elsewhere? You want to be beneath, not above or even at, that topping out point. Determine what your best work is and why. Don’t be afraid to accept that not all work is an equally good representation of your current capabilities.
Architecture marketing is highly image-dependent. If the work is poorly represented visually, prospective clients may not delve any further into, or appreciate, your projects. At the other end of the spectrum, though, is the “it’s never perfect” mindset that is prevalent in architecture and other design fields. It’s what creates excellent projects, but it’s also what can stall your marketing efforts. For example, you may know that the interior of a building looks better in daylight at 4 pm than it does at 3 pm, when the project photograph was taken. Instead of sitting on the project until it can be re-photographed, consider using the photo that you have and augmenting later when (or if) you can get the “perfect” 3 pm photo.
Social media is a staple not just of marketing, but of our entire culture. This causes people to view it more like a personal interaction than a magazine ad. Wanting all of the traffic but only posting photos of published work is, unfortunately, greedy. Photos, videos, and content about your thoughts, inspirations, behind-the-scenes, and office culture are ways to meaningfully contribute to the online community and grow your audiences. If your last ten posts have been project shots without any sharing of your thoughts or inspiration, consider changing your approach.
The biggest of sins in the profession is one of pride. This pride is too often seen in marketing efforts that are designed only to appeal to other architects. Unless you only sell services to other architects, that’s a problem. If your website is designed with coy navigation, or your social media feed filled with obscure references (to name just two), then your marketing efforts may be falling short with your intended audiences.
“Why not me?” is the cry heard ‘round the professional world: the seemingly unqualified firm that was awarded an amazing contract, the project you know isn’t as good but won all of the awards, the firm that seems to always end up in the paper. We all fall into this trap from time to time. It’s dangerous because it can cause you to dwell on the perceived unfairness of it all instead of on moving forward. Your best option? Gather information to understand why you didn’t get the award/press/project (and the reason may or may not have any merit) and use that to revise your marketing and sales going forward.
The world is smaller and more interconnected than it used to be. The ability to be kind and courteous both in in-person interactions and online is crucial to the modern architectural practice. Don’t email, post or share in wrath. It lives forever.
The most common of the sins in an architectural practice is sloth. The oft-forgotten portion of any practice is marketing; it helps keep new projects coming into the studio, but when things are going well it’s neglected until it’s needed immediately. This is not a great recipe for success. Marketing might never be something that you enjoy, but, like brushing one’s teeth, it’s something you have to do if you want to prevent decay.
Ready to find virtue from your vice? We’d love to talk about the architecture marketing struggles facing your architectural practice.