How a mid-sized architecture firm used digital marketing to break the boom and bust cycle

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Our client, a 60-person architecture firm, had experienced rapid growth over the previous 18 months, almost doubling in size and undergoing a name change. Their marketing, though, still operated as if the firm was half the size and relying solely on referrals. 

The company’s website lacked information about the firm’s approach to work and how it was different from other firms, as well as more basic information like the types of architecture the firm practiced. The website wasn’t optimized for search engines, so people looking to hire an architecture firm were not seeing the firm’s website in search results. Worse, when the firm’s name changed, it wasn’t communicated well to current and prospective clients. Many of those clients assumed the firm no longer existed because there was no connection between the old name and the new name online. The firm’s outreach was almost exclusively print ads placed in consumer publications distributed free of charge, so what little data they had about the number of people reached could not be confirmed or tracked. The company had no social media presence and outdated information across the internet about its office locations. 

The firm had no sales pipeline or marketing strategy to support the additional sales necessary to support the larger firm size. It was losing ground to competitor firms, who, while smaller, were able to educate prospective clients about their services and the return they would deliver for the clients’ investment. 

The firm had recently added commercial architecture and mixed-use architecture to its services and spun landscape architecture off as a separate business line from its core residential architecture practice, but these changes had also not been communicated in any way to clients and prospective clients. 

The firm couldn’t clearly articulate its services or value, so it was consistently overlooked for awards and lost projects to competitor firms—often simply because prospective clients didn’t know the firm existed and referral sources didn’t know about the expanded service offerings.

In the absence of a clear marketing strategy and templates for supporting materials, decisions about messaging, positioning, and visual style were left to individual architects on a per-project basis. This made it difficult to build up an external understanding of the new brand or the service offerings and frequently led to disputes within the firm about the “right” way to market.

Within 18 months of beginning our work, the firm had over ten new multi-million dollar commissions from new markets, four prestigious project awards, and over 50 earned media placements.