The UK architectural industry is worth over £4 billion a year to the national economy. It’s also, arguably, one of the most timeless industries around.
A building can’t be built without a great architect. Well, it can, but can you imagine what you’d end up with?
Architects are required in both residential and commercial builds, but that doesn’t make them indispensable. With so much competition around, you’d better be pretty nifty with digital marketing if you want to get noticed as an architect.
Being a good salesperson is one thing, as is having a wealth of delighted clients. But how do you start those conversations with potential new clients? Where can you find them? How can you put your architectural business in front of hot prospects at just the right moment?
I’m a big fan of going back to basics when it comes to marketing, and with that in mind, I’d like to share a few brilliantly simple digital marketing tips for architects.
Don’t underestimate social media for Architects
You may think that social media is completely irrelevant for architects.
But that would be a huge mistake.
Platforms like Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn can be fantastic gateways to new clients, providing you know how to use them.
The key lies in taking advantage of each platform’s strengths. Instagram, for instance, is perfect for architects because it’s so visual. There’s arguably nowhere better to show off you best work and use hashtags to place it in front of people who are genuinely interested.
LinkedIn is a more professional social network, but that’s great if you’re an architect, too. The more vocal you are on LinkedIn, the more likely you are to find potential new partners and work opportunities.
Put some effort into your social media platforms. The worst thing you can do is set them up and leave them to stagnate. It’ll take time to see results, but social media will only pay you back if you put the time in.
Create your own position
What’s your biggest strength as an architect?
This is an important question you need to answer while defining your marketing strategy. And the reason is simple; how many times have you looked at the competition only to be overwhelmed by the huge list of services they offer?
Good news: they’re making a huge mistake. The presence of a service list as long as your arm suggests quality might be a secondary concern. Clients are far more interested in architects who excel in one or two areas (after all, they’re unlikely to need every single service going).
The old cliche ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ really applies in architectural marketing.
Avoid this by making your speciality abundantly clear on your website. Provide examples of your work and social proof from happy customers (either text-based or video – the latter, if possible).
Clearly, you’ll alienate some potential clients who want more, but that’s fine. In return, you should find a far more targeted audience who want your expertise in that specific area – and there’s plenty of those to go around.
Invest in lead generation
This isn’t the prettiest element of marketing, but it’s one that still works in the architectural industry.
Cold calling and other forms of direct marketing can be very effective in this trade (email, particularly). You can do it internally or employ the services of a third party, but however you undertake lead generation, it’s important to go into it with the right mindset.
It’s a long, arduous game, but with the right skills and lists from which to work, you’ll begin to see real progress. Lead generation of this kind will put your firm in front of a huge audience. That means you’ll have to deal with a large number of unqualified leads, but once whittled down, you’ll gain access to some very profitable customers.
Get something published
John Deere (you know, the people that make farming kit) is considered by many to be the ‘OG content marketer’.
Their industry magazine, The Furrow, was started in 1895 with the sole purpose of drawing as many eyes towards their brand as possible. And it worked, big time.
John Deere is a perfect example of why content marketing benefits all industries – architects included. It makes the idea of getting something published far less daft if you’re not a content producer.
In the digital age, content marketing has taken on a whole new form thanks to the myriad of ways you can create and publish content. But the premise remains the same. If you want to build a solid reputation and encourage potential customers to trust you, publishing regular blogs, videos or podcasts will gain you the recognition you desire.
Just like direct marketing, this takes time; there’s no overnight miracle formula. But the more consistent your approach to content marketing, the bigger your audience will become and the more weight you’ll carry in the industry.
The best news? You can start super small by simply publishing a helpful blog post every week. Get writing!
Use your existing contact database
Have you been collecting customer email addresses? If so, when was the last time you sent them something?
You’re not alone if that question has left you scratching your head; it’s all too common for businesses to amass big contact databases but fail to do anything meaningful with them.
Promise yourself that you’ll start emailing those contacts one a month. Tell them about your latest work, the newest trends or ideas you have about your passion.
At first, it might feel like you’re simply throwing something out into the ether for little reward, but if you pay attention to the engagement metrics (your email marketing platform should provide these), you’ll see that people are listening.
Architects don’t throw away old leads
How many times have you heard from an old lead that you thought was dead and buried?
Leads that are deemed unfit or which choose to go elsewhere shouldn’t be forgotten entirely. And this is where digital marketing is so useful; it makes keeping in touch with those lost leads much easier.
Pop them into your email marketing or CRM tool and set reminders to contact them in one- or two-years’ time. Some will remain lost; others will be just the injection of unexpected income you need when you least expect it.
I hope these digital marketing tips help you. There’s an awful lot more you can do as an architect, but the ‘keep it simple, stupid’ rule absolutely applies.
The best thing about digital marketing? You can test and manipulate it as much as you want to find the right strategy. So, have some fun and break stuff – it’s the only way to get your architectural business in front of a huge audience.