This is a guest post written by architect Jeff Echols, the founder of echoEngagement, an Indianapolis-based brand storytelling firm. Jeff is s a Storyteller, a Networker; a Connector. He crafts engaging stories for businesses, individuals and organizations around their unique passion, purpose and value.
- There’s a statistic that gets thrown around from time to time in professional services industries like architecture. It says that 80% of new commissions come from repeat clients and referrals.
If that number is anywhere close to accurate, then is seems pretty clear what you have to do to win the game.
I published a case study recently where the small architecture firm I highlighted could trace $10 million dollars of construction back to just 4 people. They were the repeat clients and referrers; the R&R’s.
Could 10 Be 20?
What if that firm had 8 R&R’s instead of 4? Would they have had $20 million on the books instead of $10?
See, the funny thing about statistics is that you often only know one side of the equation. In this case, 80% could be $10 million, but it could also be $20 million. You have to find a way to leverage the other side of the equation.
You have to get more of your clients to come back for their next project and more to refer their friends and colleagues to you.
Your Number One Job
In this type of environment, when it comes to marketing your number one job has to be to craft a story that resonates so powerfully with your Ideal Client that they feel compelled to share it with other people like themselves.
Sometimes, when I’m talking to a prospective client they’ll wonder how I can work with two architecture firms in the same market. What if they’re competitors?
Architecture is a competitive industry. It only makes sense right? If we’re all depending on that 80% how can anyone get ahead?
What If Someone Steals My Stuff?
Some Architects take on a protectionist mindset. They guard their client lists and their unique value proposition with their lives. They’re worried that their unique knowledge or their client will be stolen.
Well, I’ve got news for you. No matter what it is that you do, it’s probably not that unique.
If you make a popular widget, it will be knocked off in a Chinese factory within months. If you have an app in the App Store, someone is already working on copying it. If you design tiny houses, you’re not alone.
Your story is the only thing that can’t be stolen.
In “Start With Why,” Simon Sinek talks about What, How and Why … “Every organization on the planet knows What they do … some know How they do it … but very, very few organizations know Why they do it.”
Since you’re an Architect, you may design schools … your What.
You may have a unique process or approach that makes you stand out from other School Architects … your How.
I may look at you and your success and decide I’m going to be a School Architect too. I can ‘steal’ your What.
In fact, once I’ve learned what your unique process is, I can ‘steal’ that too. Better yet, maybe I’ll just hire one of your best employees to replicate your How at my firm.
But what about your Why? Why do you do what you do?
You Have To Make An Emotional Connection
If you want your story to resonate with your Ideal Client, that client that you hope will share your story, you have to make an emotional connection with them. When those clients understand and identify with your Why, an emotional connection is made.
Now before you dismiss this as being too warm and fuzzy or think it’s time to start singing “Kum Ba Yah,” think about this:
Have you ever bought a car just because it had 4 wheels? Every car on the market has 4 wheels.
Have you ever bought a car just because it was blue? I had a roommate in college that did, but that’s another story for another time.
Have you ever recommended a 4-wheeled, blue car to a friend? Probably not.
Have you ever bought a car because of the manufacturer’s intense commitment to safety or quality or fun?
Have you recommended THAT car to a friend? Probably so.
What’s Your Story?
Whether you’re telling it or not, your architecture firm has a story. The question is what’s that story and who’s telling it?
Does that story create an emotional connection with your Ideal Client? Does it resonate so powerfully with your Ideal Client that they feel compelled to share it? Are you leveraging the other side of the equation?
Make your story work for you. It’s the key to your success.
Question: What is your story? Why do you do what you do?