Marketing Strategies for Residential Architects
This past week, I had the great opportunity to join the co-founder of SALA Architects, Dale Mulfinger, FAIA over at EntreArchitect Podcast. It was a fantastic discussion about how SALA was founded and the journey to where Dale finds himself today as a principal at the firm, a teacher and an author of several books published by Taunton Press. If you haven’t yet listened to the episode, you can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes or listen directly from the website here.
I have been following Dale and his former SALA co-founder, Sarah Susanka, FAIA since Sarah published her first book, The Not So Big House in 1998. Together, they built the firm by “doing good work”, openly sharing their knowledge as residential architects with the community around them and by partnering with like-minded principals to grow the firm, continuing the traditions of sharing started by Dale and Sarah.
After 33 years of successful practice, focused primarily on a one specific target market, Dale credits the sharing of knowledge as the number one way to grow a residential practice.
Here are 4 strategies that SALA Architects has used to grow their residential architecture firm:
Dale shares in the podcast that one of the ways he helped the firm grow early on was to write for the local newspaper. He approached the publisher and proposed a new Home of the Week series, where he contributed articles, photography and contacts. The publisher agreed and the series was born. His leadership as a writer gave him credibility and exposure with the publisher as well as with weekly readers… some of whom became clients.
Dale is also a regular contributor for Taunton Press, publisher of several magazines including Fine Homebuilding. He has written dozens of articles and 5 books with the publisher, including his best known publication, cabinology.
In addition to teaching at the University of Minnesota, where Dale met Sarah as a graduate student, he has taught several classes at local community adult education programs. He shares his knowledge about architecture and how architects work. The connections established during these multi-week courses build long lasting relationships that bear fruit for the firm for years and years.
My friend, Stacia Hood of Thrivable Home and former associate with SALA Architects, shared with me that one of the strategies she was involved with at the firm was attending local home shows with Dale.
Bringing architecture to the people, at the specific locations where they might be seeking that knowledge, is a proven strategy that works for SALA Architects. Dale presents the firm’s work at an exhibit booth and is available to answer questions about the process of designing and building a custom residence.
Following the publication of her first book, The Not So Big House, Sarah Susanka left SALA Architects to pursue sharing her knowledge full time. Today, she is a speaker, advocate and author of seven books. Sarah has influenced generations of homeowners on the value of “building better, not bigger.”
Dale speaks at regional home shows, for professional organizations and at business events. Making the mysterious process of architecture simple to understand, not only helps the profession, but builds relationships with future clients. People want to work with people they know, like and trust. Speaking is a great way to earn all three.
Question: What are some ways you share your knowledge with the community?