This is a guest post by Enoch Sears from Business of Architecture.
Marketing a residential architecture firm is perhaps different than marketing any other kind of professional service or product in the world. It isn’t like we’re selling the latest widget or a used car. Selling architectural services is all about relationships.
And yet residential architects have a challenging situation when finding new clients: we rarely know who may be thinking about remodeling or building a new residence. This makes it very difficult to find new clients unless they come seeking us out.
In fact, this is how most residential architects get new clients; by doing good work and waiting for clients to ring them up. According to our survey of 572 architects and designers, almost half of those surveyed rely on word-of-mouth alone, with no active marketing.
This is fine if you have plenty of work, but most residential architects I talk to would either like to attract more clients or attract a better kind of project.
Pro-Active Marketing For Residential Architects
The good news is, there are tried and true strategies and techniques for attracting more clients.
I’m going to relate this to one of my favorite sports: fishing.
There are 3 basic steps to attracting and landing the kinds of clients you want to work with:
- Identify the right fish
- Pick the right bait
- Cast your bait (and hook and line) in the right fishing hole
As any good angler will tell you (and quite a few poor ones including myself), if you get any one of these three steps wrong, you might as well be out on a nature walk (which I admit isn’t a bad idea).
Let’s relate this back to marketing a residential architecture firm.
Identify The Right ‘Fish’
In architecture marketing terms, this would be: identify your ideal client.
It takes time and resources to market, so why not go after the best clients, the one’s you want to work with?
To go after them you need to identify them. You probably already have a good idea of who your ideal client is, and better yet, who it is NOT.
Here are some things to consider when honing in on your ideal client:
- Does the work pay well?
- Is the work fun to do?
- Do you enjoy working for this type of client?
- Will working on these types of clients/projects further your local professional reputation?
- Can you make an impact by serving these kinds of clients?
- Will this kind of work lead to more of the work you want to do?
Pick The Right Bait
Okay, so hopefully you know who your ideal client is.
The next step is to develop some attractive bait for that client. This might be some sort of free giveaway that doesn’t take any of your time (ex. not a free consultation).
You want this to be something that is painless for you, but offers a lot of benefit for your client. Architect marketing coach Richard Petrie calls this a ‘monkey’s fist’ (not to be mistaken for The Monkey’s Paw by W. W. Jacobs). Other marketers call it a ‘lead magnet’ or ‘ethical bribe’.
This ‘monkey’s fist’ could be an educational pamphlet or brochure that answers some of the initial questions your prospects might have like, “How much does it cost to build a house in Kalamazoo?”
Cast Your Bait
You have your bait. The next step is to get your bait in front of your prospect.
How to do that you ask?
Explaining that would take an entire book.
Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be that complicated. Find out where your ideal clients congregate or what they read, and put the offer to get your Monkey’s Fist in front of them. This is the strategy New Zealand architect Mona Quinn used to get over 120 leads in one weekend from a trade show.
This is how lead generation for residential architects is done (one very effective way in any case).
That outlines the basic process for getting new prospects to call you on the phone in a pro-active way. There are other steps involved including follow-up and the meeting.
To learn more about the effective architect marketing process, including strategies other residential architects are using right now to grow their practices, I’m hosting a free AIA approved 90-minute online training.
On this training, you’ll discover a systematic process for marketing a residential architecture firm (or get the most out of the marketing you’re already doing).
You’ll also learn how to avoid the #1 marketing mistake architects make so you don’t spend more time and resources than necessary.
To register for this free training, click here.
And lastly, thanks to Mark LePage of Entrepreneur Architect for letting me share this article with the wonderful Entrepreneur tribe!
Please leave your comments and thoughts below.