This is a guest post written by my friend, Enoch Sears, the founder of Business of Architecture.
Coming up on this October 29th and 30th, the Business of Architecture Summit is the premier online event for small firm and solo practitioners who want to run a better business. I presented at the Summit last year and it was a great experience. I need to sit this one out, in order to focus my energy on the upcoming launch of EntreArchitect 2.0. Enoch and his crew have organized a fantastic line up again this year, so don’t miss it!
Click here to learn more about the Business of Architecture Summit.
I’m often asked, “Enoch, can I get clients using social media?”
I’m going to answer that question here once and for all. But first, I need to take a couple of steps backward and ask you a question:
What is working for you right now to get clients?
Based on my experience your answer is “word of mouth”.
This is as it should be. Potential clients that come as referrals are predisposed to work with us because someone they trust has given us a vote of confidence. It doesn’t hurt that these clients are also easier to work with because of the heightened level of trust they have in us.
Business Is About Relationships
Not much has changed about human nature since the first neolithic hunter discovered that working as a team is more effective than trying to kill a mammoth alone. Fast-forward 10,000 years – relationships still matter.
However, we have a massive advantage over our primitive ancestors. Today, with the help of technology, we can start and foster relationships with many more people, more quickly, and on a grander scale, than ever before.
This is where social media comes into play.
The power of social media isn’t that it is some new fad or productivity tool. The power of social media is that these new technologies are forcing more and more relationships to be started, and developed online (if you don’t believe me, just think of the last time you heard of someone texting their daughter in the next room that dinner is ready).
So how might we use this to our advantage as architects?
Here are a few examples:
Facebook has recently added advertising features that allow you to target people by income level, hobby, job title, and more (this is useful for starting relationships).
LinkedIn is the largest network of professionals online. LinkedIn groups provide a ‘virtual space’ where you can contribute to the conversation in any industry or field. LinkedIn has the “connection” feature that will let you see who can introduce you to a decision maker.
Houzz, Instagram and Pinterest and Perisope are visually rich media that allow you to share your work with the world (at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising).
Truly, the potential of using these new media tools has not yet been tapped. Will you be the one to suprise us all with your innovative use of these tools?
The answer to the original question of “Can I get clients using social media”, is a resounding yes. Just be sure to take the relationship offline – because no amount of pixels beats the warmth of a human handshake.
Go deep on social media for architects and more at the Business of Architecture Summit. Click here to learn more.
Photo Credit: Shuttestock / Yeko Photo Studio
Edward J Shannon, Architect says
I want to begin by saying two things. First, I really applaud Enoch’s efforts at BOA. It is great to see someone devoting time and effort to educating small firm architects on marketing and sales. I have purchased one of BOA’s products and am looking forward to putting the precepts into practice. Second, I do believe that relationships can be made online. I know this, because I met my wife online, and have also developed professional friendships though the many online forums that are available to architects and other professionals.
And while I see the value of architects having an online presence on venues such as Facebook and Houzz, I remain (a bit) skeptical that these strategies will take off like Match.com.
It seems every six months I get a call from someone at Houzz telling me of the benefits of paying to become a “Professional plus” Our dialogues usually goes something like this:
Houzz rep: We would like to tell you about a great opportunity for architects in your area
Me: May I ask you a few things?
Me: Have you ever hired an architect?
Houzz: Why no, I actually haven’t
Me: Do you know how architects are actually hired in my area?
Houzz rep stumbles on how people blindly search for architects in their geographic area, followed by my next question:
Do you know how much it costs to hire an architect?
Houzz: Somewhere between $500 and $1,000……
As good as Houzz is, most of the folks there have no idea how people hire architects; what it is like to work with an architect; and how much it actually costs to hire an architect.
It would really help me if there was some hard data presented on how and why people are (or not) hiring architects? It would be beneficial to understand why in so many cases people do not hire an architect first, but go to a builder first. I suspect the AIA’s efforts of presenting architects as prima-donna’s designing avant-garde Euro-boxes have driven many potential clients running to the nearest builder instead of searching for and hiring an architect. Still, if the data is not there, it would be good to know what compels a person to hire an architect and how they go about doing so.
I would love for BOA or Houzz to survey people who have built homes in the last 5 years and ask:
Did you hire a licensed architect? (emphasis on licensed as many people do not realize the difference between an architect and a lumberyard draftsperson)
Why or why not?
If so, was it a good experience?
Would you hire an architect again?
If a current study exists, I would like to see it. But, moreover, I think it behooves BOA and Houzz to thoroughly understand the process of hiring and working with an architect (from the consumer’s point of view) before offering marketing services to architects.
Lastly, I hope I’m wrong about this. Dead wrong! And, in anticipation, I am reading Eric Reinhold’s books, working on my Houzz profile, and considering further investing in more of BOA’s offers. However, I do remain skeptical…..
Mark R. LePage says
A great, well thought-out comment… as always. Thanks for contributing to the discussion Edward.