Working with many architecture firms over the past several years our agency, Archmark Architect Branding & Marketing, has been approached by many architects who have struggled to establish a consistent, repeatable, and reliable process to attract new clients and projects.
The challenge for many firm owners is that they rely too heavily on passive new business development techniques like networking, referrals, recommendations, and repeat clients.
In the marketing world, passive marketing is often referred to as ‘Hope Marketing’.
When you are not actively and strategically pursuing new business opportunities, you are essentially hoping that new business will come to you.
Keep reading to learn why this can present challenges for your architecture firm, and an easy way to start developing a more active and strategic approach to building new business opportunities using Linkedin.
The problem with ‘passive approaches’ to new business development
Passive marketing often works best when you have a productive network of referral sources, the economy is doing well, and you and your firm have a good reputation in the market. However, when times are uncertain or the economy takes a dive, your referrals and repeat clients can quickly disappear, leaving you scrambling for whatever projects you can get.
If you went back in time, before the internet, you’d find that many architecture firms did not have to actively market their services. They could rely on a steady stream of referrals, recommendations, and walk-in inquiries for most of their new business.
The reason they could rely on these passive approaches to new business development was that the market was less crowded and competitive, and many architectural services were not as easily accessible to the general public, as they are today. If someone wanted to find an architect, they were likely to turn to the Yellow Pages and call one of the handful of architectural firms in their area. They might also know someone who had hired an architect and ask that person for a recommendation or referral.
…when times are uncertain or the economy takes a dive, your referrals and repeat clients can quickly disappear, leaving you scrambling for whatever projects you can get.
Today, because of the internet, it’s much easier to find solutions online, and research has shown that more people are likely to search online before they seek out a referral. And with HGTV and the many online blogs and resources we now have, do-it-yourself design solutions are prevalent in the residential space.
In the commercial space, more and more design/build firms are setting themselves up to compete with local architects, or are partnering with them, driving costs and opportunities down and competition up.
And speaking of competition, there has been a proliferation of new firms in the past 10-12 years because of the Great Recession, adding to the competitive landscape.
The internet has also made it much easier to find service providers with platforms like Houzz, HomeAdvisor, and Mortarr.
Without a doubt, referrals, recommendations, and other forms of ‘hope marketing’ can still work, but for many firms, relying solely on these approaches can result in an unreliable, less predictable flow of new business.
The Evolution of Architecture Firm Marketing
If you go back to 1909, you’ll find that the times dictated some very restrictive views on the use of advertising and promotion in architecture and other professional service industries. During that time, advertising was becoming more and more popular in society, however, architects, along with other professional service providers of the times, saw advertising and other forms of promotion as distasteful.
As a way of preserving the integrity of the profession, the AIA established rules that prevented architects from using advertising or promoting their services.
As a way of preserving the integrity of the profession, the AIA established rules that prevented architects from using advertising or promoting their services. It was believed that if you did good work you would be recognized as a quality service provider and more work would come to you. The AIA’s rules remained in place until the early 1970s, when the AIA was sued by the Department of Justice for unfair restriction of trade. The times had changed, but the AIA had been reluctant to change with them.
Old habits and ways of thinking die hard and today, many architect firm owners are still heavily influenced by the idea that reputation and relationships are all that is needed to build a thriving architecture practice. In fact, many bristle at the idea of marketing their services, at least until they encounter a rough patch, and realize that having a strategic approach to new business development is an important aspect of sustaining and growing a successful firm.
Taking a More Strategic Approach to Architecture Firm Marketing
Prior to the pandemic, for many architecture firm owners, an active approach to marketing involved in-person networking events, industry conferences, and other one-to-one interactions, like business lunches to entertain clients and referral sources.
From our perspective, many of these approaches lack strategic planning and thinking, meaning that they still fall into the category of ‘hope marketing.’ Not to mention that these approaches can require a lot of time and effort with uncertain and unpredictable results. Networking takes up a lot of time, takes you away from working on client projects, and can yield inconsistent and unpredictable results.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
We have found that there is a more efficient and much easier way to find, attract, and connect with the clients you want, by strategically networking online, using Linkedin.
…using Linkedin, we were able to connect our client with a $6M project designing a new facility for a non-profit organization, their ideal type of client.
If you are not familiar with LinkedIn, it may not seem like an obvious first choice for relationship building or marketing your firm. However, if you already have a decent LinkedIn profile, it’s probably one of the top links that prospects will find when they Google your name or your firm. LinkedIn can provide you with the perfect way to market your firm and get more clients.
Recently, using Linkedin, we were able to connect our client with a $6M project designing a new facility for a non-profit organization, their ideal type of client.
So, how do you network on LinkedIn? How can you get in front of your ideal clients using online networking? Just like with in-person networking, it starts with making a great first impression, and on Linkedin, that means having a great profile.
To get you started building a better Linkedin profile, we’ve authored ‘The Definitive Architecture Marketing Guide to an Effective LinkedIn Profile.’
This article goes in-depth into the process of building your Linkedin profile so it helps you to connect and engage with your ideal clients, partners, and promoters. Along the way, you’ll find easy-to-implement, actionable tips to help you make the most of Linkedin. There is also a free 10-point LinkedIn Profile Optimization Checklist for you to download and refer to.
Stop relying on ‘Hope Marketing’. Take control of your new business development efforts by connecting and networking with the prospects you want to work with, on Linkedin.
Bryon McCartney the the Principal Creative Strategist at Archmark.
Archmark specializes in branding and marketing strategies for architecture firms. They help architecture firms create a great first impression, communicate their authority and value, attract their ideal prospects using The Archmark 3-Phase Growth System.
If you’re interested in learning more, visit www.archmark.co or Schedule a FREE website evaluation call (a $397 value yours free).