How to Brand and Market your Architecture Practice
In this part of the series we will look at how to develop your brand as a new architectural practice. Why is branding important? What do we need to think about when we consider branding our architectural practice?
Next we will look at how to market the architectural practice. There are many ways to develop new leads and create new business, we will take a look at some of the marketing options available to you.
Marketing and branding are huge topics, and we will just be scratching the surface here.
What is your architecture practice about? What values do you want to communicate to your clients, and how do you want the world to see you?
As your business grows and your experience builds, your brand will naturally develop and evolve. However, it is important to establish your brand values early on in order to present your business to your potential clients, peers and acquaintances.
Branding is a way of identifying your business. It is a combination of how your customers see you and how they experience your business. Your brand is reflected in everything from the projects you complete, to the communication with clients, your business cards, marketing and advertising.
How do you build a brand as an architect?
Establish what is different about your practice
What makes your practice different from others is a key factor in determining a powerful brand. Whether your focus is on client experience, a certain aesthetic, or perhaps budget, it is important potential clients know what to expect, and your brand will tell them this. What sets you apart? What do you do that other practices don’t?
Tell your story
Why did you start your practice, what is the background? Being able to tell your story through your brand gives a human feel to your practice, and makes you more relatable. A brand story triggers an emotional response and engages people.
Build on your strengths
The easiest way to develop your brand is to build on your strengths. What is the practice good at? What does it do better than anyone else? Is it design, customer service? Let your strength set you apart from the others.
Make your brand sharable
Architects rely on a lot of word of mouth marketing. Making your business easy to share will encourage your clients to talk about you more. Using your story and your strengths to communicate with your clients will give them talking points to share with their friends, and hopefully bring more work your way.
Make your brand easily identifiable
It goes without saying that when starting your own business one of the first things you think about is the logo! Its the fun bit right? Well, make sure your branding (logos, colours etc) tie in with the story and the message you are building. You don’t want your logo and imagery to say one thing, but your name and your story to be saying something else.
Hire a graphic designer to help you develop your branding. Graphic designers have the training and skills to evaluate your practice and the best way to make an impression. Getting it right first time round is far better than either regretting your branding decisions or feeling like they need to be completely overhauled one year down the line.
Some things you might consider are:
Social media presence
Be consistent throughout and give a clear message to the potential client.
How to Market your Architecture Practice
Once you have your branding sorted, you are ready to start creating your marketing strategy for your brand. There are a multitude of ways to start promoting yourself, so first you need to consider what your goals are and start making a plan!
Marketing is an ongoing concern, and will require a lot of time and effort in order to keep the projects coming in and the work flowing. The key is to show your target market what you do and how you do it.
There are two different types of marketing. Online and offline marketing. You don’t need to choose one or the other, but rather look at a selection of both. Below we highlight some of the main things you can consider, both offline and online when it comes to marketing your architecture practice.
Online presence and SEO
A website is probably one of the most basic and essential things you can start with when it comes to your online marketing. You must be visible to your potential clients, and if they hear about you and want to know more, the website will be the first place they will look.
You can certainly design your own website with some great easy to use options like Squarespace. Make sure you website ties in with your branding and narrative. Consider researching SEO to make sure you are found easily. Make sure your website is clear and showcases your practice and work. Above all, make sure it is easy for potential clients to contact you.
If you have the budget, we would recommend getting a designer to produce your website for you. A good web designer will be able to optimise performance, give a great design and ensure you are SEO friendly.
If you need some help with producing the content for your site, in particular writing about what you do – check out Nikita Morrell https://nikitamorell.com – she is a master at all things website and wordy for architects!
Social Media Marketing
Love it or hate it, social media is where it’s at….
In some form or other, it is important your practice is on some of the social media channels. Where does your target market hang out? Instagram? LinkedIn? Consider where you might be able to engage with potential clients and make sure you are on that platform, and you are active and engaged.
The social media strategy is a long game. It won’t provide you with instant conversions. However, it will raise your brand awareness, help you connect with your audience and allow you to showcase your work and your practice.
Think about what your potential client might want to know about your practice – how might you communicate that through social media? Whether you are providing tips and advice, or behind the scenes information, always consider who will see your posts and whether they will be interested.
Thinking more about Social Media? Archmark have tonnes of resources and guides for social media marketing and architecture marketing in general. Even better, have a call with them to discuss your requirements. https://www.archmark.co
Email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with existing clients, build relationships and keep yourselves fresh in former clients minds.
Email marketing is pretty easy, collect email addresses of your existing, potential and previous clients. Send regular emails with useful, engaging information to continue to nurture your relationship.
Email marketing is not an expensive form of marketing but it is something that needs to be done regularly.
Content marketing is everywhere. It is a popular way of building trust in your brand, and sharing with your potential clients what you do.
The idea is to create useful, shareable content on a regular basis that provides value to your readers. It might be a platform for you to showcase the different services you provide, discuss the process of a project etc.
Online Events and Webinars
Now more than ever there are opportunities to speak at online events and webinars. This is a good opportunity to grow your authority and connect with your target audience and prospective clients.
Putting together informative and entertaining webinars and events can be a lot of work. However it can be a valuable way to build your network and connect not only with clients but others in your industry.
Online listings and ads
Make sure you are in all of your local listings. There are plenty of different business listings online, Google, Bing, Yelp etc. It is good to have consistency across different channels and being visible on these sites broadens your reach and customer awareness. Being on the listings is positive for SEO. While you may or may not get direct business from these listings, it is worth spending the time to make sure you are on them, and the information is correct.
There is also an option various online advertising. Whether that is a sponsored listing on a business listing site or google search results. The listings can be difficult as you pay for a lead and don’t necessary end up with a project going forward.
PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising is another option. These can include paying to have your practice placed at the top of search engine results based on a specific search. You then pay each time someone clicks on that result.
These can help increase traffic to your site, but that may be all it is – traffic, not a converted client. It also may not be attracting the sort of client you want to work with. Consider this option carefully before choosing this as one of your marketing routes.
While an online presence is important, there is certainly a place for offline connections. If you are looking to work with people in your local area consider whether you should advertise in local directories. Consider attending any local events where you may be able to meet potential clients.
Keep in touch
This ties in a little bit with email marketing, but can be approached in different ways.
You can’t put out a few posts on social media, make a few connections on LinkedIn and expect the work to come flooding in. It just doesn’t work like that.
Keeping in touch with your connections is an important part of your marketing plan. This can be done by picking up the phone every now and again to check in with previous clients, or indeed potential clients. Go back to people that enquired about your services but didn’t move forward. Ask them if they are still considering their project, have a chat about it, see if you can help.
It is a good idea to set yourself a schedule or note in your calendar to catch up with your existing connections on a regular basis.
Ask existing and previous clients if they will provide you with a review or testimonial. You can either ask for a written review to post on your own website, or ask that they provide a google review or trust pilot. Whichever you choose, be consistent so you can build up a number of testimonials in one place. Good reviews give potential clients the confidence to work with you.
Ask for referrals
Ask your existing clients if they know anyone else you might be able to help. Word of mouth is essentially free advertising. If you are providing a great service to your existing clients, they will be happy to tell their friends or colleagues how great you are. Usually word of mouth recommendations are triggered by a great customer experience when something goes beyond what they expected. Are you exceeding your customer expectations and delivering great value to your clients? If so, they will be keen to tell others.
Consider speaking at events to raise your profile and that of your practice. Tradeshows and conferences are a good start. Or you could consider hosting a workshop. Even better, how about organising a lecture or talk at your own offices? The topic doesn’t have to be architecture, but something your practice feels strongly about.
Consider whether this approach is appropriate for you – are you a good public speaker, do you engage with your audience and tell a good story. At this type of event you are the representation of your company.
Competitions and Awards
People like award winning products. Entering competitions and gaining awards and accolades will obviously help raise your profile and authority in the field.
You can submit your projects to various awards, or enter competitions and develop designs specifically for these competitions.
Be aware that there is a fee to enter many competitions, you need to consider whether it is a good investment. There are various awards and competitions across the different sectors, and some clients will see this as more important than others. Be aware of what your potential clients will think of an award winning practice.
Consider getting published in magazines, papers or industry publications. It is important that the publication is read by your potential client/ target market.
Once again, this is another way of adding to your authority and reaching new potential leads. Being featured in a publication is better than paying for an advertisement in a publication. You can always offer to write a piece, or submit an article to your local paper.
Getting the marketing strategy right is often about knowing where to focus your efforts.
Be careful not to spread yourself too thin trying to do lots of things not very well. Rather commit to a couple of marketing tasks and do them well and be consistent.
For more ideas here are a few people you should check out: