Marketing for Architects and Architectural Practices

Marketing / 21.01.20
Mark Vaesen

Marketing for small and medium-sized architecture firms can be a challenge.

If you’re an organisation with limited resources, it’s important that any marketing work you do makes the biggest impact.

With this in mind, here are FIVE top tips for architecture firms who are looking to improve their marketing.

1. Use high-quality visuals throughout your marketing

Trying to carry out any sort of marketing for your architecture firm — either online or offline —won’t be anywhere near as effective without the use of stunning photography and high quality visual elements.

Exceptional visualisations of your architectural development are vital when it comes to selling to potential clients and investors, and can help you achieve the funding you need even before a single foundation has been laid.

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) is the perfect tool for showcasing prospective clients your planned projects. Professional three-dimensional CGI rendering is a time- and cost-effective solution that allows you to show off every element of your design in a photo-realistic way, as well as giving you the means of adjusting elements such as surface textures and shading at a moment’s notice.

And the investment in high-quality imagery shouldn’t end with the pre-build phase; instead, your firm should also be looking to commission high-quality photography and video (including drone footage) of completed developments as well.

Once you’ve acquired them, these images will form a big part of your ongoing marketing strategy.

Using your bank of images effectively can showcase your team’s experience, expertise and proof of delivery through your website, printed brochures, events branding, and social media channels such as Instagram, Houzz and Facebook.

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2. Put your website to work for you

Your company website should provide any visitors with all the information they need to make the decision to get in contact with you to discuss their project.

An effective website should provide details of where your company is based and where you operate, what type of work you do (e.g. commercial or domestic), which industry sectors you specialise in, and any specific unique selling points that set you apart from your competitors.

Most importantly, it should also show evidence of your work, either through case studies or an image gallery, and should contain obvious calls-to-action that make it easy for prospective clients to get in contact with you to discuss their project.

Before you start planning your website, make sure you have a clear picture of the type of person you expect to use the site. Create client personas that you can refer back to, and throughout the project, make sure that every word, picture and page is added with the express aim of meeting their needs and pushing them through to the next stage of the sales funnel.

As well as the content, you should also set up your website to give it the best possible chance of ranking for relevant web searches on Google and other search engines.

This is where search engine optimisation (SEO) comes into play. First, you’ll want to check that your core website pages (Home, About, Contact etc) are optimised as well as they can be for your brand name and main keyword search terms, and also geographic location, if relevant.

Then, you’ll want to work on increasing the amount of relevant traffic to the website.

Having a company news or blog section where you can add long-form informational articles, opinion pieces or whitepapers is a common and effective way of doing this.

Bear in mind, though, that for smaller architecture firms it can be hard to find the time to research the right topics to write about and then produce fully optimised content. When this is the case, hiring a digital marketing agency or freelance copywriter is a good solution.

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3. Have a presence on social media (and make sure you use it effectively)

Social media can be a highly effective tool in the marketing arsenal for architecture firms…if it’s used correctly.

Many architects know they ‘should be on social media’ for some reason or another. Everyone else seems to being doing it, so they should too. Right?

But problems can arise when the proper effort isn’t put in to using social media channels effectively.

If a potential client comes across social media accounts for your company that haven’t been updated in months (or even years), it doesn’t present a particularly good impression of your business.

Without a considered and defined social media strategy, it can be hard to see the benefits of using it at all, and it can quickly become seen within your firm as a chore that doesn’t deliver any sort of return on investment.

However, the fact is that people spend a huge amount of their time each day on social media. Whether Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, the opportunity is there for architects to build brand awareness among potential customers by having a consistent and engaging profile that puts out good, quality content on a regular basis.

Making a content calendar is a great idea to manage your social media. By having in place a diary of what you’re posting, when you’re going to post it, and on what social media platform, your team can save time and money.

And remember — the architecture industry as a whole has been relatively slow on the uptake when it comes to social media marketing. So if you have even a simple strategy in place, you’ll be doing more than many of your immediate competitors.

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4. Get on LinkedIn and Houzz

Although we’ve just discussed using social media in general terms, these two social media platforms deserve a special mention when it comes to marketing for architects.

There are a number of potential social media accounts you could set up for your firm, however you don’t want to spread yourself too thin and give yourself too much to do.

It’s always better to do one or two social networks really well than do five or six badly.

With that in mind, LinkedIn and Houzz are worth a closer look. Of all the platforms you could be using, if you need to prioritise, then these two will probably give your architecture firm the best chance of seeing a return on investment from its social media strategy.

According to their own website, Houzz is “the best way to get inspired, discover products and to find and collaborate with the perfect architect, designer or contractor.”

With a community of more than 40 million homeowners and professionals using Houzz, it is the social media network that housing architecture firms should be leveraging for success.

Houzz allows you to set up a profile for your business, add information about your services and specialisms, and upload photography to create ‘projects’ of your previous architecture work.

This is where having amazing visual assets is so vital. The quality of your images on your Houzz profile can make or break the level of success you’ll get out of this marketing channel.

On the consumer side, Houzz users are able to save images uploaded by companies to ‘ideabooks’. The better the photos you upload, the more people will save them. The more they get saved, the more popular your profile will become. The more popular your profile becomes, the more brand awareness you build, and the better the results for your architecture firm.

And, while you’re waiting for people to add your photos to their ideabooks, you can also create your own ones. If you have projects that share similar characteristics or design features, group them together and increase your chances of being discovered for relevant keywords.

As well as getting interaction from the public through your images, Houzz also has the capability to let users rate and review businesses.

This is very important when trying to get exposure in such a competitive social media environment. By asking your satisfied customers to leave you positive feedback, it increases the authority of your profile and adds valuable psychological and social proof of your expertise.

It’s all very well you thinking your firm is fantastic, but having other people say it is far more valuable to a Houzz user looking for someone to work with!

One final point of interest on Houzz is their community forum, where users can ask professionals for answers and advice.

This presents an opportunity for your business to show off its expertise by answering questions and providing solutions that will further increase your prominence on the platform. By engaging in a dialogue directly with a homeowner about a particular issue they’re having, your architecture firm can remain ‘top of mind’ as and when they’re looking for services that you can provide.

LinkedIn is a fantastic way to build a professional network of contacts and build your profile in the marketplace.

One of your aims for using LinkedIn should be to build the impression that you and your firm are experts, with your fingers on the pulse of the latest industry news and trends.

Every person in your company can and should have a LinkedIn profile. However, the more senior someone is in your firm, the more active their profile should be.

If a connection sees a ‘thought leadership’ post from the CEO of your firm, it implies that expertise is trickling down from the top of the company throughout and that a future client will see this at each potential touchpoint.

Moreover, building your network effectively — either via personal connections, or getting people to follow your LinkedIn company page — leaves you with a highly relevant list of people to push your key marketing messages to.

And finally, as an added benefit, LinkedIn enables you to keep a keen eye on market developments. You can see what projects your competitors have been working on, as well as any news of internal job role changes or people moving from one company to another.

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5. Build your reputation through working with others

While posting on your own website and social media can help extend your brand reach online, you should also support these efforts by collaborating with others — both online and offline — to push yourself even further.

Researching and attending relevant events, for example, can be very beneficial.

These could be events that are specific to the architecture industry, where you can meet like-minded people, learn from them, and build strong industry connections.

Alternatively, you could look into attending more general business networking events. At these, you’ll come into contact with a variety of different types of business owners. Some events publish their attendance lists beforehand, meaning you can do some research and turn up armed with a list of people you want to introduce your firm to.

Or, if your architecture firm has a particular industry you specialise in (or want to specialise in), you could attend events for businesses in that niche.

At any of these types of events there will probably be the opportunity to not just attend, but take an active role by obtaining a speaking slot and sharing your expertise with others.

This is a great chance to talk to the entire room at once and make a lasting impression. If you or someone at your firm is a confident speaker and has something worth sharing, get them involved in the process.

Another means of collaborating with others comes with editorial outreach.

You might be in the habit of producing content for the news section or blog on your own website. However, getting placements on other websites and in trade publications is a great PR tactic, and will also improve your own website’s authority and search rankings.

By identifying a list of potential media titles and working to understand how they might feature you — a guest blog post, or a comment for an opinion piece, for example — you can add this into any sort of content marketing strategy work and increase its effectiveness.

Tomango, a leading digital marketing agency in Sussex, works with architects and architectural practices to help them win more of the projects and clients they really want. By having a strong brand identity and online profile, you can attract more high-quality leads and convert them into loyal customers.

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