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Corner the market by marketing your design practice

The first in a three-part series of specially-crafted Acumen Practice Notes, we take a look at quick wins for marketing your practice, which doesn’t have to be overly complicated.



BY

October 10th, 2018


Architects and designers are in the business of persuasion. Winning new work, attracting sought-after collaborators, or persuading clients to embrace a challenging design – it’s all par for the course for those wishing to influence someone’s behaviour.

Marketing is your method of persuasion and plays a fundamental role in today’s business world.

How does marketing actually benefit your practice?

Marketing equips you to successfully engage with your marketplace and can help you win work. Prospects, clients and influencers of clients – including local authorities, project managers and builders – are all spoilt for choice when it comes to appointing an architect. Effective marketing will get you noticed.

But what is effective marketing? It’s messaging that has your clients at its heart. Before producing or sharing your marketing materials, ask yourself, ‘is this information of interest to my clients or in their best interest’? If the answer is no, go back to the drawing board.

Who do you need to market to?

In order of priority, your marketing collateral must engage:

  1. Potential clients
  2. Existing clients
  3. Influencers of clients
  4. Powerful peers who refer/influence

What are some examples of marketing?

There are countless marketing activities that can help push your practice forward and get noticed in your marketplace. The following are just a few key activities for architects and designers to consider.

Websites

A website is essential for architects and designers. It’s likely the first port of call for curious clients and prospects – whether via a referral or via an online search.

According to technology researchers, the majority of your audience is likely to spend ‘fewer than 15 seconds actively on one web page’ (Tony Haile in ‘What You Think You Know About the Web Is Wrong’, March 9 2014, time.com). Attention spans are short, so deploy a design that instantly conveys your brand and compels visitors to read on. Remember to use conversational language, tailored to clients and prospects, not tailored to your peers.

Ensure your website is user-friendly on all devices. In other words, your website should look as good on a PC or Mac as it does on a smartphone.

Social media

For many of us, our lives are being lived online. It’s how we communicate personally and professionally. Australians have completely embraced the digital marketplace and design practices ignore social media at their own peril. The key is to always engage in two-way conversations rather than purely posting promotional or self-serving content. Offline, that behaviour turns people off – so it’s no surprise that it has the same effect online. Remember – prioritise your clients and influencers of clients across all your social media posts. Stick to posts that are of interest to potential clients.

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Australians have completely embraced the digital marketplace and design practices ignore social media at their own peril.
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Brochures

Brochures (also often referred to as a capability statement or leave-behind booklet) can provide clients and prospects with a top-level summary of your practice’s competitive strengths. These may include examples of past projects, services offered and information regarding your key personnel. Seek out a talented and reputable graphic designer to produce a print and digital brochure that mirrors the aesthetics and standards of your practice. Be sure to include high-quality imagery throughout.

Publicity

Want to raise your profile and boost your credibility in the marketplace? Editorial within the mainstream media or within architecture and design media will do just that. Think more broadly too – target business publications or industry media that are likely to reach your clients. For example, if you design medical buildings, pitch to health bulletins read by facility managers and the like. Remember, even small mentions can prove beneficial, given the right readership.

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Wherever possible, meet with potential clients, existing clients and influencers of prospects in person.
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Meetings

Nothing beats face-to-face contact. Wherever possible, meet with potential clients, existing clients and influencers of prospects in person. When hosting meetings at your office, a little hospitality goes a long way. Punctuality, simple catering and thoughtful touches like providing parking/street directions, all combine to create a positive client experience.

 

Finally, marketing is the way in which you position yourself in the marketplace, so be consistent and stay on brand. In other words, each and every story you craft and share should be tailored to reflect what’s special about you, and why a client should choose to work with you over your competitors.

These notes have been prepared by Lindy Johnson Creative Agent. Eligible Australian Institute of Architects members can access the full “Marketing and communications” Acumen Practice Notes here.


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