Your architectural firm is a cornerstone of society. But before your future constructs can stand proud for all to see, you must first be found by clients who need your services. Relying on referrals alone is not a sustainable practice so it’s highly recommended that you consider ways to generate business using a highly effective and structured approach that is as enduring as a well-designed edifice – digital marketing.
However, digital marketing is not some standardized concept that can be blanketed across numerous businesses. What’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander, and this is especially true for architectural firms. There are distinctive aspects to your industry that must be integrated into your online marketing messaging for email, search, and social media. These are detailed below.
4 Areas Architectural Firms Must Focus On to Gain Qualified Clients Online
1. Target by Sector
A large number of architectural firms employ marketing messages to communicate that they serve all sectors, including commercial, residential, industrial, and municipal projects. However, very rarely do we see them target these sectors individually on their website much less via their email, SEO, PPC, and social media campaigns. This needs to change today. Why the urgency? Because right at this very moment, representatives from within each sector are searching for architectural services specific to their needs. For example, have a look at the monthly online search volume for the Vancouver BC area alone:
There are up to 100 searches per month for each category within one single city. We don’t need to tell you the value of securing just one of these clients! However, if you continue to position your firm as a general architecture firm without creating sector-specific website pages and posts in addition to SEO, AdWords, social media, and email campaigns you won’t capture any of them. You’ve got a lot of content creation to do (a service we offer), but in the end it will be worth the small investment.
2. Target by Service
Never assume that prospective clients know exactly what it is you do. Do developers, engineers, contractors all know the breadth of your services, such as project inception, schematic design, design development, construction documentation, contractor bidding and negotiation, construction and contract administration, and provision of project progress reports. Many firms also offer and/or facilitate the following services:
- feasibility studies
- site selection
- building condition audits
- graphic design
- landscape architecture
- interior design
- renderings and promotional materials
- full time site representation
- multiple contract preparation
There’s a lot to be found between pre-design through to completion. Most prospective clients don’t know this, and may take a piecemeal approach to building the project team. If you can handle a bulk or all of the process, even through the use of your own subcontractors, you will get a much bigger piece of the financial pie. Again, this approach involves the creation of content for pages and posts that will serve as the foundation for your email, social, and search campaigns.
3. Target Green Architectural Design
All markets in North America are specifying greener building practices. Municipal, provincial, state, and federal building codes require it. Clients are also searching for green design so that they can reap tax benefits and other fiscal credits along with the positive public relations that comes from LEED certifications and other green-building recognitions. Your digital marketing plan cannot ignore this any longer. Green architectural design must become a prominent focus of your online campaigns if you hope to create a sustainable business model. Look for distinctive opportunities within your service offering. For example, if you have experience in working with builders who use insulated concrete forms (ICFs) or other net-zero building initiatives you may create a vertical campaign based solely on this fact. Devote an entire section on your website to the green building design concept and you will the reap rewards of more prospects, more clients, more revenue.
4. Build a More Robust Portfolio and Promote It
With a little research you’ll be surprised by how few architectural firms actually showcase their past projects. This is as true of new firms as it is with longstanding ones. Sure, there is a casual mention of their completed projects somewhere on the website, but nine times out of ten it’s buried in a blur of paragraphs and stock photos. You need to create or enhance your existing client portfolio page, even if you have just a few projects under your firm’s belt. As you gain new clients, add them to your online portfolio, and showcase current projects as they near completion on your website’s blog. Invest in high quality photographs of each building/structure and upload them to your site complete with project descriptions and other details that prospective clients may want to know. This gives you the digital ammunition you need for client outreach via email, search, and social media.
Building developers need your expertise. They rely on architects to deliver design and ongoing support for their residential, commercial, industrial, and municipal projects. This is analogous to digital marketing services. Focus on your business (and that of your clients). At the same time, Strategis Consulting Group are specialists who can creatively develop and manage your online marketing campaigns. We will create a customized plan that respects your budget which will drive qualified prospects away from competing firms, to you.