A crucial part of running an architecture firm is attracting clients. This requires marketing. Whether connecting virtually through online platforms or in-person through word-of-mouth or old fashioned networking, a firm needs to actively promote itself. Here are a few marketing tips that can help firms to get their name out—and get the contract.
Tip 1: Connect with the Community
Establish a reputation in the industry by going out in the real world and engaging with people face-to-face. “Get out, speak a little more, be active with a local AIA chapter, go to events,” says Michelle DiLello, vice president of New York public relations firmSusan Grant Lewin Associates. “It’s all part of a networking strategy.” And while schmoozing with the competition might not seem like a great way to snag new clients, it will increase your young firm’s exposure. The colleagues you meet might be seeking collaborators or could suggest your firm when asked for referrals.
Tip 2: Establish a Presence
Increase your visibility with more than a website’s online database of firms and projects is a good starting point. Also consider social media platforms, blogs, and email newsletters. “Look for places where you can tell your stories. Create your own media,” says Cooper Smith Koch, principal of Dallas-based Cooper Smith Agency. That’s an idea Boston’s Hacin + Associates embraced with the recent launch of a semi-annual print publication: H+ Magazine. “The people you are marketing to are not thinking about architecture in the same way that you are,” says president David Hacin, FAIA. “Think about your audience and contextualize your work in a way that is going to resonate.”
Tip 3: Engage with the Media
Though telling your own story is easier than ever, there is still great value in having your work covered by traditional media. Coverage in print magazines, websites, and blogs can lend credibility to new firms, so don’t be shy about politely approaching journalists and editors. “Ensure those people are on your mailing lists so they’re getting updates,” DiLello says. It may be tempting to gear your marketing efforts towards top-tier printed publications, but firms shouldn’t forsake attention from websites and blogs, Koch argues. Coverage online “has a longer shelf life,” he says. And it is more easily searched and shared.
Tip 4: Hire a Photographer
Show off your completed projects to attract new business. Photography is the single most important thing. “Everyone wants to see what’s being talked about,” Koch says. “If you don’t have a good photograph, you don’t have a good story. Period.” Firms need to hire a professional photographer to help make their projects look as great as they are, he adds. “If you’re going to invest in anything, invest in really good, high-quality photography.” Whether it brings in new clients or just a little bit more attention to your young firm, the investment will pay off.