The ultimate guide to marketing your architecture and interior design practice.
As Heraclitus once said, "The only constant in life is change.”
One of the most challenging aspects of any professional services firm is creative marketing strategies that are both agile enough to speak to your target clients' needs and responsive to ever-changing market conditions.
Marketing your architecture firm or interior design practice shouldn't be looked at as a necessary evil, but rather an integrative approach that fits seamlessly into your business model. Putting marketing at the forefront of your firm, whether you're a small, medium, or large firm is a great first step in winning more work.
First, understand push and pull marketing and the impact on professional services marketing.
Demographic and technological advances have upended the traditional marketing and business development strategies used by architecture firms. Due to demographic shifts in the workplace, decision makers are more comfortable and prefer doing research on their own about a design firm, before speaking with anyone at the firm. The rise of the internet and an array of social media platforms has empowered decision makers in many ways, giving them new methods for finding, researching, and procuring design services. As a result, firms need to update their strategies in pursuing new clients. So what’s the difference between PUSH and PULL sales strategy?
Many design firms have traditionally relied on a PUSH sales strategy. The term push stems from the idea that firms are attempting to push their capabilities out to the largest audience possible. This strategy focuses on paying to broadcast your message to potential clients and hope they listen to you. It’s a shotgun-blast approach to promotion — the campaign is broad-based and distributed as widely as possible to a large and diverse audience in hopes of generating the greatest number of leads, and in turn sales.
PUSH strategies include:
Trade shows / conferences
PULL marketing, on the other hand, takes the opposite approach. The goal of pull marketing is to get the customers to come to you, hence the term pull, where marketers are attempting to pull customers in. This approach targets people who are already actively searching for a product or service and generates more qualified leads. The components of this method are fairly simple: Create fresh, relevant, targeted content specifically designed to reach a distinct audience.
PULL strategies include:
Social media marketing
Blogging and content marketing
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Pay per click (PPC) advertising
Winning more work will require design firms to have a strong balance between traditional business development outreach based on PUSH strategies and content-driven marketing based on PULL strategies.
The marketing support of lead nurturing may include sharing branded content and educational information through email marketing, event marketing and social media outreach. Marketing should also provide business development with the sales tools they need to convert a warm lead into a client (proposal language, presentation support, slide decks, printed collateral, etc.). The business development support of lead nurturing includes personal emails, follow-up phone calls, one-on-one meetings/lunches or golfing together.
Here are five successful strategies to market your architectural firm or interior design practice.
1. Establish your ideal client, then work backwards.
The best way to know where you want to go is to understand where you are now, and where you've been. Maybe you had a great experience in a particular market sector, but your highest-grossing market sector is straining your staff with unrealistic expectations. One of the first things you'd want to do is create personas of your ideal client. Once you establish 'who' you are selling to, you can then create your value proposition that establishes the answer to the question 'why buy'? Creating a vision of your firm's ideal clients and some of the lessons learned along the way will influence your entire business model and help you craft the perfect marketing message in the form of case studies, thought-leadership pieces, and social media campaigning.
2. Understand your teams strengths, and weaknesses.
Now that you've established your ideal client, it's time to market to that pool of prospects utilizing your strongest attributes. People do business with people, and one very simple yet effective push strategy would be highlighting your own staff's design capabilities and your latest projects in the form of interesting Q&A's and client testimonial stories.
3. Realize that referrals are important and your reputation is everything, but creative marketing and target messaging can be an entirely new line of business.
Getting new clients can be as simple as going back to your longstanding relationships with some existing clients to drum up business. A strong content marketing approach could be another revenue stream never before realized and serve as the perfect balance between repeat business and new opportunities.
4. Try to be more proactive and less reactive.
You always want to be able to have the upper-hand when going after work. Target content on a regularly scheduled basis not only takes the guesswork out of a marketing plan, but it also allows you to free up time for actually doing the work. The sales cycle for architectural services is longer than ever. Once a qualified lead is identified, it is important to nurture the lead. Nurturing leads over a long period of time is critical for retaining top-of-mind awareness and takes both proactive marketing and business development support.
5. Get everyone in your firm excited about marketing your services and strengths.
Make sure your staff are brief on the marketing plan and approach to increasing your firms visibility. Encourage your designers to be on LinkedIn, Instagram or other preferred social platforms where they can actively share content. Crowd-sourcing your marketing efforts carries a big punch than just sharing things through company channels. Encouraging exponential growth among your staff will grow your firm's visibility.
By now you might have realized you could use a stronger marketing and creative service offerings for your firm.
Here are just a few of some of the most popular focus areas FORGIONE has offered as bundled services for architects and interior designers to help improve your reach and realize your firm's potential:
RFI, RFQ, RFP, IDIQ Services
Research, Development, Design & Coordination – from template design to creative content, proposal writing, compiling your winning A/E/C team, and more!
Firm Presentation Services
Coaching, Interview Preparation, Brainstorming, Word Doc Templates, InDesign Templates, Resumes Templates, Project Sheets, Firm Profiles, PowerPoint Docs
Brand Refresh Services
Logo, Website, Portfolio, Content Marketing
Firm Visibility & New Market Sector Services
Market Sector Research and Benchmarking, Client Preference Documentation, Go-To-Market Workflow, Content Marketing
Creative Content Marketing Services
Email Templates, News & Blog Content, Social Media Strategies, Content Development
As designers, your mission is to create solutions. If you've already thought about these independently, now would be a great time put these into practice. Contact FORGIONE for additional information or a free assessment of your current marketing strategy.