Today, most businesses understand that inbound digital marketing is an effective way to identify, capture, and nurture leads.
According to Hubspot, 63% of businesses know that lead and traffic generation are their top marketing challenges, which is likely a significant reason for why organizations are poised to increase their marketing budgets by over 20%.
And while there’s no doubt that inbound works, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition.
Although many industries are natural fits for this approach, some types of businesses face unique challenges which can throw traditional marketing methods off the rails.
Architecture firms are a prime example.
The Obstacles to Architecture Marketing
For one, this industry has traditionally been relatively insular, relying mostly on word of mouth and business & social connections for client acquisition. Noting that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) prohibited architects from engaging in most marketing activities until 1972, Archinect writes:
Not long ago, marketing for architecture firms primarily relied on word of mouth. Golf games, dinners at country clubs and schmoozing were once a big part of the job description for the person in charge of the firm’s marketing. The field, however, has shifted dramatically and fraternizing with wealthy elites in the hopes of them becoming one’s next client are getting replaced with competition entries, press kits, social media, and branding.
Another challenge is the fact that the business of architecture itself has evolved. Revenue from residential structures is declining while other avenues such as urban planning are growing. As business models shift, so too has the way potential clients are acquired.
Though some architects enjoy celebrity-like name recognition, the majority have to forge a referral network among the other points in the A/E/C triangle – engineers and construction industry leaders.
Each business type is dependent on the others for completing projects, so it’s not surprising that new clients will be passed along between them.
Who you know in the industry becomes a make-or-break proposition.
But most firms can’t rely on these referrals alone – and they recognize that both inbound marketing and account-based marketing are becoming essential.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at three keys to a successful marketing strategy for architects.
3 Key Elements of a Successful Architectural Marketing Strategy
1. Architecture is Visual
Inbound marketing uses an established set of practices and methods to attract and convert leads.
While SEO, social media, and paid advertising are critical elements, your written content is the true foundation of your online marketing efforts. Visitors, for the most part, are attracted to the subject and quality of your content – blog posts, case studies, and ebooks are the carrot that brings the traffic.
But architecture is, by definition, a visual medium.
Prospective clients visiting your firm’s website don’t want to read about your work. Since they will want to see your work, your appeal hinges on being able to market your visuals.
During your marketing efforts, ensure that you go beyond simple visuals. Videos, 3D design walkthroughs, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and mixed media presentations are all powerful tools you can use to deliver your visual brand messaging.
2. Build Your Authority
As mentioned earlier, an architect’s reputation is everything.
Often perceived as part artist, part engineer – one high-profile project can easily raise an architect’s cache to the point that they are actively sought out by potential clients.
But even those professionals who don’t enjoy a following, it’s still important to remember that you are marketing your brand over your credentials. Your work and your vision is your value proposition setting you apart from the competition.
Your marketing campaign should position you and your firm as an authority in your field.
Marketing your partners as a team of individuals rather than a collection of skill sets and experience gives you a social influence that will dramatically improve your lead generation.
Finally, showcasing your specialization builds your reputation. If your firm has extensive experience designing certain buildings, say churches, then it’s critical that you position yourself as the church architecture firm.
3. Include Your A/E/C Connection in Your Campaigns
Even though many of your leads will come in as referrals from engineering and construction firms, remember that those companies had to work to gain their own clients. When you’re trying to increase leads, committing a portion of your marketing efforts towards attracting clients on their behalf can benefit everyone.
Having valuable leads that you can pass along to your contacts not only increases the chances of a reciprocal arrangement – these leads could potentially become your clients down the road. At the end of the day, a portfolio of valuable leads will turbocharge your networking efforts.
Overcome the Traditional Architecture Marketing Obstacles
Architects have often struggled to get their message across online channels and engage potential leads because they aren’t taking the time to understand the unique factors facing the industry.
By identifying and leveraging your specific strengths – showcasing visuals through new technology, establishing yourself as an authority brand, and engaging in lead generation on behalf of your A/E/C contacts – you’ll automatically be ahead of the game.