Marketing Checklist for Residential & Commercial Architects
The architectural and design industry has many specialties and areas of focus. Architects might specialize in residential architecture, commercial architecture, landscape architecture, industrial architecture, interior design, urban design or some combination of these areas. Each of these areas has its own set of challenges when working to expand.
With this in mind, we have created a marketing checklist designed specifically for residential and commercial architects. This means your firm operates in the residential or commercial architectural industry and focuses on the design of homes and apartments, or retail and office buildings.
This checklist assumes that your firm has been in business for several years, and isn’t brand new. This means you have satisfied clients, a somewhat established name, a website and perhaps a small team of employees. We’re also assuming that you’re planning to expand your business or want to revitalize your marketing to help your business grow. Regardless, you are looking for some sort of guidance to make growing your architectural firm a reality.
Here you go:
1.) Define your Target Market
Regardless of your own specialty and services, determining who your ideal client is and creating a plan to pursue this type of client should be a top priority when developing a growth/marketing plan. We can’t assume our ideal client will find us, or that our firm can serve everyone (even if, perhaps it can). For any marketing campaign to be successful, you must have a specific market segment to go after. Are you focused on homeowners looking to develop a new home in a certain price range/style/geographic region? Or are you looking to build new offices for small businesses? If your firm is struggling with success today, perhaps it’s time to pursue a new and different target market?
When defining your target market, ask yourself the following questions:
What type of person is the ideal buyer of your services (be specific)?
What particular habits/preferences/needs/goals does this buyer possess?
What is the income level/budget of this buyer?
Where is your ideal buyer located geographically?
What level of service are you providing?
What types of clients in the past received your best projects?
What other questions and characteristics about your target market can you ask?
After you’ve thought about these questions, and identified a target market, it’s time to create a Target Market Profile, which will identify the key behavior patterns and characteristics of your chosen market segment. To make this step more effective, think about developing a buyer persona, as well. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representatives of your ideal customer based on real data and educational speculation from past work and research. Remember that your buyer personas and Target Market Profile will act as both the guide and focus of your marketing efforts.
2.) Establish/Update your Website
Now that you’ve identified your target audience, make sure your website is addressing their unique needs and preferences. Develop and maintain a professional website by including relevant, accurate information about your firm’s services, past projects, and mission. Many people will be viewing your website on a mobile device, so remember to make your website completely mobile-responsive.
Let your target audience know who you are and what types of services you offer. Your website could be where potential clients first learn about your architectural firm, so make sure you create a lasting, effective first impression.
Conduct a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) audit/review to ensure that your website has the right settings, keywords, tags and content so you are found by the important search engines (primarily Google, and to a lesser extent, Bing) for searches related to your target audience.
Install Google Analytics to your website so you can keep track of your website traffic and marketing growth. Google Analytics is a free analytics tool that provides data and detail on your website visitors and will help inform your future marketing initiatives. With Google Analytics, you’ll discover who is visiting your website, from where they’re visiting your website, which pages they are reading, where they are leaving from, and much more detailed information.
3.) Focus on Digital Marketing
Today, everyone is turning to the Internet for information before making purchasing decisions. Use the following digital marketing tools to effectively reach your target audience:
A) Social Media - Post to the social media platforms that are most relevant to your business. With residential and commercial architecture, we recommend building a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Do research to determine when the best time to post is, and plan your posts accordingly. Consider using a social dashboard like Hootsuite to organize all your social profiles into a single social dashboard, allowing you to schedule posts in advance to all profiles at once. This simplifies and streamlines a cumbersome process.
B) Email – Email remains one of the most effective marketing tools today. It’s important to provide engaging content that will attract and maintain the attention of your target audience. Optimize your emails through A/B testing to ensure you have engaging content. Consider email automation strategies, as well. An important statistic to remember is that for every dollar spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return up to $38. That’s a great ROI!
C) Video – The use of video continues to grow in importance in marketing. Video can be especially beneficial in architecture and design. Think of incorporating interesting “how-to” videos or videos of recent projects. Show a tour of your newly built home or building using a professionally-produced video or one quickly made with your cellphone. Businesses who use video in their marketing grow revenue 49% faster than those who don’t use video. Video can consist of professional video, live-stream video, or Content-Driven Video.
D) Content – Remember, content is king, and that includes social posts, blog articles, website content, eBooks, brochures, videos and more. Like your website, make sure all information is accurate, instructional, interesting and relevant to your target audience. An important tip to keep in mind is that consumers don’t want to be sold to, they want to be educated. For post ideas, check out a social media content development dashboard like PromoRepublic.
E) Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems – Consider utilizing a CRM system to keep all of your customer interactions, contact information, projects, billing information and orders in one place. The best CRM systems integrate with your QuickBooks accounting systems to eliminate the need for double-entering order and receipt information into your accounting systems. Additionally, this will make a firm more valuable and attractive when it comes time for an exit, because all client, billing and project information is organized and stored in a single system.
4.) Get involved in, and support, your local business community
Business owners like to support one another, especially those that support the local community. Think about joining your local chamber of commerce. Check out local business groups and start networking. These tactics will allow you to increase brand recognition and make connections. This could be very beneficial, as you could hear about other businesses’ plans of expansion or relocation.
5.) Planning & Measuring Success
Building and maintaining a successful marketing strategy takes time and effort. Investing the time to regularly analyze data and performance metrics will pay off and help you reach your goals. As a principal in any firm, it is important to get into the habit of making financial projections for your firm and regularly measuring performance against projections to gauge actual performance and progress toward your goals.
There’s a lot that goes into any new marketing strategy, but these 5 key areas should boost your marketing and help put your residential or commercial architectural firm on the right track toward growth.