Marketing Tips for Architects 
Generating more architecture leads
The architectural industry isn’t typically built upon repeat business. Getting qualified new leads every month is what keeps thriving architecture businesses alive.
Marketing has evolved so fast most businesses are struggling to keep up regardless of the industry. How can you leverage your strengths and improve on your weaknesses to get get more traction?
Losing sight of potential projects in your pipeline is at its core the reason architecture firms struggle with growth. If you can’t wait for the tips and tricks, scroll past the analysis section to get more of the marketing hacks for architects.
Where do architects say their leads come from?
When you poll architects today about where most of their leads come from, consistently “word of mouth” is in the top two answers.
If you could secure new architecture design projects through a more automated approach, would your business be doing better?
The short answer is of course, “yes.”
Architecture firms haven’t changed their approach to lead generation much in the last 50 years
The majority of architects admit they are reluctant to adopt new software tools and channels for driving customers.
The result is less proposals are going out and less projects overall are won.
We ran a poll with 23 successful architects and found that on average their firm was submitting 0-1 new proposals per month.
Why are architects having trouble getting new leads:
Too many unknown, unknowns:
- Sales Practices:
The current best sales practices in almost every other industry have not been picked up by the architecture industry.
- Growth-hacking isn’t taught in school:
Architects seldom take digital marketing classes. They are unfamiliar with the optimized approach and the latest marketing strategies
- Marketing Funnels:
Architects don’t use marketing tech stacks and seldom pick up sales tools. Architects focus on human relationships and word of mouth too heavily.
- Lack of Experimentation:
Architects don’t quickly pick up on cutting edge marketing tools and aren’t experimenting with different strategies
- Digital design vs Physical Design:
Design architects can understand how people will interact with a space in the real-world but often struggle with understanding how users interact with a digital space.
- Prioritization on architecture clients:
Architecture work is project-based and therefore every day until a deadline is important. There is less room for trying out something unique.
- Smaller Spend of Marketing Solutions:
Architects don’t spend heavily on marketing and sales due to their laser focus on getting their projects complete.
Good Economy = Great Times for Architects
The current architecture services market is less competitive… but what happens when economy slows down? Will there be the same amount of architecture leads today for your company as there will be next year?
If you’re not competing each and every day for market-share and business is booming either way. Life is good.
Why should architects change their approach to generating leads if there’s no issue at the moment?
The economy and home buying power of consumers has fueled the economy for the last 10 years. The issue is that things are changing.
For the first time in ten years, home prices have not gone up.
It’s simple supply and demand. If there are less architecture projects and just as many architecture firms around; Someone is going to lose out.
How can all the architecture firms remain competitive and profitable if they’re competing for fewer projects?
In the long run, modernization of your processes will be one of the key differentiators of the design firms that thrive and those that fade.
How are you changing your business development practices to prepare for a slower economy?
What can you do to improve your lead generation within your own architecture design firm?
Is Word of Mouth the Only Approach in 2020?
Architects need to stop relying so heavily on traditional methods of getting new projects. Especially if you’re in residential sector, you are leaving money on the table by not looking at how to boost leads from other channels.
Just like lawyers and dentists, architects say referrals are as major source of new architecture projects.
Becoming more adaptable to today’s business environment requires diversifying efforts across all channels. This means looking at organic reach, social media, and exploring more digital marketing techniques.
How the Modern Marketplace has left Architecture Behind
Architects expect to continue to get referrals and introductions like it’s the 1960s.
There are two fundamental obstacles that prevent “word of mouth” from being an effective in generating substantial leads for architects:
visibility and reach.
While there are more projects available in total than ever before, people still have the same amount of in-person reach. There are more architecture firms in existence today than ever before as well.
Why are architects expecting to hash out deals at events like they did 50 years ago?
If you’re only focused on the traditional methods of engaging with potential customers, you might make some waves at events and in the eyes of your architecture customers. You are however missing the
Why solely relying on referrals isn’t working:
- Architecture Events can be expensive:
Many events require tickets, booth fees, transportation, hotels, flights, and more. However free events do exist and these can be done at scale.
- Event networking isn’t efficient:
The 1 for 1 approach is far more intimate than an email. Yet, there’s an inherent fallacy in play. What if the person you’ve met at the event and spent an hour with isn’t a buyer?
It’s always a numbers game. We need to speak with enough new people throughout the duration of a conference to create new contacts.
- Architects are a tight community:
At events, architects will often catch up with old classmates or colleges rather than putting in the time to develop new potential clients.
- Missing the follow-ups :
Architects miss opportunities to stay at the top of their clients minds when they miss follow-ups. How many of these new contacts made at a conference go into a CRM? Often the answer is very few.
- Events are Time Consuming:
Even if you’re attending one architecture event every two weeks, the amount of time to discover the events, plan, attend, and follow up is many additional hours of work.
- No incentive models in Architecture firms:
If you bring in a new deal, does anyone get paid? Aside from the owners and sales development representatives (SDRs), many architect firm employees aren’t incentivised to bring in new projects. Outside of the organization, there are next to zero paid referral models.
Events are important given there’s seemingly more opportunities than ever, spending time on a one for one basis at events in hopes of getting a new client might not work as it once did.
Quick Tips for Architects That Want More Referrals
How can architects get more value and leads out of regularly attending events?
Encourage all architecture team members in the company to attend events
After-work networking events are great spaces to gain an edge by learning and making new connections.
Being represented at events is huge way to show off your firm and build your brand.
Encourage your employees to go by posting events on internal communication channels and in office break rooms. Leadership needs to encourage people to go.
Consider offering incentives for those that attend events outside of work hours in the form of recognition, awards, small bonuses, gifts, days off, commissions, and swag (shirts, mugs, etc).
Force yourself to follow the “4 minute rule”
Only spend a maximum of four minutes with every new contact at an event until you’ve met 20 people.
Find out what they do and who the highest priority is, then go after the highest priority people again (at the same event) for a longer dialogue.
Linkedin will super-charge your network and allow you to retain all the connections you’ve made in the span of a night. It’s especially helpful if you’re bad at remembering names (like all of us).
Nobody is doing this:
After the event, post a status on linkedin with a few pictures and tag the event organizers and the new connections you’ve made at an event. This will not only increase your company reach but also boost your personal brand as well.
Use a CRM to manage your newest architect connections
Our memories are short. The day after the event, take a few minutes to add the new connections you’ve made at the event into a CRM. Include notes so you can remember what potential the deal may have in the future.
Email Automation with Merge fields for a friendly “architect hello!”
If you’ve managed to grab a business card then you should add them to a personalized general outreach message using merge fields.
These merge fields give the chance to enter their names and your message will read like you’re reaching out to them individually.
Architects and Digital Visibility
Architects by nature are artists and often point to the fact that they were schooled traditionally in design not in digital marketing or business development.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. At all! But this also means we can consider these elements of the business, a challenge. Not something we have to avoid.
Increasing Digital Visibility for Architects
Architects need to step up their digital marketing game. Plain and simple.
Updating the user experience (UX) of your architecture websites
What does bad UX look like? Imagine if you came to a website seeking architecture services but then experienced something like below.
You might consider taking your business elsewhere if it’s not aligned with your expectations.
Improvement opportunities for your Architecture website:
- User Experience (UX):
Architect websites are an opportunity to show off your portfolio.
Getting to a website that doesn’t match the elegance of the brand can have a negative effect on your reputation. Build something clean, speedy, and easy to navigate for your users.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
Search engine optimization for architects is a major blind spot in this industry and is the difference between being discovered and never being found.
- Online Portfolio:
Architecture design projects are exceptionally visual. Let your visitors see what you spend your career building with more than one picture of every project. Put time into your portfolio.
Give them detailed descriptions and weave the story of how the project came into existence. More imagery and content in a clear url structure will make a difference.
- Conversion forms:
If someone wants to get in touch with your company about a project, don’t make it hard for them to connect with you digitally. Most architecture websites only contain a phone number and an email address.
Without a conversion form on your site and sub-pages, you lose countless opportunities to begin the conversion funnel and establish your pipeline.
How conversion forms improve sales of your architecture services
Turn more web visitors into customers.
Many of these people have found your site and may eventually make a financial commitment. Why are you making it harder for them to commit to a conversation?
Conversion forms are a “zero touch” method that allows architecture clients to enter your sales funnel as “leads” to eventually become paying customers.
The benefits of using conversion forms vs an email address
- Quickly build a lead list
- Tripwire forms allow you to capture visitors via downloadable content
- Exit pop-ups with good offers grab visitors before they leave
- Better tracking on which pages and forms convert
- Increases monthly subscribers for newsletters
- Launch effective referral campaigns
- Segmentation of users = more relevant user experience
- Establishing a stronger pipeline based on A/B testing
- Lose less deals – integrate all incoming leads with sales tools
- Increase your conversion rate with less hassle to get in touch
- Capture interested potential clients while they’re looking at you
Having a conversion form is an essential building block in creating a relationship between the architect and potential client.
Architects must make it easy for website visitors to get in touch via a form at the top of their homepage, landing pages, and other pages of the site.
If an architecture firm could save one deal per year by allowing clients to more easily convert on a website, they would have more than enough development money to afford the updates.
Why placing email address on your architecture site doesn’t work
- Crawling Spammers
Email addresses get crawled and eventually become overly spammed by anyone selling anything. It becomes a challenge to see what is genuine.
- Spam Folders
Real leads can end up in your spam folders. If you’re not checking for these forgotten leads, that person will have time to look else where.
- No Structure
Forms have become incredibly sophisticated and you can pull in all kinds of data fields these days with ease.
How to implement a conversion form?
I you’re just trying to capture leads on a simple wordpress site there are dozens of tools like contact form 7 or WPForms that can do the job.
A quick search of “wordpress form plugins” will turn up dozens more.
An architect’s website with a conversion form which yields direct communication is immediately perceived as more engaging and approachable to its target market. Try this. It works!
Content: Architects don’t create enough
A crucial function of any architecture design business is to show off what makes them unique and maintain active relationships with clients. How can you do any of that with a static three page site?
- Create a blog on your architecture company website:
The blog is what allows you to push out thought leadership, stories of your brand’s success, and of course talk about the latest trends / news.
- Tell your company story:
The “about” section of architecture design firm websites is usually missing character and doesn’t elaborate on your awards, won competitions, and the talented people working at your company. Do this already!
- Public Relations (PR) in Architecture = Major Wins:
When you grab a big deal, win a major competition, or finish a project; let the world know and give industry publishers a chance to cover your awesome architecture comany.
Content can be the biggest opportunity to scale your company if done correctly.
Social Media Tips for Architects:
Social media is one of the most under utilized channels for content and has turned into a content desert or an after thought for architects.
- Provide Value:
Give clients powerful industry insights, lists, answer questions about your architecture projects, and be a bigger part of the conversation.
- Create content about your architecture office culture:
People like doing business with people they like.
Your clients and the clients of the future want to see who they’re working with. Show that you’re a cohesive team and you work together.
- Add video and images of your architecture projects on SoMe:
How are things coming along? Even if your project is on-going, show the amount of time you’re taking to do site visits. Show the site visits.
Video content is considerably more engaging if done correctly. Take the time to get noticed by creating some compelling videos.
- Create a ton of content at once and schedule it:
Using a slew of SoMe posting tools, you can make a ton of content all at once and release it over the span of weeks or months.
An architect’s work is normally carried out away from the clients’ viewing, as a result there is an immediate lack of visibility between these two parties.
Give your content a chance to delight current and new customers by regularly releasing great content across multiple channels.
Where are architecture firms listed?
A simple quick way to build some online visibility is to get listed on directories and listing sites for your niche.
Warning: This is a small win, don’t use this as a bullet proof marketing method.
You need to decide which one’s are worth your time and even money, but it’s worth a look.
If you’re not being found in a google search and they don’t know about your website already. How else will people discover you?
Honestly… What do you have to lose?
You’re fighting with your competitors over a very limited set of search phrases. You need to be doing everything you can to match the competition and even more to stay ahead.
The unfortunate side of this technique is that it’s one of the only ways architects are currently marketing themselves because it resembles the traditional methods of print advertising.
This is not a successful strategy. Don’t go all in on listing sites. If we searched for architects like we use a phonebook today, this might work. But we don’t.
No Inbound Marketing or Marketing Funnel or Sales Funnel:
To maintain an engaging online presence that yields future client leads, architects need to prioritize establishing a marketing funnel.
After someone “converts” on your website (they get in touch), what happens?
What is the sales process? Is there a process?
Usually top management or the person in charge of sales cobbese together something in the way of a system. Surprisingly it’s a lot less organized than other industries.
Steps to the sale defined for architects:
Step to the sale example:
- Lead comes in (inbound)
- Contact is made
- Lead is qualified
- Meeting set
- Needs defined
- Proposal created
- Proposal approved
- Contact Signed
Do you have a defined sales process with rules and compliance for each step along the way?
Setting clear and defined steps after a prospect gets in touch allows you to take a process driven approach. The goal is unified across all departments, convert more prospects into paying customers.
Get a CRM
After an email or a lead comes in and you’ve qualified the potential customer. How are you tracking the next steps? How do you avoid losing customers due to disorganization?
There’s a name for tools that allow you to follow every architecture lead along the journey to becoming a paying customer. This type of tool is called a CRM (customer relationship management).
There a ton a inexpensive and enterprise level tools like Salesforce, Pipedrive, or Close.io. You can set up funnels in the matter of a few hours and monitor all sign ups.
Defining your sales process:
Ask the right questions and it becomes incredibly easy to discover if you’re missing a step in the sales process.
Questions to ask the sales team at your architecture company:
Warning: Make sure you’ve established a good rapport before asking a sales teams a ton of pointed questions.
- What are the steps to the sale?
- How do you qualify a lead?
- Which platforms/channels are we using to get our best projects?
- How many calls are made to each client before you give up on them?
- How many emails go out before you change a deal status from, “interested” to “no contact made?”
- Which tools are you using for scheduling calls or meetings?
- At what point in the funnel do you push the lead back into receiving marketing emails?
- What is our proposal to closing ratio?
- Who is in charge of case studies and our referral program?
If your sales team can’t answer these questions with ease or the answers are confusing… You may have an issue with your funnel.
Having a system in place will allow architects to monitor and evaluate prospective clients that are trying to get in touch.
They also should be able to have a robust reporting system that allows them to optimize their approach.
Setting up the marketing funnel and sales process in your architecture firm
Architecture firms should strive to track the progression of a client’s behavior that led them to eventually make a purchasing decisions.
Getting serious on implementing a variety of tools can be a nightmare if it’s your first time creating a marketing tech stack.
Work with a growth agency like Klint Marketing to help to implement your marketing tech stack.
The goals of your marketing funnel simple:
Get people to your website and create content
Create trip wire content and give people a chance to get in touch via forms across your site.
Turn these visitors into paying customers a making a bullet-proof sales process and using templates to reduce time.
Keep the customers happy, get testimonials, create case studies, and ask for referrals.
If you implement the framework, the result is getting more leads and closing more deals.
Very few architectural firms are focused on inbound marketing. There’s an opportunity for the architects and design firms that start doing it well.
Get a DealFlow Tool: Sign Up With ArchitectureQuote for fresh leads:
When business is good, everyone is happy. What happens when leads slow down to a trickle?
How do architects keep the lights on if they are only working up to their latest deal? New projects can come from anywhere.
All architects should sign up with ArchitectureQuote to receive a steady stream of alerts for government Tenders and apply to each one that fits the architect’s own capabilities.
A progressive architect should be the first firm to set a meeting with organically generated leads with people seeking their services.
Plan to work on smaller freelance style projects via third party websites to keep the architects in one’s firm busy without having to lay people off.
There are definitely struggles cracking the foundation of the architectural industry. Adapt to current working climates now so you can more quickly scale in the future.
Architects need to break free of tradition and work smarter. The first step is recognizing the problem.
Definite changes that align with the moving dynamic of today’s business environment and purchasing decisions. Take chances and experiment.
The field of design has become more segmented, with more options and alternatives for clients to pick and choose from.
Architects are now competing against interior design professionals as well as home improvement stores, both of which cater to more budget conscious clients.
Since architects cater towards more exclusive, wealthy client they must to everything in their power to offer a complete package. Today’s world establishing a personable relationship, needs to be a part of that package.
Now with more digital platforms and competition there is a greater need than effort to produce content across different channels in order to capture more leads on your own website.
It is then crucial for architects to have a responsive and engaging online presence that emits visibility and the opportunity for a relationship with the architects to be established.
However the job isn’t done once you’ve managed to capture new prospects. Your sales process and funnel will ultimately be the difference in nurturing leads into paying clients.
Word of Mouth will never be an the only effective alternative to the expansive reach of a solid digital online presence and strong sales funnel.