Why Most Architect Websites Don't Bring In Project Inquiries (And How To Fix This)
A Confidential Report
From The Desk Of:
Enoch Sears, AIA, LEED AP
Visalia, CA 93277
Before we start, just a quick question.
What would it mean for you to have enough project leads for your business that you could choose to take on only the projects you want to work on, and turn away the rest?
Read on to discover how one firm that has done exactly that – and how this firm now has a steady stream of qualified project inquiries.
In this report I'll share the powerful yet simple tactic that can transform your website into a magnetic marketing tool that brings in a steady flow of project inquiries, and show how you can apply this tactic to your website.
Why People Don't Call After Viewing A Website
Most websites suffer from a common disease. I call this “me-itis”.
Here's an example:
Have you ever met that person at a networking event that is hasty to give you a business card and then move on to the next unwitting victim?
I certainly have.
How did it make you feel?
It made me feel icky. I got the impression that the person wasn't interested in me – he cared about himself and his own interests.
Unfortunately, many architecture firms unwittingly make this mistake on their website.
Most websites just talk about them: their services, their projects, even a page all “about” them.
I call this the About Us website.
Now, there isn't anything inherently wrong with this. Architect's websites should talk about them.
But is this all? Is there anything that can be added to turn a website into a marketing tool that produces qualified leads (and not just sales calls)?
The Stages Of Decision (a.k.a. Not Everyone Is Looking For The Same Thing)
You may be wondering: “what options are there besides ‘about us'?”.
Well, Marketing 101 teaches us that prospects (your web visitors) are looking for a solution to a problem. They may be wondering how to get started with their residential building project. Or if they have a commercial project they may be wondering about the time frame for a typical project approval.
Your web visitors are in different stages of decision (or stages of planning – whatever you want to call it). Some maybe have just thought of doing a project and they are looking to see what firms are “out there”.
Other people are more serious and are in the “research firms” stage.
A very small minority are in the “I need to hire an architect now!” stage.
The About Us website addresses only the needs of this last, very small minority of website visitors. This group is made up of people who haven't found an architect through other means (word of mouth, advertising, etc.).
In contrast to the About Us website, a website that targets people in all stages of decision targets a much larger pool of potential prospects.
This makes it possible to get in front of your prospects before they start searching for an architecture firm (before they even start asking around!).
In summary, here is the key: to get a steady flow of good leads, have your website address visitors in multiple stages of decision.
This concept is the key that you can use to get more visibility, projects, and real leads.
But this isn't all. Now that your site addresses all website visitors, you need to have some way to capture the information of the hottest prospects (or get them to call you).
You do this with what I call the Secret Weapon (yes that is a little tongue-in-cheek). The Secret Weapon is what will turn your website into a client-making machine.
Your Website's “Secret Weapon”
Here is the Secret Weapon: discover what problem your prospect is trying to solve, and provide the solution to that problem on your website.
I know, it doesn't sound revolutionary, and it really isn't much of a secret. Yet it rarely happens.
Think about it for a second. Before people reach out to contact an architect they are in “research mode”. Starting a building project is a heavy financial investment – one of the largest that your clients may ever make.
Clients will start researching their project months or even years before they finally get to the point of trying to find an architect. Because the perceived risk is so large (choosing the wrong architect or bungling the project), clients will look for word of mouth referrals first.
But what if there was a way to find your potential clients early in the process, and gain their trust and respect before they went looking for word-of-mouth referrals?
The Secret Weapon Continued
Have you ever seen another architect getting attention for something that you could do in your sleep? Maybe they are being quoted in a media article, or maybe you see them presenting on a stage at seminar. For some reason the journalists seem to call them again and again.
You may have thought to yourself, “I could do that just as well, if not better. Why am I not being recognized for my expertise?”.
Architects in the spotlight use great positioning. By sharing their knowledge with others in a simple, easy-to-understand manner, they become the “experts” in the eyes of the public.
You see, the typical person has no training to decide who is a good architect and who is not.
So the industry-outsider looks for “authority clues”. Authority clues are signs that indicate someone is an expert in their field: writing or speaking for instance.
The Secret Weapon involves finding a way to educate your prospective clients. By doing this, you give them value up front, and you transcend the playing field of your competitors. You are perceived on a higher level: not just an average architect, but an “expert”.
As my good friend Richard Petrie says, “he who educates the market owns the market”.
Your website is an excellent place to display your expertise and position you as an authority expert.
Remember the Los Angeles firm that I spoke about previously who has too much work right now (in another article)?
They get most of their new work from online leads. And because they are in such high demand, they can pick and choose the projects they work on.
In case you missed it, here’s the video clip where we sat down with Modative principal Derek Leavitt:
Here’s how Modative uses their website to demonstrate “authority clues”. They have a special “resources” section of their website where they make several “educational offers”. The web visitors download the “educational offers” and Modative gains expert status. It’s a win for both.
Modative has 5 educational offers on the “Resources” page of their website: “Site Planning + Evaluation Services”, “Architecture Process Guide”, “Small Lot Subdivision Info”, “Residential Client Checklist”, and a for-architect report titled “Re-think Your Resume”.
Potential clients researching their future projects are attracted to Modative’s website like bees to honey.
Warning: require the email address of the visitor to download the guide. This is essential so you can capture the contact details of the serious prospects.
And remember, to be effective, an educational offer needs to provide the solution to your prospects specific problem (or question). Put good thought and planning into the contents of your educational offer. Your offer should be easy to understand and demonstrate your expertise without being overwhelming.
Here’s the equation in mathematical terms: prospect’s problem + your solution (educational offer) = expert status for you (and a great source of leads).
This is a simple concept, but pulling it off successfully requires thought, empathy for your clients, and good execution.
In summary, here is the “system” we have discussed:
- Identify the common questions or problems of your clients.
- Demonstrate your “expert status” by creating an educational offer on your website that addresses that question (or problem).
- Require an email address to download the educational offer.
- Follow up with the prospect via email in a way that will add to your image as the trusted expert.
More information on turning your website into a powerful marketing tool
In this report I told you about the #1 strategy to get project inquiries from your website, but unfortunately I can't share everything in a one page report. If you'd like access to my other tips and strategies for turning your website into a powerful marketing tool, you can access my one-hour online training seminar on setting up your website to send you leads.
This one-hour master class goes into more detail on what Modative did to get these results. Here are a few of the things you'll discover in this training:
- How to get your website seen by more people (including potential clients)
- The #1 strategy for increasing your ranking on Google
- How to find out how people are currently finding your website (so you can hone in on what is working)
- How long it typically takes to see results after implementing these strategies
- Options for creating your own website (if you aren't ready for professional website development)
One class participant said that she learned more in this one hour than reading the “SEO for Dummies” book on her nightstand. Here's what some else said:
SUPER informative + awesome!! Cannot thank you enough!…[this] was EXACTLY what I have been looking for!
This course costs $47 US, but as a first-time gift for visiting Business of Architecture, get it today for the price of a good lunch:
In addition to the video, you'll also get:
- The audio-only version for download
- The webinar e-book in PDF format
- An SEO Checklist for your website
- A Worksheet to help you define your web strategy
- A Resource Guide Cheat Sheet with free resources to help implement these strategies
Enoch Bartlett Sears