Last year I stumbled on a secret that changed my life forever: how to set up a system for marketing architectural services that practically guarantees an influx of good projects and good clients.
I know this is a bold statement, but let me tell you how this came to be.
Nine years ago I was working as an intern for a talented architect in Houston, Texas (Blair Korndorffer of Diamond Development and Construction).
DD+C is a small architecture firm, run by Blair with 4 interns and his secretary, who is also his sister-in-law.
Despite our small size, we turned out a quantity of work that was suitable for a firm twice our size.
Since I had entrepreneurial ambitions, I watched how the firm operated and took careful notes.
In those days we would get, on average, one call a week from a prospect with a potential project – everything from medical office buildings to single-family residences.
Blair will tell you this is the way it's always been. He has a knack for making connections, building relationships, and closing deals.
And he's been doing it for over 30 years.
Like most architects, especially sole practitioners, all of Blair's deals are ‘word of mouth'.
Word of mouth deals the best, because the clients come pre-sold.
But it takes a long time to build up a good word-of-mouth network.
I knew there had to a be a quicker way than to toil for 30 years, person to person, project to project. I don't have the patience to wait for 30 years.
The Marketing Epiphany
Fast-forward 8 years to when I first started Business of Architecture.
I started this site on a mission to pull back the curtain on what it takes to run a successful architecture firm, to attract the right kinds of clients – to reveal the ‘hidden' side of architecture: how to run a great architecture practice.
Architects like you visiting this site asked me a common question, “how do I find more clients?”.
This of course was in the middle of the ‘Great Recession'.
But one architect was different.
On July 14 of 2013 I got this email message from New Zealand architect Mona Quinn:
Dear Enoch – am starting to implement marketing strategies for architects and as a result I am very busy! It really works once you get the hang of it.
My interest was piqued. This was the first time I heard an architect talking about real marketing strategies for architects that work.
The Secret Marketing Guru
It turns out Mona Quinn was working with a high-level (and expensive) marketing consultant who was coaching her on how to get real results for her new architecture practice.
The secret guru, ‘Richard', introduced Mona to marketing strategies and techniques for architects that are practically unheard of in the architecture industry. And yet these techniques are startlingly effective.
With one simple tactic, architect Mona Quinn brought in over 150 leads in one weekend.
But the beauty of these techniques is that they work even if you don't have a huge portfolio of past projects to show potential clients (Mona's firm was a startup).
You don't even need a website for these techniques to work (although it certainly helps).
The 4 Challenges Of Selling High Value Services
There are 4 main challenges that need to be overcome for you to make a sale of high-value architectural service:
- Lack of trust by the client
- A long sales cycle
- Architectural services are seen as a large cost
- Architectural services are complex
The Marketing Silver Bullet
Any marketing and sales system that works needs to overcome these 4 obstacles to make a sale.
Mona Quinn was able to book her practice solid because she (with Richard's coaching) set up an automated system to overcome these obstacles through client education.
And this is where the big win happens.
Instead of marketing architectural services, Mona Quinn markets information about architectural services.
This approach has several advantages:
- It gives potential clients a way to engage with Mona without being intimidated about talking to an architect.
- It positions her as an expert and ‘pre-sells' her prospects.
- Potential clients get multiple ‘touches' before she ever speaks to them on the phone.
This simple marketing strategy has allowed Mona enter a whole new world – one in which her clients want to work with her over their other options.
Post script: This article is the response to a blogging topic request put out by Bob Borson from Life of An Architect. The prompt is “this is exciting”.
Visit these other archi-bloggers to read their take on this topic. Oh – and leave yours in the comments below, what is exciting you today?
Bob Borson – Life of An Architect
This Is Exciting – The Beginning of the End
Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture
This, Is Exciting…
Marica McKeel – Studio MM
From Dreams to Reality – THIS is Exciting
Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet
This is Exciting: 5 ‘RE's' to Change the Future of Architecture
Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect
This Is Exciting :: Start + Finish
Oscia Wilson – Boiled Architecture
This Is Exciting: They're Fighting It Out
Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect
EA042: This Is Exciting – Making A Difference At Entrepreneur Architect
Evan Troxel – TRXL
This Is Exciting… Because It's Real
Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Deisgn
This is Exciting – It All Comes Together