If you’ve started your own architecture firm and have reached the point that you’re doing great work and looking into ways to grow then you’ve already come a long way.
But the things that got you to this point are unlikely to be the things that will help you continue to grow and make the next step.
Blood, sweat and tears. Referrals, word of mouth and friends of friends. These will only get you so far. But when you reach a point that you want to grow in a more intended way then you need a strategic plan in place to follow.
Marketing will play a big part in that, but there are other elements too which we’ll cover below to ensure any marketing you do is successful.
When architecture firms reach a point that they’re ready to grow they might look straight at marketing and dive in head-first.
But it’s important before you do that you ensure you’re ready for the impact.
If your marketing is successful do you have all the processes and systems in place to cope with an influx of new clients? Is the quality of your work and your team good enough that you’ll still deliver fantastic results even as you grow?
Making sure these things are in place is crucial to a growth plan, as many businesses see a surge in new business but aren’t set up to cope with it. Their work then suffers and they lose their reputation and that is hard to recover from.
Get your ship in order, and once you’re comfortable you’re ready for things to run smoothly you can start actively getting yourself out there!
Getting found is the biggest challenge for most firms in today’s digital age where most potential clients will refer to the internet and do a search of some form.
That search might be directly in Google for an architect in their location, but it might also be a search for how to build a new house or the brand name of an architecture publication like ArchDaily.
The important thing for you is that you appear in those places so that potential clients find you during the discovery phase of their buying journey.
We’ve put together a variety of things you can do below to make this happen.
Search Engine Optimisation
Google. It can be the making or breaking of a business. If you appear prominently when people search for the phrases that relate to your offering then it can create a constant flow of leads and put you in a position to pick and choose the jobs you want to work on.
It is often referred to as a ‘dark art’ or ‘black magic’ but that is misleading these days. Good marketing and strong technical knowledge is what leads to SEO success, the old tricks don’t work anymore (at least not in the long term).
The key things you need to consider to be successful:
It’s crucial you know what your audience is searching for so you can match that with the phrasing on your website. If people are searching for ‘architect london’ then that needs to be included in key areas on your site like the title tags and in content on the page.
Likewise if it is ‘luxury home architect’ you need to do the same. Our knowledge of the history has given us excellent insight in this area so we know the general kind of phrasing people will use to find an architecture firm depending on what they need.
Once you know what people are searching for you need to create content that targets those phrases.
You will likely identify a ‘headline’ phrase like ‘architect in london’ but there will be hundreds more phrases that people are searching for which could result in a good lead for you.
Find those phrases with keyword research and then ensure you structure content in the right way to get found.
Google works out how much it trusts your website by looking at how many other websites link to you. If you have lots of trusted industry publications that link to you then it’s likely Google will rank you higher for the phrases your content is targeting.
Getting links has always been one of the most challenging parts of SEO, and this is one of the key reasons we specialised in the industry as we knew lots of places we could architecture firms fantastic links that would drive performance forward.
Not all potential clients will be surfing Google looking for an architect.
Some may head to industry publications to find recommendations, or just stumble across firms by browsing consumer publications looking at interiors and other inspiration for a project.
Depending on the type of client you are looking for, PR can be a great way to get under the noses of people in places other than search engines.
Curbed has a lot of consumer facing stories that may bring in independent clients, whilst getting coverage in an industry publication like Architectural Digest might lead to developers discovering you for larger commercial jobs.
Our approach to PR combines the traditional aspects of brand visibility and referral traffic, but also with a focus on online coverage which will get high quality links that drive forward your SEO performance. This brings a combination of short term visibility when you get the initial coverage, with long term impact in search engines that drives business long after the coverage itself comes out.
Many people’s reluctance to invest in social media is the lack of commercial intent on social channels. This is a drawback I fully agree with and so it is rare we recommend clients invest lots of time and money in this area unless they are passionate about maintaining it themselves
The opportunity on social channels is in the ability to use advertising to remarket to people who have already been on your website.
By using remarketing you only spend money on people who have already actively shown an interest in your content and found you through other means, whilst being in control of what content you show them next.
This may be a more commercial message, so people who have previously been on your site reading a blog post when doing some research are then delivered a commercial message with more information on why they might choose you as their architect.
Another great way to find leads in a more consistent, predictable way is to create partnerships with other people in the industry.
This could be contractors like builders or landscape gardeners who would have a similar audience, or if you are looking for local work it could be someone not in the industry but with lots of exposure to the local market.
Anyone who has a similar audience to the people you would most likely want to target is a good fit for this, and there are a variety of ways you can use that relationship:
- Sending each other potential leads
- Sharing each other’s content on social media
- Writing guest content for the other person’s website
- Organising events together
- Collaborating on large pieces of promotional content
Whilst I don’t think PPC should be a long term strategy, it can be a great way of getting immediate visibility to your audience whilst you wait for SEO and PR to take effect.
For architects this will usually mean targeting the very niche phrases relating to either your location or the type of work you want to get (e.g. residential). Depending on how big your region is the cost will vary.
If you feel ready for an influx of leads quite quickly then this can be a good stop gap, but the wider strategy should be to build a more consistent pipeline with SEO, PR, partnerships and other inbound angles so you can stop advertising spend.
Once you’ve created a strong inbound marketing funnel then you can start looking into ways to capture more of those people and turn them into leads and clients.
There are a variety of ways to do this that mean your firm grows at a much quicker rate without even necessarily needing more people finding you.
As more people come to your site, you should be doing more to get hold of their details so you can continue to engage with them over a longer period.
Often people will discover you through informational ways and ready blog posts or background on your previous projects, but after that they will leave and forget about you as they are not yet in the mindset of hiring an architect.
However, if you give them a good reason to hand over their email address on that first visit you can then engage with them in the following weeks and months as they approach the point that they decide they do need an architect (your emails can even nudge them in that direction).
A great way to do this is create a ‘lead magnet’. Think what your audience would really want and create something that knocks their socks off. This is often in the form of a video, report or advice of some type, but the key is that you offer really fantastic value that they are extremely grateful for and would struggle to find elsewhere.
It’s amazing what a difference changing the text of a call to action can make.
Small changes like the colour of a button or the words you use can increase engagement by significant proportions and immediately start driving more clients without even having more people come to your website.
A tool like Google Optimise allows you to set these tests up in a relatively straightforward way and start analysing the results via Google Analytics.
If you carry out PR activity and get coverage in top publications then this is something you can also use to aid your conversion rate.
Something as simple as an ‘As Featured In’ section on your website can add the extra trust signal a client needs to push things over the line. Would you trust a firm who’s been featured in several big industry publications or one who hasn’t?
Factors like this can make the difference between a user getting in touch or not, and if you’re a smaller firm with a brand people won’t recognise then it can have a big impact.
In addition to social proof from trusted publications, you can also gain further trust directly from client reviews. You should feature these on your own website, but it’s even better to go a step further and do it on third party sites like Trust Pilot or Google Reviews.
Create a system which ensures existing clients are prompted to leave reviews at the end of projects, and try to incentivise them to do so to build up a critical mass of reviews (1 or 2 won’t really make much difference).
If you combine these kind of reviews with social proof from PR coverage then you’ll put yourself in a much stronger position to convert better, even if you are a smaller, lesser know firm.
Growing your architecture business is not easy once you get through the first stages that can happen quite naturally if you offer a great service.
Hopefully the suggestions above will help you put a strategy in place to develop more sustainable growth and take your firm to the next level.
This will involve:
- Ensuring your offering and service are as good as they can be and you have systems in place to cope with growth.
- Using SEO and PR to increase your firm’s visibility online.
- Where relevant, also using partnerships, social media channels and advertising to bring in more leads.
- Capturing more details of website visitors using email marketing so you can engage with them.
- Using remarketing, social proof and A/B testing to convert better.
If you follow these steps then I guarantee you will start to see more leads coming through and you should also be able to convert them at a better rate to help grow the business.
If we can be of any help then feel free to get in touch. We love chatting to architects and sharing our marketing insight, so even if it is just an exploratory call we’re more than happy to help!
Good luck achieving the growth your firm deserves!