The overwhelming majority of architecture firms in the United States are small businesses, with 26 percent being sole practitioners, almost three-quarters having two to 49 employees, and 3 percent having 50 or more employees.
Most small architecture firms don’t have huge budgets or a large enough staff to dedicate to marketing, so they have to be smart and strategic in how they spread the word and bring in new work. But it’s doable—and sometimes even free. Here are seven ways to make marketing for architects successful on a small-business budget.
1. Don’t Underestimate Social Media. Social media is a strategy that most architects have been slow in adopting, even though it can net real clients. “Social media isn’t a fad,” said architect Jody Brown in his conversation with the AIA. “It is the place where the public is talking about their lives. Architects should be interested in joining that conversation.”
Lionel Scharly of Scharly Designer Studio has had great success with Houzz. “About six months ago, I was contacted by a developer directly through the website who asked me to be a part of a $2 million contract for a luxury home in Florida,” he says. “I’ve been on Houzz since it started about four years ago, and it’s starting to get really interesting.”
Mark R. LePage of EntreArchitect and Fivecat Studio Architecture also recommends residential architects develop and optimize free profiles with Houzz. In addition, he suggests using Facebook—but not just a page for your business. Start a Facebook Group because it “allows firms to be more creative, and it sends notifications to people’s personal profiles, alerting them to new content you post,” he says.
2. Build Trust in Your Brand. If there’s one thing you should invest your limited marketing budget in, make it your website, which is a major component of your brand. But make sure to design it with your clients in mind. “Most architects’ websites are designed for other architects, but they don’t always tell their story to clients,” LePage says. “Clients come with their own built-in story about architects, and it is your job to replace that story with your own.”
Everything you do becomes part of your brand—not only your website, social-media presence, and elevator pitch but also the clothes you wear, the car you drive, and the way you present your office.
According to the U.S. Small Business Association, branding “is about the sum total of the experiences customers have with your business. This includes the visual elements of your business, but it also includes what you do, how you do it, what your customer interactions are like,