Marketing for Architects

Marketing for Architects
Lucy works exclusively with for architects

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Action speaks louder than words ...

Too many architects are perfectionists.

'The website is still being finalised ...'
'The business plan is not quite finished yet ...'
'The brochures are waiting to be signed off by the Directors ... '

I always say ' aim for 80% ' not perfection.

With modern technology, you can improve, edit, change it later - the important thing is to get the message out there.

At the same time, if your current website is rubbish or out-of-date  - change it quickly.

Effective marketing depends on taking action - not talking about it.

Architecture is a 'people business' - you may be procuring a building, but to get work depends on your relationship with clients and contractors.  To win work, you need to be talking to people and communicating your strengths and values.  Actions speak louder than words ...

Thursday, 27 June 2013

some marketing advice for an architect starting up a new micro-practice

I want to share the advice I have just sent out to an architect thinking about setting up a new practice:

The specific question related to how do you research the domestic market

This was my brief reply – 

Start with writing a brief business plan – identify your strengths and where the opportunities are and forecast your overheads for the first 12 months so you know how much you need to earn in fees.

Secondly work up the marketing plan – choose 3 distinct targets and define them in terms of industry sector, client type, geographic location and service.  

Thirdly profile the typical clients in that sector and think about their ‘needs’.  Use the marketing framework ‘AIDA’ to think through the process from the client-side – how would they find out about an architect, who might influence their decision.

In terms of the specific question

‘how does one research the domestic market’

Start with the client.

Profile your potential domestic clients:
for example
  • ·         Young family with children / baby on the way / single income / lives in village
  • ·         Family with teenage children / need more bathrooms / family or games rooms / parent work from home
  • ·         Affluent couple / 2 incomes / brand conscious / higher education / possible professions include lawyer, dentist, dr / lives in town
  • ·         Retired couple / children left home / ‘baby boomer’ / good pension / lots of travel / interesting hobbies / lives in town but also has a weekend cottage

 Then think through these questions:
  • ·         How can you raise your profile with these potential client types?
  • ·         Who might influence their decision about an architect?
  • ·         How can you meet people like this?
  • ·         Where do these people hang out?
  • ·         What  kind of architectural service would these clients value most?
  • ·         What marketing material would these clients like to look at  / be interested in reading (website, blog, brochure, cd rom, hard back book, photo album, newsletter etc)

This approach should lead to specific action plan:
for example
  • ·         Talk to local nursery about making your home safe for children
  • ·         Introduce yourself to local estate agents who are selling properties with development potential
  • ·         Ensure other local property consultants and construction professionals know about your service (planning consultants, QS, engineers, surveyors, contractors, specialist kitchen and bathroom designers)
  • ·         Consider joining clubs and societies where these kind of people hang out
  • ·         Research an area of your expertise (for example sustainable design / eco homes) and become a local expert – writing in the local paper, talking to local societies and clubs, volunteering for local charities, writing a blog …

In terms of evaluating the market potential and ‘testing the market’ – best to start before you leave your full-time job if possible and talk to as many people as possible.  Agents and contractors will give you information about the state of the local property market.  An ‘informational interview’ approach will often lead to good information and help you develop new relationships – don’t start by selling your service, explain that you are researching the market and would appreciate their time and advice.  You can also assess the prosperity of your local market by talking to local retailers of ‘big ticket’ items like luxury cars, bikes, kitchens, furniture, designer fashion – are the shops and restaurants doing well or struggling?  Joining a local chamber of commerce or BNI networking group will also put you in touch with other entrepreneurs and business owners.

Be prepared to work very hard – but try to focus so you don’t waste time being distracted on other things!

For architects in the UK, I offer a three stage consultation for about £1450 and /or monthly telephone coaching for about £150 a month for architects setting up in practice – let me know if you would like more information.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Why is 'marketing' a dirty word for architects?

I was told that many architects don't want to attend training or CPDs about 'marketing' ...  'Marketing is yawn-making' ... 'a dirty word' ... certainly I confront a lot of scepticism of what is seen as a 'soft' subject.

Why in this?  What is this about?

When I talk to architects about 'marketing' - they talk about winning awards and being in the magazines.

But 'marketing' is any activity which brings you work.  This includes winning awards and being in the magazines.  

But I advocate a structured approach which targets your potential customers with a message they want to hear.

I have developed a successful three stage process which I have tested with 20 architectural practices - let me know if you want more information. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Making the most of MIPIM - it's all about people not projects

Are you going to MIPIM?  Have you done your homework?  Are you prepared to make the most of going all the way to the South of France?  Will your trip to MIPIM be a success?  Will it have been worth all that money? 
For an architectural practice, MIPIM may seem expensive but it can be very cost effective if you are focused.  For a few large practices which depend on international work, MIPIM may be their main marketing effort.  But even for small practices who work exclusively in the UK, going to Cannes may be the easiest way to get 'face-time' with potential clients. The unique thing about Cannes - is that everyone likes the idea of going there - so you can be sure the Chief Executive and Managing Directors will be present in person.  This may be the best chance of talking to the decision-maker directly.  You can find out in advance who is attending and let them know you are coming.The other aspect to MIPIM is that a lot of the action doesn't take even place in the Palais des Festivals - the journey there and back can be just the place to make new contacts - whether by bike, train or plane.  The bars along the Croisette are all good places to meet potential clients and glean valuable information about projects from breakfast time to late into the night.  And then there are the cocktails, dinners, lunches, parties on boats, in villas and hotels ... it's important to pace yourself and wear comfortable shoes!In other respect, networking at MIPIM is like anywhere else:
  • Have your message ready.  Make it short and sweet and to the point.  
  • Practice introducing your self in a single sentence.  What makes you unique? What is your point of difference?  
  • Don't forget to take several boxes of business cards to hand out - but don't bother with weighty brochures or books. 
  • I recommend thinking about what you are going to wear - there are a lot of suits - so it's an advantage  if you can stand out from the crowd.
  • It's helpful to have a note book to jot down who people are - or write directly onto the business cards you receive before you forget.
One architect who went to MIPIM for the first time last year, told me they were surprised how easy networking was at MIPIM.  Everyone is there to meet people, so they are open to being approached and starting a conversation with anyone.  Just be aware that architects are situated quite low down in the 'food-chain'.
  1. investors looking for projects to invest in or selling (completed) projects
  2. developers looking for financing for new projects or end-users (tenants) for (completed) projects
  3. cities with development sites looking for investors and developers
  4. agents looking for end-users or new owners (investors / developers)
  5. construction professionals like architects (also contractors, QS, engineers) looking for developers or investors as clients but also for information about new projects from agents, cities and others
Don't be disappointed if you don't come away with an actual job - MIPIM is about the long term.  Your objective should be to initiate, develop and nurture relationships with important decision-makers in the construction industry.  Raising your profile at MIPIM should lead to future projects coming your way.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Are you keeping your New Year Resolutions?

  • better work-life balance?
  • bigger jobs, higher fees?
  • more design input?
  • chase that dream job?
  • be better organised?

Over the Christmas break, you probably had time to reflect on your life and your business ... did you make any New Year resolutions to take your practice in a new direction?
Well, it's already February and I wonder how you are doing on the business front and whether I can help you?

For those of you in central London, you might be interested in attending a series of seminars starting on February 13th 2013 which I am co-hosting with Christopher Jenkins of Wingrave Yeats accountants.  These sessions are designed to provide business management tools to architects challenged by the current economic environment.  Small group size guaranteed.  For more information and booking click
Review your practice and plan for successful 2013 course 

For those of you in the UK regions, I am delivering RIBA Core Curriculum CPD on 'internal management'.  
My 3 hour session is a quick-fire, intensive step-by-step business review.
Date                             Location                                  Time

(24 January                    Birmingham                             completed)
26 February                  Crawley                                    2pm - 4.30pm
12 March                      Exeter                                      2pm - 4.30pm
09 May                         Cardiff                                      2pm - 4.30pm
13 June                        Gateshead                                2pm - 4.30pm
10 July                         Reading                                    2pm - 4.30pm
17 July                         Leeds                                       2pm - 4.30pm
18 July                         Cambridge                                2pm - 4.30pm
24 July                         Nottingham                               2pm - 4.30pm
18 September               Manchester                              1:30pm - 4pm
19 September               Liverpool                                  10am - 12.30pm
03 October                   Bath                                         2pm - 4.30pm
15 October                   London                                     5.30pm - 8pm

Fees RIBA/CIAT members £55 + VAT /  Non-members £80 + VAT
For bookings email

I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Don't forget to tell your neighbours and family about your business

Do your parents actually know what you do?  Have you reminded your next-door-neighbour know what kind of architecture you practice?  Have you told your cousin with who your dream client would be?  You will probably be seeing a lot of friends and family over the next few weeks - so this is another chance to communicate your marketing message.

This is not the place for the 'hard' sell - and you may naturally prefer to be self-deprecating, pessimistic or 'honest' with you nearest and dearest.  But in my experience, focus and consistency in the key to effective marketing.  By articulating to everyone, what you want, you also reinforce the message in your own mind and increase your motivation and self-confidence.    

I have also found that by any doubt is easily transmitted not only to the listener but to yourself.  As with clients, family and friends prefer chatting to someone who is positive about themselves and not whingeing about themselves.  Think about thus now and practice a soft version of your elevator pitch suitable for friends and family.

So in the nicest possible way - I recommend giving an upbeat message about your business to as many people as possible and let your friends and family know what your dream job would be.  

You may be surprised - they may be able to help.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Why you need to go to all the parties you can

The run up to Christmas and New Year is a time of parties.  All architects should take advantage of these parties to network with existing and old clients, other construction industry professionals who may influence the selection of architects and make new contacts.  It's also an opportunity to refine your marketing message - make sure people are upto date with who you are and what kind of buildings you want to design.

So here are some reminders before you leave work early to go to a Christmas drink's party or 'bonenkai' (Japanese end of year drink's party):

  1. Look the part - architecture is about people as much as buildings - and you personally embody the image of your brand - do you like like an architect?  At the recent Architect of the Year Event, I was struck by how the majority of architects had turned into anonymous business people.
  2. Carry a stack of business cards and hand them out - everyone forgets names
  3. Rehearse your elevator pitch - this is your quick introduction which effectively communicates your marketing message.  For more guide-lines on what to say in your elevator pitch look at my website
  4. Be positive and upbeat about your work - everyone prefers to do business with successful people
  5. Enjoy yourself - clients choose to work with people they like and who are fun to do business with
  6. Don't enjoy yourself too much (and don't tweet when you've had a few too many glasses of champagne)