The perennial marketing problem is twofold: getting noticed and being considered as a solution when a need arises.
'Getting noticed' activities might include something as simple as a project sign or as complicated as rising to the leadership of your local Chamber of Commerce (or the equivalent). It is hard for an architect to land a project by getting noticed. Buildings, even remodeling, simply cost too much to 'try' the firm you have noticed. Too much is at stake. Your potential client needs to know lots more about you than recognizing your name.
'Being considered' requires two things: competence and trustworthiness. 'Getting noticed' lays the groundwork for competence but it can't build a strong case for competence. 'Getting noticed' doesn't do anything to build a sense of trustworthiness. Your potential clients need to see you doing lots of competent things for people they consider capable.
Establishing competence is fairly easy. Your website can help by showing lots of competent-looking buildings and describing competent things you achieved for these clients - problems solved, budgets and schedules met, etc. Seeing a completed building is a powerful example of competence.
The problem is that 80% of the viewing of your completed projects on your website happens when you are 'being considered'. The catch is that having photos on your website doesn't cause you to be considered. No one knows what's on your website until they have some reason to look. And having looked, they don't come back. You wouldn't either.
If you could get potential clients visiting your website monthly, you could build on the sense of competence. You could even start building a sense of trustworthiness by demonstrating what you have done with the trust other clients have placed in you. Not once, but every time.
When your potential client starts thinking about a project, it is already too late to start building a sense of competence and especially trustworthiness. It takes too long. And your potential client is wrapped up in lots more important issues than architects' credentials. You have to build the sense of competence and trustworthiness BEFORE your potential client knows he needs an architect. BTW you don't always know who will need an architect either.
The best way of addressing these perennial problems is Content Marketing.
In a nutshell, you need to put useful information in front of your potential clients and other influential people on a regular basis. This used to be a major ongoing project. Now, it is cheap and easy. Just do it.
I have discussed how to go about it in these articles.
In addition to those articles I would add two more that will contribute a little inspiration.
Using Content Marketing in the Professional Services Industry by Hubspot
20 Types of Evergreen Content that Produce Lasting Results for Your Business by Copyblogger
These two articles are a bit generic, but nevertheless have some good points that you can apply. The one thing they mention that I haven't seen work for architects is SEO, Search Engine Optimization. You need a really small niche (like zoo enclosures for large reptiles) to benefit from people searching for what you do. Only architectural firms with marketing budgets twice the size of your entire office budget can get top ranking in search results. You are going to be ranked on the 25th page of results where your stuff will never be seen. That's why you have to send it to your potential clients - over and over. Even then, it has to be useful or interesting or entertaining - all three, ideally.
The Copyblogger article has 20 ideas for 'evergreen' ideas that you will be able to write about in your blog from time to time, getting lots of mileage from the effort.
Make this year's strategic project to find a way to get your blog started in a sustainable way.
My final contribution is this list of potential topics.
New code requirements
Benefits of fire sprinklers
Special code problem case study
Annual update in trends
Cost impact of limited use of expensive materials
Comparison of costs for two options
Cost / benefit
How it differs
Fast-Track Pros and Cons
Building systems that are fast
Recycled / recyclable materials
Low embodied energy materials
ENERGY SAVING IDEAS
Raised floor HVAC distribution system
Geothermal heating and cooling
BENEFITS OF PARTICULAR MATERIALS/SYSTEMS
Storm water collection options
CA PROBLEMS SOLVED
Your standard practices
'Matching details' stories
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