This message has been cross posted to the following Discussion Forums: Housing Knowledge Community and Custom Residential Architects Network .
The BIG marketing push for residential architects should be television ads for AIA Residential Architects for the next 10 years. We used to do this (for all architects) on PBS. It seems that TV ads are expensive. Well, we all pay a lot for our yearly AIA dues. If there is not enough money to have TV ads, then the AIA is using those funds for other things. What other things?
Well, I will bet that if the AIA polled its membership right now and said:
"Would you rather have PBS TV commercials running daily, for 10 years, explaining the benefits of hiring a residential architect to design your home, or would you rather have a monthly Architect magazine delivered to you, and would you rather have AIA awards programs, consisting of architects giving other architects awards? Which of these programs do you think would most likely help you to obtain more work designing houses?"
That's a rhetorical question! Of course the public doesn't see our Architect monthly magazine (or very few of them: when was the last time you saw an issue of that at your dentist or family practitioner's office waiting room?). And does the housing buying public know who won the last Pritzker prize? (which is actually sponsored by the Hyatt Foundation). Of course not!
The house-buying public consists of people engaged in their daily busy lives and they aren't reading architectural magazines (at least not those publications intended mainly for architects by architects) and they could give a hang about who won what award, whether sponsored by the AIA or others. What they want is a good-looking home of which they can be proud, that FUNCTIONS and costs them a reasonable amount, lasts a very long time with next to no maintenance, won't make them sick or rot around their ears, keeps the rain out and lowers their power bills. WE CAN COMMUNICATE THIS to the public better than we are now.
My wife pointed out to me that the Board of Realtors national organization has done an excellent job of promoting home buying to the public. Watch TV tonight; you'll see their ads. Why do they do this? Because home design, construction and buying have experienced the biggest slam since the Great Depression. The national Board of Realtors is fighting back. They are trying to explain the benefits of owning your home to the public. God bless them. And where are we architects in this national mess? Well let's see: we send ourselves a monthly magazine. We give ourselves awards. Gee. That ain't gonna do it.
People watch TV. It is a national pastime. Criticize it however you wish; it is the reality. To ignore this medium is at our own peril. We should once again strike forth in a bold new initiative of TV PBS commercials that explain the benefits of having a residential architect designing your home clearly to the home-buying public. Contractors are wiping the floors with us. People see that builders have some "plans" in their back room and say: "Hey, I can get those for free from this guy that's going to build my home. Why should I pay an architect. This'll do." That's what is happening, right now. I'll bet that last sentence raised the hackles of 90% of the architects in the CRAN. It should. Of course WE know the benefits of how a home that we design for our clients is better than some builder's tired old "plans."
Let us count the ways:
1. LIFESTYLE: a residential architect will create a home around YOUR lifestyle; how you want to live. That special hobby room. The home office. Home gym. Larger master bedroom that will actually allow the giant bed you inherited from grandma to fit inside the room. The wonderful kitchen with the appliances and spaciousness of which you have always dreamed.
2. HEALTH: residential architects keep tabs on developments within the construction and design industry about such things and reduced formaldehyde emissions in a variety of materials, and specify the healthier ones, so that your children or spouse, who suffer from respiratory illness will live a healthier, longer life. Architects carefully diagnose the causes of mold and other health-threatening substances and detail YOUR home to resist these.
3. ENERGY: residential architects know how to save you money, every month, as you write your check to your power company. Architects know how to better insulate your home and to make it work with the environment instead of against it. Your monthly energy bills will be lower.
4. COST: home architects Save you money, by designing your home more efficiently. In terms of space usage, energy efficiency, lower maintenance over the decades, and a better understanding of building systems and what works best for YOUR particular situation, site and location.
5,6,7,8,9,10 and on... (you fellow residential architects add more)
Okay? Of course we all know these benefits. The problem is, the house-buying public does Not. All they see is: A.)Home Builders cheap dusty plans lying on a shelf, or B.) Paying more up-front investment to engage an architect. That's it. That is the reality that is beating on our profession today. This has nothing to do whether we are designing for the 99% or the 1%. Right now, the only thing we have convincing the trickle of clients to contact residential architects is our personal websites and what little information has osmosed into their perception from what is out there in movies, TV actor portrayals of architects (David Vincent: Invaders, etc.), Internet research and personal experiences.
So, it is hereby suggested that if there is not sufficient AIA dues to fund TV commercials promoting what Residential Architects do, that other AIA budget items that do nothing to help obtain new business be cut (at least temporarily in an experimental program of 3 year duration?) to allow the TV commercial angle to return. We all appreciate being able to obtain CEUs from reading the magazine articles; thank you very much. We all appreciate having design honors bestowed on us by our peers; thanks again. But if we cannot remain in business, there will be no AIA membership, because our personal budgets won't permit us to fund the AIA, unless it does concrete things to bring us more business (which is the big purple elephant sitting over there in the corner of your design studio, glaring at you).
Rand Soellner AIA
Rand Soellner Architect
Be the first person to recommend this.