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Topic: Request for Architect's Marketing Process 

1.  Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 05-25-2017 15:20

I always struggle to find a client to work with for my next project. My only option is referral. I wonder how you guys market yourself. I am also a Real Estate Broker. There are hundreds of options for Realtor's marketing tools. But I cannot even find one tool for us. In real estate marketing, many companies maintain data base for potential clients. They take care of the whole process of mass emailing for a nominal cost. Anybody has any clue, how we could do the same, including send it to other Architects who is willing to work as a team? Thanks in anticipation.

 

Tarit K. Chaudhuri, AIA, CCIM, BCB

(Architect, Real Estate Broker, Board Certified Business Broker,

& Holds a Master Degree in Construction Management)

 

President

Archicon Services, Inc.

12111 Gladewick Drive

Houston, TX 77077

(281) 870-8581 (direct)

(713) 927-6666 (cell)

 

tarit@archiconservices.com

www.archiconservices.com


000901c8ca5b$1569d070$0201a8c0@abca93cccf024e

 

 

 

 



2.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-19-2017 16:22
I believe there was a time when advertising was against the AIA Code of Ethics.

The type of work you do should have a strong impact on your strategy.  When I had my own firm and did residential, I had a yellow pages ad (times have changed here!), then I had Facebook ads that popped up and I advertised in some very local newsletters and on OPB.  I spent too much money marketing and should have spent my time networking.  If I was still doing this work, I would still be advertising in social media but that would probably be about all in terms of paid advertisements.  A colleague would set up a booth at the local remodel show and sit down with people there free but charge hourly for appointments made.  He was good at sketching on the spot.

I'm all commercial now.  Regardless of commercial or residential, the absolute best bet is word of mouth:  contractors, other clients, other professionals (I got a lot of work from my old employer because they didn't want to do the small projects), neighbors.  If people like you as a person they are more likely to refer you.  It takes time and patience and it's hard to start out.  If you're at the beginning of this then you have to go out and reach/look for those opportunities.  The Owner of my company is really good at knowing what is going on in our field of work and reaching out to potential clients.  Passive advertisements really don't work as well in architecture.  Part of the problem is that a lot of people still feel like they shouldn't need an architect - but the reality is that not only do they need us but we can provide them with a tremendous benefit and value if we do our jobs right.

Good luck!  I'd love to hear if you do find other avenues of marketing that pan-out.

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Thomas Fallon AIA
Portland OR
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3.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-21-2017 01:17
Thomas Fallon & All ---
Hello
 
A.   NO ADVERTISING:
1.    Professions' Dictates:
Advertising was prohibited in all 3 "classic Professions" (Medicine, Law, Architecture), until SCOTUS decided in the '60s that such practices were illegal.  The theory was, if I recall, "restraint of trade". 
2.    Rates "suggested":
The AIA even had published a rate schedule, with rather generous percentages (of budget/construction cost) given for a wide array of project types and sizes.  As jobs got bigger, the percentages declined.  In one of the first offices in which I worked (late '60s), one of the principals gave me a copy of that rate sheet.  It was a good guideline, but I think its numbers would be very high for our contemporary economy.  (I thought they looked high then!)  Sad to say, I've since misplaced that sheet.
3.    Or else...
With rate schedules, etc., came "discipline" by each professional organization.  However, I have no idea of what was involved, or how it was done.  We can only imagine...
 
B.   NOW ADVERTISING:
1.    Wide-open:
Now, of course, we're wide-open for advertising options.  What I call professional "decorum" keeps us still at modest levels of aggressiveness.  Approaches are all-over the range.
2.    Our Big local office:
Our by-far-the-biggest firm here, Kerry Dietz Architects, has a distinctive name-logo, and I see it in program books for major events and series of events.  Kerry has about 30-or-more people working for her, and has just committed to several thousand sq. ft., upstairs in our finally-restored, large, late-'20s train (now "intermodal") station! 
She'll be leaving an old, 3-story brick block, which she gradually filled over a couple of decades.  Its front doors are up about 6 risers from the sidewalk.  Why mention that?  Well, she has a sense of humor; when some idiot ran a Lincoln Continental up those steps and into the pair of doors (10-to-15 years ago), she put out a 5x7 photo-postcard, w/ something like; "Dietz & Co. Architects is pleased to announce the introduction of drive-in service!"
Her project sites always seem to have nice job-signs.
3.    Other local offices:
Different folks do zero formal ads, or count on repeats and referrals, or do online ads/websites, etc., and/or more traditional methods.  One office runs a 2-1/2" x 2-column ad in the yellow pages.  Nearly everyone keeps the listing in the yellow pages, which will now include websites in the listings.
4.    My office:
I'm a small-projects, solo guy, on the other end of the scale, complete with manual drawing!  At 71, I'm a firm believer in my line, "Most Architects never retire, we just draw to a conclusion!"  This is how I'm gonna ride-it-out...  Anyhow, after trying many different marketing efforts, what's worked for me includes:
       a.    Yellow pages, 2-1/2" in-column ad (older prospects like that).
       b.    Modest website, www.wmjdevlinarchitect.com .  Could use updating.
       c.    Referrals.
       d.    Selective print ads, w/ modest results.
       e.    3-fold flyer, w/ brief intro., outline of services, several projects in color.  
       f.    Member, Home Builders' Ass'n.  (Mixed feelings)
       g.    And, the biggie; Home Show, in March (36 Prospect cards this year!).
One thing I'm considering is "prospecting".  Over time, I've noticed 10-to-12 "special" houses in the area, that would be especially challenging to modify, and/or update, and/or add-on to.  So, I'm thinking of getting the Owners' names, and sending a cover letter with my 3-fold flyer, introducing myself as good at challenges, if they're contemplating any work.
 
Well, that's about it for now --- good luck!
Thanks ---
Bill
william j. devlin aia, inc.,
ARCHITECT
Springfield, MA





4.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-21-2017 09:58
I think marketing is all about building relationships. I joined a local non-profit board when I started my practice and that led to some of my earliest and best referrals. The key spark was that I served on and chaired committees for the non-profit, where I was seen in action - a respectful leader, a good listener, an effective problem solver - qualities that we all possess that translate well to leadership roles outside of our practices - qualities that clients want when they need an architect. Board and committee members got to know me well enough that they were comfortable recommending their friends and business associates to me, even though they didn't directly know my work.

I'm always on at least one non-profit board, more to contribute to the community than as a marketing scheme but my volunteer work always leads to referrals.

Tarit, from your website, it looks like your market is architects and engineers and your reach goes well beyond the local level. You may want to get involved in the AIA or engineering associations and/or have a presence at their conventions. Or get involved in real estate developers' associations.

I don't think mass emails marketing professional services are very effective. I know I ignore them. There may be statistics that prove me wrong.


------------------------------
Carol De Tine AIA
Carriage House Studio architects LLC
Portland ME
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5.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-21-2017 15:45
I do remember when the AIA members were not allowed to have a phone book listing in bold type. There are "suttle" ways to get the word out such as social and community organizations and service clubs (Jaycees, if you're under 40, Rotary, volunteering, etc). That's all I will do.

------------------------------
Otis Meekins AIA
Architect/Owner
Otis Meekins, AIA, Architect
Virginia Beach VA
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6.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-22-2017 17:53
When I went solo I joined a local BNI (Business Network International) group. After about two years and lots of networking through that group I was averaging about $60,000 in fees from that group alone. It takes dedication and time but but BNI does work. Find a group that fits your needs, one with a builder, interior designer, commercial real estate agent etc and it's amazing how much work can be changed hands. I can no longer network as much as I used to as I am now also a 24/7 care giver for my wife. I still get plenty of work from builders and developers that I met through BNI though.

------------------------------
Thad Broom AIA
Architect
Thad A. Broom AIA, P.C.
Virginia Beach VA
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7.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-23-2017 17:53
I found no value in the BNI group I belonged to for architects. Due to their structure of 1 business per category and not having a good definition for each category I received a total of 4 real leads in the 1 year I was in the group. 3 of them turned into projects, but 2 of which were for members of the group private residences and all 3 projects were small.

They limited the group to 1 contractor and the contractor's main project category was basement waterproofing. They only allowed 1 realtor. The one in our group was a residential specialist and came into the group saying that she already had an architect that she referred all of her people to. They let her in the group anyway.

Of course they presented all of the business categories they had in the group and not their specialty. So I didn't know how little value all of potential good references were going to be.

If you are going to join a group, make sure you check out the people in the group before joining it.

------------------------------
Edwin Elliott AIA
Principal
Edwin O. Elliott, Jr., AIA - Architect
Pleasantville NY
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8.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-27-2017 13:19
Happy (recent) Summer Solstice, folks!
 
Networking, groups ---
       Re: Mr. Edwin Elliott:
Sad to say, I must agree with Mr. Elliott about his experience with the networking group BNI in his area of New York.  And he had better luck with referrals than I did (!), with very similar limitations & mis-matches, etc., in a group "for Architects" (?).  And this is within what should be a great concept!  I have no idea if my area's group is even still around (I'd long-forgotten about these)...
       Mr. Thad Broom:
Mr. Broom has had a much better experience, in his area of Virginia.  If there's a "national co-ordinator" set-up within BNI, maybe some more effective guidelines could be developed?  The whole concept is just too good to waste on a poorly-run group.
       For "Incidental Networking":
For day-to-day general introductions, of course, I have my business cards.  The next step up is the 8-1/2"x11", 3-fold flyer, too cumbersome for a shirt pocket (I'm not a suit-jacket-wearing guy).  So, I'm thinking of the "Over-Size Card", in addition to the business card (the new b.c. will be 2-sided).  The OSC, on coated card-stock, would be 3"x6", to fit in a shirt pocket.  There'd be the usual business-card info. plus a very brief (think French-beach-brief) outline of what an Architect does, on one side.  Flip it over, for 3 or 4 views of my projects.  That tight, demanding format is feasible where I live; there are many great printers around here, and I have long-standing relationships with 2 of 'em.





9.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-27-2017 13:25
Happy (recent) Summer Solstice, folks!
 
Networking, groups ---
       Re: Mr. Edwin Elliott:
Sad to say, I must agree with Mr. Elliott about his experience with the networking group BNI in his area of New York.  And he had better luck with referrals than I did (!), with very similar limitations & mis-matches, etc., in a group "for Architects" (?).  And this is within what should be a great concept!  I have no idea if my area's group is even still around (I'd long-forgotten about these)...
       Mr. Thad Broom:
Mr. Broom has had a much better experience, in his area of Virginia.  If there's a "national co-ordinator" set-up within BNI, maybe some more effective guidelines could be developed?  The whole concept is just too good to waste on a poorly-run group.
       For "Incidental Networking":
For day-to-day general introductions, of course, I have my business cards.  The next step up is the 8-1/2"x11", 3-fold flyer, too cumbersome for a shirt pocket (I'm not a suit-jacket-wearing guy).  So, I'm thinking of the "Over-Size Card", in addition to the business card (the new b.c. will be 2-sided).  The OSC, on coated card-stock, would be 3"x6", to fit in a shirt pocket.  There'd be the usual business-card info. plus a very brief (think French-beach-brief) outline of what an Architect does, on one side.  Flip it over, for 3 or 4 views of my projects.  That tight, demanding format is feasible where I live; there are many great printers around here, and I have long-standing relationships with 2 of 'em.
 
Thanks ---
Bill
william j. devlin aia, inc.,
ARCHITECT
Springfield, MA
 





10.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-28-2017 17:42
Great thoughts Bill about networking and the business cards / postcards.

For the "oversize business card" format, something I've found to be effective are the words "Ask My Architect" on one side and contact details on the other side. Give these out to a few people who can refer work and then when someone asks them if they have an architect they can recommend, they can use their 'Ask the Architect' card.

------------------------------
Enoch Sears AIA
Founder and Publisher
Business of Architecture
Visalia CA
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11.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-29-2017 09:26
Re BNI it took me a few tries to find a group that offered the potential I needed. This group had a financial adviser (not a mutual fund salesman but a true advisor) with high end clients that he was able to introduce me to at social mixers, a life insurance agent, a commercial insurance agent, a real estate developer and an interior designer. I got work and was able to refer work to all four. Forget contractors...they are too busy and most don't even like architects. I did get work from one high end residential  contractor that was in the group briefly but he had a marketing person that attended the meetings and we hit it off great. Still get work from that contractor. The key is to have lots of "one on one" meetings with fellow members to find out who their clients are and how best to meet them. You must also work to find them referrals because it has to be a two way street.   Also, get in a leadership position so you can weed out those that are not really helping the group and seek out potential new members that can help you. Like I said, it takes lots of work but BNI is a great concept, you just have to sort of game the system in your favor.

------------------------------
Thad Broom AIA
Architect
Thad A. Broom AIA, P.C.
Virginia Beach VA
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12.  RE: Request for Architect's Marketing Process

Posted 06-24-2017 10:31
Could not "Reply to Sender" so using this reply to ask if you are/were a Jaycee.  One does not hear that great organization mentioned much any more.  I was a Jaycee for many years - still am as a Jaycee Senator.  Can not count how much I learned from that group.  Super Organization!