While Gensler, Perkins+Will, and IBI are perhaps the most notable giants in architecture, architectural startups and businesses with less than 50 employees make up the majority of firms in the industry. With seemingly unlimited budgets and resources at their disposal, it can be hard standing out and attracting new clients when they are your competition. However, there are a number of low to no-cost ways that can help you set your businesses apart from the rest and reach a larger audience.
When it comes to smaller businesses, social media and an online presence could be your winning ticket. Not only are you casting an incredibly large net to draw people in, but most of the platforms and online tools are affordable if not free. Breaking into the digital space and establishing a consistent online presence will be key to helping you draw new business in without breaking the bank.
Here are 10 ways you can attract new architecture clients when working with a small-business budget.
1. Architecture Marketing with Social Media
Social media is one platform that many firms and architects have been slow to adopt. While it’s often associated with taking selfies or puppy videos, what many people don’t realize is that social platforms are actually one of the most powerful marketing tools that currently exist. And it’s free.
To give you a little perspective, LinkedIn alone has over 740 million active users, and this is one platform that primarily focuses on professional networking. When it comes to architectural firms, you should strongly consider joining photo and video sharing social platforms like Instagram. Not only will you be tapping into a pool of 1 billion active users, but your profile will also function just like an extra digital portfolio. So upload your stunning designs on a consistent basis and highlight your firm’s skills, expertise, and eye for excellence, and just wait for what could be your next project.
Top Tip: Don’t forget to use hashtags! They are functional and will help make you more discoverable.
2. Don’t Forget Online Communities
Getting involved in online community groups is another effective way to get connected to an audience that may need your expertise in the near or distant future. All you have to do is pick a specific group within your target market or those that could introduce you to those you would like to connect with.
Residential architects Mark R. LePage of EntreArchitect and his partner AnnMarie McCarthy of Fivecat Studio Architects are shining examples of this strategy. The two joined the SPCA in Westchester County, New York, and became part of their in-person community that helped them meet clinic clients and other animal lovers who were looking to remodel or construct new homes. So perhaps it starts of with a genuine personal interest, but your community will sooner or later look to take a step into the next chapter of their lives and may need your help to make their vision into a reality.
3. Connect Via Email
While it’s a fairly traditional form of marketing, sending emails is still effective for contacting cold leads, reaching out to prospects, and reengaging with past clients. But if there’s one thing you need to know about crafting engaging emails is that visuals play a big role in attracting and drawing your client's eyes to the rest of your content.
Whether you’re launching a re-engagement campaign or a monthly newsletter, it’s important when creating and sending out emails that you are able to use the resources and visual media you already have at your disposal. So add in 2D renders or any pieces of media from a recent project to correspondence. By doing so, you’re able to ensure the media your prospects or clients consume are made by you and your team and make use of every opportunity to showcase stunning visuals that could further pique their interest.
4. Check Backlinks
Content creators and bloggers are always on a hunt for stunning visuals that will add to their story and make their pages appealing and attractive. And while most writers and influencers practice the good habit of citing credit to the original creators, they don’t always think about adding links to their corresponding websites.
Backlinks, also known as inbound links, are a search engine optimization feature that gets created when one website links to another. For example, these words link to the Malibu Boats virtual showroom - they now have a backlink from us. The reason why these are important is that they can help push your position up in Google or other search engines to make your firm easier to find compared to your competitors. So if you have found your project, image, or firm being cited on a specific site, you can send a quick email to their team to ask for a link back to your homepage or your portfolio. It’s simple, quick, inexpensive, and most people will be able to add the link with no problem.
5. Try Out New Tech
The best part about living and working during the digital transformation is that technology, especially incredibly advanced technology, is readily available, accessible, and affordable for many. While it isn’t a no-cost solution, sometimes investing in a platform that fits within your budget range could actually help you do more with what you already have on hand.
One piece of tech that every design business and architectural firm should look into is digital reality technologies like virtual reality. VR platforms have advanced at such a rate that most probably the CAD program you’re currently using is compatible with their ecosystem, and in just a few clicks, you can transform your renders into full 360 experiences and easily share them on your social platforms. And here’s the best part: you can find a solution that is effective and cost-efficient, just like our Yulio platform. At less than $35 a month, you can “wow” your clients and pay for the whole year’s license by closing just one project. And don’t be surprised if you are winning more projects than in previous years; that is the power of virtual reality.
6. Architectural Contest Submission
If you’re looking for a place to present your skills and also garner public recognition, architectural contests and challenges would be another great avenue to explore. There are numerous organizations and architecture professionals who host annual contests to highlight the talent and creativity across the globe, and give increased exposure to the artist or business behind the project. While it may seem daunting putting yourself out there, it doesn’t hurt to submit a previous project to test the waters. Plus, the hosts may even post about you or your firm on their social channels, helping you establish connections within your architecture community and share your business with their audience. If you’re the lucky winner (congratulations in advance), expect a boost in your credibility and to set some time reposting, liking and retweeting congratulatory announcements on your social channels.
7. Try Guest Blogging
And finally, one low-cost method is to try your hand in guest blogging. There are a number of credible established blogs that have an authoritative voice in the realm of architecture and design. Whether it be ArchDaily, Dezeen or our Yulio blog, guest blogging is a great way to, again, build connections within your architecture community and tap into their audience for further exposure.
Most blogs are constantly looking for new content, and with your firm’s expertise into architectural trends, best practices, or winning techniques, your knowledge will be a valuable source for their next piece. However, if writing isn’t your strong suit, you can also consider guest speaking on a podcast or even at an architecture accredited course. Not only will you be able to talk about your insights but you can demonstrate on paper or in a recording your innate understanding of all things architecture. It is by laying this firm foundation of trust in your expertise and instincts, clients will feel more comfortable and ready to approach you with their next project.
We hope that you found these helpful in taking the next step with attracting new architecture clients through establishing your online presence. If you’re looking to get started with our Yulio platform, we have a 30-day free trial that will give you full access to our extensive line of features. However, if you’re hoping for more information or guidance with using VR in architecture, click here to check out this article.