Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell

The world of marketing, in all industries, is an exciting one which oozes opportunities. Communication channels and marketing techniques have become busier and more refined during the pandemic as people the world over have looked at new ways to promote, research and purchase products and services.

The challenging bit for everyone is developing a bespoke plan for your individual organisation while respecting your time, budget and resource. Of course, you also need enough time and resource to answer all the amazing enquiries you will receive!

You may have millions to spend, you may have 100 people in your marketing department, and you may have ten specialist agencies – or, perhaps not!  So I would suggest you take it slow, plan well, and go forth in a realistic, priority-led manner. Much research has been conducted into how best an architect, or practice, should communicate today. But there is no one-size-fits-all solution and I will look at a simple approach to start with.

The go-to hub for anyone hearing about you and wanting to know more is your website. It’s important to get the design and workings of the website just right. Branding, information, SEO, population, photography, videos…..the list is endless. In architecture, the best websites are those which are image- and project-led. Residential and commercial visitors want to see, quickly and easily, which projects you have worked on, what your specialities are and how you work. A good website designer, in partnership with a strong SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) or digital agency, is a good start. Even if you have an existing website, it’s good to go for a health check before you do anything else. It’s also advisable to look at what contemporaries are up to.

When looking at your website, and general branding and messaging, always have your target customer in mind. How do they look and how do they get information? Who are they? It may be that you conduct a research project just to find out, from your existing contacts, what they like to see and want to know. Are you targeting the self-build market, the homeowner, or the commercial organisations?  In this desk research, you may want to initiate the development of a list of key contacts – who do you want to work with?

A blog/news section, populated by a variety of key people in your company as well as “guests”, is helpful as is a section on project case studies with quotes from happy clients and endorsements from product manufacturers you work with. Mutual PR is important as you are then tapping into a multitude of different audiences. The product manufacturers or housebuilders, for example, may have a greater following than you. By sharing and conversing, you are spreading your message further. Of course, here we are talking social media. Key for architects today are LinkedIn and Instagram as they, in simple terms, are business and image-led respectively. 

You may want to appoint an outside PR/media agency to produce the content, case studies, thought-leadership articles, and this great mix of stories can be used for the media, social media and website pages as a start. 

It’s not just about getting your name in the printed and digital media although that is obviously important. It’s also that, by getting to know key journalists, you are asking them to independently endorse your work and share your stories.  Your key media could comprise national, local, commercial and home-interest titles and each article needs to be carefully targeted.  Project case studies and thought-leadership articles are really important here. It is widely known that architectural and home titles are holding up in the printed world too. People want to feel and touch a lovely coffee table magazine when looking at homes, buildings, kitchens and spaces.  The reader also likes that the piece is independent, and they do not have to “wade through the internet” looking for a good roofing system or bathroom suite.  All good publications produce a PDF flip page version.

Finally, a useful, popular way of making your mark in the architectural world is through awards and competitions. You only have to search for “architectural design” awards and you can look for a list that best suits your work. 

It’s a huge decision when it comes to specifying an architect. And there’s lots of help out there to ensure you get your message to the right people who can then consider you!

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