Growing Your Design-Build Firm: Architecture and Interior Design Marketing Ideas
Okay, so your design-build firm has a relatively steady stream of projects now. You’ve likely weathered lean times and expanded a couple of times. And, more likely than not, you’ve solidified your firm’s identity. It’s easy for you to tell clients and friends what your firm does well and who your clients are. Your architecture and interior design marketing ideas are working well so far.
How do you make the next leap?
We've got pointers.
Basic Architecture and Interior Design Marketing Ideas and Strategies
Think of these tips as best practices -- strategies that will work no matter the type of company you have. And yes, it also applies to non-design-build firms, as well.
1. Give Away Content
If you’re a lean architecture or interior design firm, giving away stuff for free sounds… insane. Let’s face it. Your workload is already out of control. Adding more? Hard pass.
But giving away content isn’t insane! I’d even say it’s necessary. It's marketing. At the start, it seems too expensive, but, ultimately, it’s cheaper than all the business you’ll miss out on. How?
Well, big picture, giving away content lets you start a conversation with clients early -- before your competition does.
Giving away advice or interest pieces that speak to their concerns (and ultimately how you can address them) lets you do that.
Deciding not to engage early and often is expensive, whether your firm knows it or not. The content you give away can make the difference.
2. Make Your Content Specific
Okay. This one is obvious. You can’t just write about anything.
But, also, you can’t just write about business either.
Your potential clients—before they ever decide they’re in the market for your firm’s services and even after—want to do some research. The more massive the undertaking, the more information they’ll look for.
Here’s where giving away content has it’s biggest advantage. It’s your chance to offer genuine honest advice. How do they know they might want an architect or interior designer? What are some things they can expect from the process? If you have a specific client you’re best suited for, what are the particular obstacles they might face?
Give general advice that is helpful to any client looking for any firm, but also offer specific advice to clients who would be a perfect match for your firm’s strengths. Some interior design marketing ideas for content would be: Why Finding the Right Architect is Important When You Design Your Next Dental Office or Tips for Redesigning Your Outdoor Patio for Summer.
If your firm happens to rock at Dental Offices or Outdoor Patios, you and your reader have just struck gold. Half your work is already done.
The reason why this approach is effective is simple. Sales conversations can be defensive. Before getting to that conversation, your audience is primed to listen. Use that time to build trust with them and learn about their specific needs. Let them learn about your abilities.
3. Keep in Mind: the Goal is Long-Term
At least from my experience, a majority of an Architecture firm’s business comes from repeat clients. That is probably not everyone’s experience. But I still think this piece of advice is golden.
Remember when I said your content can’t just be about business?
Here it comes: you also have to market on a human level.
Referrals from clients, consultants, and influential people in your network—past and present—are second to none. And for many of these people, they’ve become too familiar with your services to keep reading about them. Or, maybe, they no longer need them.
Keeping them engaged means when the time comes they’ll say something like, You’re looking for someone to do your facade? I know just the firm.
And this where you might share a something more personal—something that speaks to a value you hold dear. One of my favorite posts on social media was from a tile vendor whose son had just graduated from college. The caption was wonderful: chip off the old block.
I’m a sucker for a good pun.
That post had nothing to do with selling tiles—other than a itsy-bitsy nod to his business. It was just a friendly reminder. It said, Remember me? without that gross feeling of having been advertised to.
Effective and entertaining. No beating that.
4. Have Someone Dedicated to Managing Your Marketing Process
In the early days of your firm, whoever did your marketing probably also did a bunch of other stuff. That kind of multitasking is just a part of starting out.
But, too often, a firm will get too big for that to continue to work out. As you have more and more complex relationships, and need more sophisticated and targeted architecture and interior design marketing ideas, you’re just going to have to get someone to dedicate themselves to marketing.
Architecture and Interior Design Marketing Ideas and Strategies, Based on Client Type
When it comes to marketing success, segmentation is the name of the game. Like we advised above, the more targeted your content, the better the results. In other words, get to know your client and yourself. Here are the four basic client types and how you should speak to them.
They Don’t Know They Need an Architect or Interior Designer -- Yet
The average person doesn’t know when or if to enlist the help of an Architect or Interior Designer. Some will find out one way or another. But having your firm introduce this idea to a potential client is priceless. You’re planting the seeds of a sale.
Write content that speaks to their concerns. What benefits can they expect from a remodel or a newly designed office? Is it really feasible? What kinds of questions do they need to ask themselves before even considering such a move? What should they ask their Interior Designer or Architect?
Even better, if the content I’ve provided has built more trust early on, I might be better positioned by the time they are ready to buy than anyone else. Either way, I am winning a project that otherwise might have been lost.
The Client that Might Not Think of Your Firm First
Even if they do know that they need an Architect or Interior Designer, do they think of your firm first? You’ve been around for a while. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. Do you know?
If you’re lucky, they have no particular firm in mind. In the worst case, they have your competition in mind first. For this client, giving away content helps slowly establish yourself as an expert they can rely on for advice. It keeps them engaged in understanding your firm and your abilities. Abilities that can match what they’re looking for from a designer.
You might even begin to learn about their needs and how to specifically address them.
When it is time to sell, you’ll be better equipped to speak to them, and they will be better equipped to speak to you. You’ve already built trust by giving honest advice.
The Client Ready to Buy
Everyone loves this person. And that’s the problem. If you start marketing your services when a client has decided to work with an Architect or Interior Designer, you’re going up a steep hill.
Finding this Lead is Hard. Ever feel like you’re the last to hear about a new project? A ready client is actively searching on their own, or looking at material that has already been marketed to them. Where do you even begin to find this client? I have no idea.
Your Competition is Also Chasing Them. Everyone wants this project. The client is being flooded with information about which firm does what and how. Here’s hoping they read your pitch also.
They’re Short-Lived. By the time this client has decided to find a firm to work with, they’re rushing to get the process moving. Time is against you. So, even if you find this client and stand out, you need get through a mountain of work to show them you can hit the ground running. Scrambling to chase a lead you just found out about requires days of work just to catch up.
Start the conversation early with content and this lead comes to you when they’re first shopping around. You can start gearing up while every other firm is falling over themselves.
The Client Who Goes Straight to Another Firm
Losing out on clients who go straight to your competition because another firm is more prominent in their minds is frustrating.
Some even count out clients that would—without marketing—go straight to another firm.
I treat this client the same way I treat the client that’s ready to buy. If I can get them thinking about my firm and comparing us with our competition early, I stand a fighting chance. When they start shopping, I can highlight our differences.
Doing anything else slows down the machine that keeps potential clients engaged with your firm. I say machine, because marketing can’t be an afterthought. It is a big part of what keeps your firm growing. Keep the machine humming along, maintaining and upkeeping a website does not need a full fledge IT team anymore. Monograph is a simple, drag and drop, website builder - built for Architects
Hit like and comment below. What are some lessons from your experience? Do you have a different take on one of our ideas? Maybe a cool story? What are your go-to architecture and interior design marketing ideas?
With Noam Hazan. Click here to watch.