Marketing For Architects, The Hard Way

Architect Octavian Ungureanu / Architect’s Blog / Marketing For Architects, The Hard Way

It’s been 20 years or more since I started my own architecture company. Since then I also had to deal with the needed marketing for my business. I learned about marketing for architects the hard way. Actually, for some time, I didn’t even know what I was doing. In my head, it was all about getting new clients.

Being young and inexperienced, I had two challenges. First, I had no portfolio to show. Second, I had no other income source, except the little money of my architecture studio.

So I had to learn, market my business, and build my website quickly, with no budget, while I was working for my clients. But I am an architect. This is what we do. We are the specialist of “tour de force”.

I’ve built my first website with Microsoft Office. It had a function to save a page as HTML. Whenever I had to make a change, as the menu’s color, I had to manually do it. 8 buttons multiplied by 20 pages. And I changed them even 2-3 times a day.

The domain name and the hosting were purchased from the mobile phone company. I had zero knowledge of HTML programming. This is something I never learned.

After a while, my brother coded the site for me. From 400-600 kb per page, he downsized them to about 10-20 kb. Good, right?

My experience with marketing for architects started later. I wanted to find the magic web design that could get me more clients. I didn’t. There is no magic design.

But reading is good. Slowly, my lectures led me to sales, then marketing. One of the most important sources was a marketing site. It wanted to sell a marketing plan or something like that. The scheme was an acronym: C-T-P-M. Content, Traffic, Pre-Sell, Monetize. It was a general formula, good enough for all sorts of businesses.

It was kind of unexpected.

I never thought it was about content. Now, content marketing is a thing. Everybody heard about it. Back then, it wasn’t.

I also understood that people don’t search for an architect. They are looking for valuable information. They want to solve a problem. Or a set of problems. If you are helping them, they are going to reward you with their trust.

The content has to be good information, excellent information if possible. On the other hand, they want to know basic facts. You aren’t supposed to write about architecture, Philosophy, or Rocket science. They have pragmatic problems.

All persons who want to start an investment project, are interested, or should be interested in:

  • The land they have to buy: dimension, urban, and zoning codes. Special requirements for the land.
  • General parameters of the construction they could build: areas, floor areas, height, etc
  • Costs and time estimates

Back in time, I started with one article, about affordable (cheap) houses. Excellent results! Many new clients. Important newspapers and television interviewed me.

The next step was to sign in with the wave of new prospective clients. This was a bump. A big one.

The answer was, once again, marketing. First, I split my fees into Budget, Advantage, and Elite. 9 out of 10 times, clients have chosen the Advantage Pack. The good thing is they are eager to know the differences between the three price options.

Another bump was to overcome the sales resistance. All clients, even if they have no objections anymore, they still are reticent to sign. It’s quite unusual for many to sign a contract for a few thousand, or a few tens of thousands of Euros.

But nobody’s reluctant to pay a small amount for a few sketches that are the base for the real contract.

Even though I didn’t know, I was fine-tuning one of the 4 Ps of marketing for architects, or the famous marketing mix: the Price.

Read more about the marketing mix, here:

Content marketing wasn’t invented yesterday. It isn’t even an Internet-era thing. I already wrote about Louis Gibson, and his books: the Convenient Houses and Beautiful Houses. He published them at the end of the 19th Century. Great books! They are in the Public Domain, free to download. Please read my article first, here.

Having good knowledge of marketing, it’s a must for all living architects. It’s not only the difference between having enough projects or not, but in how you will interact with your clients.

For a long time, at least in the USA, architects weren’t allowed to advertise themselves. I am not talking about advertising. It’s a common mistake we are making.

Marketing is not even about business. I think it’s rooted in our brains by 200.000 years of evolution. It’s empathy. We are instinctively helping our peers and they are helping us. That is, it has a name, it is the successful human society.

I am writing a book. Its name is Marketing For Architects. Till I finished it, I created this website,