Marketing For Architecture & Engineering Firms 1: Learning Marketing
As a former architect who earned many deals and brought many buildings into the world, I have learned that for architecture and engineering firms, marketing is the most certain way to achieve a sustainable income.
In this new feature called “Marketing For Architecture & Engineering Firms”, I am going to teach you everything you need to know to get started earning business and deals with your own small business architecture or engineering firm.
The point is made clear: marketing really works.
We have a thriving marketing and advertising industry in America and Europe precisely because marketing makes the money, drives the revenue, and delivers a return on investment (ROI).
Many of us architects are very skeptical people in general.
In addition, we are really skeptical about marketing.
A large percentage of us don’t even have a website for our architecture firm!
Engineers might be more easy going about this sort of thing, but when engineers do marketing they tend to stick to the science of marketing and that means a focus on SEO.
As an aside, SEO stands for search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization is an industry for improving your search results so you get found more on Google.
If you don’t have a website, how is anybody supposed to find you online?
Now, some of us architects and engineers rely on our networks to generate business.
We ask our friends and family to pass the word about us.
We also ask our current customers to send some referrals our way (this is good marketing).
For all intents and purposes, I am going to assume you don’t have time for an MBA in Marketing, and that you are already pretty busy with designing, drafting, and using AutoCAD.
AutoCAD is a great buy, and I used AutoCAD to make hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time.
Rule #1: Marketing Generates Sales For Your Business
The first thing to know for your architecture and engineering firm is that strong marketing drives sales and revenue.
Earning more revenue and sales is the reason why we do marketing.
So therefore, knowing marketing is a valuable commodity in a world where some players are millionaires, with their family secure for life, while most of us wait for the boss to cut a check.
Standardly, a large percentage of architects and engineers in their 30s, 40s, and 50s branch off and start their own architecture or engineering firm.
Starting your own firm is a statement of courage.
At the same time, there are risks, such as the lack of income security.
Because of this, I find it imperative that you learn marketing, and especially digital marketing, as quickly as possible.
The point of this section is that marketing generates sales for your firm.
Whether you are a man alone or with a small team, marketing is what drives the revenues into your bank account.
So let me tell you my story of success with my small architecture firm.
Want AutoCAD and Revit for your architecture firm? Buy AutoCAD here and buy Revit here.
My Small Business Architect Success Story
I started studying architecture my junior year in college.
I had transferred to an Ivy League university from an urban private college, and I knew I couldn’t study economics any more.
I spoke with my academic advisor, and we decided to have me major in Architecture, where I would be taking courses mostly with graduate students (the university didn’t have an Architecture major at the time, though we were allowed to create our own special programs).
I was a natural with AutoCAD.
I designed a luxury residence while listening to a lecture, and my professor thought the world of it.
Later, after my successes, I built that home in Malibu, where I reside with my wife and family.
But first, I had to graduate and get a real job in architecture.
I graduated cum laude, and then applied to my architecture jobs with the big players.
To my surprise, I had a hard time getting an offer.
So I met with my professors, and he got me placed at an elite consulting company.
I fit in naturally, but then it was 2001 and the world changed.
I signed up for the US Navy, and the rest is history.
While I can’t say much about my military experience, I was able to do some architecture for the US military and I am very proud of my service.
After five years in the armed forces, I retired from my military service and returned home to my wife.
I also started my architecture firm.
I leveraged my network for a year or two, and made a decent income, but after a few months where there was no business and I was sitting at my desk looking at the same notepad, I knew I had to do something.
I decided I was going to study marketing.
I thought about an MBA but didn’t want to wait two years before I could work again.
So I found an online certificate program called Digital Marketing 360 by eCornell.
Cornell University is in the Ivy League, and their online trainings are of a very high quality.
Digital Marketing 360 has 18 2-week courses that start with the digital marketing landscape, and make sense of the whole thing.
I didn’t know a thing about marketing before, and because of this my business was floundering.
After I completed the courses and earned my certificate, I started to generate new business deals.
My flow of business went from a standstill to a steady stream of business.
I learned to turn people away because I was too busy (because I had so much work).
And I learned the value of my services, raising my prices until I was making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and sometimes more.
When you learn Marketing, you learn that marketing works to grow your business.
But it wasn’t always easy.
Rule #2: Build A Website That Gets You Business (I Explain How)
I started by building a website based on the free WordPress platform.
I bought a domain name from GoDaddy.
I bought web hosting connect my domain and install WordPress (a 1-click install).
For web hosting, I recommend WPEngine at $25 a month.
Then, I found a custom WordPress theme for $100 and I customized it without any coding.
The first thing I did was build the website pages.
I had a page for “Luxury Residential”, a page for “High-Rise Commercial”, and one more.
You could have a page for “University Renovations”.
You could have a page for “Mixed-Use Developments”.
For each page, I hired a freelancer for $100 per page to write me a 3,000-5,000 word article.
I added in pictures of me at work, and pictures of my architecture and 3D renderings.
It looked very impressive.
I worked on the homepage.
I added a professionally produced video introducing myself and my architecture.
The video cost $5,000.
It was beautiful.
I added an email subscriber form.
I signed up for email marketing with Constant Contact.
And I wrote a beautiful intro section underneath the video and email form, filled with pictures of me drafting and renderings of my architecture.
I’ll sum this up by saying that building a website is not that difficult.
Some of you might say that there isn’t really a point to building a website, but without a website you’ll have a much harder time drumming up business.
The point I am getting at is that when you build a website, you want to combine your website build with a development of your personal brand (and this you do yourself).
More on building a personal brand next.
Rule #3: Build A Personal Brand To Cash In On Architecture & Engineering
When you build a personal brand, you define yourself to your market of customers, clients, and network.
Personal brand is self definition, on a website.
So how do you define yourself in a way that brings in business.
The key is to develop a unique value proposition.
Your unique value proposition is a marketing concept that explained means that you bring something to the table that no one else brings.
Another word for this is differentiation.
How do you differentiate from the pool of architects and engineers who are also selling their services.
I see personal brand and website as getting eyeballs on your site, and making your site good enough so that when someone visits your page, they are willing and interested in buying architecture or engineering services from you.
So “eyeballs + interest = new business”.
People on your site who are interested because of your personal brand will lead to new business.
As an architect or engineer, you want to exemplify competence and proficiency as much as you want to stand out from the crowd.
Your customers want to know you have what it takes, and that should never be questioned.
So you could display your credentials on your website: your architecture diploma, an AIA logo, etc.
Building a personal brand is defining how you are seen to your future customers.
With a personal brand, you showcase the attributes you want to be seen as to the marketplace.
However you want to define your brand, you will display to the world through your digital marketing that these characteristics represent you, and you will become aligned with customers who are attracted to your brand, or share similar values themselves.
If all this sounds interesting, read the remainder of this guide.
In this section, we are talking about learning marketing.
In the next article, we will talk about the pillars of digital marketing, and how to use them to your advantage to generate revenues and increase sales and deal flow.
Before I go, I want to describe the unity of website and personal brand.
You want to look as professional as the CEO of Google.
You want your brand to be that airtight as perfect.
Rule #4: Add Great Content That Gets Visitors To Your Website
Firstly, you should make sure that you blog on your website.
For this reason, I recommend using the free WordPress platform in conjunction with web hosting from WPEngine.
Second, you might not have the time to do all this content writing and website building yourself (depends on your budget – successful architects spend 5-10% of revenue on marketing and advertising).
So for content, I recommend that your website has 1,000 articles/blog posts about architecture.
With 1,000 articles, you will be getting web traffic (web visitors), and you will have inquiries to your contact form.
Always have a Contact page that displays your name, phone number, email address, and contact box.
1,000 articles might cost you between $10,000-$25,000 with the right team of freelancers.
It takes a lot of work to post 1,000 blog posts/articles and edit them.
At the same time, you gain a valuable opportunity to gain lots of web visitors from the search engine, as each article can pull in 10-100 people per month to your page.
With 1,000 articles, you can achieve 10,000 visitors to your website per month.
That is a sufficient number that you will be able to turn some of them into clients.
How do you come up with 1,000 articles to write?
The key is to do “keyword research”.
With keyword research, you identify the main topics of your content.
Then, you do research on SEO tools such as Moz and Ahrefs (I hire freelancers to do this for a few hundred dollars).
So you might have these sections to your content:
- Styles of Architecture
- Architectural History
- Famous Architects
- Famous Buildings
- AutoCAD (Buying, Learning, Using)
- Revit (Buying, Learning, Using)
You can come up with more topics on your own.
I use mind mapping software to plan this out, but you can also do this on Microsoft Excel.
You will want to have a Call-To-Action (CTA, marketing jargon) on every blog post.
That means at the end of the post, middle of the post, etc., you ask for the reader to contact you about hiring you for architecture work.
The point is that with 1,000 articles on your website’s blog, you will get ranked on Google.
That is SEO in a synopsis:
Lots of great content gets ranked on Google.
An interesting thing I learned to do is to link to your main 4-5 pages (Luxury Residential, University Renovations, etc.) with every single blog post.
All this internal linking is great for SEO (getting your website highly ranked on search engines).
An interesting opportunity is to sign up as an affiliate of Autodesk (the makers of AutoCAD) on their website (sign up here).
Autodesk will pay you a portion of every sale that comes through your tracking link (affiliate link, given at the affiliate portal Commission Junction).
If you have 1,000 articles about architecture then you will have plenty of web visitors who are in the architecture niche.
Thus, every blog post (all 1,000 blog posts) should have a tracking link at the bottom to buy AutoCAD and buy Revit.
As long as you are making the investment in content to build your web followers, you might as well make money.
I would say that with 1,000 articles (in addition to the 5 main pages – About, Specialty 1, Specialty 2, Specialty 3, Contact page), you will get around 10,000 visitors per month.
Those 10,000 visitors per month will likely translate to $2,000-$4,000 dollars per month from Autodesk when you are an affiliate.
That is great extra income for a small business architect.
In addition, you get web visitors who are interested in architecture in some way, and some of them will want to do business with you.
1,000 blog posts increases website authority, and every page is valued more highly with every additional blog post.
With 1,000 blog posts, you have high value for every page and post.
Rule #5: Advertising Works. Thus, Advertise To Gain Sales & Business
That’s why advertising is such a thriving industry.
These days, you can get advertising online that is directly correlated to web visitors.
For example, you may have seen ads on Google.
Did you know, you can get people to your website for $1 a click?
With Google AdWords, you can start advertising your website and main pages.
I recommend doing 3 ads, 1 for each of your specializations.
So an ad for “Luxury Residential”, an ad for “High-Rise Commercial”, and an ad for “University Renovations”, etc.
The ad goes to your page that you had written.
I recommend spending $10 a day for each ad.
That adds up to $30 a day, and $900 a month.
That’s a fair budget for marketing and advertising.
As an architect myself, I got business from my ads, and made hundreds of thousands of dollars from these $10 a day ads.
Interestingly, Facebook has ads too.
With Facebook Ads, you can advertise your Facebook page to get Likes (~$0.50 a Like) and then whenever you send a post to your Facebook page, the people that like your page can see your post.
I really like Boosted Posts.
For a couple dollars a day for 5 days, you get your article or page (as posted to your Facebook page) seen by over 1,000 people – $10 cost.
It’s a good deal that gets people to your website and could generate business.
Facebook Advertising also lets you advertise based on interests such as Architecture and Engineering, so your ads get seen by the right people only.
I would also put $10 a day on Facebook Ads – in addition to Boosted Posts and Page Likes, a standard Facebook Ad at $10 a day could drum up business when you send the visitors to your 3 Specialty pages.
I use AutoCAD for my architecture. Try AutoCAD here.
This Architect’s Guide to Marketing will really help you to get sales for your architecture firm, and I hope you have enjoyed the read!
Architect Marketing generates sales for your architecture firm.
If you are a small business architect, marketing sets you apart from other architects, and brings in new business.
Architect Marketing is the key to getting business based on your talent, your drive, and your brand.
Marketing is working smart.
As a former small business architect myself, I had a fairly successful architecture firm before business diminished.
I was sitting at my desk, day after day, doing architecture that no one was buying.
At some point, I realized that it had nothing to do with the quality of my architecture, it had to do with my lack of marketing knowledge.
I could have gotten an MBA, but I couldn’t afford to be away from work for 2 years as I was supporting a family.
So I found an online certificate program in digital marketing.
Called Digital Marketing 360, at eCornell (an Ivy League online program that accepts everyone but is still high quality), the program consists of 18 2-week courses.
I figured that all things being equal, everything would stay the same until I brought in new business.
So I signed up, and I started learning and applying my new knowledge immediately.
Within 2 months, by applying what I had learned I had earned new business.
Well worth the money, I doubled down on my efforts, and my small one person architecture firm became very successful.
I learned that building a website would be very successful for generating new business.
I spent a lot of time building my website, and that paid off in results.
I had new leads every month to follow up with.
And business got back to work again.
I combined my knowledge of websites (learned mostly through reading blogs) with personal brand (learned from eCornell).
My website features a great video, 3 core pages, and 1,000 articles.
Lots of great content – well written and organized – really makes a difference.
You can even sign up as an affiliate with Autodesk after you get your website done and put a tracking link for AutoCAD and Revit with every blog post.
If you are an engineer, the same with Civil 3D.
You already use your website to generate business.
You might as well supplement your income with some affiliate revenue promoting AutoCAD and Revit at the end of your blog posts.
You can do this and promote your business too.
I organized my content, hired an expert for the keyword research, and then hired content writers.
1,000 articles (blog posts) are recommended.
You will likely have 10,000 visitors per month within a year or two, and you will start organically generating business.
Next, I advertised on Google AdWords.
This gets your ads for search engine results.
It’s really easy to do this through the Google AdWords mobile app.
Anyone can do it.
$10 a day per ad, 3 ads.
Have your phone number and email address on the advertised page, and you will start generating new business.
Facebook Ads also work great.
With a solid Facebook page, you will really start getting sales.
Thank you for reading!
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