I came across these four interviews with architects on the NBS website via one of their newsletters and thought they deserved more attention.
In particular I’m interested in the video “Marketing in the Recession” below, where (mostly architect) interviewees are asked “How has the recession affected your company and the way you market it?”
There is a wealth of interesting material, but here are some of the answers I picked out.
“We are having to market ourselves now whereas if you go back three years we had more work than we could cope with”
“Well, I actually have to do some marketing. Before you could rely on word of mouth, repeat clients, that sort of thing.”
“The recession has been really interesting in that it’s given us some downtime to actually do some marketing”
“The Recession has made me take marketing a bit more seriously”
Interesting to see Michael Williams @MJWArchitects being interviewed saying they weren’t getting any results through advertising so have (successfully) concentrated on their website and being active in the community, “getting schemes to come together ourselves.” This is a good example of what Owen Luder concludes towards the end of the video – “If you’re wondering what’s hit you it is too late. You have to keep ahead of the game”
The interviews were recorded during breaks in sessions at the RIBA Guerilla Tactics Conference in October, which is designed to help small practices with things like marketing and business development, so I suppose it isn’t surprising that so many interviewees are aware that they haven’t been taking it seriously enough. Good for them, making an effort. But I am still a bit concerned, and here’s why.
Why would one market when there isn’t a recession?
There seems to be this assumption that you only market your firm when there isn’t any work, or at best, when you think there won’t be any work soon. I’ve come across this a great deal and I think it is wrong.
Marketing is the process of making sure everyone who needs you knows you are there, what you are going to be the best at, and how to get in touch with you.
You will always want people to need you, so you always need to be marketing. If you are really fortunate to have an unending supply of work, then marketing will allow you to adjust the type of work you get, tweak your brand image, qualify your leads so that you get all the work you would really want to do. But for most architects marketing isn’t just about filtering your leads, it is about getting any leads at all.
Marketing is all the things you do to manage your client’s decision to think of you first.
Word of Mouth and Repeat Clients are mentioned as two different ways of getting work other than marketing, but this is a misunderstanding of what marketing is. It isn’t simply about advertising and pressing the flesh at networking events.
Once you think of marketing as a process of client (and potential client) perception management, everything you do becomes a potential marketing act, because if it doesn’t make you more likely to get that call, it will make you less likely. This also means that
Marketing is an executive function – it is everyone’s job.
For example, the person who answers the phone is an extremely important person to your firm. They are the first point of contact and will affect whether you get the job. Equally the people your clients deal with every day will help them decide whether to go elsewhere or not. In a good firm your clients will be able to talk to responsible, yet more junior staff, who are perfectly capable at being civil and helpful, and able to defer to more senior people when the need arises. This makes good business sense not just because it is better value, but because you can’t risk your employees not being civil and helpful.
It is also worth remembering that it isn’t just your clients who bring you work, but no-one will refer you once they have had a bad experience, especially not your clients. It is up to you to create the opportunities for your prospects to have good experiences of you.
Marketing is looking ahead and deciding what to do next.
If you see marketing as an essential part of your business, then the recession coming along will have changed what you do ages ago, because you’ll have been reviewing the state of your market on a regular basis, checking up on the plans of your clients and looking for up and coming opportunities. Your practice won’t just be in a good position to avoid downturn, it will also be able to capitalise on opportunities to move into new markets when your clients do.
So start thinking about marketing as something you do every day, and take some time to make a plan.
Thanks to Rob Easson at the NBS for getting me permission to share one of the videos with you here.
I recommend you visit and see the other interviews on:
- How architects are responding to the sustainability agenda
- Dealing with changes to the Building Regulations
- Key Architectural Buildings in the last 10 years.
You can also follow the NBS official twitter account here.
What do you think about these videos? Are they useful? What interviews would you click through to see?
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