Marketing your Design Business – Getting Started (guest post)
Today, the first in a two part series of guest posts on the business of marketing for your engineering/architectural practice. Today’s post is authored by Amy Young. Amy is the author of numerous articles relating to marketing and finance, as well as articles discussing secure credit cards for families.
Your company may have been in business for years, or maybe you are just getting started with an architectural company of your own. Regardless of your amount of experience in the business, you probably already know that getting profitable and desirable new clients is the only way to remain successful. Knowing how to market your company effectively will help you find these clients, set yourself apart, and convince them that you are the right architect for the job.
There is no universal solution to marketing problems with architectural or engineering offices because no two firms are alike, but there are a few common characteristics in all successful marketing plans. Here, I will focus on a few of the fundamentals necessary to start a marketing strategy.
Make a Plan
You may be wondering where to begin with your marketing plan. It all starts with strategy. Every marketing plan needs a strategy in order to brand and position the business. First, think about where your business stands, and assess the type of work you are doing as well as what the market may do in the future. Then, decide where you want to be and set your goals.
Consider what you have done to be successful and what you could change or what more you could do to continue your success. Know exactly what makes your company different than the rest. When you have come up with a sense of identity and direction, then you can start to brand your business to express the benefits you will offer your clients.
Marketing and Business Development
Once you have established your general goals and how you want to be branded, you can then start to form a plan for your sales approach and decide how you will look for clients. This will most likely include a form of market research and networking to help you get in touch with potential clients. Through this process, you can gain valuable information that can help you achieve the business of those clients.
You may want to take on these tasks by yourself, but many companies decide to hire an employee or a few employees to take charge of their marketing needs. Marketing a business takes time and skill that you may not have on your own. Hiring a consultant who is educated on the subject could save you time and a lot of aggravation.
In the business of architecture or engineering, new clients can be hard to find if you don’t know where to look. Some industry professionals get leads from other consultants, existing clients, or influential contacts. You may also be able to use references like your local, state, and federal registers or participate in industry activities and trade organizations to find your clients.
Some firms find potential new business by attending conferences sponsored by associations that serve many other clients. You could use part of your marketing budget to set up a booth at a trade show where you can meet with people and companies looking for an architectural firm. While at these conferences, you or someone from your company could present a paper or give a lecture in order to gain some brand recognition as well.
Show Your Best Work
Once you get the lead for a potential new client, the real work for marketers begins. You should consider how likely you are to actually get the client to accept your business, and if the outlook is good, then you can decide how much effort you will need to put into a proposal to get them to accept your business. Some proposals may take as much research as the whole project will require. Your clients will always be your best source of information, and while you may be reluctant to ask them for feedback, they may appreciate the effort you are putting in to make sure they like your vision. The relationship you build with the client during this process could ensure that they come back to you again.
Amy and I welcome your thoughts and questions in the comment section, below.
Photo (c) Guilhelm via CC.