In conversations with other small firm architects who are just starting out, the first question is usually “How do you find your clients?” or “How do you market yourself?” If you are wondering how to market your business, the first and most important answer is – You must be on social media.
And I believe you must be on social media a lot. Multiple platforms, multiple times a day. Consistent content is key.
Tell your story through your online presence. In a previous post, Take the Time To Tell Your Story, I wrote about 5 ways to start telling your story and engaging with your client. One of those was through your social media presence online.
Small business owners have distinct advantages over larger businesses. They can make decisions quickly, change tactics more easily and are generally more agile. Social media is all about connecting, reacting and responding.
The social media world is like a cocktail party, and we all know the rules: No one wants to hear you talk about yourself all day. Be interesting. So what are some ways to get word out about your business and be “social” at the same time?
1. Promote Your Profession
I do believe the more we promote our profession on a macro level, the better it is for us as individual architects. Join a like-minded group or community in your area and get involved. The Center for Architecture, our local AIA (American Institute of Architecture) chapter in NYC created Archtober, a month long celebration of Architecture + Design in NYC for the month of October.
Studio MM has taken full advantage of #Archtober: for 31 days I post an #ArchitectureoftheDay on Instagram and share it on Twitter. Once or twice a week I share those on Facebook.(Read: so that I continue posting interesting content over all social media platforms.) This is not only a great way for me to get my name out there and participate in a celebration of my profession in my city, but I have added new followers on Twitter and Instagram as a result.
Grow your online community through your local community.
2. Emphasize the Value of Your Business
The more we share about architecture – the more we promote our profession – the more we are telling the story of the value that working with an architect offers.
Marcus Sheridan began blogging about swimming pools, his small business, when the economy went down. Through his blog he educated the public – gave them all the information they wanted to know about swimming pools – and in turn, grew his business into a very successful swimming pool company. He drew potential clients to his website, gained their trust through giving out valuable information, and even listed the top 10 swimming pool companies in his area. He was not on the list.
If you promote other very good, well respected architects, you have just put yourself among very good, well respected architects.
To celebrate “Architecture Week” in May I post a #HouseoftheDay on Facebook each day. (As a residential architect I choose to promote Architecture Week by posting amazing and inspiring houses.) These posts were a huge hit with my fans (followers on Facebook and Twitter) and succeeded in increasing engagement with non-architects about my business.
There are so many [pick a theme] weeks/days/months/events out there…find the ones to which your business can add value and jump on board.
3. Encourage Support Among Peers
The “House of the Day” posts were so successful that I continued them even after Architecture Week was over. It is natural content for a residential architect to present so it worked well for promoting my business. Other small firm architects got involved and eventually we decided on an “architecture challenge” – posting 1 house / week from each of the 50 United States. Each week we all post on Mondays (or Tuesdays) and one of our group members’ daughter selects the state for the following week. This has been going on for 25 weeks and has been a lot of fun and a big success. The group has grown and so has the interest.
Strength in Numbers
With our group posting the same day and with the same parameters, we open ourselves to a much larger audience. We all support each other’s posts and share on our various social media platforms. The more chatter there is about #HouseoftheDay or images of fantastic residential architecture, the more interest we will have in our architectural profession and in our small businesses. I’ve had many conversations on social media about our #HouseoftheDay posts with people who are not architects… Architects know architecture is very exciting. We just need everyone else to know it too!
Note: A version of this article was published on LinkedIn Pulse on October 23, 2014. Click here to see the post and comments. Please feel free to join the discussion! Thank you.