Whether you’re a large architecture firm or a small boutique design studio, everyone needs a plan for generating new business. The prospect of working on RFPs (Request For Proposals) and RFQs (Request For Qualifications) to win a place on the shortlist, however, is daunting and something very few people look forward to.
Fortunately, it’s not the only path to attracting new projects. The most effective business development strategies involve more time spent on proactive relationship-building (before the project is made public) and less time on responding to RFPs and RFQs, which are available to anyone.
It seems logical that an architect would spend most of their time designing buildings. Still, in practice, the majority of a lead architect’s efforts are directed toward lining up future projects. In just about any firm, principals are primarily responsible for winning new work while less experienced designers draw up and administer the construction of that work. To that end, networking for prospective clients involves understanding how people decide to hire an architect in the first place, then being in front of them when they’re about to make that decision.
People who hire architects frequently, such as real estate developers, often keep relationships with many designers and rotate which ones they select to lead projects. People who rarely hire architects, such as individual homeowners, often ask their friends for architect recommendations and pick one from the suggestions they receive. In either case, both client types have a list, and you must be on their list to be considered for their project.
2. Building a Website
When your potential clients decide that they want to proceed with a project, the first thing they do is click over to Google. They search for local architects and review their websites before deciding on a short list of firms to contact. If you do not have a website, you essentially don’t exist.
It is simply smarter to fill your website with work projects, and if you have no work that has been completed, use beautiful sketches, hand-drawn perspectives, and full renderings of unbuilt work. The site will look professional and describe the services you offer and the types of projects you are seeking.
3. Getting Featured in Professional Platforms
Getting featured in industry-specific media outlets is a great way for architects to boost their professional reputation. It’s an opportunity to tell the interested audience about your work and show the best examples of it.
That’s why doing interviews and placing featured articles always helps architects get clients. And while internationally-known outlets like Architectural Digest and ArchDaily may be rather expensive to feature in, there are plenty of more locally-oriented options you can find if necessary. So, let people know more about you and your business through interesting articles and case studies!
4. Social Media
More so than booking lectures, it’s one of the best ways to reach large audiences and catch the attention of many potential clients around the world at the same time. Think about maintaining a blog on your website to publish frequent updates and also use Instagram and Twitter to boost your online presence.
Instagram especially is quick and visual, so architects can “seduce” clients with beautiful images that relate to their design aesthetic without having to spend so much time; the ROI (Return on Investment) on that is better than on any other platform because it reaches so many people without much effort. With Twitter, you can retweet articles about your firm, drive people to your blog, or post updates and images as well.
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