Boss Digital provides a range of bespoke digital marketing services for ambitious architecture firms who wish to transform their marketing.

Working with Boss is like having your own team of brand experts, copy writers, designers, developers, search marketing experts, social media specialists and data analysts, only with no overheads and a fraction the wage bill. We take complete ownership of your digital marketing and will work on-site where required.

Above all, we understand that the impact everything we do needs to be measured in pounds and pence. This is about results.

Contact us today for a free consultation via hello@boss-digital.co.uk or 01628 601713.

Architecture firms have long depended on traditional methods of marketing to generates their opportunities. Those methods still have a role to play, but on there own they’re no longer sufficient. There are a few key drivers influencing this shift:

  • The growing role of brand – clients within the market have always wanted to work with brands they can trust, but the range of considerations for a buyer has extended considerably in recent years, as they want to work with firms that stand for something positive and have a meaningful cultural framework. Firms are, in effect, having to think and behave much more like traditional consumer brands.
  • The shift to digital – the number of channels through which an architecture firm can communicate has opened up hugely as a consequence of the move to digital. Key messages that used to be limited to a small number of offline channels, now need to be communicated via everything from your blog to email and LinkedIn to Facebook.
  • Fragmentation and competition – one of the results of this digital shift is that small firms now find it much easier to carve out a niche for themselves, as they use low cost digital channels through which to communicate an extremely focused message to their intended audience.

These changes will either represent a positive or negative depending on one thing – whether or not you have a clear strategy for your brand that places digital at its core.

Contrary to what many believe, the branding of an architecture firm has little to do with how it looks. Rather, the brand identity should act as a framework for how the organisation operates day to day, only a minor part of which is its visual manifestation.

The starting point of brand is always an understanding of the firm’s core competence, which in simple terms is the one thing the company does better than anyone else in their market. From this core competence the brand identity should be extended into a powerful brand purpose or vision that articulates why this matters and why the audience should care. Other elements of an architects brand identity include:

  • Company values and cultural framework
  • Brand personality and tone of voice
  • Service USP’s
  • Visual identity

From the above the company should be able to define a succinct position for the brand (“we do xyz for people like this”) and value proposition (the key benefits supported by a source of credibility).

Probably fewer than 5% of architecture brands have a complete identity for their brand, which is why their marketing, both online and offline, is doomed to failure before its even started.

If I were to ask you to think of a brilliant architect Facebook page or blog or email campaign, how many would spring to mind? They do exist, but you’ve got to search pretty hard. This isn’t because architects don’t understand those individual channels or don’t have the necessary skill to use them. It’s because the content that they are publishing was never actually capable of achieving its intended objectives, regardless of the channel through which it was distributed.

If your architecture firm is looking to get more out of your SEO or social media or email marketing (or any offline channel for that matter), the best thing you do is stop thinking about that channel, and start thinking properly about the content:

  • Is it built around the interests of you or your audience? It’s easy to assume that our interests and those of our customer base are two in the same thing, but this is rarely the case. If we want to engage people we must first develop a framework of content pillars that we know to be of great interest to them, no matter how far that may take us away from the thing that we actually do or sell. Then, once we have that engagement, we can slowly work back to the subject that we really want to talk about. Rush that process, however, and you will lose them.
  • Are you clear on the goals? Some content is great for extending the reach of the brand, some content is great for maximising clicks to the website, some content is great for maximising time on site and some content is great for driving enquiries. Clarity on the objective of each piece of content is crucial if you are to learn from its performance and optimise for the future. Too often, however, we group all the content together and measure it by one or two blanket performance metrics, that may bear little relevance to the original objective of that content.
  • Are you putting adequate budget behind each piece of content? This is perhaps the biggest issue for many architecture firms. Many will create professional, engaging content, but so few put any budget behind its promotion, and consequently it achieves nothing. Most firms would benefit from creating far less content, but then promoting it properly.

Assuming you have the fundamentals in place, you can then launch an aggressive channel strategy, which for a firm of architects is likely to include:

  • The search engines
  • Social media, particularly LinkedIn
  • Email marketing
  • Blogging
  • Event marketing
  • SEO

It’s often said that digital media gives architects a level of insight and transparency into their marketing that they never used to have with traditional forms of advertising, but is that actually true? The information is certainly there, but how many firms actually use it to guide their activity in a really meaningful way? The answer is not many!

The problems begin with the sheer volume of data that is available. It’s often pure analysis paralysis, and even if the individual responsible for the data analysis is able to make sense of it, how effective are they in prioritising this and translating it into simple terms that the senior leadership team and make sense of and use to drive future decisions?

Ideally your architecture firm would begin to address this challenge by identifying their “north star”; the one key metric that most closely aligns to the success of the business and that should be used as a guiding light for all major strategic decision making.

A north star should be:

  • A great indicator of present and future revenue generation
  • Aligned to your core competence and brand purpose
  • Representative of the value your customer is taking from engaging with your brand

So, for a firm of architects that could be customer retention or referral rates? Average project value, perhaps?

In addition to a northstar, there will be other headline metrics you need to keep a close eye on to evaluate the success of your architecture firm’s brand. It can help to align these to the different stages within the sales and marketing funnel:

  • Top – key brand metrics, such as overall website traffic or brand reach on social media.
  • Mid – engagement metrics, such as email sign ups or click throughs, or perhaps time on site or return rate.
  • Bottom – conversion metrics, such as telephone calls or email enquiries.

By providing your performance metrics to the senior leadership team in this way, it will make it far easier for them to make sense of the data and use it to drive future decisions for the firm.

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