Why Your Landscape Architecture Marketing Approach Isn't Working
So you've been working really hard at getting your projects in the media, including magazines and design websites, as well as winning some prestigious awards. This is in fact what all of your peers are striving for as well as what you know to be a critical path in your firm's goals. We agree with getting your firm some brand recognition. However the buyer has evolved over time.
It might be time to take a good hard look at the ROI of your invested time and what your expected results are versus what you receive.
Many people in your industry would say that marketing for architects is based on the key foundation of public relations. The reality is that while that is an important part of your business, it's not really a comprehensive marketing approach. Marketing brings leads, effective marketing brings a lot of qualified leads.
Yes, sure we know you might be thinking (and we agree) that getting a project you are wholeheartedly passionate about into a magazine will bring you leads, but its not creating a stabilized lead generation opportunity for your firm. These 15 minutes of fame moments bring an influx of leads - during the specific times of year in which the work is recognized. This prevents the ability for accurate forecasting and planning - especially staffing and assigning work. And in such a project oriented business, there is already enough ups and downs throughout the year (especially with the added benefit of weather). Read more about attracting more clients from your architecture website here.
To enable an effective architecture marketing approach, the basic first step should be achieved: create goals. Not just with your marketing efforts - but rather overall revenue generation, then proceed to other measurable items - number of leads, lead qualifying time, and customers- within a specific amount of time. The function that meets (or not) your revenue, leads, customer, etc. goals is marketing. Sure, you have to close the leads once you receive them through the exploring and proposal process - but marketing brings you these leads (and helps to either bring you qualified ones or not).
When it comes to options with marketing - you have outbound and inbound marketing. Almost every marketing tactic goes into one of these buckets. Outbound efforts (e.g. direct mail) will not stabilize lead generation throughout the year -and will still present ongoing ups-downs. Inbound marketing helps to provide qualified leads by attracting them to your firm rather than you "shouting" to them. They want to engage with your business. This type of marketing helps to create a consistent flow of leads to your business - allowing you to project revenue much easier (and also generate more revenue). Many justify spending on outbound marketing because it generates "quick wins" - but those quick wins are often not measured in leads, especially qualified leads, or revenue - but rather in traffic. It's like having 300 more people in a peanut candy store that all allergic to peanuts. Still not convinced? SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate (Search Engine Journal). Yes, you need print advertising (or project coverage- but that can't be your one and only go-to.
To return back to the original point, if you are not meeting your revenue goals, and you are heavily focused on media recognition as well awards - it's time to add in major marketing efforts - and not for just a lift in a specific month or season - but rather year-round.