As architects and designers, there are a number of things you need to do to keep your existing clients’ close and be ‘top of mind’ to potential clients and the marketplace.
Don’t break your lifeline to existing and new work. This is absolutely the time to increase your business development and marketing. Your clients will be needing more connection (not less) during this time of heightened uncertainty and will be consuming more online material including social media. When business and the construction industry picks up post COVID-19, you want to have plenty of strong leads to keep you thriving for the coming years.
1. Regularly communicate with your existing clients
Firstly, reach out to your existing clients. You will need to communicate what likely impacts this situation will have on their projects, including any updated timeframes.
Put a plan in place to regularly communicate with them over the next six months. As a general rule, always ensure you write for your reader – in this case, your clients.
Know the difference between internal communications to your team and external communications to your clients.
2. Continue to undertake business development & marketing
Take the opportunity to get your business development and marketing in order.
Start by checking your existing and prospective client database and spend this time researching
organisations and people who commission architects in the sector/s within which you work.
There are many paid Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools available, however, a free spreadsheet can be just as effective.
Use online marketing tools to engage with your clients in place of meeting face-to-face.
We’re being bombarded with information in our emails about COVID-19. Electronic Direct Mail (EDM) initiatives that are thoughtful and rational will cut through the noise.
Use free platforms like Mailchimp to create EDMs that convey your brand’s message and update your potential and existing clients on your current projects.
Embrace video marketing.
Whilst it might seem daunting to start filming video, it’s essential to visually connect with your clients during this time.
Think you don’t have anything interesting to say? Think again. It’s likely you have years and years of industry experience,
maybe even decades. During that time, you’ve amassed a significant amount of intel – and that makes your opinions and insights incredibly valuable.
Videos don’t need to be live, so you can practice over a number of days and refine your technique.
Keep your videos short and to the point. For Instagram, 30 seconds or less is ideal while LinkedIn videos are best kept under one minute in length.
Promote your projects.
With more people at home and communicating digitally (no longer face-to-face), it’s never been as important to have a strong presence online. All publishing outlets are continuing to operate and they’ll be searching for content.
Share your latest projects and news about your practice with architecture and design media, and business and industry media your clients read!
3. Find out firsthand how to strengthen your brand
Use any downtime COVID-19 may provide to research your brand and true value in the marketplace. Brand is what others say about you – not what you say about yourself. Clients are the life-blood of any architecture or design practice. Knowing what they think, feel and say about you is integral to your business’ success. The easiest way to find this out? Have someone interview them. Don’t survey! A survey is impersonal and imprecise.
Having an independent third-party ask your clients what they think will help you understand their needs and deliver them a better experience. This will give your valuable clients confidentiality and comfort – meaning, they will say what they really think.
There’s a long list of insights you can get from client feedback. For example, why they choose you or don’t choose you over your competitors. But most importantly, it’s about showing your clients they are the most valued part of your business. After all, clients will determine whether your business will fail or succeed.