In 1909 the American Institute of Architects (AIA) adopted the first Principles of Practice, which strictly forbid marketing of any kind. Architects couldn’t advertise. They weren’t even allowed to display their names at construction sites. Before 1970 architects were prohibited from competing with each other on price.
Things have clearly changed. Nowadays it feels like the bulk of both architecture and engineering firms' time is taken up with marketing and looking for work.
To help with this, here are 26 ways to find clients and get work: great ideas for getting your firms name “out there” and for drumming up more clients and new projects. Some will seem obvious. Others might seem new.
1. Advertise in industry/trade publications.
This includes magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and trade journals.
2. Attend industry conferences.
4. Talk to family and friends.
Your social capital is your most valuable asset. Read Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam.
5. Connect with your alumni.
Get involved in your college and high school alumni associations. Renew connections.
6. Chase IDIQ contracts.
Many state and federal agencies set up “on call” IDIQ contracts with A/E firms.
Meet more people by volunteering for groups like Habitat for Humanity.
8. Work for free.
Donate your A/E services to a local nonprofit or group in-need. They will rave about you.
9. Display at tradeshows.
A conference booth can be expensive, but it puts your name and face in front of the crowd.
10. Talk with past clients.
Once a project is complete, you should continue to foster the relationship with your client.
11. Publish a newsletter.
Either online or in paper, write a monthly or quarterly newsletter for your clients.
12. Speak at conferences.
13. Become a sponsor.
Sponsor a local organization or event to get your firm’s name on distributed items.
14. Respond to RFPs and RFQs.
Subscribe to a clipping agency or RFP-tracking website.
15. Be active on social media.
Read these related blog posts:
10 Twitter Tips for Client Engagement
AEC Social Media: Myth vs. Reality
Amplify Your Content Using Social Sharing
Is LinkedIn an Effective Tool for Marketing in the A/E Industry?
16. Join a networking group.
Join a group like BNI (www.bni.com) where local business leaders network.
17. Volunteer on a board.
Become active in your town’s government. Join the planning department or historic committee.
18. Join more A/E organizations.
AIA, SEGD, IIDA, etc. There are 100s of A/E organizations and committees. Get involved.
19. Write articles.
Professionals who write articles are seen as authorities in the industry. Get published.
20. Send e-blasts.
Research Hubspot, MailChimp, or a similar service for sending e-blasts.
21. Write white papers.
22. Give webinars.
23. Maintain a blog.
Read 5 Steps That Will Make You a Better Blogger
24. Promote your work on Houzz.com.
Check out Houzz.com to see how your firm can display its work.
25. Share your portfolio.
Hire a professional photographer to document your projects. Share these photos online.
26. Issue press releases.
You see it all around you. Even with improving economic conditions, there are still more firms chasing fewer opportunities. That seems to create intense downward pressure on fees, and you are left wondering how to actually grow your backlog and spend less time chasing dead-end project opportunities. You want more bang from your proposal investment buck. You want the proven secrets for standing out from the crowd, winning work without cutting your fees, making your proposals more strategic and less a game of chance, and trouncing your competition!
This is your chance to spend two energizing days tearing apart actual proposals to uncover the real secrets of a winning one! Unless your proposal hit rate is 100%, you are sure to take away tips and tricks that you can put to practice immediately.