architecture design insights

3 Marketing Tactics for Small Architecture Firms in 2024

Tyler Suomala

After speaking with more than 1,000 architects over the past couple of years, I’ve come to understand the tactical benefits of small architecture firms. They have a unique, golden opportunity to shine. Unlike their larger counterparts, these nimble practices can pivot quickly, tailor their services, and forge deep connections with their clients.

The challenge? Cutting through the noise and making their presence known using limited time and resources. This article shares three marketing strategies that small firms can use to capture the attention of future clients and differentiate from the competition.

Marketing Small Architecture Firms

For small architecture firms, marketing isn't just part of the business; it's the lifeline that fuels business development and cements long-term presence in local and regional markets.

While large firms might have vast resources, small firms possess the agility to craft personalized, impactful marketing campaigns that resonate on a deeper level with their target audience.

However, navigating the competitive landscape requires more than just traditional strategies; it requires creativity, innovation, and a keen understanding of what makes your firm unique. (Spoiler alert: Architects already have these qualities and I’ll show you how to leverage them below.)

What makes small architecture firms unique in their marketing capabilities?

  • Personal Touch: Small firms can offer personalized experiences that large firms often can't match.

  • Niche Specialization: Specializing in specific types of projects or styles can set a firm apart.

  • Agility: Rapid response to market trends and client feedback is a hallmark of small firms.

  • Community Engagement: Local projects and community involvement can enhance visibility and credibility.

Three Marketing Strategies

Convinced that small firms hold a lot of potential? Great—me too. Let’s dive into a few specific strategies.

1. Craft a Compelling Transformation Statement

There are many ways that architects attempt to describe what they deliver to clients - drawings, documents, spaces, experiences, etc. But the truth is that architects are actually selling one thing—transformation.

A transformation statement clearly articulates the journey you guide your clients through, from their current state to their desired outcome, spotlighting your unique approach.

Here’s how you can develop a transformation statement for your small firm:

1. Identify your ideal client [X]: How would you typically describe your ideal client? Families? School districts? Tech companies? Add an additional layer of specificity by including an adjective. For example—growing families, newly-funded school districts, or private tech companies.

2. Describe the ideal outcome [Y]: What is the desired outcome of your ideal clients? Maybe it’s home additions, learning environments, or office space. But once again, include an adjective for specificity. For example—sustainable home additions, optimized learning environments, or modernized office space.

3. Leverage your differentiation [Z]: What is it about your firm that most excites ideal clients before and/or after working with you? Perhaps it’s the fact that you deliver projects on time and on budget. Maybe it’s your client and community involvement. Or is it your attention to detail? Capture the essence of what excites your clients most.

Here are two different templates you can use to bring together your transformation statement:

For example—we help private tech companies create modernized office space in under 6 months. Want more examples transformation statements? You can find them in this article.

This approach cuts through the clutter and tells your ideal client that you are the best solution for their challenges and goals. I recommend using your transformation statement across marketing materials like social profiles, websites, and proposals.

2. Leverage Lead Magnets to Attract Ideal Clients

Lead magnets are free, value-packed resources that attract potential clients by solving a common problem or offering insightful information.

The right lead magnet can dramatically increase leads from potential clients across social media and your website.

Here’s how you can develop powerful lead magnets for your small firm:

1. Pick a relevant topic: Think about questions, concerns, or challenges that may be part of the process of your client’s project. Choose a topic that signals upcoming action or intent. For example:

  • 10 questions to ask your architect before signing a contract.

  • Budgeting your build to get the most out of your investment.

  • Costly code violations to avoid.

2. Format appropriately: Your lead magnet should be scannable, fast, and effective. Consider formats templates, guides, and checklists that make the content easy to digest.

3. Overdeliver: Nothing is worse than a disappointing lead magnet - it soils the relationship before it ever begins. You want your lead magnet to go the extra mile and make a solid first impression. If you promise 10 items, provide 12. If your lead magnet is a template, include a bonus checklist too. You get the picture!

4. Upsell: Strike while the iron is hot. Once your prospect is engaged, make it easy for them to take the next step. Whether that's booking a consultation, a premium piece of content, or even attending an event you're hosting.

Well-crafted lead magnets not only attract leads but also pre-qualify them, ensuring you spend time on the most promising prospects.

3. Master the Above-the-Fold Section on Your Website

I see countless architecture firms that utilize their homepage for large project images and general statements like “Designing spaces that inspire”. While this might entice other architects, it confuses potential clients.

The first screenful of your website’s homepage, known as above-the-fold (eg. the section that a visitor sees before they begin scrolling) can make or break visitor engagement. It should captivate, inform, and inspire prospects to take action.

Here are the 5 components of an above-the-fold section that instantly captures the attention of your visitors:

1. Headline: This is a perfect place to drop in your transformation statement so a visitor is able to immediately identify how you can help them and why you’re different.

2. Social Proof: Client logos, relevant numbers (like the number of clients you’ve served or buildings you’ve designed), and irresistible testimonials are all powerful forms of proof that add instant authority to your website.

3. Call-to-Action (CTA): Give website visitors a way to engage with you as soon as they land on your website. And no, “Contact Us” doesn’t count. Your CTA should tell visitors exactly what happens when they click and also feel friendly and welcoming. For example:

  • Meet with us

  • Start your project

  • Talk to an architect

4. Objection Handling: Every time someone visits a website, they have hidden objections. And those objections will be bursting at the seams as they consider clicking your CTA. Consider adding statements like:

  • “Free advice” which addresses immediate concerns of cost

  • “No obligations” which alleviates objections related to commitment

  • “30 minute meeting” which tells visitors exactly how long something will take

5. Visual Support: Only use images that directly support your message, and consider adding friendly faces looking towards your CTA. The images don’t have to be artistic photos of your projects. Instead, they can exemplify the feelings and emotions that clients experience in working with you.

Overall, a well-optimized above-the-fold section increases the likelihood of visitors engaging further with your content, leading to higher conversion rates.

Refining Your Strategies

Small architecture firms are uniquely positioned to create impactful, personalized marketing strategies that resonate with their ideal clients. By developing a clear transformation statement, utilizing powerful lead magnets, and optimizing your website’s above-the-fold content, you can dramatically increase the number of high-quality clients that knock on your (proverbial) door.

However, keep in mind that markets are forever changing and the most successful marketing teams measure and adapt appropriately.

  • Track Everything: Use analytics to understand what's working. Look at website traffic, engagement rates, and conversion metrics.

  • Be Ready to Pivot: Marketing is not set-it-and-forget-it. Adapt based on data and feedback.

  • Celebrate Wins, Learn from Losses: Every piece of data is a learning opportunity to refine your approach.

Remember, the goal is to not only attract attention but to convert interest into engagement and, ultimately, loyal client relationships. With these marketing strategies in hand, your firm is well on its way to becoming the premier choice for clients seeking the unique blend of expertise and personal touch that only you can offer.

Plus, you can maintain that personal touch by utilizing Acelab’s free tools and services to elevate your designs and identify the best products and materials for you and your new clients.

About Growthitect

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

Tyler Suomala, an architect with degrees from the University of Michigan and Princeton University, is also a proficient writer, marketer, and designer. Having experienced the dynamics of various architecture firms, Tyler launched Growthitect as a personal endeavor to revolutionize traditional architectural approaches with contemporary sales and marketing strategies. Through Growthitect, Tyler aims to empower architects worldwide, facilitating their growth and enhancing their market value through shared insights and expertise.