Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Stalking and Capture of Clients_Indirect Selling Tips for Design Professionals

I own a little jewel of a book titled This Business of Architecture, written by Royal Barry Willis, published 1941 by the Reinhold Publishing Corp, NY.

A favorite of mine is the part of the book devoted to developing one's business.  Specifically, The Stalking and Capturing of Clients.  ... Here he is writing to the architect business person.

"You want people who are going to build to desire your architectural services.  They may arrive at the desire indirectly, through repeated auditory or visual acquaintance with your name and work, or you may gain their confidence by a direct approach, and a successful sales talk."

Being aware of how and when to use direct or indirect methods of marketing towards prospective clients is crucial to building a business, especially one where repeat clients and referrals comprise a large portion of continuining work.  I will share with you some priceless gems from on Indirect Selling from a 1941 perspective.  Forgive the dated language of the following list.  Much of this is priceless and timeless advice.

  1. Temporary exhibits in architects' exhibit spaces, stores, newspaper office windows, or building report headquarters.
  2. Newspaper and magazine articles on the practical and economic phases of building, or popularized stories about architecture, or on momentarily controversial subjects relating to architecture.
  3. Regular appearance of sketch plans and elevations in newspapers. (or websites, or blogs)
  4. A sequence of printed outlines, covering the nature and value of architectural services and the advantages of supervision, to a selected mailing list.
  5. A folder of sketchplans and elevations, displayed in such places as doctor's, oculists', or dentists' waiting rooms.
  6. Illustrated lectures or talks, before clubs.
  7. Movies, "dramatizing" your previous work.
  8. Architectural competitions.
  9. Exhibition houses.
  10. Civic service in town, city planning, or art commissions.
  11. Real estate broker's recommendations.
  12. Recommendations from friends, or club and fraternal (or maternal) acquaintances.
  13. Spreading good-will by "disinterested" bits of architectural advice, whenever the oppourtunity arises.
  14. Having a wife (or husband or partner) in a club and civic work, who keeps their ear to the ground.
  15. Making the most of your college alumni connections.
  16. Printed appeal through a combination service - financial, land and architectural.
  17. Recommendations of a satisfied client.
  18. Regulated social activity, not wasted in the charming company of your own competitors.  Hard-boiled but effective.
  19. Getting your name in print, a John (or Joanne) Brown Architect, for any worthy reason whatsoever.
  20. Going to church more often than Easter and Christmas.
  21. Never avoiding a friendly conversation with an apparently solvent person, even though he (or she ) may be a stranger.
  22. Giving a "University Extension Course" relating to architecture.
  23. Sending a photostated montage of documents attesting to your successes and satisfied clients, to where it will do the most good."  (p. 37-38)
At the end of the day, perhaps the above won't bring clients knocking down your doors but if you and members of your firm do a majority of these above activities on a reoccuring basis your business chances will likely vastly improve.  For many this is common sense of course, however most architects are woefully untrained in the arts of public relations, marketing and business development.   

Please share with me your comments.

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