business development for architects

Business Development for Architects and Architecture Firms

What is business development

Business development is something that can elude even the most seasoned architecture professionals. It’s hardly touched upon in training, and a lot of business development practices that large firms use are stale and obsolete.

Business development is, put simply, everything you do in order to make your architecture firm more successful. Interestingly enough, even the definition of success already falls within business development.

Some firms aim for a specific size and scale of clients, others target industries, and others niche in specific services. Defining your desired outcomes is the first step of your business development efforts. 

Everyone wants better clients, larger revenue, and brand recognition. How you take architectural businesses there in practice can be very different each time.

Top business development components

We’ve been producing top project management software for architects for years, and we’ve seen a lot of UK architects grow from freelancers into established firms. 

Here’s a list of business development-related activities and tactics that can put together a great strategy.

Mission and vision clarity

We’ve written about the importance of having a clear mission, vision, and values statements for your company.

This does not only help you broadcast value externally but also align your own business development efforts internally. 

The mission, vision, and value of your architectural firm give you the idea of who you want to work with and how, and that in turn inevitably shows you ways of getting there.

Business plan

Without a roadmap, your efforts can become scattered and inconsistent. 

A well-thought-out plan with specific goals, timelines, and metrics for success can provide direction and help measure progress.

If you are only starting, do not overcomplicate your business plan and instead focus on building the ideal client persona.

The ideal client

Put together an imaginary (or semi-real) persona of the ideal client that you’d love to work with. This ideal client may be special in terms of the project type, industry, budget, worldview and many more factors.

Work backwards from your ideal client persona and figure out how, why, and where they might be looking for architects.

Your branding

Your portfolio & resume, proposals, the voice of your communication – all of that needs to consistently evolve around your brand mission, the ideal client persona and their preferences, and your desired business growth direction.

According to the Client Demand Pyramid concept by the Business of Architecture, potential clients are at different stages: those ready to hire, those with specific questions, and those still gathering information. 

You can tailor each part of your brand’s marketing and leadgen funnel to address these needs, and be razor-sharp targeting them.

Marketing strategy and tactics

Your marketing is the #1 vehicle to get you closer to your business development goals.

There are many marketing channels to master – focus on the ones that make the most sense for your goals and master it before moving to the next channel.

We’ve covered blogging and social media as some of the most effective marketing channels with a cumulative effect. Make sure to shape the narratives and master storytelling to stand out with your thought leadership.

Lead generation

As with all other business development strategies, this one intersects with everything else – marketing, networking, and branding.

Effective lead generation begins with understanding your target market and the ideal client. Digital marketing is also a means for lead generation, and you tailor it specifically for lead gen.

Another idea for an effective lead generation strategy is to leverage existing clients and projects. Satisfied clients can provide referrals and testimonials, which can be powerful tools in attracting new business, so make sure to treat your past client relations as a major factor in your business development. You could even send an email to past clients asking them what questions they wish they had asked prior to hiring you. This method gives you insights into their concerns and areas of importance, allowing you to tailor your approach accordingly.

Networking

Networking and relationship-building are fundamental aspects of architectural business development. 

Industry events, conferences, and local community gatherings allow architects to meet potential clients, collaborators, and influencers. These interactions can lead to valuable referrals and partnerships, expanding the firm’s reach and opportunities.

Collaborations with other businesses and professionals can enhance marketing efforts. 

Partnering with construction companies, interior designers, and real estate developers can lead to joint marketing initiatives, such as co-hosted events or shared promotional materials. 

These collaborations can expand the firm’s reach and introduce it to new client bases. We’ve added a convenient and intuitive co-consultant module to PlanMan so you can manage your partners and documents.

Business development mistakes

Lack of clarity

One common mistake architects make in business development is failing to clearly define their target market. 

Without a well-defined audience, your marketing efforts will become scattered and less effective. 

You need to identify their ideal clients and tailor their messaging and services to meet the specific needs of this group.

Lack of consistency

This concerns everything – your branding, messaging, client communication, proposals – lack of consistency is what undermines the business development of any architecture company. 

If you’ve set your mind on working with specific clientele, don’t stray away from it.

Keep your proposals, documentation, and pricing docs consistent. The document management module in PlanMan will help you avoid the version control mess.

Bad communication

Inefficient, unclear, and unprofessional communication plagues architectural businesses more than any others. 

So much depends on you presenting your ideas clearly to all stakeholders, that architects without proper communication skills have trouble growing their business.

Lack of tech

You have to use tools to avoid wasting time and energy on pointless activities. Not just good hardware like laptops and tablets, but also project management tools specifically designed for architects, like PlanMan, CRM software, time management, and a lot more.

If you want to structure all your business processes properly and optimize for growth, try PlanMan today for free!