Marketing in feast and famine
With the ebbs and flows of the construction industry, it’s common to see practices juggling too much work or too little. Marketing consultant Amy Edwards offers some excellent advice on how to tackle a variety of challenges at times of feast and famine.
There are two challenges we’re seeing for design, architecture, and creative studios right now. They’re either in feast mode (too much work) or famine mode (not enough work). We all know this is part of the industry, but when you have two ends of the spectrum, it’s hard to know what’s right to do from a marketing perspective. Do you stop marketing altogether if you just don’t have the time? Do you expand your offering so you can get any type of work in the door? We’re going to walk through the challenges and solutions for each mode so that you can move confidently in the right direction.
FEAST MODE: CAPITALISE ON YOUR STRONG FOOTING
When you’re in this space, there are a million and one things stealing your attention: you’ve got too much work to do, you’re trying to hire team members (is there anyone out there?!), you’re in the weeds day-in and day-out… and you simply don’t have time to do it all. One option is to give up on marketing altogether, because let’s be honest – it’s at the very bottom of the list right now (or fallen off completely). Yet this is the ideal time to capitalise on your strong footing. It’s your opportunity to elevate your position in the marketplace and cement your brand for years to come.
Let’s look at some challenges and solutions to keep you moving in Feast mode:
Challenge: You have a lot of work in progress, but nothing is finished
- Show your creative process
- Talk about the problems you’re solving and how you overcome them
- Update people on your progress from start to finish
Challenge: Your work is ‘confidential’ and you can’t talk about it
- Talk around it: you don’t have to say or show the project specifically
- Focus on what you can say: the type or sector of work, why you like working on projects like this, who your experts are on the team, how you’re thinking differently in this space
Challenge: You’re moving into new areas and your clients don’t know if they can still work with you
- Don’t shy away from it – tell them about it
- Talk about why you’re moving into that area and how they will or won’t be affected by the change
- Become a thought leader in this space: share your passions and what you think needs to change
Challenge: Your brand and/or business has evolved
- I cannot emphasise enough how important brand is – and always will be – to your marketing
- If your brand or business is evolving, invest in messaging this to your clients, audience and marketplace
- Share the essence of who you are – this is what will connect people (clients, staff, followers) to you for the long haul
Challenge: You have knowledge and expertise, but people don’t know about it
- Start talking about it. Just start.
- Know what you and your team have expertise and knowledge in, and create marketing content that supports your direction (think articles, carousel posts, video)
- Share your thoughts and opinions, grab people’s attention (you don’t have to be controversial, but you can get people talking)
- Empower your team to become advocates for your brand in their area of expertise
FAMINE MODE: BUILD YOUR FOUNDATIONS + GET CLEAR ON DIRECTION
When you’re in famine mode, you spend much of your time feeling anxious: you worry about where your leads will come from, how you will pay your team, how you will keep your team, when your next project will begin (or go on hold)… When you’re in this space of uncertainty, it’s important to focus on what you can control. It’s about getting clear on your strategy and direction, so any marketing you do is focused on the end goal. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re in this space and jump at anything and everything, but you must press pause, reset, and get clear on where you’re going so you can be consistent in how you action it.
Let’s look at some challenges and solutions to keep you moving in Famine mode:
Challenge: Things have slowed down and you’re freaking out about everything
- Press pause. Reset. Get clear on direction.
- Look at where you want to be 3–5 years from now
- Understand the type of work you want
- Know the clients you want to work with
- Set your goals
- Create a plan of action
- Follow through with it – CONSISTENTLY
Challenge: Your leads have slowed down, and you need cash in the door
- Reach out to your contacts and ask them to refer you to people who need your services. Don’t be shy in asking people – those who know you and value your work will be happy to refer you to others
- If you know other studios in your industry who are busy, offer you and/or your team for short term (paid) help. Most will be grateful for the assistance (and it also builds great relationships for future referrals)
Challenge: Your team doesn’t have much work on, but you want to keep them
- Use their skills to help you on the business side. Think about what’s needed that you previously haven’t had time for: collateral, customer journey nurturing, social media, newsletters, staff profiles, articles, website updates
- Be transparent about what’s happening and how you’d like them to be on board during this time
Challenge: You’re concerned where your next project is coming from and where to start marketing
- Always come back to your client base: where do they live online and/or offline, where can you position yourself to be seen (don’t forget to think outside of social media), what are their pain points, and how can you help them
- Creating a foundation where they feel seen and understood will create trust
Challenge: You’ve got ‘bread and butter’ work, but not the work you want more of
- Continue to take this work on as you need it, but don’t actively market it
- Focus your marketing on the type of work you want more of
- If you have limited work in this area, consider how you can show your expertise: think thought piece articles, create an example project, do a test case study, share your ideas for new ways of thinking
Amy Edwards is the Founder of Markedly, a marketing consultancy exclusive to architects, designers and creatives. Amy’s mission is to help architects and designers feel empowered to be seen and share their work with the world. With 16 years’ experience in branding, marketing and communications for national and international brands, Amy has spent the last 14+ years working with architecture and interior design practices to develop their brand and market their work.
This article was originally published on the Markedly website and is republished with permission.