Architecture Firms Using YouTube

At a recent SMPS DC Tweetup, we had a great conversation about metrics and goals when it comes to social media and A/E firms. As a part of the conversation, a great friend from SmithGroup mentioned their series of videos on YouTube, so I thought it would be worth a share here.

For their videos, it isn’t all about the number of views, it’s about the goal of the piece. In some cases, your project video can actually help your client out just as much as it does your firm. I like the below video as a good example of that.

Sure, any time you can put out good content, it helps your brand, your search engine rankings, etc. Sometimes, it’s nice to help promote your client as well though!

Feel free to take a look at SmithGroup’s YouTube Channel for more great project vids!

The Importance of Follow-Through

As we dove headfirst into our own kitchen renovation last week I started to get very excited about the progress. Within just a day or two all of the demo was done and a few days later new floors and drywall are in. It’s amazing how fast it went.

But then I realized how much is really left to do. This renovation, just like any successful campaign or project is about follow-through and details. Our kitchen isn’t completed until the last piece of door hardware is installed and the last backsplash tile is set. That means that even though so much has happened in a week, it’s all of the small things that have to happen in the next 3 weeks that really matter now. Each one of those events are dependent on several before them; they take time, attention to detail, and coordination with multiple vendors.

I’m often saying how similar marketing and AEC industry professionals really are from a project management standpoint, and I think our project is a great example.

Imagine that an immense amount of effort and time go into a plan – a marketing plan or a set of drawings – but then the job suffers in the execution. Maybe we lose sight of the goals. Or we throw all of our money at conferences instead of a new website. Perhaps we sit the plan on the shelf now that it’s “done” and don’t bother using it as our barometer to gauge future decisions. What are we left with at the end of the year? A marketing plan that didn’t work? Or was it tactics that weren’t in line with the proper strategy?

The point I guess I’d really like to get across with this post is that, while I usually write about the importance of developing a strategy to guide your marketing tactics through the year, the tactical execution is just as important. The two have to be of equally high quality to create consistent marketing success – and they have to be in line with one another if you want to measure your success against your expectations.

AEC Social Media – Do Ya, Do Ya, Do Ya?

I love social media and watching AEC marketers and consultants alike use it to forge new, exciting relationships and of course business leads.

Combined with other inbound marketing techniques, social media is a very powerful beast. (The basic idea behind content-generated marketing, or inbound marketing, is to provide valuable content and draw in traffic because of it. Check out HubSpot for more info.) Social media helps that in many ways. From a search engine and branding perspective, blogs and twitter are great. From a networking standpoint, LinkedIn and Facebook are two of my faves for generating dialog and interaction.

How these tools are used is up to you and your marketing goals…and there are plenty of firms and people out there doing a great job right now in this area of marketing.

BUT…sometimes it reminds me of the old cartoon of Spike and Chester. Here’s how:

Joining a networking group of architects or marketers to participate, add value, meet new people is how it’s supposed to work. Then, when relevant, responding to questions or starting timely discussions makes a lot of sense and builds your reputation as an expert in a certain subject matter.

When things go awry though, it turns out to be more like “Hey everybody, look at me!” or “Hey Spike, do ya, do ya, do ya?” I see this happening when people tweet (and retweet) nonstop about themselves and their press releases and also when marketers hijack discussion boards with their own questions and then proceed to answer them themselves.

Not that every time this happens, it’s a travesty. After all, you are supposed to get out some info on your own firm as well. But the point is, if the content or questions are engaging or relevant enough, you won’t have to keep it going. It will take on a life of its own. If your first crack at it didn’t work, move on. Try another topic at another time.

I think my takeaway is that you can’t force your message on people in opt-in communities and social media environments. You just get “hidden”, blocked or kicked out. We’re all trying to build relationships and business and we have to do so by being genuine and patient, not by being Chester.

What Now? Architecture at a Crossroads – Commentary

First – Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading and sticking with me since 2009 and I’m looking forward to a great 2011.

I’m not a big “Resolutions” person, but I think the blog in 2011 will see more posts and commentary on other industry happenings, articles, etc. and I definitely hope to solicit more comments from you all on those posts!

I just finished reading Architectural Record’s “What Now?” piece and I’m left wanting more, or maybe expecting more.

As I look over the “What Next?” section, there are highlights on Structures, BIM, LEED, Big Firms, Cities, Economy…but what about the aspects of running an architecture firm like a business? The Economy section is really the only part that deals in detail with topics not related to the professional side of the practice – but it doesn’t tackle anything that individual firms, partners or principals control.

Did AR miss the opportunity to highlight how firms are marketing themselves (if at all)? Or streamlining processes to cut costs? Or how the implementation of a new, expensive CRM has or hasn’t improved performance? How about a case study on what successful firms did in the last two years to prevent closing their doors or being bought out by a “Big Firm”?

When examining the “What Next” I really do feel there has to be a segment on what firms can do or will do to operate as successful businesses. When pubs like AR think like that, maybe more firms will too?

Thoughts?