It’s All About the List

This post comes to us originally from Karen Nussle at Ripple Communications. Karen is a great friend and a PR dynamo working with lobbying firms and a host of other high-profile clients in and around the political scene. While this piece isn’t written specifically for architecture, engineering or construction firms – the message is right on target. It’s crucial to know who you’re communicating with and why. The more time spent understanding and segmenting your list, the more effective your communications will be.

Enjoy her post…


As a marketing professional I am constantly amazed by the vast amount of time and energy organizations put into developing marketing materials and tools only to spend little time considering who they will send them to. Hundreds of man and woman hours going into designing the company brochure — that sits in the storage room. Committees that get formed to design and create content for a company e-newsletter — and no thought as to whose inbox it will be delivered to. Regardless of your type of organization — corporate, nonprofit, government — and regardless of your expertise — legal, advocacy, political, policy, trade, business development — the key to success for your marketing effort, will be your list.

It’s all about the list.

Who is on your list? How did they get there? When was your list last updated? Who maintains it? What do you to do grow it? How is it segmented?Often businesses treat their contact list as an afterthought, a collection of names and numbers to glance over once the quarterly newsletter is ready to send out. It’s is by far the least glamorous activity in marketing – list management. Yet nothing matters more. Success is all about the list.

What’s the big deal about the list?

Regardless of the role you play within your organization –member recruitment, external relations, media relations, fund development, marketing, sales, government relations, social media –all rely on tracking key contacts and developing new ones. All rely on a LIST!

A solid, up to date, complete list of contacts ensures a reliable audience for your message. Reaching out to a known audience is the only chance you have to be successful and meet your numbers. All other marketing activity is random at best. The time and attention you spend on cultivating your list –current contacts AND new ones –is the key to your success.

It’s all about the QUALITY of the list

So you have a list, you say? Is it any good? Do you even know? How often do you review it? It’s important to make the list a part of your organization or department’s weekly routine. Someone should be assigned the responsibility of tending to it, keeping it updated and relevant. And once you have a master list, it should be broken down into relevant sub-lists based on your business goals and the types of communications you intent to send. Current clients are on a different list than prospective clients. Your media contacts may need to be segmented by issue areas. It’s fine if people overlap and exist on multiple lists, but you need to have the ability to send targeted communication to your contacts that will be relevant to their own interests. Otherwise, they will ask to be taken off your list!

Flex the list

Once your list is in order it’s time to use it. Determine a schedule of communication activity and the types of content the members of your list will find most relevant. Then get to work being a resource. We’ll be writing more on content in the future –that’s not the point of this post. The bottom line is figure out how to best put your list to work for you. How often to use it and with what targeted groups.

Grow the list

Once you’ve started using your list you will start to see its value immediately, so the next question is how do you grow it? Every day, every week you should be adding potential clients and other “important contacts” to your list to expand your reach and the number of people who are exposed to your smart thinking and solutions.

And remember to remind yourself and your team regularly – it’s all about the list.

What to do now that your architecture firm is on Houzz

If you work for (or own) a residential architecture firm and you’ve been working hard to flex your social media muscles, you’ve more than likely given Houzz a shot. For those not in the know, Houzz is a social media platform focused entirely on residential design. It’s a great source of inspiration, ideas and dialogue – but one of the best aspects of it is that both professionals AND potential clients are active users. Homeowners looking for ideas, expertise and beautiful photography are very active, right alongside of some of the nation’s best architects, interior designers, contractors and landscape architects.

Of course, the tool is not an overnight rocket to widespread awareness for your firm. Over time though, with consistent interaction, more and more people will find your designs, interact with you and begin sharing your work.

Here are four ways to utilize your Houzz profile:

  • Use it for project inspiration. The “ideabooks” feature can be really useful from a billable standpoint, all while building your audience. Search through Houzz for ideas and inspiration when you’re looking for design solutions, finish ideas, unique entry ways, whatever.
  • Provide clients with more visuals. You can actually take this one step farther by using ideabooks FOR your clients. As you’re trying to sell a design or particular finish selection, you can create an ideabook just for that project and share the ideabook with your client to get their feedback and help paint the picture for them.
  • Interact via discussions. There are plenty of great discussion threads that can build your audience and credibility. Don’t be afraid to answer questions.
  • Continue to build the photo section. Put as many recent residential projects on there as you can and include descriptions. People search for things all the time and will begin asking you questions about certain products used, etc.

The fallout from an active Houzz presence can also include earned media, which is an added bonus in the social media world. With their own content and editorial team, Houzz actually recognizes popular designs/photos, features them in the blog and gives awards out annually. Increased mentions and attention turn directly into more web traffic and awareness for your firm. As with any successful online or social activity, it’s crucial to monitor and track as much of that success as possible with your web analytics.

Happy Houzzing!