The Word of Mouth Myth

A common theme among most architecture and design firms is the belief that the vast majority of new leads come from word of mouth and referrals. A close second behind this is often the sentiment that marketing efforts therefore can’t make much of an impact. After all, history shows that it’s our past performance that gets us the new leads.

While on the surface these statements may seem easy enough to believe, the truth is that marketing has evolved and the concept of “word of mouth” means something entirely different today than it did twenty or even ten years ago. Clients rarely have only one touch-point before they make a buying decision.

So, since things aren’t as cut and dry, it’s important to look for more subtle clues to let you know what marketing efforts are influencing your clients. Here are some recent statements we’ve heard from clients that let us know that messages are connecting.

  • “I saw your sign in our neighbor’s yard, so we asked them about you.”
    This sounds like a neighborhood referral, but it was initiated by good, old fashioned project signage.
  • “You all worked with my prior company on a project. I remembered the __ you dropped off after the project was completed. I still use that!”
    The project was crucial, but the follow up was what kept your firm at the top-of-mind as they moved on.
  • “My colleague said they worked with you all, so I checked out your website.”
    This is a common one. Referrals today come in many varieties. The first step after receiving a referral for many clients is now research though – not a phone call.
  • “I feel like I see your firm everywhere.”
    Regardless of why the email came in, this statement is a testament to your marketing success.
  • “I love seeing your updates on ____.”
    When past or repeat clients say this, it’s like gold. Your existing relationship is a foundation that marketing builds on. It is a never a guarantee that you’ll get a second project from a client. Staying in touch with valuable info increases your chances though.

What other statements have you heard from new leads lately that let you know your marketing has had an impact?

The Importance of Social Media Analytics for Your Firm

Each firm is unique and their familiarity, experience, and expectations with social media vary as well. Along with an active social media presence, architecture and engineering firms have disparate goals, with some focused on an increase of followers or likes, while others want to see an increase in post frequency and activity. Either way, marketers within and outside of the AEC industry have finally moved on from the notion that you simply just had to have a Facebook or Twitter account. This is where analytics, and the type of measurements needed, become very important in decision-making for your architecture firm’s management and the marketing team.

Why Analytics Are Important for You As a Marketer

  • They act as a major driving force behind the creation of a new marketing plan, or simply adjusting a current one.
  • They drive action by creating benchmarks and allowing you to set goals, regardless of if they are activity-based or interaction-based.
  • They provide guidance on what has and hasn’t been so successful with regards to achieving those goals, allowing necessary changes to be made.

Why Analytics Are Important for Firm Management

  • Being able to justify an idea or strategy with concrete data doesn’t just allow your principals to see evidence, but it provides a foundation for communications moving forward.
  • Analytics allow you to set realistic goals with principals based on reports and even comparisons with competitors. At times, management may expect an unreasonable amount of followers within a given time and good reporting can illustrate what is possible and on par with benchmarks.
  • The frequency that analytics are run and what specific data is gathered is all relative to your management team – and that’s okay! Run reports and share data at intervals that make sense for your firm’s schedule, ensuring that at least monthly the team is looking at current data.

Social media analytics provide answers and drive well-informed dialogue. They allow a marketing team to see why a certain campaign worked or why some channels were more successful than others, just like Google Analytics does for websites. While their use will vary considerably from firm to firm, their importance cannot be overstated.

– Robert Purdy