How to Make the Most of Award Submissions

So you’ve spent hours preparing your design award submission, hoping to win and receive the praise of design peers and potential clients alike. You’ve hit the submit button, off it goes…now what?

Whether you win the award or not, the value of your effort doesn’t have to stop there. From a marketing perspective, the time you’ve spent on your submission has a number of other applications, allowing you to take better advantage of your investment. Here are just a few ways you can capitalize on your award submission.

Get Published

Going through the motions on an award submission forces you to identify the unique aspects of your project and explain them in a concise way. That’s what media contacts are looking for as well! Getting press for receiving an award is often less likely than getting press for delivering a unique project. Take the story you crafted and make it relevant for the media, regardless of the award outcome.

Share the Project with Your Audience

You’ve already written descriptions and gathered the best photos, now get an html email together, add the project to your website, write a blog post about it, etc. Don’t hold your breath waiting for an award before you share the work you’re most proud of!

Involve the Client

As a designer, you may feel great about winning an award, but what about the client? Whether residential, commercial or government, any building occupant would love to know that a.) you think their building is so nice it should be up for an award and b.) it actually won one. Keep them in the loop early, share your submittal with them for feedback and even influence them to share good news amongst their media contacts or colleagues. Getting client feedback during the award process may even uncover some unique benefits about how the building functions that you didn’t think about.

Submit It Again

The final, and perhaps easiest, piece of advice is to repurpose your award submission for another contest or event. Maybe there is a trade-specific contest, a neighborhood home and garden tour, or even an online design contest or forum. There is bound to be another opportunity to update your submission and adjust it to meet another set of requirements. Good luck!

How Do I Increase My Chances of Getting Published?

Proactive marketing and communications can be a tough concept to grasp at times. Beyond having a nice website and responding to RFPs, what other outreach is your firm actually supposed to be doing? One thing that everyone understands though, is getting published. It’s generally an immediate request when we meet with firms for the first time to discuss a communications strategy. So, how does the typical firm get coverage for their work and expertise?

Here are some of our tips to help you catch the eye of the media.

  1. Be realistic about what’s noteworthy. New projects and groundbreakings may get small mentions, but unless there is something truly unique about the project, those won’t get a lot of media attention. Identify projects or story angles from the perspective of an editor that’s trying to create great content on a deadline. What would they be proud to write about?
  2. Look beyond the big names. Not every project belongs in Dwell or Architectural Record. That doesn’t make them less important, it just means they aren’t a great fit. Often clients seek those out as the epitome of a great placement when in fact their target audience may not even read those pubs.
  3. Expertise is just as important as experience. You don’t have to receive a full project write-up to get media coverage for your firm. If you have subject matter expertise on your team that has key input in a newsworthy issue, your firm can still get the mention and the opportunity to build awareness as an expert.
  4. Develop relationships. What if a reporter or editor called on you regularly for answers to industry questions? It happens! Blind press release distribution doesn’t do the trick though. Finding publications that are in alignment with your firm’s brand and developing long-term relationships with business colleagues does.
  5. Awards are for you to promote. Winning design awards earns the respect of your peers and your clients alike. They help tell the story of your expertise more often than they are a story on their own though. Additionally, remember that many awards are sponsored by publications already, so the likelihood of another (potentially competing) publication picking up the story is diminished.

How Is Your Firm Impacted – Mobile and Tablet Usage Surpassed Desktop Usage in October 2016

Did the sky just fall on your old, non-responsive website?

Making the rounds this past week was the announcement from StatCounter Global Stats that for the first time, mobile and tablet usage combined to exceed website usage on desktops/laptops. That is “kind of a big deal.” DEFINITELY. But, before you start scrambling and thinking that your website is trash and needs to be completely redesigned to only be optimal for pocket-sized viewing, here are five things to remember.

  1. This data takes into account broad website usage all across the web, all across the globe. As their data shows, usage in the USA is very different from usage in India. The most important factor in website design is knowing your user/target audience.
  2. Remember the type of information your website is traveled for. The vast majority of architecture firm websites see about 3 pages visited per user, unless they are heavy content producers with active blogs. What are your top pieces of content, and why? Are they pieces of content easily digestible on a small screen? If not, you may not only want to focus on responsive design, but also examine your content practices.
  3. Social media is a large traffic driver and makes up for a significant portion of mobile traffic.In fact, for 90% of our clients, social media is their top referral traffic source. In addition to brushing up your website, be sure your social media accounts are active and focused on driving people to your best content.
  4. View this data through the lens of our industry. It is true that mobile is increasingly important, but are people spending twenty minutes at a time viewing your architecture firm’s portfolio on their iphone? Likely not. If you are prioritizing your mobile and tablet layout, take into account the likely reason that someone would visit your site on their phone. Need some reinforcement for your assumptions? Check your Google Analytics for top pages with an added filter to see which ones are the top mobile performers.
  5. Give a high priority to a well-organized homepage. There is a lot to be said for a beautiful first impression, but remember that your homepage needs to be more than a pretty splash page for a number of reasons – SEO and user experience being two of them. Bring at least a little bit of content on to your homepage that may be useful to a mobile user like contact info or the latest blog posts so they won’t have to sift through expandable menus so much.

 

Top Five Myths about SEO in the A/E Industry

Long ago, SEO had a mystique. It was new and technical and allowed anybody to take the lead in search results. It sometimes even led to deceptive practices like hidden keywords in the background or in the footer of your web pages. My how times have changed though, and having an optimized website isn’t about chunking a bunch of metadata into your source code any longer. Search engines are smarter and our understanding of SEO has evolved, especially for service firms like those of us in the A/E industry. In order to help clear up some confusion, we pulled together a Top Five Myths about SEO in the A/E Industry for you!

Myth 1 – SEO can be done in a bubble

It can’t, not well anyway. Search Engine Optimization has ties to almost every major question at the foundation of your business and marketing plan when it’s done properly. In order for it to be successful for any sustainable amount of time, there has to be a strategy behind it and that strategy has to rely on other marketing efforts, social media and valuable content. That’s why when firms ask us if we do SEO, our answer is typically a bit complicated.

Myth 2 – SEO requires no effort from staff

This is a great follow up to the point above. Often firms hire an SEO company thinking, “All I want is to be at the top when somebody Googles best architecture firm. Done, send me the bill.” Firm leadership later gets frustrated to find out it isn’t that simple and realistically, that’s not even what they need. At a minimum, significant time should be invested up front to determine what terms are even relevant for the firm. Beyond that, however, the to-do list for firm principals, subject matter experts and marketing staff could continue to grow because if you multiply any number by zero, you still get zero. You can’t optimize what doesn’t exist, so firms with small websites and very little content will always struggle to outperform others who invest time in writing.

Myth 3 – SEO is a silver bullet

Many firms contact us with the hopes that if they achieve the Holy Grail of SEO status – First organic result on Google – that their work is done and the leads will just roll in. Unfortunately, neither of those is true. The work is not done, because rankings change every day. Leads also don’t just roll in because of your Google ranking; potential clients have to find what they’re looking for after they click through to take the next step.

Myth 4 – SEO winning = First place

Who doesn’t want to be number one? But we’re not talking about “also ran” or participation trophies. Increased traffic, improved awareness and eventual conversions are the ACTUAL goals behind any SEO effort. Seeing your A/E firm show up in the number one spot may feel great, but looking at analytics and monitoring your traffic are the only way to know if your efforts are successful. And then what? Increased traffic doesn’t equal a new contract for your firm unless you convert – which isn’t about SEO, it’s about marketing and BD.

Myth 5 – SEO firms are a rip-off

I’ve honestly lost count of how many clients and potential clients have called us to say they paid an SEO firm for nothing, zero results. This post may sound a little anti-SEO, but that’s not at all the intention. The point is, you wouldn’t take your car to the shop to get the brakes fixed then be upset with the mechanic for not putting gas in your car every week or two afterwards. Search Engine Optimization is a task you can take care of on your own or pay for (one-time fee or ongoing retainer), but it should only be one portion of your architecture firm’s marketing strategy and without putting a little gas in the tank yourself, your car is only going to get so far.