There is a language for architecture – spoken almost exclusively by architects – and there is a language for effectively marketing professional services to clients. They are not the same.
Nikita Morell, who specialises in writing websites for architects, has analysed 663 practice websites over the past year or so in her quest to discover what works best. She has boiled the results down to five ways in which practices can immediately improve their websites in order to attract better clients.
1. Write like you speak
“Many architects create their websites to impress their colleagues or peers. This is a problem and here’s why: it is highly unlikely that architects are going to be your ideal clients."
“To consistently get better projects, try to work with better clients, not the ones who constantly undermine or question your value. And to get more opportunities, you need to speak the same language as your ideal client, not other architects."
“Approaching your writing this way will help you write copy that’s more informal and conversational in tone – so you can better engage your ideal clients.”
Nikita recommends using the free voice-to-text tool in Google Docs (found under ‘Tools’). Rather than staring at a blinking cursor, she says, talking to your computer will help you develop a conversational tone of voice, and you may find your ideas flow easier.
2. Sprinkle testimonials throughout your website
“Testimonials are a powerful way of proving your competence. Recommendations and endorsements from satisfied clients are a great way to build trust and credibility, overcome scepticism, and give a sense of what it’s like to work with you,” Nikita says.
The best part of these types of endorsements is that they let others do the bragging for you. However, the temptation is to corral all of your testimonials on a single page. Nikita advises otherwise: sprinkle testimonials throughout your website, and this will lead to a higher chance of an ideal client actually reading them.
3. Always tell your ideal client what to do next
Your ideal client has read your homepage, your ‘about’ page, your biographies, and your project descriptions. It’s time for the next step of the process of website improvement.
“You need to tell prospective clients what you want them to do next,” Nikita continues. “Ask yourself what’s the one thing you want readers to do after reading my website. Do you want them to schedule a consultation? Send you an email? Follow your Instagram account?
“Make your call to action as specific as possible, so there is no room for confusion or misinterpretation."
“Instead of a generic ‘get in touch’, add a layer of specificity, so it becomes: ‘Whether you’re bouncing ideas around, know exactly what you want, or you’re somewhere in between, we’d love to have a conversation with you. Get in touch.’”
4. Turn your practice features into client benefits
“A powerful writing technique when trying to build trust with ideal clients is to explain how your practice features will deliver client benefits,” Nikita says.
“A ‘feature’ is something special about your practice. For example, you could write ‘We’ve won awards,’ or ‘we successfully deliver architecture services’. A ‘benefit’ is how your service makes your client’s life better. These benefits could include, ‘we save you money,’ or ‘you’ll enjoy the design process when you work with us’.”
Nikita goes on to detail one tip in this area, which asks the architect to imagine they are explaining their practice to a belligerent client:
You tell them: "We’ve been in business for 12 years".
They say: "So what?"
You say: "Well, 12 years is a long time".
They say: "So what?"
You say: "It means we’ve had exposure to a lot of different types of projects".
They say: "So what?"
You say: "This means you can be confident we’ll meet your expectations".
This confidence in your own abilities and experience will radiate through to the client.
5. Use your contact page to filter out not-so-great client
Your contact page is your secret weapon, Nikita says. It can pre-screen prospective clients so you don’t waste your time dealing with difficult “price-shoppers,” or people who want to pick your brain with no intention of hiring you.
Nikita recommends two ways to make a contact page work best for an architect:
- Add budget brackets to your contact form. Set the lowest bracket to your minimum fee and you’ll immediately filter out those only looking to snag a bargain.
- Add specific questions to your contact form. That way, you can assess whether the prospect is a good fit. Example questions: What is your design style? What are you looking for in an architect? Have you worked with an architect before?
Thanks to Nikita Morell, Copywriter for architects.
Text by Neal Morris. This is a Professional Feature edited by the RIBA Practice team. Send us your feedback and ideas.
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