Written by: Bill Steele, Founding Principal of Steele Group Architects
When I started Steele Group Architects several years ago, my partners and I spent a great deal of time developing our core values, discovering who we were as partners and discussing the values and business objectives we shared in common. We’re very different people with different personalities and talents. We’re also creative people, with egos that go along with that. That being the case, it took some work, but we finally felt we knew who we were as a company, and what we needed to do to make our firm grow.
After a few years we experienced success and growth, but not to the level we wanted. We felt that marketing ourselves better could push our firm to the next level, and that’s when we started working with a marketing partner – Reuben Rink. They suggested creating a strategic marketing plan to guide our marketing efforts. Architects are planners by nature. We carefully plan every aspect of a building before the first stone is laid, so for us it made sense that a marketing plan should be the first step in building awareness for our firm and in promoting our services to clients and prospects.
As part of the planning process, we wanted to understand our strengths and weaknesses, not from our own point of view, but from an outsider’s point of view. Working with our marketing partner, we were able to define our company, our unique differentiators and our services in a way that makes it easier to present our capabilities to others. In order to market anything well, you have to understand it, and while we thought we knew who we were and what we had to offer, we were actually too close to it. Our partner gave us another perspective that made all the difference. Now when we talk to and interview clients or even prospective employees, we come with a self-knowledge that allows us to communicate better who we are – so that others gain the same understanding of us that we have of ourselves.
Taking the time to develop a strategic marketing plan and thinking through what we hoped to achieve as a company also helped us define the types of projects we wanted to pursue. Now, instead of considering many project opportunities, we’re focused. I can’t tell you the number of projects we don’t go after because pursuing them would not help us achieve our overall goals.
The strategic marketing plan also guided our marketing tactics – which involved updating our identity, presentation materials and website. Our marketing partner developed each component to reflect our values, capabilities, culture, unique point of view and focus – allowing us to do our job – architecture – while giving us the tools to present ourselves more effectively.
It’s now been about two years since the development and implementation of the strategic marketing plan, and the results have been gratifying. Our growth as a company is now exactly where we feel it should be.
As an experienced architect and someone who has managed teams of architects for over 20 years, I believe I’m qualified to say that it’s typical for architects to think they do everything well. What’s unusual about the knowledge and approach we have since working with our marketing partner is realizing that we don’t do everything well, and it’s okay to focus on the things that are our strengths and not dilute our efforts by chasing things that aren’t our strengths. That’s a lesson I believe applies to any business: identify your marketing strengths and weaknesses, and rely on a trusted collaborator to help you solve those problems. That’s a solid plan.
Strategic marketing planning is one of the many services Reuben Rink provides as a full-service agency. Contact us today to explore how we can help your business develop a strong game plan!