I spent some time with a boutique architecture firm while I was in London two weeks ago. This firm provides contemporary design to residential developers and individual homeowners. Each architect, including the partners, honed their skills in larger architecture firms, but elected to move to a smaller firm to gain broader experience in managing projects from conception to design to planning board approval to build. My goal in working with the firm was to help them define themselves for their clients and prospective employees, with the intent to help them expand their market reach.
Our morning workshop gathered the entire team around the conference table in their open space work area. The partners had met at a larger firm and found success in co-managing a small team within that firm. They had left to establish their firm, ph+, immediately winning business with residential developers. However, they had never thought about how they would market their firm. Their business is won through word of mouth. As we talked about the firm and how their business evolved, why each employee joined the firm and what they enjoy about working with clients - the value of ph+ became clear. The challenge will be how they incorporate these values into their web site, physical media and social media (should they elect to leverage social media).
We defined value in terms of the way ph+ acts and why they want to be for their clients. They are honorable and act with integrity. We defined value based on what motivates them. They want to provide comprehensive plans, paying attention to every detail to ensure planning board approval. We defined value based upon a commitment to contemporary design. ph+ pay attention to design details from window details to plumbing fixtures to how the space will be used by its inhabitants.
In today's world, Word of Mouth marketing is the cornerstone for many firms, large or small. Social media simultaneously simplifies and complicates word of mouth marketing. For a business, like ph+, whose first goal is to fulfill client requirements through comprehensive, detailed designs, marketing is a scary business. Marketing distracts energy from actual architecting, without a clearly defined return. Yet, ph+ wishes to expand its client base.
As ph+ moves forward, they will combine face to face and online word of mouth. They will continue to attend events which expose them to desired clients. They will review options for using social networks to gain insight about and access to new projects. They will identify what content is proprietary versus general information that will attract clients. They will consider expanding the content shared on their blog. Their primary concern remains individual bandwidth as they do not have dedicated marketing staff.
The commitment to social media by small business is challenging. Staffing and individual bandwidth is a key concern. ph+ has reinforced their values and their goals. Their identity has ben clarified. This is helpful as they continue to grow as a business and consider formalizing their marketing efforts. Have you taken the time to define your identity, based on your values and your business goals? If not, please do so before you jump into using social media to promote your business! Authenticity comes from an understanding of identity and purpose and authenticity is a core requirement of social media.
What's your perspective?