Before you understand why developing a niche is so important for architecture firms. First, ask yourself the following questions.
How often do you feel like your architecture firm struggles to chase your competition?
Do you find add shiny new features to your website in an attempt to catch up? Or do you expand your offerings in order to try to dominate the market and your competitors?
It’s exhausting, and often, impossible to keep up. Especially if your competitors are on a whole other level to you. Whether in terms of their size, resources, or time spent working on their business strategy.
Developing Your Niche
Sometimes, the phrase ‘less is more’ can speak volumes. Especially when it comes to marketing your firm.
Often, businesses get absorbed in trying to figure out what they’re not doing. So much so, that they completely disregard the very thing that makes them great: their niche.
As an architect, the word ‘niche’ has slightly different connotations. But I’m not referring to decorative alcoves set into walls to display statues or vases. The ‘niche’ I’m referring has nothing to do with the classical architects of Ancient Rome.
In fact, the term ‘niche’ is thrown around quite a lot in marketing.
While the concept is well known, the number of companies that actually understand it and implement it is small.
And that’s where their pitfall is.
What having a niche really means
When you are a niche, you focus on being the best at what you do and who you do it for.
When you are a niche, you don’t need to chase trends. Or worry about how similar your offerings are to your competitors.
When you are a niche, you are a master at the work you do. As such you serve your clients with the highest quality work possible. Because you’re passionate about being the best at what you do.
The truth is, you need to find and choose a niche.
Especially if you’re a small firm looking to grow and make their company a success. And it needs to be one that makes you really stand-out from your competitors. In addition to ensuring you are recognised as an expert within that field.
It’s the only way to avoid falling into the trap that hundreds of other small business owners make. That is, going too broad with the services they offer and their market appeal.
In today’s article, we’re going to take a look at what exactly a niche is. And how architecture firms can refine their area of expertise to help them grow their client list.
What is a Niche?
Simply put, a niche is a focused, targeted area which your brand serves particularly well.
In terms of marketing, it means separating your market into segments. And then, concentrating your efforts on one or a few key segments. You will target those prospective clients whose needs most closely match your service offerings. Thus, attracting new business for your architecture firm.
This is also known as target marketing. And it is what will transform your firm from being one which is chasing new clients every few months. To one which has a string of leads waiting to work with you.
Let’s delve into this a little deeper.
As an example, imagine you are an architecture firm with a niche in high-rise buildings and skyscrapers.
If you saw an advertisement which said, ‘I help architects get high paying clients,’ you would probably pay attention.
However, if you saw something much more specific, such as, ‘I help architects who specialise in skyscraper buildings get more clients.’ Then you probably would struggle to ignore it.
Why? Because the more specific we get with our advertising, the more compelling it is for the relevant audience. If you can target a segmented group of consumers and call out their specific wants and needs. Then, they’ll feel more inclined to work with you.
Why is Having a Niche Important?
When most small businesses start out with their marketing, they fall into a trap. They often believe they need to prove that they are the best in the business.
Of course, it is tempting to try and be the best in the industry. But ultimately, the truth is that it’s impossible to do this effectively at the start.
As a small or relatively new start-up in an already saturated market, this is a bad idea. Because you could find yourself potentially vying for the same clients as your competitors. Some, who may be much larger and much more established than yourself.
But it is possible to be just as successful as these brands…one day. It just needs some careful planning and execution to help you get to the top.
Find what makes your architecture firm stand out
You need to find what makes you stand out against the others. What services do you offer differently, and what does your firm do best?
If you can become known as the go-to firm for a particular service or area of expertise. Then you will start to see an influx of clients come to you to help with their relevant wants and needs. And it’s from here that you can start to grow and expand your business’ offerings in the years to come.
Think of any of the most famous brands in the world. How did they grow to be such a success?
Well, part of this is because they started with a niche.
Facebook? They launched as a highly-targeted service. Originally Facebook was an online platform where Harvard students could make connections and share photos.
Under Armour? They began by mastering a compression t-shirt that would stay dry after a sweaty sports session.
Even Apple, one of the leading technology developers, first launched selling only computers. With the world-renowned iPhone coming to market over 30 years after the business launched.
Don't spread yourself too thin
What I’m trying to say with the above examples is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. It’s better to find one or two areas to focus on and really market yourself as an expert.
It’s the only way to start to build your reputation and portfolio as the best architecture firm on the market for a particular service.
And once you’ve come to be recognised as an expert for one or two specific areas. Then you can then branch out and expand your offerings.
Having a Niche Focuses Your Marketing
Aside from just helping to build your credibility as a brand, having a niche actually makes advertising that bit easier.
Not only does having a niche make it easier to describe to prospective clients what you do and sell. But it will also help to refine your audience and know who exactly to target with your marketing.
For example, if your architecture firm is B2B oriented, you can target businesses using a variety of criteria. For instance, their industry, geographic location, and company size. This makes it easy to segment your audience. So you can target them with specific messaging relevant to their interests and needs.
Similarly, you can also target your search engine marketing (SEM), email marketing and other channels. Each to specific audiences who would be interested in a particular service you are offering.
Narrowing down your speciality makes it easier to know who you want to target your marketing at. As well as what to include within your messaging. And knowing both of these will make your campaigns far more focused and effective.
Having a Niche Increases Your Visibility Online
A crucial part of what will transform your architecture firm is breaking into the online market. It will transform you from a small business chasing new clients every month. To an established firm with a regular stream of prospective customers that come directly to you.
We know that the existing online market is saturated. As such, to gain visibility for your brand is becoming increasingly difficult. Especially for small firms and newer businesses.
But having a niche can help you to be more discoverable on search engines.
As a small firm, you’re going to struggle to rank highly on a page of search engine results. Especially for generalised short-tail keywords. For example, terms like ‘architecture firm’ or ‘architect near me.’
Unless you have been working on your SEO for a while. Then you probably have very little content on your website. And this content is likely not best optimised to help your target audience find you.
In contrast, look at the companies that rank in the top positions. These firms are ranking for the shorter, more generalised search terms. Why? Because they have been implementing an SEO strategy for some time. And have likely put in a lot of effort and time to get to those positions.
Finding a niche can improve long-tail keyword visibility
If you are a small firm just starting out with your SEO, having a niche can actually help. Choosing a niche with which to focus your marketing efforts can actually present you with some long-tail keyword opportunities.
For example, let’s say you decide your niche is that you are an architecture consultancy based in Coventry. Instead of wasting your time trying to rank for competitive short-tail keywords. You could try ranking for long-tail terms like ‘architecture consultancy in Coventry,’ or ‘architecture firm Coventry.’
As long-tail keywords are generally less competitive (because they’re less specific), you will find it easier to rank for these. This will have two benefits for your website.
Not only will you appear in searches for these more niche search terms. But as you look to target more competitive keywords in the future, you will find it easier to rank for them. Because you will already have proven rankings for similar keywords.
Having a Niche Improves Your Business Model
Put marketing aside for one moment. Having a niche can be really beneficial for your business in general.
Focus your energy on one or two areas. That way, your efforts are narrowed in on making them the best they can be. As opposed to spreading yourself thin and wasting energy.
Whether you want to improve the quality of your technical drawings. Or really getting to know the regulations around your area of expertise. Spend time to really hone in on your niche. Doing so will help make your firm the very best for that particular area of business.
Then, when it comes to demonstrating your expertise to prospective clients, you can wow them. Whether it’s your extensive knowledge, particular research or dedicated skill-set. All of these things are important parts of a high-quality portfolio. And a high-quality portfolio can help you to secure prospective clients.
How to Discover your Niche as an Architecture Firm
Now we’ve taken the time to look at a few reasons why it is so crucial for your architecture firm to have a niche, we need to look at how exactly you narrow down your options and select yours.
5 Ways to Discover Your Architecture Firm’s Niche
There are a few ways to choose your firm’s niche, with the most obvious being the general area of architecture you specialise in. But you can also choose your niche based on your market, your location, price point, or even the way you sell your services.
Let’s take a look at each of these in a bit more detail.
1. The Area of Architecture You Specialise In
As a small architecture firm, you may only have the resources to specialise in one particular area of the industry. For example, classical architecture, high-rises, public buildings, eco, and other speciality areas.
This makes choosing your niche fairly straight forward. You could simply market yourself as a public building architect. Or a classic architecture firm. Whatever you decide, build your portfolio around that one focus area.
However, if your firm specialises in more than one particular area of architecture, it may be difficult to identify a niche. So, you may need to focus your marketing efforts on multiple niches.
2. Your Target Market
Are you an architecture firm which works exclusively with B2B clients? Or do you take projects from individual clients looking to construct a home or office?
Focus your marketing on a particular demographic of people. And this will help you to focus your channels more efficiently. As a result, you can run better campaigns that directly target your audience’s particular interests and needs.
Architecture itself is quite a niche industry. You won’t find your everyday consumer searching for local firms. By targeting a specific group of people, you’ll be using your time in the best way possible. After all, you want to target those who really matter for your firm.
3. The Area You Operate In
Does your firm operate in one specific location? Or are you available for projects nationally, or even internationally?
Another way to find a niche for your architecture firm is to narrow down your operating areas. And the more specific you are, the better.
If you do operate in just one or two locations, run targeted ads at people in that area. And include the location in the actual messaging of your ad.
As your marketing efforts grow so will your firm. If you continue to pump out location-specific messaging, over time you will be recognised as that areas go-to architecture firm. As a result, you will drive all the local business through your door.
4. The Types of Services You Offer
Being open about the types of services you offer your clients will help eliminate any cold leads from your marketing and will help to establish you as an authority for that particular service.
For example, if you are a small architecture firm which operates purely on a consultancy basis, then define it with your marketing. Focus your energy on becoming the leading voice within the industry, building a solid content marketing strategy that demonstrates your expertise.
Similarly, if you offer a design service that creates technical drawings or plans, then you should be upselling the quality and creativity of those services. Demonstrate where your work has been featured before and why your design work is out of the league for your competitors.
5. Client Experience
It isn’t just your line of business which sets you apart from the rest in the industry.
In fact, with so many companies available in today’s market, it’s hard to stand out. Sometimes it is impossible to find companies that don’t offer the same products or services as their competitors.
If you can’t work out what it is about your business’ focus that makes you better than your competitors. Then consider all the other ways that make your firm better than rest.
Perhaps you pride yourself on offering stellar customer service? Maybe you have an incredibly suave website. One which demonstrates your expertise and makes you look far more professional than the rest. Or your ‘family-run’ operation could be what encourages people to want to work with you.
Whatever it may be, take the time to carefully brainstorm. Decide on your USPs and which are effective enough to convince prospective leads to start a conversation with you. Overall, doing so will improve your advertising conversion rate.
Remember, Only You Can Define Your Architecture Firm’s Niche
As easy as it is to write a list of some of the most common ways to define your niche, only you know what makes your architecture firm stand out from the rest.
Reading through the suggestions above, you may already have a good idea of what niche you want to fill, whether it’s a gap in the local marketplace, or a particular service that your competitors offer on the side.
But before making a final decision, brainstorm your ideas with your team. Then compare them against a competitor analysis, just to be certain that your goals are clear.
Even if you have no idea of what exactly your niche could be, collating your team’s thoughts or doing some research online can help you narrow down your options to a few specific ideas.
Just remember that throughout the decision-making process, you need to bear in mind what your competitors offer. You don’t want to enter into a space where the market is too saturated – unless you’re prepared to put in a lot of hard work (and budget).
If this is the case, you want to try and get as specific as possible, even combining multiple niches within your marketing.
So, for example if you are an architecture firm that specialises in hospitals, but your research tells you that the market is already heavily saturated, get more specific with what you have to offer.
Are you an architecture firm that specialises in hospitals and operates solely in the UK? Maybe your competitors only operate on a consultancy basis. Whereas your firm offers design work too.
Keep refining your services as much as you can to really hone in on your USPs. Because once you have them, you’ll be able to target your marketing more effectively. Thus, helping reach those potential clients that are most interested in your work.
For architecture firms looking to launch into the world of marketing, they need to consider the importance of finding a niche.
The process involves choosing one or two areas of expertise. Which you will use to target your marketing and focus your business energies on.
The result? Recognition for being an expert in that particular field. As a result, this will drive prospective clients through your firm’s front door.
But firms shouldn’t assume it’s going to be as easy as creating a few online ads and watching their lead database go through the roof.
Marketing can be a hugely daunting task
Marketing is often daunting. But it’s worth it. A marketing strategy requires you to be creative with your thinking. And to create campaigns that are going to entice prospective clients to start a conversation with you.
In addition, the decision to narrow down your target audience at the start can be a rather nerve-wracking approach. It’s one which may take a bit of convincing to ensure the whole firm is on-board.
Just remember that you don’t need to stay ‘small’ forever. When you choose a niche and use it to target prospective clients, this is an initial approach. And it’s one which helps you to focus your strategy from the start. In order to aim to get you recognised as a market leader for your area of expertise.
Once you’ve ‘mastered’ these areas, you will have grown your customer base and visibility online. And then you can look to expand your expertise and target other relevant services you offer.
Outsourcing Your Architecture Firm’s Marketing to a Consultant
It can be difficult to decide on your architecture firm’s niche. Even more so to work out how to market it. Especially if it’s something you’re not experienced with doing.
With so many potential channels to choose from, you need to spend a lot of time upfront. You must create and implement an actionable marketing strategy and this takes considerable time. Especially one which is going to get your brand well-known amongst your target audience.
As you can imagine, many smaller architecture firms don’t have the time or resource to do any such work in-house. As a result they often turn to a marketing consultancy like ours for assistance.
We have over a decades’ worth of experience in helping small and new businesses. We help to create and launch their marketing strategies. As such, we know exactly what it takes to position yourself in the market. And, in such a way that you grow into a market leader.
Whether you need a competitor analysis to see where you stand against competitors. Or you want guidance on how exactly you should market your firm. We offer a whole range of services which you may benefit from.
If you would like to hear more about the services we provide, then please get in contact for an obligation-free chat. It’d be great to hear more about your firm and the services you offer. And we can talk you through some previous examples of our work.