Five Great Ways To Waste Built Environment Marketing Dollars

It is not 2010. The marketing game has changed. Built environment marketing in the modern era should include an interactive website that is attractive and easy to use, targeted email blasts, an active blog and a robust social media presence, among other things.

Unfortunately, some architectural, interior design and design-build firms are still dedicating a good chunk of their marketing budget to archaic strategies.

The Yellow Pages is a prime example. Yellow Page ads are shockingly expensive - easily thousands of dollars per month - and they’re completely ineffective due to competition from more affordable tactics like blogging and effective online search engines. Yellow pages are only useful to your grandmother as a booster seat to see over the dashboard.

1. Brochures

Fancy brochures are often an overly relied upon, waste of money for built environment marketing (or any marketing, for that matter). Mostly this is because they are used at the wrong time in the sales process. Think about the last time you read an unsolicited brochure, let alone hired a company because of one. Modern consumers are looking for personalized interaction from their architects, designers, landscapers and builders, not generic marketing materials.

Brochures rarely offer information that can’t be found on your website. While it’s important that your site doesn’t look and function like a static brochure (interactive features are the key to generating leads), the site should say everything about your company that needs to be said. Built environment marketing dollars are better spent on driving traffic to the site than glossy brochures. Caveat: High-quality portfolios like those created at Paper Chase Press are an excellent way of setting your firm apart when in a competitive bid process or as a gift to a client following the completion of a project. Nothing is better than pushing a firm past the finish line or creating word of mouth promotion.

2. Poor-Quality Web Content

We all have budget constraints, but skimping on web content isn’t a smart strategy. When you’re outsourcing writing for your website, blog, guides and the like, spend the extra money on quality content. It's less expensive and gets better results. Search engines like Google are smart enough to recognize good content that people actually want to read, and you’ll be rewarded for that with a higher search rank. Quality content also builds your reputation as a trusted brand.

3. Using Bad Stock Photography on Your Website

Consumers have a trained eye when it comes to stock photography. They recognize it instantly, and it makes your company look generic or inauthentic. This is particularly important for built environment marketing because your business is visual in nature. Chances are you’re already using professional-quality images of your work, but if not, it’s time to start.

4. Overspending on Promotional Items

Promotional objects have some limited value if the item is relevant to your industry and something potential customers will actually use. But there’s little evidence to suggest that promo items like pens, T-shirts, and coffee cups produce any significant return on investment for built environment marketing. Focus your marketing efforts on online initiatives instead; the results are measurable. Before you put the money down on a set of coffee cups or tote bags, ask yourself, how many promotional items from other companies have I thrown away?

5. A Website That Looks Like a Brochure

We touched on this above, but the importance can’t be overstated. A static, brochure-like website isn’t going to do much - if anything - to boost built environment marketing and generate leads. If your website is a brochure style website, then your best bet for lead generation is advertising. Expect to spend a minimum of $36,000 a year to get the same results well-written blogs and email campaigns will generate. Web sites that are consistently updated with new blogs, white papers and information that consumers find good rank higher in search results. Websites aren’t just advertisements; they’re about interaction.

One critical feature of interactive websites is call-to-action buttons. These are the buttons prompting visitors to “click here” to download a white paper, sign up for your mailing list or request more information about your services. The buttons should be attractive, eye-catching and well-positioned on the page for maximum viewing. Call-to-action buttons are a great way to turn your built environment marketing dollars into leads.