Ayman Jaber, communications manager at Lacasa Architects & Engineering Consultants, shares his inbound marketing strategies for the most effective way to reach a target audience.
Inbound marketing is a more subtle approach in communication. It refers to a set of initiatives taken by firms to bring clients in, rather than go out and appeal to prospects. Unlike an outbound strategy, inbound initiatives do not include direct mail, cold-calling, or any other “pushy” approaches. The key to a successful inbound strategy is maintaining a strong industry presence and communicating the right message. Aside from the channel mix, inbound and outbound strategies differ in communication. The way the message is crafted makes all the difference. An outbound message will focus on telling the audience what to do; click here, learn more, contact us, visit our website… On the other hand, an inbound approach will highlight the company positive attributes, skills and expertise and then allow the audience to make the decision.
While widely successful within the consumer products market, outbound marketing does not belong in the design and architecture industry. The first thing one must look at when creating a marketing strategy is the audience. Within this industry, designers and architects target property developers seeking the expertise to translate their ideas into profit-generating developments.
Looking at property developers in the MENA region, it can be deduced that they are savvy, decisive and logical businessmen. They are the alpha males who can’t be force-fed sales jargon and advertising material.
Designers and architects must communicate their achievements and expertise by utilising inbound techniques and allowing their target audience to discover, analyse and consequently approach them. To guarantee success, the inbound strategy must integrate online and offline channels simultaneously to reach the target audience anywhere they happen to be.
1. Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is one of the major principal inbound marketing approaches. The optimisation allows ones website to sit atop the search engine results page and be easily found by any property developer sourcing designers and architects for a tender invitation. The firm must ensure that its website is user-friendly and contains all necessary information to showcase its expertise, but also that it uses the appropriate keyword density and other significant tags that will allow the website to show up in relevant searches.
READ MORE: Architect uses buildings as marketing tools
The website can be in the form of a portfolio, case-studies highlighting how projects were approached, an in the press page showcasing recognition, as well as any awards won. The most important aspect of a designer website is the look and feel. A website must be well-designed, inviting and inspiring and it must reflect the firm’s expertise and creative capabilities.
LinkedIn is the go-to B2B networking platform for architects and designers. The array of sales tools available allow one to form and foster relationships with key clients. Inbound communication on LinkedIn can be executed by optimising the company page, using employees as brand ambassadors and creating a complementary content plan.
A well-optimised company page is easily found, supports SEO ranking and provides all the information a prospective client needs. The page should highlight all areas of expertise as well as awards won and other recognitions. By adding a showcase page, the firm is also able to display its portfolio in a more subtle manner. The second step is using employees to act as brand ambassadors. All team members should clearly list their designations alongside the company name as well as their current positions. The employees must then be encouraged to join industry-specific groups and participate in discussions and other forms of thought-leadership initiates to display their knowledge.
The last step is creating a content plan with an inbound communication approach. The idea is to showcase talent through completed projects and industry recognitions. In order to ensure that the right person sees those company updates, one must target the appropriate audience. LinkedIn allows advertisers to target their audience by location, industry, job title and seniority level.
3. Branded Content
The term refers to an advertising medium that blurs the line between conventional advertising and editorial content. The content can be used across all types of platforms online and offline. The idea behind this inbound approach is to showcase skills and achievement through editorial content in the form of interviews or case studies. Practically speaking, advertorials published in industry publications are the best forms of branded content as they promote firms without the need for overt marketing. Prospective clients are able to learn about the designer capabilities on their own and then approach them. Branded content can also be promoted via channels such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. The key here is to ensure that pushy calls-to-action are avoided.