Guest Contributor: Mike Plotnick, Plotlines Creative
Architecture is one of the most visual businesses on the planet. That’s because an architect’s work often takes the form of a three-dimensional built object with distinctive shapes, colors and character.
Many firms spend a considerable portion of their marketing budget on professional photographers to document their completed projects. This high-impact imagery can be integrated into new-business proposals, award submittals, publicity initiatives, and other marketing and web materials.
It’s money well spent.
What architectural firms have been slower to recognize, however, is the value of moving pictures, or video, to their enterprise. This is understandable, as the traditional systems for pursuing and communicating about architectural projects continue to rely predominantly on still images.
At the same time, there’s a growing appetite for video among clients, prospects, potential employees and other business partners. By ignoring this trend, firms are missing key marketing and communications opportunities.
Here are five specific ways that architecture firms can use video to celebrate their work, showcase their people and advance their practice.
- Recruiting: Eighty-two percent of architecture and engineering firms anticipate expanding their practices in 2018, according to a November 2017 survey conducted by Indeed.com. As the war for talent continues to intensify, video is a compelling medium for showcasing a firm’s people, culture and values.
- Client testimonials: While architecture firms regularly use testimonials to communicate their successful client relationships, these marketing tools usually take the form of a written quote, sometimes accompanied by a head shot. Effective as these testimonials can be, there’s something far more powerful about seeing and hearing those same individuals express their opinions about working with a firm.
- Project tours: Video can enable anyone to experience a building or space before, during and after it’s built. Whether through sophisticated video animations and 3D fly-throughs or a simple narrated tour, video can effectively capture the essence of an architectural project in a way that photos alone just can’t.
- Thought leadership: Most firms want to be considered “thought leaders” in a target market sector or area of expertise. To support this goal, they publish long-firm content pieces, such as white papers or technical articles. While these narratives can be effective marketing tools, they ignore an entire segment of people who may not be willing to read a 2,500-word article, but are more than happy to view a four-minute video that illustrates the same points.
- Showcasing the design process: There’s a long-held belief within the architectural profession that it’s not OK to share images of a project until after it’s designed and built. This is unfortunate, as an architect’s true expertise is delivered in the months — sometimes years — before the building is ready for occupants to experience. Video can showcase the behind-the-scenes interactions with clients, colleagues, partners and other stakeholders that bring an idea to life. Though it’s often a messy, non-linear process, it can also be a powerful demonstration of an architect’s unique role as a visionary, partner and problem solver.
As video continues to expand its influence, architecture firms are in an ideal position to leverage this high-impact marketing medium to differentiate their practice.
Mike Plotnick is a writer, publicist and communications consultant. As principal of Plotlines, he helps organizations identify, build and share their stories. Prior to starting his firm in 2012, he served as vice president and communications manager at HOK. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.