Quitting Architecture if I can’t find a client. What should I do?

Every new business faces this challenge: how to find a client willing to trust a young professional. This week I’m answering a viewer question from Kristian in the UK who is considering quitting architecture; he has all the requisite skills but no one is hiring his firm.
I break down the essentials of marketing and offer a simple methodology for determining where architecture clients are spending their time. Hint: chances are you have one of these devices within arms reach most of the time.

Marketing is your only game when you’re establishing your business. If you don’t have projects to work on it’s because your marketing plan isn’t working…yet.
Marketing is simply: getting in front of people who are buying and selling them the things you make. Markets are agnostic, they don’t care if you’re the most talented designer in the world, or if you have a family to feed, or if you’re in debt or struggling to keep the lights on, or if you’re about to quit the profession you love if they don’t buy from you. They simply don’t care.

Markets care only about one thing: about you solving their problem. Build a product that solves a problem and sell it to the market. If a market isn’t buying your solution, you’re either: not solving an urgent enough problem or you’re not getting in front of your target audience.

Kristian also says, “I have a few social media accounts but they haven’t drawn very much attention.” And, to that I would ask, “What are you doing to capture people’s attention?” Are you making cool stuff? Are you sharing things to educate or help others? People don’t just pay attention because you share a link on Facebook, organic reach is way down on all social media platforms, which is why you have to build an audience and cultivate a relationship with them for social media to work. Social is the key to social media, right? I talk about the different ways you can build an audience in volume 2 of Architect + Entrepreneur.

I offer a few ideas on how to crack the social media nut to get you started.
1) Prove your expertise; share your knowledge.
2) Do some spec work, design something.
3) Teach someone something.
4) Piggyback on someone else’s social media account more popular than you.
5) Reach out, make connections; offer to help.

Simply having a social media account and posting once a week doesn’t solve someone’s problem. That’s not a marketing plan.
So what is? Well, to market to someone, first you need to know whom you’re targeting: your target demographic, what do they carry in their pockets, where do they shop, where do they recreate, where do they hang out online and in real life.

Next, find five to ten of these people in your target market; in real life, not online. Now, ask each one to open up their smart phone and ask to look at their home screen. This is where their attention is. When we have downtime, what’s the first thing we pick up? Our phones. Like it or not, this device has earned our complete attention. We sleep with them on our bed stands, our phones comfort us when we’re alone, sing to us, connect us to the Internet, and deliver our email; and this is where your opportunity lies. What apps get the best real estate on the home screen? Look at your own phone. What apps are you using most of the time?

Marketing and forging social connections is hard work though and I know, everyone wants the easy solution: buy some likes, buy clicks, a magazine ad, a billboard…whatever. If you’re not ready to invest in the hard work that’s fine. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It’s a really fashionable thing to be an entrepreneur right now, to own your own business, to control your time; but the reality is, entrepreneurship isn’t going to be right for everyone. That’s okay too. You might actually be happiest working for someone else. That’s not a failure if it makes you happy is it? I don’t think so.

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