Growing your landscape architecture firm shouldn't depend on luck. Often afraid of being labeled “salespeople,” too many landscape architects rely on 1980s marketing tactics such as faxing, taking out yellow-pages ads, and waiting by the phone. Join Stack Rock Group Co-Founder Krisjan Hiner, and learn how the company grew from a two-person operation with 50% overhead to a successful firm spanning two states. Krisjan will discuss marketing, social media, and networking while helping you devise an action plan to start improving your firm’s marketing strategy today.
Learn more about Stack Rock Group and the history of the firm by reading our profile of Co-Founder Will Howard.
- Why Marketing?
- Who Are Your Clients?
- Go Where your Clients Are
0:00 – 18:44: Intro
4 important points to remember (10:50):
1. Who is your client?
It’s not everybody.
2. Go where your clients are.
Online and offline.
3. Embrace social media.
Post a LOT.
4. Think of marketing as making new friends.
Help them solve a problem.
Protecting clients’ privacy while posting their projects to social media (14:20)
Using Adobe Spark to add your firm’s logo to project photos (16:45)
18:45 – 28:39: Why Marketing?
You could be the best landscape architect in the world, but if nobody knows, it doesn’t matter.
What is marketing, and why should I do it? (19:40)
- A big puzzle
- Persuading someone to take action
- Hiring you to design for them
- Your website
- Your social media
- Your proposals
- Project photos
- Clothes with your logo
- What people say about your work
- “Word of mouth”
- Everything out in the world about your firm
- To educate current and prospective clients
- To compete
- To sustain
- To be more valuable than your competitors
- To find more clients
- To find more projects
- To make more money
28:40 – 31:54: Who Are Your Clients?
- Before you market, you have to know who is going to purchase your service(s).
- “Everyone interested in landscape architecture” is not your market.
- “Everyone who needs landscaping” is not your market.
- “Every architecture firm” is not your market.
- Your market must be defined.
- If it feels too narrow, make it a little more narrow.
- Defining and targeting your market does not mean you are excluding potential clients that don’t fit your target market.
- With a clearly defined target audience, it’s much easier to determine where and how to market your company.
Defining your target market allows you to focus your marketing on a specific market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets.
This is the most affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.
Determining your market (30:25):
1. Look at your current customer base.
- Why do they buy from you?
- What do they have in common?
2. Check out your competitors.
- Who are their clients?
- Who are they targeting?
- Look for a niche they are overlooking.
3. Analyze your service offerings.
- Are they different from your competitors?
- List all services – and make a corresponding list of benefits.
4. Make a list of people and companies who need the benefits your services provide.
- Types of people (demographics)
- Specific companies and types of companies
5. Evaluate your list.
- Are there enough people/companies who fit my criteria?
- Will my target market really benefit from my services?
- How does my target market make decisions?
- How do I get my message in front of them How accessible are they?
31:55 – end: Go Where Your Clients Are
Go where your clients are – offline (32:50)
- Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA)
- NAIOP Commercial Real Estate Development Association
- American Institute of Architects (AIA)
- Urban Land Institute (ULI)
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC)
- Business Network International (BNI)
- CREW Network
- Country clubs
- Local and state organizations
Your clients are not at ASLA meetings. (39:30)
Go where your clients are – online (40:05)
Social media isn’t b2b or b2c – it’s p2p. (41:11)
Social media is not advertising.
- Download the app onto your phone.
- Create a company account!
- Write a bio that describes what you do, where you do it, and whom you do it for.
- Include your website address.
- Get your logo right.
- Follow all your clients.
- Follow all local news outlets.
- Like and comment on all clients’ posts.
- Post something every day.
- Complete your entire profile.
- Have a good headshot – not a selfie.
- Make sure the email address in See Contact Info is your work email or one you check often.
- Connect with every professional you know.
- Spend time on the site; like and comment on clients’ and potential clients’ posts.
- Post relevant articles to show you’re paying attention, thought leadership, etc.
- Post links to your website, articles, profiles, etc.
What should I post? (45:00)
- Document – don’t create.
- Articles showing you’re paying attention and are a thought leader
- Articles you’ve written or been featured in
- Articles about projects you’re a part of
- Photos of your process
- Photos of your people
- Photos of your clients
- Photos of project you were a part of
- Video testimonials from clients
What a post should do (49:05)
These guidelines are also ideas for making posts less like an annoying commercial.
A post should educate, entertain, and/or impact. (A great post will do all three.)
Copywriting guidelines (PASTOR):
- Story and solution
- Transformation and testimony
How to encourage clients to review you on social media (52:30)
The best way to do this is to ask them to review you.
Question: Do you ever worry that posting about your clients will lead to poaching? (53:50)
Answer: No. If people want to find out information about a client, they have infinite means of doing so.
Tools Krisjan uses (54:50)
- Lead Forensics
- G Suite (Google)
- Hunter IO
- Proposify (proposal software)
- Acuity Scheduling
- iPhone + iPad Pro + laptop + desktop PC with 2 giant monitors
- Adobe Spark
Common questions Krisjan is asked (59:01):
Why Krisjan does not think paid advertisements are a good idea (59:32)
The importance of staying true to your personality (1:01:10)
Question: Are you selective with LinkedIn contact requests? (1:01:40)
Answer: No. Krisjan accepts all requests, although he will drop connections if they start sending him spam. The more people know you, the better.
Question: How do you approach contractors who don’t use the platforms you’ve mentioned? (1:03:45)
Answer: If you can’t tag them, tell them to open an account!
Question: Is there a time of day to post that you’ve found to result in the best traffic? (1:04:00)
Answer: He doesn’t really think about time of day anymore. If he posts a good piece of content, he’s found that it will reach people.
Question: Do you use a dedicated marketing person? How much time is dedicated to social media posts? How do you know if they’re doing their job? (1:05:25)
Answer: Yes, he does use a dedicated social media person – and that person is Krisjan! The use of a dedicated marketing/social media person will depend on your firm. You can judge the posts by whether or not people are liking, forwarding, or commenting on them. Keep in mind that business development takes time. Overall, Krisjan thinks it’s a good idea to have a dedicated in-house marketing person if possible.
Question: Do you encourage your staff to join organizations? (1:11:35)
Question: Do you have an answering service or an office manager? (1:12:35)
Answer: They have an office manager who will often answer incoming calls.
Question: What yearly increase in sales do you see as a result of your marketing efforts? (1:13:02)
Answer: They’ve seen a significant increase, which has largely resulted from their efforts to find new clients.
Question: What is the breakdown of private vs. public clients for Stack Rock Group? (1:16:05)
Answer: They do mostly private projects – maybe 95%.
Question: If contractors you want to work with in your area don’t have social media platforms, what do you recommend as the best way to reach out to them? (1:16:40)
Answer: Either go to their office or go to local events they may attend, such as Chamber of Commerce functions.
Krisjan’s contact info:
- Twitter: @krisjanhiner
- Instagram: @krisjanhiner
- LinkedIn: Krisjan Hiner
- Email: Krisjan@StackRockGroup.com