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One key part of being a great marketer is understanding how people think and knowing why they act the way they do. 10 principals.
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Which Social Network Should You Advertise On? Social media advertising is a great tactic to use to supplement your print advertising.

"...the interpretive signage up at Britannia. Thanks for all of your help with it – looks great!"

Britannia Display Signage

Scope of The Project / Aim & Outcome:

Improve the clarity and quality of the interpretive signage. We worked with the project leader to better understand their final objectives. With our UV in flatbed technology we were able to product a new level of quality and print directly on a durable media which offers longevity, while retaining impressive image quality. The client was please and in short order requested additional work which included.

Clients Response:

Wanted to send you a photo of the interpretive signage up at Britannia. Thanks for all of your help with it – looks great! Rebecca

Thursday, 24 October 2019 14:40

Casting a Niche Net | Getting Personal

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As author and entrepreneur Seth Godin puts it: “Personalization wasn’t supposed to be a cleverly veiled way to chase prospects around the web, showing them the same spammy ad for the same lame stuff as everyone else sees. No, it is a chance to differentiate at a human scale, to use behaviour as the most important clue about what people want and more important, what they need.”

Casting A Niche Net

Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution:

Trends in customer trust by Salesforce Research reinforces the notion that brands can win more business by creating personalized customer experiences — a message we’ve heard for some time now. Based on a survey polling over 6,700 individuals from more than a dozen countries including Canada, the 2018 report finds consumers are demanding greater personalization and will often disclose the kind of personal information needed to create more personalized experiences if they feel the business is being transparent about how the data is used.

“Welcome to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an era defined by continuous technological innovations that are transforming customer expectations. As lines between digital and physical worlds blur, today’s customers demand deeply relevant, personalized experiences across devices, channels and interactions,” according to the report. “In fact, the average customer uses 10 different channels to communicate with companies. Despite this, today’s customers expect tailored engagement across all channels.”

Fifty-four percent of respondents say the marketing messages they receive aren’t as relevant as they would like them to be – suggesting that some companies drastically need to improve their personalization capabilities – while 84 percent say “being treated like a person, not a number” is very important to winning repeat business and maintaining brand loyalty. “Customers expect businesses to understand not only what they are purchasing, but why, as well as how they use products and services, and they expect it fast,” the report reads.

The majority of survey respondents say they are willing to share personal information if it is used to deliver more personalized engagements, and expect that personalization to be coupled with transparency. What’s more, 51 percent of respondents across all age groups say they are comfortable with companies “applying relevant information about me in exchange for personalized engagement,” as compared to 64 percent of millennials and Gen Zers.  

What’s interesting is 86 percent of total respondents – and 91 percent of millennials and Gen Zers – say they are more likely to trust companies with their personal information when they explain how it is being used to deliver a better experience for them, suggesting that strict security and privacy protocols alone may not be enough to dispel fears of data misuse and breaches.

“As time goes on, businesses will contend with a more savvy customer base that expects greater personalization, along with respect for the data they swap for it,” the report concludes.

Source: PrintAction / Written By: Alyssa Dalton

 

Friday, 27 September 2019 09:10

Nail Your Story - 5 Tips for Business Storytelling

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At Dominion Blue, our story started in 1912 with an ad featured in the city directory. It was one of eight companies involved in blueprints. We were located in the Bank of Hamilton Building at 432 Hamilton Street. Our focus was simple, offer what architects, engineers, contractors, the government and businesses wanted; preeminent quality large format Maps, Blueprints, Brown Line, and Blue Line Prints.

It was not a splashy opening, but it was honest. Our "can-do," "just-works" and our clients soon realized that we were ultimately providing print solutions that helped them to succeed. By hearing our story and knowing why we do what we do, they quickly discovered that we understood their needs.

A lot has changed since then. Of course, our state-of-the-art digital printing equipment and the breadth of our product and services offer is immense in comparison. But one thing has not changed; we've been building trust with our clients ever since that day and won't stop until we either meet or exceed each one’s expectations.

Knowing how to tell your business story needs to be a crucial part of your operations. A brand story has a strategic purpose aimed towards drawing people in. To perfect your story, try the following tips, and when you're ready give us a call because print can help bring it alive in many ways.

Five Essential Tips for Business Storytelling

To perfect your story, try the following tips:

#1: Set The Parameters

Your business story should be engaging. But if it doesn’t have a clear focus, you’ll quickly lose the attention of consumers. Establish context right off the bat.

To start your brand story, answer the following questions:

  • Who is telling the story?
  • Why is the story being told?
  • When and where is the story taking place?
  • Who are the people in the story?
  • What are the people trying to achieve?
  • What challenges are faced?

Parameters will help you develop an engaging story that makes sense to your audience. Set the scene so that consumers know exactly what you’re talking about. Most importantly, establish why you’re telling them this story. This will guide the audience through the narrative and hook them all the way to the end.

#2: Be Authentic

Authentic storytelling is key to gaining consumer trust. Don’t try to fool your audience with an over-the-top tale. Customers know when you try to pull a fast one on them, and they don’t appreciate it.

Your business’s story doesn’t need to be elaborate. In fact, if your business doesn’t have an earth-shattering history, your story shouldn’t try to create one. A genuine narrative is more likely to connect with consumers than one without a shred of truth.

Transparency celebrates your uniqueness and acknowledges the human aspect of your brand. Recognize that things are not always easy by showing your own challenges and failures. This creates an emotional connection, as well as reveals admiral characteristics, like innovation and resilience.

You might want to take an “open book” approach to communicating with customers. Explain how things are made/done at your business. For example, you might use all local ingredients at your restaurant. Use these details to create an interesting story.

#3: Have A Clear Outcome

A great business story leaves your audience with something. What lesson was learned in the story, and what should consumers learn from hearing it?

Business stories should have a clear outcome. Provide a hopeful, thought-provoking message with actionable points that compel your audience to connect with your brand.

Here’s another story for you: In the late eighties, my partner and I wanted to write software, but we were not sure about the niche we should pursue. After doing tons of research in the phonebook and at the library (there was no internet back then), we learned that employment agencies had a desperate need for a recruiting network solution. Over thirty years after launching our startup, Top Echelon’s recruiting network has hundreds of recruiting firms and millions of candidates, which helps hiring professionals make more placements.

The story gives an idea of who we are and where we come from. The outcome sparks confidence in our offerings and values. You can use your business’s real-life outcomes to convey a message to your customers.

#4: Be Consistent

A disorganized brand story leaves customers confused and uninterested. Make sure your brand is consistent across all communication channels. Use the same colors, logo, and slogan for digital and print marketing materials. The repetition of images and verbiage associated with your business creates brand awareness.

You need to be consistent when speaking about your brand. Business storytelling takes practice. Know the story inside and out before presenting it to customers. This will help you tell the story naturally.

#5: Get Customers Involved

Use business storytelling to strike an emotional connection with customers. Talk about how an event related to your business affected you and what you learned. This creates an immediate response that makes your story memorable and shareable.

People like to be a part of stories. Your customers can be characters in your brand. Come up with ways to get your audience involved.

For example, Patriot Software reached out to some of our customers to hear their startup stories. Black Sheep Boutique and Lamplighter Brewing Co. were among several companies featured in business storytelling examples on our blog. Showcasing these businesses directly linked our customers to a part of our story.

Telling the story of your brand is an ongoing process. Each day, your business grows, shifts, and adds new chapters to its story. Make business storytelling an essential part of your operations to attract and retain customers.

Source: Forbes / Written By: Mike Kappel

Marketing often gets thrown on the back burner because it feels like time away from your business.

You’re happiest when you’re talking to your audience directly.

You’re telling them all about a product, service, or cause that you care about — and there’s a level of connection there that marketing can’t touch.

Or so you think.

It’s true — there’s plenty of yawn-inducing marketing material out there that makes you wonder if the writer herself was asleep at the keyboard.

But your business can do better than that. You can share something with your audience that awakens their attention, evokes emotion, and fosters ironclad loyalty..

Make Storytelling Your Competitive Advantage

Can storytelling really do all that?

Stories are the seeds of connection. They have staying power — think back to all the stories you can still remember from your early childhood.

And they’re more important than ever as a way to stand out from your competition.

Here are a few things storytelling can do for your business:

  • Draw people in: Stories pull us in like moths to a flame. Think about your favorite TV show or the last book you couldn’t put down. Don’t worry — your brand’s story doesn’t have to be a murder mystery to get people’s attention. Just think about the basic elements of any story (characters, plot, conflict, dialogue) and how they fit into your business.
  • Open their eyes to the people behind the business: How does your audience view your business or organization? If you’re good at what you do, there’s a good chance they think of you positively. But what if you could really show them what your business means to you? Make your product, service, or mission come alive by sharing how it motivates and inspires you each day.
  • Be unique and unforgettable: There will always be businesses with new techniques and fresh approaches that claim to do something better than you. Don’t fall for the trap of trying to do what they do better — focus on doing what you do better. Think about you business’s story and figure out what makes you different. Make this a theme in the marketing materials you create and share.
  • Provide value (to your audience and yourself): Stories deliver both entertainment and education. If you write a blog post sharing how you got involved in urban sustainability you’re educating readers and also reflecting on your personal story. Putting ideas into words helps you solidify your thoughts and gain confidence. This can come in handy the next time you decide to push yourself further and speak at an upcoming industry conference.

How can you start incorporating storytelling in your business?

Once you start to see the benefits of storytelling for your business, you’ll start wondering how you can start using it right away.

Luckily, you have plenty of outlets at your disposal. Your website, your signage, brochures, and printed communications, email and direct mail, your blog, social channels, presentation centres, and so much more.

When you're ready to start planning it all out give us a call and through our Print with Insight Program you'll be turning heads your way in no time.

 

Source: Constant Contact / Written By: Miranda Paquet

"Building a skyscraper? Forget about steel and concrete, says architect Michael Green, and build it out of ... wood. As he details in this intriguing talk, it's not only possible to build safe wooden structures up to 30 stories tall (and, he hopes, higher), it's necessary."

Michael Green Tall Wood Buildings

Vancouver’s Michael Green Architecture, a firm specializing in timber buildings, has been acquired by Silicon Valley startup Katerra.

Timber is trending. Earlier this year, Azure wrote about the proliferation of plyscrapers around the world: thanks to the possibilities of cross-laminated timber, which is fire-resistant and as strong as concrete, wood construction is being considered for 70-storey buildings in Japan, 80-storey residential projects in London and mid-rise college campuses in Toronto. And one of the most prominent champions of timber construction is Vancouver-based Michael Green, whose firm has been pushing wood buildings – and indeed wood cities – since 2012.

Green, who authored The Case for Tall Wood Buildings and won a 2017 AZ Award for Environmental Leadership for his T3 Minneapolis office building, promotes timber as an environmentally friendly alternative to concrete. Earlier this week, Michael Green Architecture (MGA) was acquired by Katerra, a Silicon Valley construction startup that received $865 million from Japanese venture capital giant Softbank Vision Fund. Reportedy valued at over $3 billion, Katerra is run by former Tesla interim CEO Michael Marks; it lists itself as a tech company, though it aims to disrupt the construction industry.

Green says that, after the acquisition, he will remain the president and CEO of his firm – it will be called Michael Green Architecture, a Katerra company. In an email, Green says that its parent company will help “advance our agenda on design, quality, sustainability and affordability.” MGA and its two dozen employees will remain in Vancouver.

Katerra, Architectural Record notes, wants to vertically integrate all aspects of construction, from design to subcontracting. Founded three years ago, it, like Green, focuses on affordability through efficiency: Katerra has created market-rate multi-family housing and student and senior housing, with projects focused on mass-timber construction. The acquisition of MGA, it seems, is a step towards making its architecture division more environmentally friendly – and could provide Green with wider resources, both human and financial, to achieve his wood-built ambitions.

The terms of MGA’s acquisition by Katerra were not disclosed.

Green said the acquisition allows him to make a bigger impact on the North American market – though his reach already extends beyond his Gastown office. MGA’s recent projects include the OSU College of Forestry building at Oregon State University, a proposal for the world’s tallest timber tower in Paris, and Riverfront Square, a 2,000-unit residential project in New Jersey.

Though the acquisition is a victory for Green, it’s also a promising step for the future of timber construction. Silicon Valley’s embrace – and investment – in architecture, green design and wood construction could have a lasting impact on the built environment. For a glimpse of what the future may have in store, watch Green’s influential TEDxTalk above.

Source: AZURE / Written By: Mark Teo

Last year was all about taking risks in graphic design. But most of the graphic design trends we predicted last year have become mainstream. Like incorporating a whole new world of colour, and breathing life into print with a rainbow of metallic huges. Click HERE to download the metallic ink design guide.

8 Graphic Design Trends

What are the BIGGEST graphic design trends of 2019 that you should be following?

That’s what this design guide will tell you. For an in-depth guide to the biggest graphic design trends in 2019, check out the full article and infographic HERE.

The blog post contains a ton of examples for each trend, as well as templates that you can use to stay on top of the trends. In the video above, we introduce you to the 8 graphic design trends that we predict are going to take over in 2019. We’ve included examples from some of the biggest brands in tech right now, including Apple, Spotify, MailChimp, Facebook and more.

If you want your branding to be ahead of the curve, try incorporating some of these graphic design trends into your proposals, marketing materials, packaging and internal communications.

Source: Venngage / Written By: Ryan McCready

The strategic use of psychology in direct mail can drive amazing results. Did you know that our brain is doing most of its work outside of our consciousness? If we are able to create a good direct mail psychology strategy that enables us to tap into subconscious decisions, we can generate a greater response from prospects and customers.

Direct Mail Psychology

How Can This Work?

1. Emotional Triggers

Both men and women need emotional engagement for direct mail to work. This requires the use of both good emotional copy and imagery. Segmentation can really help you target the right people with the right emotional copy and images.

2. Overload

When there is too much clutter of messages, either copy or images, the brain cannot process it. Make sure that you leave white space and use concise copy so that the brain can easily process your message.

3. Interesting

The brain likes puzzles and humor. Keep them simple for easy understanding. They are effective, with increased engagement.

4. Women and Empathy

If your audience is women, you need to tap into empathy. Women engage with images depicting faces and direct eye contact. Women also respond to group/community activity images and, of course, babies, too. Some women will pay attention to messages that make life easier, celebrate her or allow her to do multiple things.

A complicated mail message will most likely be ignored by the brain. There are ways to simplify your copy and images to capture attention.

 

How to Capture Attention

Novelty — This is the No. 1 way to capture attention. Our brains are trained to look for something new and cool. A novel message or layout can really help you stand out in the mail box.

Eye Contact — Humans are social beings. Images of people or animals making eye contact with your prospects or customers grab attention and draw them into the mail piece.

When you are able to integrate a multiple sensory experience into your mail piece, you create a richer and deeper engagement with your audience.

How to use the senses:

  • Vision — A quarter of the human brain is used for visual processing. It is the strongest sense we have. Great images can compel high response rates for your direct mail.
  • Smell — Our sense of smell is hard-wired directly to our memory and emotions. Smells can invoke immediate reactions. This can be harder to do with direct mail, but when used correctly, it is powerful. If you do decide to use a scent, make sure it fits your branding and message.
  • Taste — Although it is possible to make edible direct mail, getting people to actually try it is another story. This is a good sense, but smell can trigger what you need without trying to get people to eat your mailer.
  • Hearing — Adding sound to your mail piece can be a bit costly, but depending on what you are selling, it may be just what you need. For instance, a casino that wants to drive more people to slot machines can send a mailer with the sound of coins dropping.
  • Touch — This one is, by far, my favorite besides vision for direct mail. With our fingertips being the most sensitive to how things feel, adding special textures and coatings can really make your mail piece pop.

As you can see, the brain is powerful and is very good at ignoring messages. Taking the time to consider all of these psychological factors can really help you drive your response rates up. As always, focusing your messaging with targeted segments to really reach the right people with the right message will increase the success of your mail campaigns. Are you ready to get started?

Source: Target Marketing / Written By: Summer Gould

“Without trust, your relationship does not exist; all you have is a series of transactions,” says Rosa Sheng, architect and senior associate at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

Trust is the foundation of any relationship between architect and client, and cultivating trust has huge benefits: repeat clients, patience when challenges arise, and referrals to new clients. But a weak or eroded sense of trust can harm your reputation, cost you future business, and even drive clients toward litigation.

Due to the complex nature of architecture projects, a number of factors can make or break an architect-client relationship. Here are seven tips from architectural experts to help you build and maintain trust.

Build Maintain Trust

1. Have an Effective Online Presence.

The first way to build a client’s trust—before you ever meet in person—is with your online presence. An unsubstantial or outdated online presence can be a red flag for prospective clients, so keep your website and professional profiles (including LinkedIn) updated with information about your firm and projects. “How is the client supposed to build trust if they look you up and can’t find anything about you?” Sheng asks.

2. Communicate Well Consistently.

Good communication is the cornerstone of building trust. “We get lost in the design process, and then we forget to communicate what’s happening and how it’s happening in an effective way and on a regular basis,” Sheng says. A regular check-in can bring potential problems to the surface early in the process and show the client you’re fully engaged.

Communicating your design intent to clients in a language your clients can understand is also essential to building trust. Make sure you don’t use “archispeak”—words such as “parti” and “trombe wall.” Architects often assume that clients can read drawings well and share the same technical vocabulary, which is usually not the case.

3. Show Your Vision With BIM.

Using 3D-modeling software like BIM, you can convey design and site-planning concepts via virtual walk-throughs and visualizations, leaving little room for clients to misinterpret your designs. This process also allows you to anticipate conflicts that may come up in construction with more accuracy so you can solve problems and reduce change orders.

“With BIM, you can go in with a wider array of tools and answer questions that would never have come up if you were just looking at 2D plans,” says Philip Noland, design visualization artist and owner of Noland Design Studio. “It brings about new exploration. The questions aren’t glazed over—they’re really looked at.”

For architect Lionel Scharly from Scharly Designer Studio, using BIM visualizations instills trust because clients can see the whole picture. “The more the client has details of the project, the better they understand, the more you accumulate their trust,” he says. “They are the ones paying, but they often don’t have a background in architecture, yet they want to be ‘in the project.”

4. Don’t Overpromise.

One of the most fundamental ways to build trust is to deliver what you’ve committed to doing. “The fear of saying no is rampant in our industry,” Sheng says. It’s especially hard to say no when it’s a down market and architects are starved for work. But in the long run, when you’ve said yes to something you can’t deliver just to get a job, your client will stop trusting you.

To avoid biting off more than you can chew, talk your clients through their project goals to confirm what they want can be done. “If it passes the three-question challenge, then it might be okay,” Sheng says. “Ask about the desired goal in three different ways—with a focus on design, budget, and schedule—to make sure they thought through their idea.”

5. Do Your Homework.

Designing a building entails a lot of moving parts. It’s important that you do your homework on factors such as applicable codes, the properties of materials you want to use, and what things cost. Clients rely on architects to be the experts in many arenas, and by doing your homework, you will convey the correct information and make fewer mistakes. “You definitely have to know what you’re talking about, so when you tell the client something, always double-check that it is accurate,” Sheng says.

6. Be Honest in Setting Expectations.

If you discover a problem, it may be tempting to cave to your client to curry favor. For example, if you learn the project will cost more than the client can afford, it’s important to deliver the message without wavering—even if the client pushes back. “There’s an expectation for an architect to push the boundaries, be innovative, and stretch the dollar, but the architect still needs to be financially responsible,” Sheng says. “Show conviction and maintain integrity in your professional expertise. Trust is built on consistency.”

Clients may also have unrealistic demands to squeeze the budget and schedule, and it’s your job to be honest about what’s feasible. “Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, and in some cases, we lose out,” Sheng says. “But in the long term, the client realizes that you were right, and the truth prevails.”

Being up front about cost and viability can also prevent you from absorbing costs outside your initial scope, which can negatively impact your profit margin on the project.

7. Offer New and Creative Solutions.

When trust is lost due to a mistake or failed promise, it may take a long time to re-establish it. The best way to regain trust is to acknowledge where you went wrong, apologize, and offer solutions.

A contract BIM manager in the Facilities Management Group at Carolinas HealthCare System, Meghan Ruffo regularly collaborates with architects. For her, defaulting to problem solving within a linear 2D process—design, then engineer, then build—can erode confidence. “The willingness to think about how to solve the problem is important, rather than relying on the traditional approach or what an architect has always done in specific scenarios in the past,” she says.

For Sheng, creative problem solving is particularly important when the stakes are high: “Because construction is such a costly endeavor, costing hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, it is a huge responsibility for architects to be the steward of that kind of money in the form of a building.”

Source: Redshift by Autodesk / Written By: Taz Khatri

Monday, 24 September 2018 10:04

How Empathy for Clients Can Set You Apart

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Think beyond “educating the client” to build transformational relationships.

“If only we could educate the client about the true value of architecture,” goes the wistful narrative, “then they would have greater appreciation for architects and what they do.” It is clear to many members of the profession that this painfully slow enlightenment process needs to be accelerated. What if architects used an evidence-based approach to design a better way to transform their client’s thinking? What if these initiatives made use of research on experiential learning? What if more clients engaged in interactive experiences that generate exceptional value?

Empathy For Clients for BlogPost

The shift to transformational experiences

Transformational client-architect experiences are based upon mutually beneficial exchanges of knowledge and aha’s that occur before, during, and after the project. In contrast to fee-driven transactions, these two-way engagements bring out the best in both entities. They are built on empathy and the trusting relationships that develop when the architect and client think through possibilities and constraints together.

“I love my clients,” says Gregory Henriquez, Architect AIBC, FRAIC, managing partner of Henriquez Partners Architects and a leader among a new generation of ethical, activist architects. “We decline one or two project requests a week because we choose our clients. Rather than being reactive, we decided to take control of our careers and surround ourselves with people who have a reciprocal relationship with us. Clients are attracted by our commitment to doing something meaningful and exceptional together. We provide them with a positive experience.”

“Like a lot of architects, I used to be fearful of showing clients my work in progress,” Henriquez continues, “then I experimented with sharing the design as it evolved and discovered to my surprise,  the more I did that, the more excited they got about the emerging ideas.”     

More architects are taking the initiative to shape project opportunities and the selection process. They are using fresh thinking, meaningful interaction and empathy for clients to be the proverbial firm that has the inside track.

What is empathy-driven marketing?

Empathy is the ability to put yourself “in someone else’s shoes” to understand how they see things. For architects this involves being attuned to a client’s concerns, hopes and fears—both spoken and unspoken. When framing communication and marketing strategies for your firm, an empathy-driven approach can more clearly distinguish you from the many firms that vaguely claim they listen and collaborate. Empathy also means caring enough to interview clients long before they create their selection criteria and being in a position to influence those criteria.

Use empathy to triumph over apathy

When I conduct interviews with clients to understand why they choose one top design firm over another, they tend to talk about the working relationship. For example, they cite “someone who cares about my obsessions as a client, not just their obsessions,” and they praise the architect who “has our best interests at heart,” or the firm that “shows they really care about us.”

Overwhelming research on how people make major buying decisions indicates that emotions rule their choices. Typically, the purchaser’s conscious and unconscious feelings are then justified with logic (such as assigning point scores in the case of public work proposal evaluations).

In other words, an excellent way to build greater appreciation for what architects do is to communicate that you recognize the demands, risks, pressures and primal fears of being a client. Often when spending large sums of money, clients must justify their decisions to others, some are under hostile public scrutiny, and some may even fear losing their job if project planning mistakes are made. Also, clients are frequently asked to quickly digest concepts that may have taken a design team days or weeks to evolve back in the studio. So you can set yourself apart by integrating clients into your design and planning deliberations so that they can proceed with confidence.

Every project begins with a conversation

From my experience, thought leaders in the profession begin the design process with the premise that we must seek first to understand,” says John Stephenson, OAA, MRAIC, partner, FORM Architecture Engineering and current president of the Ontario Association of Architects. “This involves not just passive listening; it requires insightful questions that are ‘designed’ to achieve an exceptional level of understanding before leaping to a hypothesis. It poses design ideas not as solutions, which presume that the architect has all the answers, but as a series of ‘what if’ questions that challenge both designer and client. This quality of interaction brings real craft and greater perceived value to the design that emerges.

Where are you on the empathy spectrum?

A doctor can be dedicated to the medical profession while not appearing to care that much about patients. Likewise, on one extreme of the marketing spectrum we find architects who describe themselves as passionate about architecture without explaining how their passion translates into benefits for a client. Marketing profiles that neglect to mention the client’s role may unintentionally convey a message that clients will be viewed primarily as a means to expand portfolios, win awards and fulfill a need for self-expression.

On the other side of the empathy spectrum we find architects who see a common cause with clients, serving their own agenda as well as client needs, fears, hopes and priorities. These architects build trust and enthusiasm with clients through interactions that demonstrate they truly care.

From the client’s perspective, how can I tell where you fall on this empathy spectrum? Many architect profiles are written in a way that appeals to other architects, rather than speaking to the client as reader. If your clients would truly say you “care about us” this is a crucial differentiator that should be conveyed through all your written and verbal communication.

Caring does not mean compromise

If you practice principle-centred negotiation you know that in order to get what you want, you must first discover what the other person wants. Finding common ground—or agreeing on a common cause—does not need to involve compromise. So when we talk about a client-centric, empathy-driven marketing strategy for architectural services, it does not mean that design quality will be diminished. But it does require asking astute questions that reveal where your interests intersect with your client’s.     

Bryan Croeni, AIA, director, B+H Advance Strategy immerses his clients in a rigorous participatory design experience that sparks animated dialogue about what’s truly important and meaningful to stakeholders. This empathy-driven approach has multiple benefits that serve to differentiate the firm. “In addition to enriching the value of our interaction with clients,” Bryan says, “our process saves time by surfacing challenges and opportunities early on in the project. In a rapidly changing, complex planning and design environment, our clients can’t afford to settle for easy conclusions and untested assumptions. Status quo mindsets are destined to yield status quo outcomes, which is risky in an environment of accelerating change.”

In my consulting work I encounter architects who have collaborative process talents that they take for granted. These capabilities, rooted in empathy and appreciation for the high stakes decisions that clients must face, often get masked by standard marketing claims. An empathy-driven approach to marketing can reveal fresh opportunities and strengthen client relationships. To do this, you need to paint a picture of what it feels like to collaborate with your team and the benefits of your unique way of working. How do you develop a deeper understanding of what each client wants their project to achieve?

Rather than rely on well-worn phrases that clients see as norms for the profession—such as years of experience and vague, me-too statements about excellence and innovation—what if you conveyed the quality of client experience and the benefits of that interaction? If empathy is about understanding how clients see things, how do you gain that understanding rather than proceed on the basis of assumptions?

Communicating a higher quality of interaction could encompass:

  1. How you help clients think through options in order to make better, more confident decisions.
  2. How you probe beyond stated requirements to discover true needs and wants.
  3. How you find out what matters most in the client’s mind, rather than acting on assumptions.
  4. How you identify a “common cause” that reflects both your interests and the client’s priorities (without compromises).   
  5. How a client would describe the experience of working with you (vs. generic marketing language).

Describe your consultative approach

In recent years, doctors have added “patient interview skills” to their classroom curriculum. They realize that traditional, paternalistic ways of dispensing their wisdom must be replaced with a consultative approach. Design clients often don’t know what questions they should be asking, in the same sense that you may not know all the questions you should be asking your doctor. Also, clients frequently don’t fully understand their needs until the design process begins to unfold.

How effective are your client interview skills? Architects who establish an outstanding reputation for empathy are more than good listeners. They certainly are not order-takers, because they don’t accept what clients say at face value. They do not say “we will build your vision.” Instead, similar to a good doctor, they know that better questions lead to better answers.

Your ability to respond to what matters most

Enormous amounts of time can be wasted when we jump ahead without asking “what matters?” to clients. Are we making the right assumptions? Are we ruling out the right possibilities?

“We make our thinking process highly visible by involving clients in hands-on working sessions, rather than relying on presentations that require us to convince decision makers, says Tania Bortolotto, OAA, FRAIC, president, Bortolotto. “Our transparent approach allows us to spotlight how we explore project possibilities and creative problem solving. It also helps clients digest complex issues so they feel more confident as we move forward.”

Are you hiding your most valuable client collaboration skills behind a wall of “me-too” claims?  Not every architect is interested in delving into these emotional aspects of the business. Yet an empathy-driven strategy will make the value of what you do more obvious to clients, and free you from the commodity services trap.

Source: Canadian Architect / Written By: Sharon Vanderkaay

It’s an age-old debate: direct mail versus email marketing.

Supporters of digital media will say why drain your marketing budget on direct mail campaigns that nobody reads when you can contact your customers using the channels they prefer — television, social media, and mobile?

However, the latest data makes a strong case for printed direct mail. Sure, social media and mobile marketing are on the rise. But that doesn’t mean that customers aren’t responding to direct mail or that this channel is losing its effectiveness. That’s just plain false.

The reality is, direct mail remains a critical part of the mix. So the next time someone tries to tell you direct mail is dead, remember:

Direct Mail Marketing

1. Direct mail doesn’t require opt-in

Unlike email and text messaging, you don’t have to get a recipient’s permission to send them direct mail. This means, even if a customer doesn’t subscribe or unsubscribes from your email list, you can still get in touch with them. (Which is why it’s always a good idea to get physical addresses from those on your email lists!)

2. Direct mail never stays in a spam filter

"Yes, your message may be picked by someone else," notes Roger Buck, former director of marketing and product development at The Flesh Company. "But the chances are small - and direct mail never has a virus."

3. Direct mail stays effective longer than you think

Direct mail is a bit like a note on the refrigerator door. "We sometimes hear from customers that our mail stays on their desk for weeks," says Andre Palko, president of Technifold USA. "They may not immediately take action, but our brand lingers until they are ready to contact us. An e-mail does not last as well - and is far less striking. "

4. It’s still effective when the target recipient has moved on

“If you send an email to someone who’s no longer at a particular company, it bounces. If you send a postcard, the new person in that job sees it — and you’ve just introduced yourself as a vendor,” says Palko.

5. With direct mail you do not have to fight to get attention

E-mail is effective, but also overwhelming. In 2014, The Radicati Group concluded that the average business customer sends or receives 121 emails per day. In 2018 there are probably 141 in all likelihood.

Larry Bradley, owner of Proforma Sunbelt Graphics, writes: "The overwhelming deluge of e-mail in the office is a solid hurdle for e-mail marketers. It is difficult to distinguish the mess from the real mails, so that a large part of business e-mails is not read at all. By contrast, companies receive much less marketing by mail than ten years ago - a unique advantage for direct mail."

6. Certain offers just won’t get traction by email

There’s a reason businesses are more likely to get lending offers in the mail than they are by email. B2B decision-makers trust direct mail more than email, especially for high value products and services. Mailers can also include a wide variety of trust-building content not possible (or reasonable) to include in email. Yes, you can provide links. But with direct mail, you get that content in front of them in a tangible way right out of the gate.

7. Direct mail can reach high-level decision-makers

There are only so many things you can do to make email look more important. But beyond writing a compelling subject line, most of them look hokey. Direct mail offers options like kits, dimensional mail, and unique packaging options that, by their nature, get past the gatekeepers. (Palko has used everything from metallic envelopes, lunch bags, packing list pouches and prescription bottles to mail letters. “They are not only fun, but they get opened!” he says.) While these mailings may have higher price tags, they can also get near 100% open rates. When you’re trying to reach the C-Suite, that’s worth a lot..

8. Direct mail drives social media and online marketing

Many people believe you don’t need direct mail when you have social media and mobile marketing. What they’re overlooking is how social media and mobile marketing relationships get captured in the first place. Very often, it’s through print. Saying that you only need social and mobile is akin to saying that when you buy a house you only need the upper stories and not the foundation. Without print, getting social and mobile engagements is much more difficult.

Don’t let digital marketers get away with stealing your customers based on false contrasts. Open the discussion about the benefits of direct mail versus email—and when to use each. Be proactive and let direct mail showcase what you can do.

Source: Xerox / Written By: Heidi Tolliver-Walker

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