Whether you’re a large architecture firm or a small, boutique design studio, everyone needs a plan for generating new business. The prospect of working on RFPs (Request For Proposals) and RFQs (Request For Qualifications) to win a place on the shortlist, however, is daunting and something very few people look forward to.
by Sabrina Wirth
Fortunately, it’s not the only path to attracting new projects. In fact, the most effective business development strategies involve more time spent on proactive relationship-building (before the project is made public), and less time on responding to RFPs and RFQs, which are available to anyone.
Below are 9 strategies that can help you define a good business development approach to get you ahead of the competition and win more clients and projects:
#1 – Identify the ideal project, and then work backwards
What are the ideal projects for your firm? Who are the people who can lead you to them? Do some research into their social environments and find ways to meet them there. The best projects or partnerships occur through direct commissions via a personal contact. Make the personal connection by networking in the same places that your ideal client spends time in. If you haven’t already, start thinking of everyone in your rolodex as a potential client, collaborator, or lead to new information; it may just be that the person who may lead you to the next job is someone you already know.
#2 – Export your design as portable, and shareable objects
Several companies design books that showcase their projects. Rather than make the book simply a portfolio, make the book a design object itself. Your design philosophy should be manifested in any tangible object (books, business cards, etc) your company produces, so that whenever you meet a potential client, you can offer them a small sample of what makes your firm so great. Follow up with well-designed emails, and be sure that your website is clear and easy to understand. The worst is for a client to be turned off by a slow or complicated website.
#3 – Follow up
Always make sure to have business cards on hand, and after you receive a handful of business cards at networking events, be sure to enter them into your email list and stay in contact through periodic, personal emails. If you want to send out occasional updates with a mass mailing service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact, be sure to ask if they’d like to be included in the mailing list.