Dave Sharp advises architecture firms on social media, communication and marketing strategy. More.
When I start consulting with a new client I run them through all the processes they'll be handling on their own after a few sessions.
It's daunting at first. Facebook ads, Instagram and LinkedIn. PR, SEO and Sales. Blogging, newsletters and case studies. CRMs, Lead-gen and Data Analysis. The list goes on.
"How the f*ck can I do all that when I don't even have time to upload something to Instagram each week??"
To make things even scarier, I let them know that they'll soon be doing all of this in roughly the same amount of time they're currently spending on their marketing. Whether that news comes as a relief, or doubles their anxiety, is a kind of glass half-full thing.
How can you pull it off? Tools.
Luckily there are great tools that will help you to batch your marketing workload and automate a lot of the busywork so that the internet doesn't become your part-time job.
My initial consulting sessions are always dedicated to building up a 'tech stack'. The list below are mandatory investments for my clients because it makes their lives easier.
If your firm is doing any commercial or civic work, you'll need LinkedIn to connect with decision makers. Sales Navigator (a premium feature) makes this a breeze because it gives you advanced search options for things like Job Title, Seniority, Industry, Keywords, Time In Position and about a dozen other things.
It will help you find the right leads faster and spend less time schmoozing with unqualified connections.
Pair Sales Navigator with Linked Helper - a robot that runs in your browser sending connection requests, messages or endorsements.
Every firm uses Mailchimp to send newsletters (when they actually get around to it), but Mailchimp is designed for transactional emails. I encourage my client to focus on editorial newsletters instead, where you collect interesting articles related to your core service and deliver them in a weekly or fortnightly roundup.
Editorial newsletters focused on a specific niche work because they're actually worth signing up for, and they help to position your firm as an authority on the topic.
For editorial newsletters, nothing beats Revue for simplicity and style. Use your browser plugin to pin interesting articles throughout the week, then drag and drop them into your template and hit send.
Batch scheduling daily Instagram posts is non-negotiable. I recommend fortnightly or monthly Instagram scheduling sessions. Schedugram is the leader of the scheduling pack because it has set and forget automatic posting (rather than pesky reminders), hashtags in the comments automatically, and an easy to use library for your drafts.
Bowerbird is home to 743 architecture and design publications who are looking for great projects to show their audiences. Building media kits and messaging them to journalists with Bowerbird is easy - so you'll have no excuse not to scream your success from the mountains.
Your all-in-one app for on-page SEO. Contentking will scan your website and point out every single issue your website has, from a missing sitemap, to broken links, to pages that don't have enough text, missing titles and so much more.
The UI is beautiful, and it's designed in a way that even total SEO novices can understand the problems with their website and fix them in real time.
Once setup, GSC tells you every search query your website turned up for over a given period, the number of clicks through to your site and what position you rank for for each query.
If you're working on improving your SEO, you'll need GSC to identify valuable keywords where you can improve, and whether you're making progress over time.
Hardly anyone outside of marketing even knows this free tool exists.
Anyone who has worked with me knows that I love Calendly, a smart meeting scheduling app that connects directly to your calendar.
This tool is important for batching meetings, locking your availability, scheduling without the fuss and working across timezones without confusion.
Trello is a visual planning tool that you can use to schedule content, manage your CRM, track projects and do just about anything else you need.
It connects with apps like Calendly - which means you can track leads automatically and pre-fill the questions they answered when they booked the call.
It's important to understand where your project leads are in the funnel, and Trello will help you to maintain the executive overview you need.
This is the "social media scheduling tool that manages itself". Meet Edgar will help you to build a library of topical evergreen content to share on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Unlike other scheduling tools, Meet Edgar randomly shuffles the content so that your queue never runs dry.
Add a mix of blog posts, articles about your firm, interviews and any other content you can get your hands on.
Minter is the best analytics and insights tool for Instagram business profiles. Rather than using the janky in-app Insights menu, which only gives your weekly vanity metrics - Minter will give you very detailed (sexy graphs) information about your Instagram account.
Tracking things like time to post, photo reach, engagement and follower growth - and exporting nice PDF reports - is a lot easier with Minter than any other tool I've used.
Ghost is the best in class blogging platform to accompany your website if you're looking to setup a blog to share your ideas. Whether you've used Wix, Squarespace, Wordpress or something else - Ghost's managed plan will plug into your domain and give you a modern, responsive and SEO-friendly blog.
The writing experience is very smooth, and the social media sharing is perfect every time.
Ghost blogs also have in-built email collection so you won't have to worry about how to set that up.
If your team is using Slack, you need to install Gratify bot.
Gratify is a network of freelancers like Freelancer.com or Airtasker, who will complete a wide range of tasks for you including website changes, copywriting, graphic design, marketing and so much more.
I use Gratify all the time for little things that I just want to delegate to either save time, or because I genuinely don't know what I'm doing and need an expert.
The beauty of the whole thing is that once a task is posted to the bot and a match is made, you'll be connected with your freelancer directly in Slack - so you don't even have to leave your team chat to manage your project, approve the work and make the payment.
Figuring our which SEO keywords to target is often hard and expensive - the popular tools are bloated and can cost hundreds of dollars per month. This free tool by marketing guru Neil Patel offers all of the important data you need to make smart SEO decisions including keyword suggestions, research and SERP analysis.
Put in "Architects" and your city to see how your website is performing, your competitors and keywords with similar traffic that might be easier to rank for.
Chatbots are cool, but sometimes you don't need to actually talk to your visitors - it's just helpful to use a bot to ask the right questions, gather information from your visitors, and help to pre-qualify them before offering them an option to schedule a call.