A Smashingly Effective Alternative To The ‘Free Consultation’

Architects Marketing One Page Action Plan

The marketing approach we teach here on Architects Marketing of providing educational material is very good at generating incoming project inquiries.

In contrast, the typical ineffective way most architects offer their services is similar to this:

Richard Petrie Architects
25 Years Experience
Call 555-123-4567

This does not work very well. Very few people who see it actually make the call.

I suggest you offer a ‘Free guide to hiring an architect’ with a call to action like ‘go to www.whatever.com and enter your email address for instant access’.

This allows us to get names and email addresses in return for the educational content. Typically we can get ten times more leads using this two step process than a typical architect can get using the one step ‘pick me’ advertising.

So far so good.

Since we have a bucket full of leads interested in new build or renovation … what do we do now?

We now need a good reason to get face to face or at least on the phone. No one will buy expensive services based on a report or book alone.

I like to consider selling high value services like architecture a lot like romance.

Consider selling this first meeting like selling a first date to a girl – it pays to make the offer as attractive as possible.

Maybe she doesn't like the look of you, but if the event you took her to was something she liked then you have a good chance of getting her to say ‘yes' again.

For example, taking a girl to a bar might not be an attractive proposition, but going to the finest restaurant in town might be.

From there you have a chance to win her over with your charismatic personality and maybe she will forgive you for your ‘rugged’ looks.

Most people offer a lame ‘Free Consultation’ as a first date offer.

To many this feels like a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing – a sales pitch in disguise.

It sounds like you have a hidden agenda:

  • There is no purpose to the meeting outlined
  • It doesn't promise any result other than meeting you (that may not be enough, Mr. Good Looking)

So the challenge is: Can we create a ‘first date’ that sounds more attractive?

Let’s face it, it won't be hard. There isn't much romance in the ‘free consultation’.

  • What are the problems people have in the early stages of considering a renovation or a new build?
  • Do we need it?
  • What will it cost?
  • Are my ideas even feasible?
  • What is the process?
  • Who do I need to contact?
  • Where do I start?
  • Do I need to speak with the council?

People don’t know where to start, they get overwhelmed and confused, so an offer that would reduce confusion and uncertainty seems like a good idea.

We need something that doesn't offer to give away too much free advice or expertise, but is genuinely useful to the client.

An Alternative To The Free Consultation

Architects Marketing Academy member Mark Siddall and I had discussed the idea of offering a One Page Action Plan (OPAP) as a nice helpful service way to provide direction and certainty for people.

What is a One Page Action Plan? Read on, soldier…

I decided to run a quick two email test offer.

You may have received my emails. The idea was to meet with me for one hour and we would identify where you are now, where you want to go to and then develop a one page action plan to get you started.

This is a genuinely valuable offer. Getting that level of expert focus and direction can transform a business.

Obviously this is not much different from what an architect could offer. A one page plan from you that outlines what to do to get started is hugely valuable.

In my case I got 7 people requesting a one hour OPAP for a small fee of $150. Probably a couple will end up becoming clients with me after they get their OPAP. So $1,050 in upfront fees from a simple test because the offer was going to be valuable.

Remember these people were not a hot as someone who had just requested a guide to renovating, so you could easily get more.

You need a strong ‘here's what you will get' and ‘here's why you should do this' and maybe even a ‘here's what can go wrong if you don’t do an OPAP'.

Let’s put this “One Page Action Plan” into an architect's perspective.

Here’s how we might ‘sell’ the concept of doing a One Page Action Plan session with you:

1) Problem: Many are confused and don’t know what they don’t know. They procrastinate because they lack direction and certainty.

The solution is doing your research and homework before you start to spend money. The OPAP is designed to help you know where to start and make sure you do things right from the start before you meet a builder or architect.

2) Problem: Costs blow out when too many assumptions are made.

Solution: Your OPAP will tell you what to research so you can eliminate assumptions (and costly mistakes) before you head to a builder or architect.

Doing an OPAP does not guarantee a sale but positioned right makes it easier to ‘sell’ the ‘first date’.

Make the first date so good that they want more.

The rest is up to you, my friend.

Happy marketing.

Please tell me your thoughts in the comments below. How do you structure your initial meeting with a client? Is it free?

4 comments on “A Smashingly Effective Alternative To The ‘Free Consultation’

  1. There was always something uncomfortable, or just didn’t feel right, with that first/ ‘free’ consultation meeting. It’s a great meet and getting to know session, but often times it lacked direction. Getting together an action plan enables us (the architect) to pursue asking the right questions while keeping the clients focused on the important matters that can either make or break a project. It’s a very honest approach which benefits both parties involved. Thank so much for this article. I am now currently working on my action plan template and am very much enjoying the process! Can’t wait to use it soon.

    • Sienna Mae Heath on said:

      You’re right, Jose, a lot of architects feel the same way. Offering direction in that first meeting helps you and the client in the long run. Congrats on getting started with your OPAP. Let us know when you’re ready to share it. We invite you to become an AMI member so that we can offer you some feedback!

  2. Richard on said:

    Francisca
    Yes the one page action plan is the reason for the meeting.
    Many people like me just want to know how to get started.
    If they see a roadmap that makes sense then they can move ahead.
    Richard

  3. Francisca Alonso on said:

    Hi Eric – great idea on this action plan! My question is simple: do you first meet with the prospect and then send them this action plan for the fee? How do you convince them to meet with you? By telling them you will provide them with this One Page Action Plan at the end? Thanks!
    Francisca Alonso

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