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I have found that advertising as a design/build contractor did very little if anything to increase business. What made it go was good work at a fair price with lots of references. I live in a small town so the big city I'm sure is different.

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use linkedin


join associations like AIA and NARI for networking


create a website


we are not architects and it is illegal to claim to be one


one every webpage we stated "Software used is Chief Architect"


that way the SEO (search engine optimization) for google etc will find you

when the client searches for "architect"


when interviewing the client if they needed an architect I would refer them to some that I met at AIA and NARI

or made it clear we were designers


started out part-time in 2006, our first full year was 2007, we had 13 clients, 18 projects, won an historical merit award via NARI

and made $56,000


then 2008 hit :(



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Like Lew suggested, you get on every communication channel possible and make yourself known (Facebook, website, Houzz, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest etc, ). you also do everyone right plus like Shane said, it is a full-time job helping others and by helping others plus and communicating like mad to the World, you then get a positive inflow of people that need your specific help.


You also contact all your old customers to see if they need anything or know anyone who needs your kind of help. Believe me, this will keep you busy and it WILL get the phone to ring and ring. Waiting for the phone to ring is a death sentence. Be competent and be constructively busy, always.



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Gain a rapport with other contractors, be they design-build or not... I have always received work from other contractors who are overextended or aren't interested in a project. Especially those who don't do design-build. Its good to know budget contractors and high-end custom builders, all of it helps to pass work back and forth through respective channels. Same goes for your engineers, geotechs, civil, structural, architects etc.

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On 6/1/2018 at 3:32 PM, ShaneK said:

I have found that advertising as a design/build contractor did very little if anything to increase business....

...other than find bad clients. Word of mouth is always the best but it does depend on your business model. We have businesses around here that advertise heavily, burn through lots of clients with a fair amount of unhappy clients -  I've talked to them - but they are busy. If that's what you are looking for then you need a marketing plan that actually works and shows results.


We chased google listings and all the other forms of marketing and all we got was crappy clients. All of our word of mouth clients were staller and remain clients to this day.


2 hours ago, para-CAD said:

- Word of mouth. 

- Yelp. 

- Helping people outside of trying to make a buck on everything. 


Good happens. 

Yup. But again depends on the business model you've chosen for your company.

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On 6/1/2018 at 8:35 AM, paulmmw7 said:

For all other Design Build Firms on here, what types of advertising do you guys find success in. We are a young growing company and want to get our name out there as best as we can.



Also remember that growing has its own risks and growing too fast can be fatal for your reputation. Can you find good help? I mean good help - we couldn't. Can you handle a LOT of work that an advertising campaign might bring in? It's each individual's call but growing slowly and organically (meaning growing within your client base, your true skill sets, word of mouth referrals instead of advertising) can create a slow growing, steady business that can survive the down times (which will come) as well as the good times.

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Relationships with Realtors. Locally, about 50-70% of the houses purchased immediately have some work done. Usually something large unless the house had been turned by a flipper(or "Developer" as I have been informed is a better term). 

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Good points from everyone.


On 6/3/2018 at 3:20 PM, HumbleChief said:

Also remember that growing has its own risks and growing too fast can be fatal for your reputation.

So true!


Never become a commodity that can be found anywhere.  If you do, you will always be competing on price.

It can be hard at first, but find a niche and become the absolute go-to authority in that niche.

Educate your prospect (in your marketing) to a point that they say to themselves, "I would have to be and absolute fool to work with anyone else but you!)


Need more help?  Check out all the free content on

I have no ties to their company, but I know each one of these guys and their systems absolutely work. 


I have retired from marketing, but if you would like to listen to our 2.5 hour, (which sold for $200), audio program on "marketing that works", you can download it here. Dominance Training Program -

Please do not share this outside this community (or with your competition of course :D

This is for information only.  I do not consult or offer marketing services any longer.  The systems work and we were able to help a few startups even go international.  If there was ever a downside it was what Larry mentioned, growing too fast.  Build your business systems at the same time you build your marketing.


BTW:  At this point in time, we no longer use our own systems.  Why?  We are as big as we want to be and we are already booked out 2 years.  I did use these methods to get to this point.

I won't leave the link posted here forever.  I hope find value in the information.

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