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Hi Martin,
Thought I would just drop in with a few of my thoughts on your issue.

I have approached architects a couple of ways over the years. They can be a difficult lot to work with.

Firstly you can get a lot of the names you need from their websites, industry mags and by asking someone else who deals with architects.
Find another supplier or a builder you know, ask who they know at which firms, this also gives you the leverage of a well placed name drop to get in the door. When you get talking to one of the principals, just ask who the head is over at XYZ Firm, they will generally tell you.

Secondly you could find a small firm that still exists from your time 12 years ago, contact them and see if you can establish a business relationship with them, just do a few little jobs that you can use as testimonials and they might also be able to talk about your service at the next Architects get together. (they seem to have gab fests occasionally)

I don’t know about in big cities, but in the larger regional areas of NSW I just walked into their offices carrying a screen sample that was something they could play with and was able to talk to principals at about 80% of the 30 odd firms. I had done homework on about half of them and the other half were cold drop ins.

I agree with Leela that you need to work out your value, get your proposition and copy just right if you are doing a proper marketing exercise.
Question though – Can you cope if 100 of the companies you letter dropped said Yeah we want to see you this week, or Yes we will send over a draft we need it done by Friday this week?
To illustrate that point, I get the best response to one of my products from a home show, but I can never cope with the quantity of leads because the only home show in town is during the busiest 8 weeks of my work year and I am fully booked for 4 weeks after the show about 6 weeks before the show, and it is not a simple sell and fit product.

As much as you do provide a much better finished product, often companies that use their own in house staff, feel that they have employed the best they can and believe that their output is spectacular, even though you know it could be better. You could be insulting them generally if you pointed this out.

Good luck with it, I have generally found that architects need to touch and feel, maybe go sparingly with the copy writer and send a copy of your work, personally addressed to a few good contacts in such a way as it will get opened and played with. Have a look around an architects office, they have a zillion pamphlets in neat rows on shelves (too many to find what they think might be there), but there is always a sample (something to play with) on the desk or floor around them.

Gee that’s a lot of typing for “just a few thoughts” Sorry about that.

Leela’s point about being a great writer but not such a good copywriter is an interesting observation that a lot of soloists (mainly ME) forget occasionally, I think we often believe we can and need to do it all. Thanks Leela

Regards Tony