Architect, urbanist, and new media guru Steve Mouzon’s latest book, New Media for Designers and Builders, is a how-to manual for business owners who want to use social media and other marketing methods to promote themselves for fun and profit. It is truly a 21st-century book, since it is available in PDF and iPad formats, and since much of the content is published on separate websites accessed through embedded links.
One of his previous books, The Original Green, is a traditional print book, well written and filled with beautiful photographs outlining his theories on design, construction, and urban planning. I liked many of his theories, and excerpted a section in my textbook.
Mouzon has developed several theories on how designers and architects should market and manage their images, focused almost entirely on web-based new media platforms.
The book presents several theories on why we need to market differently and how to do it. I agree with his theory that many traditional marketing methods, or “old media,” are ineffective. Much typical web-based marketing focuses on selling lots of little things quickly, but designers, builders, and affiliated professionals sell services and big things which requires a different approach from both traditional marketing methods and common internet techniques.
Slick messages can be considered inauthentic. Having a real, rather than a corporate, voice is more appealing to consumers. Marketing is no longer a one-way process; it is much more interactive, and we need to learn how to manage these new methods.
The recession caused a lot of downsizing of businesses and budgets, particularly marketing budgets, and we are now fortunate to have many low- and no-cost tools to market ourselves, thanks to new media.
Blogging and micro-blogging
Mouzon has been perfecting his marketing methods over several years, and he shares them openly, including specific programs he uses. At times the amount of information can be a bit overwhelming, particularly when considering the time and energy it would take to do everything he does. Readers, particularly those who are not active in new media, could pick and choose a few strategies to get started. For many it is probably better to sip a little at a time rather than try to drink from this firehose of a book. As dense as this book is with information, it is a quick read, and with companion websites and embedded links, it is well suited to the short attention span of the industry and society.
Specific techniques he describes in great detail includebBlogging and micro-blogging, websites, public speaking, idea cards (a sort of business card), e-mail, images, publishing, communities, and video.
He shares his very specific techniques openly, providing details on how he created and manages his many media outlets. I was pleased to find that I already incorporate many of his ideas into my marketing strategy, as many readers may be doing as well.
On finding time, being remarkable, finding your passion, and being generous
Traditional marketing was mostly local, consisting of advertising, networking, and events. Most small businesses can’t afford traditional national marketing, but proper use of new media can provide national and international reach for little or no cost. It now takes mostly time and creativity. On the subject of time, Mouzon suggests that while in the past, businesses dedicated a percentage of their budget to marketing — he suggests 10% — we should instead devote 10% of our time to new media since there are few if any costs involved.
Mouzon suggests that there are too many people who work to be faster, better, and cheaper than their competition. We need to focus instead on being remarkable, to differentiate ourselves from the competition. This used to be done with traditional marketing and advertising, but it can be done as well, or better, and for less money, using new media. Bloggers who position themselves properly are often very quickly viewed as experts in their field.
Finding your passion is critical to creating your image. Find a cause that inspires you and work on it. Mouzon found New Urbanism and turned it into his passion and a new career as a speaker and writer to augment his architectural practice. He discusses his involvement with the New Urban Guild and how it furthered his career.
My personal passion is green building, which evolved from my remodeling business, eventually supplanting it. Both of us invested time and energy into learning about our new passions until they became our businesses. Similar opportunities are out there for everyone to take advantage of.
Mouzon distributes his ideas and images generously, and suggests that generosity is important. Be free with your time, ideas, and knowledge. People will appreciate it, particularly when times are tough. Nuggets of your ideas, the things you use frequently, can be incredibly useful to others, more so than unique, special conditions that are unlikely to arise for others. Sharing your ideas will expand your reputation.
A game of endurance
All marketing takes time, and using new media is no exception. Using the web to market yourself is a game of endurance. When you first start writing, you will have few readers, but if you stick with it, over time, your reach will expand, and if done properly, you can create your own brand and reputation for little more than an investment of your time.
In the Getting Started section, Mouzon offers a two-week program to get started in new media, providing a useful outline of channels to use in creating your online image. His outline assumes that readers can all write, setup blogs, websites, and shoot video. While I accept that none of these are that difficult, many people may become semi-paralyzed just considering all the effort they involve. I say, do as much as you can, as often as you can, and track your results.
Tips and tricks galore
The book is packed with tips on how to use just about any new media platform – a quick skim through can provide dozens of ideas to consider. I am familiar with many of these, including embedding live links and requesting back links from other websites, writing about your passion, and making it easy for people to share your posts through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other platforms.
One quip that I found amusing and fairly accurate: If Facebook is a barbecue, then Linked In is a Rotary meeting.
Many high and low profile new media personalities are profiled, including Prince Charles, and my friend Geoff Graham of GuildQuality. I have to admit that I am shattered that he did not include me in this section. Maybe I’ll make the next edition.
I found this book to be a solid, straightforward guide for using new media. It reads sort of like a website – short sections with links for additional information. While it is mostly focused on architects and designers, the information can easily be applied to many other allied professions. If you accomplish just a small portion of what he suggests, you should expand your reach, improve your reputation, and, most likely grow your business.