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The Best Tool In Your Toolbox

What’s the best tool you have in your toolbox? No matter what you do, everybody has a toolbox.

Plumbers and Carpenters have tools like wrenches and screwdrivers and hammers. Doctors have tools like stethoscopes and MRIs and that little rubber hammer they hit your knee with.

Architects may have traded tools like t-squares and triangles and X-acto knives for things like tablets and BIM and 3D printers.

But what about the less tangible tools we all have?

This is my latest installment for the monthly #ArchiTalks series.

Have you been following along with #ArchiTalks?

About #ArchiTalks

Here’s the format: every month, someone (usually Bob Borson of Life of an Architect) throws out a topic and a growing number of us in the architectural profession wax poetic (more or less) on the subject.

You can find a complete list of everyone participating in this month’s #ArchiTalks challenge at the end of this article.

Did you miss last month’s articles? My latest contribution was “This Thanksgiving: Something New”

The Most Important Tool

Whether you’re an Architect, an Accountant or a Marketer you have one set of tools that helps you get the job done and another set of tools that make you great at what you do.

I started writing here at Architect Of The Internet and speaking at AIA events as an exploration into one of the Architect’s great conundrums … marketing.

I’ve spent a lot of time helping Architects understand how to plan and use all kinds of tools to find more work and connect with better clients.

One of the things I find in firms large and small all across the country is a focus on the technical tools without enough attention paid to the intangible tools.  

Over the past year, I’ve focused on what I think is the most important tool.

Are You Listening?

How many times have you heard a professional being criticized for not listening to their client? Lack of empathy for your client is one of the quickest routes to their disatisfaction.

I see something similar from the marketing side of the profession. Many marketers are pushing out messages that they blindly assume will appeal to their Ideal Client.

They promote their expertise and awards and their supposed ‘collaborative process’ without ever wondering what those Ideal Clients actually care about.

Unfortunately, even after all this effort they don’t distinguish themselves or make a strong connection with the very people they’re trying to reach.

The Instruction Manual

I realize it may be harder to wrap your head around the ideas of empathy and deep listening than to simply focus on the tools you’re already accustomed to using. So here’s the one, simple tip that I can share to help you get started:

Figure out who your Ideal Client is. I’m talking about a real person. Who do you do your best work for? Who do you like working for the most? Who do you make the most money working for?

Once you’ve put a name to the Ideal Client label, your job is to talk to that person. Find out what their problems are. Ask them what they worry about when they wake up in the morning.

If you listen to your Ideal Client and understand and respond to their problems and pain points, you will differentiate yourself and start to make the connections and develop the relationships that will become the lifeblood of your practice.

In the meantime, here’s the rest of this month’s #ArchiTalks Crew and their riffs on ‘Tool’:

If you’re interested in joining in the #ArchiTalks fun for future posts leave a comment in the Speak Your Mind area below and I’ll make sure you’re including on the email chain going forward.

My goal is to start an open dialogue and let Architect of the Internet be a forum where we can all learn to have success in the business of architecture through Social Media.

About Jeff Echols

Jeff Echols is the creative Storyteller for Award-Winning architecture firms and the Social Media Campaign Manager for industry professionals. He is a graduate of Ball State University with over 20 years’ experience in the marketing departments of firms ranging from three to three thousand employees.

Jeff spends countless hours studying, developing and implementing strategies for insuring marketing success for Architects and other business owners in the online arena. He documents the good, the bad and the ugly in Social Media at Architect of the Internet and speaks about Conquering Social Media in venues ranging from the Board Room to the Convention Stage.


  1. Hey Jeff, I think you’re right about listening. You can see it almost everywhere (especially on websites) where Architects just kind of describe an over-idealized version of how they relate to the client. Everyone is ‘great at collaboration.’ Everyone is a ‘team player.’ Even if that’s true, it often sounds like copy a robot would generate and not a person.

  2. As always, wonderful information! Thanks for sharing Jeff!


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