OpenBuildings – marketing architecture

[This is an edited version of a blog post originally published on my tech blog]

Tom Mallory and Adel ZakoutLast month, I wrote about, the crowd-sourced building directory, and I met up with the business’s founders, COO Tom Mallory (left) and CEO Adel Zakout (right), in London last week. While it positions itself as a resource for those interested and involved in architecture, it is also a potentially powerful marketing and PR platform for firms in that sector.

As a social media application for sharing information and knowledge about architecture, Adel outlined the three primary audiences.

Buildings App for AndroidFirst, OpenBuildings is aimed at enthusiasts, providing a crowd-sourced wiki that can be progressively expanded and improved through the inputs of its users. To date, it has logged over 40,000 buildings and has 50,000 registered users, with approximately 8,000 unique visitors to the website each day, and its mobile apps have been downloaded over 300,000 times.

Second, Adel said OpenBuildings provides a forum for locals to provide structured feedback about building projects in their area, and to be alerted to new proposals. There is clearly a PR opportunity here whereby developers and others involved in a project might use OpenBuildings as a platform to communicate with local residents about their scheme.

Third, OpenBuildings aims to provide a marketing platform for professional firms. Architects, engineers and even suppliers of products and materials involved in the design and construction of a building can create searchable site profiles. Basic profiles will initially be free, but OpenBuildings’ revenue model is based on getting firms to pay a modest monthly subscription (c. $20) to upgrade their profiles, incorporate more features and achieve greater prominence as they seek to win new business through the site.

To help grow online awareness OpenBuildings is using social media and building partnerships with complementary online ventures such as the products-sourcing service DesignerPages and I expect OpenBuildings will announce other partnerships as it grows its registered userbase and becomes more attractive as a marketing and PR platform for AEC firms (and I am hoping Adel or Tom will use Be2camp events to increase its profile among some of the Web 2.0-savvy users already active in the industry).

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