My name is Dave Sharp and I’m a marketing coach with a background in architecture.
I work remotely from Melbourne, Australia.
Before I entered the world of marketing, I earned a Masters of Architecture from the University of Western Australia, and worked in architecture practices in Australia and Japan.
My journey from architect to marketing coach
2011 – I started my architecture degree at the University of Western Australia.
At the time I was working part time for an architect in the Perth hills, but also learning everything I could about social media and the internet as a hobby.
I started renting a coworking space in the Perth CBD with a handful of graphic designers, PR people, and branding experts – and spent my days and nights hanging out, working on projects together, and talking about marketing and building brands.
I attended a Nic Granleese architectural photography workshop and that sparked my interest in architectural photography and the media. I started shooting projects around Perth, and eventually began running workshops for other architecture students to teach them what I was learning.
I started Vanity Projects, originally as a Facebook page posting curated images and videos of architecture and design. Eventually this brand would turn into my marketing agency, and a bit of a container for whatever projects I was working on at the time (still the same today).
2012 – I was chosen as the SONA representative for UWA, and attended the Nexus Student Congress in Newcastle. At the conference I met Rory Hyde and Stuart Harrison, the hosts of The Architects radio show on RRR Melbourne. I flew to Melbourne and sat in on one of their shows. As soon as I got back to Perth I joined our local radio station RTR and started learning the ropes of interviewing and broadcasting.
2013 – I met my partner Tamara in a design studio, and finished my bachelor of environmental design. Tamara and I attended the Richard Leplastrier student masterclass in Pittwater, NSW.
2014 – I decided to take a break between finishing my bachelor and starting my masters. I moved to Japan for 7 months to make architectural models at Tezuka Architects in Tokyo. The 12-hour workdays were insane!
2015 – After returning from Japan I joined a new coworking space with Nic Brunsdon and Post- architecture. We collaborated on a project called Posit, an incubator for developing new architectural business ideas and taking them to market. We started Meet Brief, a booking website for architectural advice. We invited a number of architects in Melbourne onto the platform, and I travelled to Melbourne to meet them all and photograph their studio spaces for the website. During this trip I met a lot of amazing architects, many of them would become my first Melbourne clients a couple of years later.
2016 – Finally, I was done with that architecture degree. At this point I had started selling marketing services to architects as a side hustle. When Tamara graduated, she was offered a job in Melbourne, and we both moved over.
As soon as I arrived in Melbourne I was on a mission to turn my part time thing into my full time thing.
I decided to focus on Instagram services initially, because they were the fastest growing area of marketing in the architecture space at the time. For SEO purposes, I bought the domain name InstagramforArchitects.com and got to work finding clients.
2017 – As the business grew, I hired a marketing assistant to help with social media management, and a copywriter to help with content projects.
I joined a co-working space full of proper marketing agencies and really learned how the professionals approach marketing planning.
2018 – I started expanding the range of services I was offering to my clients to include Facebook Ads, social media management, website conversion optimisation, copywriting and content marketing. I started writing my own articles, and recording a podcast interviewing architects I found interesting (a backburner project that’s still on top of my list todo list).
The most important development during this time was that I was starting to work out ways to offer advice and coaching as my primary service. Until this point I hadn’t developed a proper structure for doing that, which became a problem as more and more architects were reaching out for advice and strategy. I began to develop my hourly coaching method, and started seeing fantastic results with my clients.
At this point I had left the coworking space and was living that work from home life that we’re all so familiar with now.
2019 – My coaching and strategy work had begun to completely dominate my practice. It no longer made sense to focus on agency services, because they weren’t as valuable or beneficial to my clients – and I personally enjoyed the intellectual challenge of coaching so much more.
I started pivoting the business away from the agency model, and just focused on the coaching part of my business so that the purpose of my brand and marketing would be bold and clear. It was just getting too confusing for people!
I revived the Vanity Projects brand, and started saying no to clients who were just looking for help executing their marketing plan. It was hard, but worthwhile, because business took off and I was soon oversubscribed.
This was the best year so far in my business, but even then, the most exciting thing that happened in 2019 was Tamara and I adopting a retired racing greyhound called Jake. If we work together, you might get to meet him.
2020 – COVID-19 came along and really changed the way we work, market and think about our businesses. On the positive side, it’s provided me with incredible opportunities to speak to large groups of architects about marketing. I gave a webinar for the New Zealand Institute of Architects that was attended by over 500 architects, spoke to Architeam’s members, and have personally run webinars and workshops with architects who’ve been incredible enthusiastic and receptive to the new way we do business post-COVID.
This year has gotten more architects thinking about marketing and the future of their business than at any other point since I started, and it’s been really exciting to get to help so many practices to navigate the many challenges they’re facing right now.
It means the world to me if you’ve read all this. Thank you.