I think your saying what a few people are probably thinking - there must be models out there of architectural collectives - if anyone has any links I would be interested to see them also.
have worked great in other areas in particular creative agencies
- a very successful UK COOP in advertising - I think all the employees own the company
- very cooled shared office space
an Irish Collective -
ways of promoting your practice - I came across 2 books in the RIAI for marketing your practice but they were fairly old school
here is my twopence worth
Get decent business card / letter head from a graphic design professional
create a decent website -
make sure its search engine optimized with little or no flash animation
google "cant see" a website it can only read it - (google cant "see" your images)
so the text on your site needs to be a really good description of what your about.
eg - http://www.ion.ie
No budget for a website - start blogging
Blogs can be simple -
Start using the new technologies -
Mark Stephens is an excellent example of how an architect markets and networks
(note the twitter streams onto the homepage of http://www.ecotect.ie
Why twitter? - people can get a feeling about your day to day activites.
its how i found out about this post - http://twitter.com/archiseek
Its also great for search engine optimization as you can include your website address in your profile
Setup a facebook account for your practice and ask your friends to "friend" I know some architects use it - It allows friends, family and your extended network to see your work.
Chamber of Commerce, community groups, the opening of envelopes, business conferences etc
Public speaking and workshops -
Run free or paid workshops on Building Design / house / extension design/ Energy etc - its amazing the lack of knowledge Joe&Josephine Public have in this area. Get the local hotel to give you a room in return for punters buying tea/coffee/drinks etc. They dont have to be big (5-10) people - this will ease you in if you feel your not too hot on the public speaking front.
Golden Pages -
Get listed - its free - but dont pay for advertising
Dont advertise - It dosent really work - I have wasted a few grand over the years on advertising on various projects and it simply dosent work that well
PR on the otherhand does work
and when you get into the papers dont be afraid to let everyone know about it
put the press clippings onto the media section of your website - from the punters point of vied If the practice are in the papers shure they must be good
If you get together as a collective - there is an instant piece of news -
"Innovative Cork Collective buck the recession"
keywords - strenght in numbers - skills share - expertise share - client share - cross selling - extended network etc
"House" & "Architecture" magazine
Different architects are good at different things -
If you are starting a Collective be honest about your weaknesses
We do some business coaching here from time to time and asking people about what they are not good at can get some interesting responses [not everyone is great at everything but you be surprised how many people think they are
Be honest about when are you in your zone - designing, teaching, networking, etc
I am sure there are loads more things which I have left out but
The best of luck,