I will admit to spending an inordinate amount of time "stalking" interior designers. Our business was built for and focuses on interior designers - so it makes sense that I spend my waking hours studying, researching and focusing on that group of talented folks.
Over the past couple of years I have reviewed literally hundreds of Facebook, Instagram and Web Site pages for interior designers and would like to offer a few "things you really need to consider" when marketing your interior design business.
1. You are a Box of Tide - I know that's really weird to read but what I mean is that you, in your role as an interior designer, are a product. You are not being hired because of swoon to the smooth stylings of Dianne Schurr or that you bake a mean Lemon Rhubarb Pie, but rather because of your knowledge, your skill, your art and your ability in Interior Design. Those skills are a Product that your customers are buying.
2. You the Product vs You the Person - Seeing yourself as a product will help you better define how you market yourself. For example, it is imperative that you create separate worlds for You the Product versus You the Person. It is imperative that you create separate Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest accounts for You the Product. You can link the two together so that if someone is interested in You the Person they can click through to see that information. But if they are only interested in hiring You the Product they should not be forced to look at pictures of your child making boom boom in the sand box.
3. Who and Where Are You?? - I can not tell you how many web pages I have reviewed where I had to search to figure out what, exactly, the person was or did. It should be pretty simple, "Interior designer based in Winnetka, IL specializing in neo-classic meets farm interiors in the Greater Chicago Area." Let's analyze what's important here:
- Interior Designer - they are so many people who simply love design or follow design - you have to spell out that you are, indeed, a design professional.
- Where you are - you may want to do projects in San Francisco or Abu Dhabi but you will have to build up that business and you can not do it by simply omitting your location from your media. Spell out where you work (what town, city, area) and where you practice your trade. Many web designers will suggest that you list out the name of each city, town or region in which you provide services so that the search engines will more easily find you. If your business is in the Dallas area it is unlikely that a search for "Plano Designers" would pull your information unless you listed Plano on your website. You'd also want to list Frisco, McKinney - you get the picture
- Every designer has a style and you should not be apologetic about it - put it out front! Customers rarely have the vision to do the work that you do (if they did why would they hire a designer?) so they are looking for pictures and ideas of how they want their homes to look. They will want to read about your vision of style and see pictures of your work. If you are new to the business then post pictures of "things that inspire me."
4. Make Contact Easy - More than 30% of all links on Instagram, Facebook and Web Sites are broken or lead to nowhere. 30%! That means that near 1/3 of the time that customers click on your email address, facebook link or web address nothing happens or they are taken somewhere other than where you intended. CHECK EVERY LINK AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH! Furthermore, use a separate email account and email each link on your media at least once a month. You'll be surprised to find emails going to junk mail this month that made it to your inbox last month. Email providers change their algorithms continually - you have to stay up with the game!
And remember that not every customer communicates the way you do. You may love talking on the phone but many customers may prefer messaging you on instagram or Facebook or they may prefer emailing you. This isn't about how YOU want to communicate - it's about how your customers are most comfortable communicating.
5. Put Contact Info Front and Center! Your phone number, email address and social media links should be at the very top or the very bottom (or both!) of every page of your website. Do not make customers click through various pages trying to find your information - because truth is - most times they won't!
6. Don't make customers fill out a form! Customer contact forms are very impersonal and you are selling a VERY personal service! If you want to keep a form on your website, fine, ok - but make sure your email and other contact info is available as well.
7. Info@ More than 70% of the websites I've reviewed have contact as "Info@soandsodesigner.com" Who is "Info" and what will they be doing for me??? I'm not hiring Info - I'm hiring YOU! Design is personal! Make it personal from the very first contact!
If you have a large or multi-person firm then list each of the principal designers' contact information. Most design firms have incredible, beautiful profiles of each designer - their history, education and experience but they have no way to contact that specific designer. Next include a "Don't know where to start? Start here!" contact which can be an administration person, a sales assistant, etc. - but give customers that option. If they read Jim's profile and think they really want to work with him - let them connect with Jim directly. Don't make them jump through hoops to hopefully get to Jim. If Jim doesn't need any more business, then include a comment, "Not accepting new customers at this time."
At the end of the day remember...and I've said this multiple times.... Interior design is PERSONAL. Customers want to be comfortable with you as a person before they let you into their homes, allow you to be around their families and welcome you to change the ethos of where they live. But there are limits to You the Person versus You the Product - and only you can draw the line between the two. Your marketing has to put You the Product front and center and it must make contact with you quick, simple and easy.