The key to success for small business owners is the right marketing, and interior designers are no exception. Here are 6 key ways to brand and market your company, and stay on budget.
1. Brand yourself.
Identify who you are and stick to it. This does not mean that your brand cannot develop and evolve over time, but consistency is key. Identify who your target is: Target age, income, geographic location, and profession. Be as specific as you can, and develop your branding around your target.
Is your target demographic married women between ages 35-50 with no kids and a household income of over $200,000? Or is your target demographic medium to large-sized businesses with an office space over 1,000 square feet? Depending on how you answer will greatly affect your marketing plan. Pick a niche and market the hell out of it.
2. Evaluate your competition.
Take a look at your competition, locally and nationally. See how they are marketing themselves. What tactics are they using to attract attention? How does their audience perceive them? Learn from their example and go above and beyond.
3. Get social.
The more people you know –and know you- the better. Join networking groups to connect with other business owners, such as your local Chamber of Commerce. Networking with professionals that share your target demographic can help you create a successful referral campaign. Join member-based networking groups with other industry-related professionals such as interior designers, architects, construction company owners, furniture suppliers and gallerists. Utilize sites like MeetUp.com, Eventbrite.com, LinkedIn.com, and Facebook Groups to tap into these events.
Social media is also a great way to stay in the forefront of your target’s attention. Utilize sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, and Pinterest to employ the most amount of attention, not to mention links back to your website, which enhances your websites SEO (search engine optimization). Stay tuned next week for our blog specifically discussing how interior designers can employ social media successfully. If your budget allows, you may consider hiring an outside company to manage your social media. This allows your online presence to be consistent in content and regularly updated. A budget of $300-$1000 per month should be budgeted for a typical social media campaign, depending on aggressiveness.
One mistake interior designers make is not having an active blog. Your blog should serve as a source of valuable information for anyone seeking information about hiring an interior designer, looking for design ideas, or researching styles that match their idea of their dream home. Potential clients will be looking for a designer that shares their love of a certain style, will work within their budget, and can provide communication throughout the design process. Think of your blog as a constantly evolving portfolio of your work, complete with photos and the story behind each project. Check out interior designer Patricia Gray’s blog. You can see that the firm not only shares photos and information about recent projects, but they also share posts about other avenues of their creative process including their love of art, fashion, and architecture.
4. Be ready with eye-catching collateral.
The most important asset to marketing your interior design business is your website. Consider the brand you developed, and have a professional consultant or agency design your website consistent to that image. All marketing collateral and content thereafter should also be consistent with that brand.
Business cards, letterhead, envelopes, and brochures are obvious assets to your business, but also begin thinking about unique ways to reach your demographic through marketing collateral. Would a post card or an email campaign is the better way to reach your audience? Would a beautifully designed, hardcover portfolio showing projects ‘before and after’ be valuable to your potential client? Work with an agency or graphic design consultant to create quality marketing collateral for your business.
Another major key to reaching high-end clientele is having professional looking work in your portfolio. This means hiring a professional photographer to document your projects. Remember, you get what you pay for. Going low budget for your photographer means low budget photography, which will showcase your work as low budget. A sophisticated interior designer can expect to pay up to $10,000 for a professionally photographed project. It can seem like extravagant expense, but try working with your other vendors on a project (construction, architecture, landscaper) to share some of the cost.
5. Create a timeline.
Obviously, not all of these things may be able to happen at once due to budget and time constraints for an interior design business just starting out. Establish goals and the avenues in which you will accomplish these goals. For example, your timeline may look like this:
Jan – Set up social media marketing campaign, set up social networks, post weekly. If budget allows, hire an agency to design a professional blog that is consistent with website. Join local Chamber of Commerce and attend an event.
Feb – Work with an agency to design and create professional and unique marketing collateral. Join an industry-related networking group and attend an event.
March – Create and execute an Ad Words campaign.
April – Work with a PR agency to get placement in a newspaper (Be specific. Which newspaper?).
May – Work with other industry-related professionals to create a cross-promotion campaign.
June – Work with a PR agency to get placement in a magazine (Be specific. Which magazine?).
6. Stay on budget.
Set a budget that aligns with your goals and available funds. If you’re just starting out, you may not be able to hire a PR agency to place your interior design work in Architectural Digest, but you can afford a online search word campaign.
Typically an interior design firm will allocate 10% of it’s budget to marketing, but up to 20% for outside marketing (hiring an agency). These costs will include all marketing campaigns, collateral, content writing, online ad campaigns, advertising, and website management.
Natalie Grinnell is the Founder and Creative Director of Studio 41 Creative. Studio 41 Creative a creative marketing agency focused on building the innovative brands of our generation. We have over 10 years experience in the online marketing industry, and we have the creative background to bring you a dynamic and full-service marketing plan. To learn more about our marketing services, including brand development, website design, social media management, and public relations services, contact Natalie@Studio41Creative.com.