Whether you have just started your Interior Design business or have been at it for years, there is always room to grow. The key to success for small business owners is the right marketing, and interior designers are no exception.
Here are 8 impactful ways to brand and market your company, and stay on budget:
1. Find A Professional Photographer
Think about the impact good resolution examples of your projects can have on your future clients, how many projects do you intend to photograph, and how you will use those images.
Do you have a good architectural/interiors photographer? Finding a good, experienced photographer that has connections with magazine editors would be great as he/she may be able to get your work published. Your photographer can actually help you reach your goal of getting published faster if your work fits the magazine’s style.
Looking at other designer’s photos would help you know what you like to accomplish with your own photos and the stories you would like to tell your clients.
For a list of professional architectural/interiors photographers, Click Here!
2. Update Your Business Card-Get Creative
Imagine you walk into an industry related event and talk to so many other professionals in your field who hand you their business cards. Are you likely to remember who they are by looking at their business cards later? Are there one or two that really stand out from others by the creativity in there presentation?
There are so many options than just the traditional rectangular, card stock material business cards. You can use materials such as vellum or a combination of paper/vellum and make your card any shape you like (Squares with rounded corners, Round, Oval, Etc.) to make it stand out from others.
The info you include on your business card is also very important and needs to be as up-t0-date as possible. For example, as you get more experienced in your career and specially when you advance in your profession by receiving awards and appellations, it is important that you business cards reflects these changes (email signatures, etc.), whether it would be NCIDQ, LEED, etc. List any professional memberships such as ASID, IIDA, or IDCI. Trying to finish up the outdated business cards will not do you any good in trying to market yourself. A new business card is not only a benefit for new people you meet, but it is also a great excuse to refresh communication with existing contacts.
For ideas on creative business cards, Click Here!
3. Get Social
Social Media is out there for YOU! Take advantage of it. It’s a great way to connect with old friends, make new friends/followers who could help you have even more followers. The more people you know, whom know about your business, the more likely it is for you to attract new clients. You just never know who could benefit and have been looking for a business like yours! With social media you can quickly add images from recently completed projects that may be shared by others and here you are already having exposure to people who didn’t know about you and your business before! Here’s a list of some of the best ones to join:
If you are new to social media, the best approach would be to decide which social media option your clients are most likely to use and start with just one. After you master one platform, you can always sign up for other pages. It is important to get comfortable and learn all the tools and tricks on one before you move on to the next. Make sure your posts always link back to your website. It is important to use the same profile image and cover photo (if it comes with the site) as it makes it easier for people to use a specific image to associate you with. This is when being consistent with your branding image is crucial. People are likely to forget about you or not be able to make the connections if you have different profile images on all your social media pages and/or if you change them frequently.
4. Participate In Interior Design Industry Events
Industry events are a great way to keep up on new products coming to market, creating new relationships, and attending industry-related presentations. Some of the large US trade shows are listed below, but many cities and design organizations like ASID and IIDA also host specific chapter events throughout the year.
- NeoCon is held in Chicago every June. NeoCon is a commercial interiors trade show.
- Coverings is the premier international trade fair and expo dedicated exclusively to showcasing the newest in ceramic tile and natural stone.
- Surfaces is held in Las Vegas every January. Surfaces is trade show with focus on flooring.
- High Point Market is located in High Point, NC every April. High Point Market is a renown residential furniture and furnishings trade show.
- ICFF is based New York City and held in May. ICFF showcases contemporary furniture, flooring, lighting, textiles, wall coverings for both residential and commercial interiors.
5. Create A Digital Portfolio
Having an online presence with a digital portfolio is very important for your business. Interior designers need their own website to display their work.
There are many design websites that do not display any portfolio images. Clients need to see sample pictures of your work to decide if a your aesthetic and styles aligns with their own. Potential clients will likely do a pass-over if there’s little to look at on your website.
If you do not want to deal with the hassle of creating and managing your own website, there are other ways you can go about it. Websites such as Houzz are an alternative to showcase your portfolio. Houzz is an online community site where interior designers, architects, landscape designers create their own site and upload project images and information to a shared database.
Readers can sift through project images to get ideas and bookmark them personal collection sites called “idea books”. It’s the online equivalent of clipping images from magazines. In addition to project images, users can also search on Houzz for professionals in their area, click on an image to learn more about it or ask the designer a question.
There are also websites that let you create a digital portfolio that looks and functions the exact same way as flipping thru the physical copy of your portfolio by clicking forward to go to each page. Issue.com is one the most popular platforms to use.
To see an example of a digital portfolio and to create yours, Click Here!
6. Participate In A Home Show
Your participation in a home show is the same as working on a client project time-wise. Sometimes it can take even more of your time because you have to find resources that are willing to loan you the materials and furnishings and you have to manage the team.
You’ll want to spend time planning how you’ll make the most of this exposure to attract new clients.
Here are few things to consider when planning your marketing:
- Create and have marketing materials to have on hand and leave there (business cards, etc)
- If the show house has a printed catalog/brochures and has featured you in it, is an excellent idea to send them to local Realtors, architects, builders, general contractors, past and current clients.
7. Differentiate Yourself From The Competition
First you need to research and understand your competition and what they do and don’t offer. It is important that you keep your business location in mind while you are doing the research. Residential designers are also competing with design services offered by some furniture showrooms. Without devaluing your competitors, your goal is to demonstrate how your skills and services better match the needs potential clients.
Having earned your NCIDQ certificate already sets you apart as being competent to design safely for code regulated environments, like commercial projects. Interior design regulations vary state by state, but depending on your location, NCIDQ certification may allow you to submit drawings for permitting and expand your business opportunities. Also, being a member of the design organizations mentioned earlier (ASID, IIDA, IDCI) and having the opportunity to use the appelliations make you really stand out from others.
Maybe your business offers high quality 3D rendering services or you have an outstanding team of subcontractors that you work with regularly that you want to highlight. These specific services can definitely set you apart!
8. Happy Clients = Repeat Clients
It’s a smart marketing tactic, happy clients are often repeat clients and more likely to refer you. Stay in touch with them on a regular basis and be sure to add a line item to your budget for gifts and cards.