Get Better Interior Design Clients by Understanding Your ICA

I think many of us have experienced a project where we had the best of intention, but quickly learned that something about this particular client just wasn’t right.

Maybe they tried to hijack the design process by revealing their budget was actually quite lower than what they had previously told you. Maybe a nitpicky spouse vetoed every last bit of personality out of the overall design.

Or maybe your problems don’t even get to that point because you can’t seem to find the right clients to begin with. If this is the case, you’re likely encountering plenty of price objections or simply losing the job because the prospective client never gets around to committing to the project.

Whatever the scenario, there’s usually one cause behind all this:

Not knowing your ideal client avatar.

An ideal client avatar (ICA) is a character sketch of the person you would love to work with – not just a demographic range. An ICA is an actual description of a person and everything about them.

Understanding your ICA is the key to projects that result in portfolio-quality work and raving client testimonials. You need to be able to identify exactly what your client looks like – inside and out – so that when you see them, you know they’re right for you, and that you’re the right person to help them.

I’ve found it’s that last bit – knowing you’re the right person to help your ideal clients – that increases confidence enough to prompt you into approaching a prospective client and, eventually, asking for the sale.

Before we dive into how to define your ICA, I want to assure you that it won’t hurt your business to go narrower than you have in the past. Being very specific allows you to speak directly to people who will hear and appreciate your message.

Step One – What is your ideal project?

Before we ever talk about WHO you’re working with, you need to understand what type of projects you’ll enjoy working on.

If you’re a designer focusing on residential design, what is your ideal scope? Is it just a single room of furniture and accessories, or a full remodel? Something in between, maybe?

Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned designer or just starting out, identify your most ideal project. Then, if something comes along that’s not exactly ideal, you now have a metric against which you can measure every opportunity.

So, first step, think of that ideal project.

Step Two – Who is your ideal client?

Now that we know your ideal project, let’s ask ourselves, “what kind of people live here?” But before we can understand who you could best work with, we have to understand YOU.

It’s important that you’re working with clients you can relate to in some way, so definitely don’t choose an ICA you’re not familiar with at all. Often, our best clients are people who are just a few steps behind us in any kind of life journey.

In my Facebook group for interior designers, we often talk about the types of clients they can relate to. Some designers have overcome traumatic events and want to help others build a space which will be their clients’ sanctuary. Others are ambitious and career-focused and want to design spaces that make their clients feel inspired and motivated.

It’s not enough to simply say you design spaces for “families” or “couples.” You must understand who these people are and their unique motivations.

So, ask yourself about your own life journey.

  • What events – good or bad – immediately come to the forefront of your mind?
  • What have you overcome that other people can relate to?
  • What achievements have you made in life that other people can relate to?
  • What things do you find sentimental and how does that connect you with others?

Step Three – Create a character sketch

Now that you’ve identified what your ideal client might look like, we’re going to dive even deeper and create a story about them.

At this point, you might asking, “is all of this really necessary?”

If you want to have a steady stream of clients and income, yes.

To sell high-end personal services – regardless of actual cost – you must use everything in your arsenal to get deals closed. Remember, you’re not just up against competitors, you’re also up against the entire DIY industry and plain ol’ apathy.

Sometimes design projects are “a must,” but many times they’re more of a nice-to-have. And, when push comes to shove, nice-to-have projects have a way of getting relegated to the graveyard of backburner projects that never become realized.

Yes, you must get into your client’s mind so you can 1.) attract the right clients in the first place and 2.) create rapport and a bond to help close the sale.

So, back to that character sketch …

Think about it as though you were writing a character in a movie or a book. If you were, you’d want to know this person’s motivations, tendencies, and perspective. To get those answers, we need to ask some questions.

First, we need to know demographic info:

  • Age (an exact age, not a range)
  • Marital status
  • Household income
  • City of residence
  • Children or none? Why or why not?
  • Education
  • Career – corporate, self employed, unemployed, etc.

Next, we need to know psychographic info:

  • Personality type (Myers-Briggs or other)
  • Personality quirks
  • Tone of voice
  • Bad habits
  • What three words would she use to describe herself?
  • What does she worry about?
  • How does she think people see her?
  • What is her primary goal in life right now?
  • Favorite magazines, books, blogs, movies, TV show
  • How does she spend her weekends or off-time?
  • Does she have hobbies? What are they?What are her political leanings

Write a 500 word narrative about them. Why? Remember when I said “most direct way of getting clients”? This is how you find them – by understanding who they are. Then, go to unsplash.com and find a free stock photo of someone who represents your ideal client. Keep it visible for when you’re writing blog posts or posting on social media.

Getting 100% clear on your ideal clients allows you to focus on actually finding them. The work of marketing for your interior design business doesn’t have to be hard when you know what you’re looking for.

IDE Ep 002: Podcasting and Passive Income for Interior Designers with Amanda Gates

When I talked with Amanda Gates for the first time, she was a breath of fresh air. Not only did we talk all about her experience building an interior design business around using feng shui, we also talked about energy and mindset.

Amanda is a trailblazer in the field of interior design. From the beginning, she knew to add unique value in her business, and more recently has ventured into podcasting and passive income.

In this interview, I talk with this 20-year industry veteran about creating your interior design business with intention, how to deal with competitors, advice for designers starting out, and how she integrated podcasting and passive income into her business.

Enjoy!

PS – Amanda and I sat down again in February to talk about how the interior design industry is changing and what designers can do to keep up. You can watch here.

Amanda is a professionally trained Interior Designer, Feng Shui Practitioner, podcaster and award-winning blogger. She has seamlessly married interior design and Feng Shui for almost 20 years to help clients achieve spaces that feel as beautiful as they look. As she puts it, Design that’s energy aligned!
Learn more about her at gatesinteriordesign.com

IDE Podcast Ep 001: Big Industry Changes and How You Can Stay Ahead in the Industry of Interior Design

When I reentered the world of interior design after a six year hiatus, the first thing I noticed was that designers were always talking about not having enough clients, having no clients at all, or having enough clients but not having enough income.

When I started to look at what they were offering, I saw the problem immediately.

Like I said, it had been several years since I worked in the industry, and at least 10 years since I worked in residential design. Back then, I had zero entrepreneurial experience – but now, I was looking at things with different eyes.

The problem, as I saw it, was that interior designers weren’t maximizing profit in their business in a variety of ways. Usually, they only had one offering, and it was very time-intensive and most of them just weren’t charging enough for it.

In this episode, I talk about how to maximize profit in your interior design business to help even out the peaks and valleys of income.

Enjoy!

What Facebook ZERO Means for Your Interior Design Business

On Thursday, January 11th, Mark Zuckerberg announced on Facebook that Facebook’s feed will be changing to favor person-to-person interaction over media content.

What that means is that you, as a user, will see less content from brands and business pages, and much more content from your connections and groups.

What that also means is that you, as a business page owner, will likely see your organic Facebook reach drop from the current 1-3% down to nothing.

Hence, why it’s been dubbed “Facebook ZERO.”

I’m here to tell you this is probably the best, possible thing to happen to you as a small business owner and content creator. Yes, seriously. Here’s why …

In my group, the Interior Designers Marketing Mastermind, one of the top complaints about Facebook marketing is that no one is seeing or engaging on their posts.

Facebook business pages haven’t been getting good reach for most small businesses and solopreneurs for quite some time, so this change isn’t going to have much of a net effect for many.

Unless you’re currently getting some serious engagement on your page – as in, dozens of likes, comments, and shares every single day – this is actually good news for you. It means you can stop publishing to your page with the expectation that it will drive traffic to your site or even forge a bond with followers.

I hope this is a relief to you, because I know how frustrating it is to put a lot of time into creating content, only for it to go completely ignored.

To help you cope with this change and use Facebook effectively, here’s what I recommend doing:

1.) Use your personal profile to position yourself

Someone in my group expressed a little bit of trepidation over this; if they’re going to use their personal profile, shouldn’t they be careful about who they add to their connections, lest someone unsavory get added to the mix?

Here’s the thing: Internet privacy died years ago – if it ever existed in the first place. How much you share online will be different for everyone, but I recommend not ever sharing anything sensitive about your life or anything so private that you would feel a sense of violation if the whole world saw it.

Privacy settings really don’t mean much, so I recommend leveraging the connections you have to position yourself in exactly the way you want.

Secondly, do your personal connections really want to see all this stuff about your business? If they care about you as a person they do! Isn’t your career as an interior designer a significant part of your identity? Of course it is.

I know this is a bit of a leap for many interior designers, and change is hard. But, as a business owner, part of your job is to pivot and adapt when you need to.

So, use your personal profile to talk about your business, show us what you’re doing behind the scenes of projects, and wax poetic about why you love it. Just be sure not to make any paid offers (“Buy my interior design services!”), as it’s a violation of Facebook’s terms of service.

2.) Open your own Facebook group to collect leads and cultivate prospective client relationships

Concerned about whether or not you have the bandwidth to nurture a group?

Let me ask you this: do you have enough clients? What Facebook Zero Means For Your Interior Design Business

If the answer is “no,” then you can find the time.

Think about it: interior design is an expensive personal service – regardless of scope or price point. Those kinds of clients don’t just fall into your lap.

You’re much more likely to have a booked out calendar if you do everything you can to create a place for your client to come hang out and ask questions – much like an “open house” night for your business.

So create a group and nurture your prospective clients. Do livestreaming video in your group to explain how your design process works. Invite them to ask questions about their design conundrums, and answer them so everyone can see how brilliant you are.

Currently, not many designers are doing this. By opening a group now, it gives you a major advantage.

3.) Make building your email list a priority

I absolutely believe that Facebook is a powerful marketing tool. But, at the end of the day, the following you build over there can be taken from you at any moment.

Facebook could make a sudden, massive change at any time – much like with their recent announcement – that throws a wrench into the strategy you’re using.

Then what?

This is where building a database of emails – and nurturing them with regular, consistent content – is so important. When you build an email list, you OWN that asset; none of us own our Facebook or Instagram followings.

However, building a list isn’t as easy as simply asking people to “sign up for my newsletter!”

Nobody cares. And everyone thinks they won’t open emails from you – despite mountains of evidence that tell us email marketing outperforms every other marketing vehicle by a huge margin.

In other words: having someone’s email is the best way to get their attention. But we have to get them on your list first – and that’s done with something called an “opt in” or “freebie.”

To create an opt in, you can start by pulling together something simple, like a resource list or advice you find yourself giving over and over into a PDF. Make sure it’s really valuable, and offer that as an incentive to join your mailing list.

I could write an entirely separate blog post on building your email list. In fact, I wrote a 3-part series you’ll want to check out.

So, what should you do with your Facebook business page now?

Don’t abandon it! We don’t yet know how all of this will play out. My best advice is to keep it updated with links to your blog content. You can also share any livestream videos you create on your personal profile to your business page. Just make sure that, for anyone who visits, it looks like the lights are still on.

So, there it is! Facebook ZERO might sound scary or leave you frustrated – but, I promise, it’s the best thing for your business if you follow the advice above.

Interior Designers’ Ultimate Guide to Building a Money-Making Email List, Part 3 of 3

interior designers ultimate guide to building your money makeing email list nest and prosper

By now, we’ve covered a lot of ground with building an email list for interior designers …

We first talked about getting started with your ideal client avatar (ICA) and reverse-engineering your opt in by understanding what you want to eventually offer. You definitely wouldn’t want to skip this step because understanding your ICA will influence literally everything you do.

Then we talked about how to actually get your opt in freebie into the hot little hands of the people who need it, as well as two additional ways to continue building your list.

But let’s not forget the big WHY around building this list in the first place …

Your email list can be a reliable source of clients and income when built correctly and nurtured properly.

So let’s get down to the business of monetizing your list.

Nurture your list with consistent and valuable content

In the last installment of this series, I mentioned deploying a “nurture sequence” to welcome your new subscribers and introduce yourself and what you do.

Understand that this is just the beginning. Inviting someone onto your list is, ideally, a long-term commitment. You want your content to be so compelling to your ICA that they not only stay on your list, but they enthusiastically read every email you send them.

Of course, not all of your subscribers will be this way; industry average email open rates are about 25%. But, for a list that is 1,000 people, that’s 250 really engaged subscribers. Two hundred and fifty people are a lot of people. And engaged subscribers buy things.

To get this engagement and loyalty from your subscribers, you’re going to want to email them consistently, with highly valuable content.

Let’s break each of these down …

Consistency can mean once a week, every Wednesday, or even every single day. Sure, if you email your list every single day with valuable content, you’ll have a lot of unsubscribes – but you’ll also have a lot of dedicated readers.

Marketing expert Russell Brunson recommends communicating with your email list once a day by simply pulling back the curtain on your life. As the founder of Clickfunnels, he has a following of people who admire his business savvy and entrepreneur mindset, and they want to understand what it’s like in Russell’s life every day. For them, they get value by simply observing.

However, Russell also produces a podcast and tons of video with expert interviews and tips for his audience. The every day emails just fill in the gaps between.

Something similar could work for you as an interior designer.

What are you doing every day that would be interesting and compelling to your ICA, and what could it also teach them? And what kind of regular “how-to” or expert content can you provide?

Emailing your list every day isn’t for the faint of heart, but in my own experience, I’ve seen how it often converts “fence-sitters” into actual clients.

Whatever frequency you choose, make the commitment and do your best to stick with it. Think of it like you’re actually making a commitment directly to another person – because you are.

Make offers to your list

A few years ago, Internet marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuck wrote a book called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. It explained a lot about how to use each major social media channel in a native way, but the title illustrated the rapport-establishing process with your audience.

  1. Jab – give value
  2. Jab – give value
  3. Jab – give value
  4. Right hook – go in for the knock-out with an offer that provides tremendous value in exchange for money

Now that you’ve more than demonstrated how much expertise you have, and you’ve worked hard to provide valuable content and establish rapport with your audience, it’s time for you to actually make some money by making offers to your list.

Interior designers have so many options here, everything from either an online or in-person consultation to a complete infoproduct or course launch. This blog post series isn’t about the offers you could create for your audience, but the point is that, in order for you to understand what your audience will buy, you need to make offers and see how your list responds.

One way you can get started is by surveying your audience.

Create a form in Google Drive with questions about their design challenges and problems. You can simply ask your list to complete the survey and collect answers on an on-going basis, or you can make it time-sensitive with a prize drawing at the end. Either way, you’re going to get some good info about what your audience wants in their verbiage – that’s why a survey is so powerful.

Then you make your offer.

Another way to get started is to ask yourself how you best serve your clients and offer that service or product. If you did it correctly, your email list was curated with people who are interested in your content. Since your content is all about the problems you solve for people, you already know what they’re interested in.

Then, you take what you have to offer, and you tell your audience about it.

Marketing and sales is relentlessly telling people who you are and what you offer – until they buy it.

The way you use your email list to make offers is to deploy what’s called a “launch sequence” of emails to give value and drive interest.

I could write an entirely separate blog posts about launches, but the main thing you need to know is that, if you keep giving value to your audience, and then making relevant offers to them, you can make your email list a source of revenue for your business.

After my second downsizing from commercial interior design, I started my own wardrobe styling business in 2011. Though I had no prior experience in running my own business, I had the forethought to start collecting the emails of people who were reading my blog.

My wardrobe styling business had lots of ups and downs, but one thing was consistent: I always made money from my list. And when I decided to close down that business, I was still able to convert the same list into buyers for a temporary life and business coaching venture I had.

Why? Because, for five years I had balanced giving value with making offers. I had shown that I would be there consistently with content to either educate and inspire, and that I would also be a resource were they ever ready to invest in themselves.

And that’s what you need to do in your business as well: collect the emails of people who like your content, nurture them with value, and make offers they want.

It all starts with a good opt in freebie.
Interior Designers' Guide to Building a Money-Making Email List (Part 3)

Enter your information below to download my 5 Interior Design Lead Magnet Ideas to help you grow your list:

Interior Designers’ Ultimate Guide to Building a Money-Making Email List, Part 2 of 3

interior designers ultimate guide to building your money makeing email list nest and prosper

In my last post, I told you all about understanding your (ideal client avatar) ICA, knowing what you plan to provide your clients, and creating an opt in freebie that perfectly tees up what you eventually want to sell your clients.

In this post, we’re talking about how to actually distribute your opt in, once you create it, and two of my favorite ways for building your email list.

Distributing your opt in for free

Once you have your opt and its delivery set up, you’re going to want to make it THE THING you talk about all the time. Everywhere.

Let’s say you’re a designer in Newport Beach, CA, and you created a “California Home Style Quiz” to help your prospective customers understand their California home style. Because you created a quality opt in, you want everyone to know about it.

Here is a list of places you can put a link to your opt in:

  • Front-and-center on your website
  • At the bottom of each blog post
  • In the footer of your website
  • On your about page
  • On your contact page
  • In your Facebook personal profile About section
  • In your Facebook business page About section
  • In your Facebook business page’s button, below your cover image
  • In your Facebook group, if you have one
  • In your email signature

Keeping your opt in relentlessly top of mind for everyone who comes into contact with you is key in free distribution. But, don’t just say, “click here for my opt in.”

You want to craft just a bit of creative copy to entice your ideal client to click the link and see what it’s all about. When doing this, be sure to mention the solution you provide or the problem they’re suffering with.

For example, for this California Home Style Quiz, you could say:

“Not sure how to make your casa feel like home? Take my California Home Style Quiz and get a FREE style report.”

Distributing your opt in with paid advertising

Organic reach will only get you so far – eventually, to build your list to a size that can help you launch a product or course (minimum 1,000 subscribers), you’re going to use some paid advertising.

But, hold up there before you go boosting a post to your freebie …

Before we run any ads, we have to consider the engagement you’re already getting on your page.

If you have a few thousand followers and they’re really active on your posts, yes, start running ads right to your freebie.

However, I’m guessing engagement on your page isn’t great. If that’s the case, let’s consider your audience on the colder side and plan accordingly.

What I mean when I say you have a “cold” audience is that they don’t yet know how amazingly smart and talented you are yet. So, to send out any kind of ads asking them to do anything (yes, even click a link) is not a good idea.

In other words, a total waste of money.

Instead, I recommend first running either some page like ads or video view ads – or both – to acquaint yourself better with your audience. Then, once you’ve captured more likes and racked up some video views, you’re going to run ads to your blog content.

See, we haven’t even gotten to your freebie yet.

Keep running ads to your blog posts. Remember when you put a link to your freebie at the end of each blog post? Sneaky, right? At this point, when someone opts in after reading your content, they’re really warm. Keep them warm with a nurture sequence.

Anyway, back to those ads …

Each time someone clicks through to your website, you can retarget them later with ads using “custom audiences”. Create both an “engagement” audience, a pixel audience, and a video views audience to send ads to people who already know you a bit.

Then, when you’ve built up some rapport with your audience, you can use retargeted ads to send them directly to your freebie.

From now, you do ads regularly to keep building your list.

Building your list with webinars or live events

In addition to building your list with your opt in or freebie, you want to attract prospective clients who want to take a deeper dive with you and your expertise.

That’s where webinars or live events come in.

Webinars are free, online workshops you host for newcomers to your brand (they can also be used to forge rapport with existing subscribers). A webinar can either teach viewers new skills or it can reveal information previously not known to them – like busting myths or breaking misconceptions.

The webinar is a great list-building tool, but it’s also a great tool for converting viewers into either buyers of a low price point product or direct them to register for a sales call or consultation with you.

However, understand that actual attendance to webinars is only a small percentage of people who register. It’s up to you whether or not you want to offer a replay of the information, but you definitely need to follow up with new subscribers as I explained above, with a nurture sequence.

Live events are better for designers who focus on a local market. They can use the same format – either teach attendees a new skill or bust myths – but live events are much better for establishing relationships with your potential customers. Shaking hands with and speaking face-to-face with someone has tremendous value.

Much like a live event, there’s always a discrepancy between registrations and attendance. For a live event, I always recommend charging a nominal fee to ensure the highest possible attendance and cover your costs.

Building your list with a podcast or live video

For virtual designers, creating podcast content can be a huge boost to building their list. Not only does a podcast reach a large audience, if it’s syndicated to iTunes, it will reach an affluent and sophisticated audience.

Create podcast content like you would blog content; you can record solo episodes where you explain concepts or wax poetic about your beliefs, or you can interview industry experts.

Include both an intro and outro segment used in each episode. Focus the content of the outro to direct listeners to a specific url on your website that hosts the opt in form for your freebie. Make the url memorable and give the listener a direct call to action.

For example, you would want to say:

“Thank you so much for listening to my show! To learn more about how you can create peace and serenity in your home, download my easy feng shui tips at mydesigndomain.com/podcast.”

For designers who are focused locally, live video on your business page works similarly. Instead of a podcast, create live episodes to air at the same time each week – much like a TV show. Similar to a podcast, display your expertise or feature experts to help educate your audience.

Be sure to tag your personal profile in the description of your live video, so mor people see it, and always add the call to action at the end that directs them to your opt in freebie.

In the next installment, we’re going to cover:

  • Nurturing your growing list with regular content
  • How to make offers that actually convert into sales
  • Creating raving fans who will sell your brand for you

Until then, take a moment to consider how you can apply what we learned in this post to your own business:

  1. Where you can list your opt in freebie
  2. When you will get started with paid advertising
  3. Whether webinars or live events, podcasts or live video is best for your business

Ready to get to the money-making part? Click here for Part 3.
Interior Designers' Guide To Building A Money Making Email List (Part 2)

Interior Designers’ Ultimate Guide to Building a Money-Making Email List, Part 1 of 3

interior designers ultimate guide to building your money makeing email list nest and prosper

When I polled the designers in my Facebook group about why they love being an interior designer, their answers were unanimous: they love that their creations can affect so much happiness in their clients.

Creative solutions + clients who love the results

As a former interior designer, I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

But something I’ve noticed – and the reason I started Nest & Prosper – was that many designers, though brilliantly talented, are often missing something very important from their businesses: the income they desire.

And where there is a lack of income, what follows is a tragic lack of belief in their own talent and worthiness – this is what I’m writing this blog post series to help eradicate.

Because the world needs art and beauty, and designers deserve to be compensated.

When I thought of what could be the most helpful for a designer needing to increase her income – aside from my program to help designers land a client in 30 days – I realized the most important thing to have is a strong email list.

I learned this in my own business from 2011 to 2016 when I was a wardrobe stylist. Though based in Orange County, I worked with clients all over the world. It was my email list that allowed me to reach the clients I actually wanted to work with, launch new passive income products to a warm audience, and it was my email list that propelled my income year after year.

As social media changes, it’s important to stay atop of trends. But, for a decade or more, email marketing has remained the top performing marketing channel.

Additionally – and unlike social media – when a business builds an email list, those followers become an asset. Where, Facebook owns the subscribers to your business page, when you build a list, YOU own access to those emails.

What I’m going to teach you in this series of posts is a combination of what I’ve learned over the years and up-to-date marketing tactics as I’ve learned them from my own mentors.

Let’s dive in!

Know your ideal client

A common mistake I see designers making is not having identified their ideal client.

The thing that propels the digital marketing of any business is content. In other words, if you are marketing your business online, you must be creating content to use to market that business.

When I say “content,” I’m mostly talking about writing a blog, but content also refers to any written copy on your website, the content of your emails, webinars, podcasts, etc.

As a designer, you’re probably inclined to create a lot of visual content – like mood boards. While I think it’s important to include your visual style, written content or spoken content is what connects emotionally with your audience. Written content also tells Google and other search engines that you’re relevant to your niche.

So, you need to be blogging, regularly and consistently. But, before you do, you must understand WHO you’re creating this content for because you need to tailor how you speak and write.

For example, if you were to present what you do to a kindergarten class on “career day,” you would tailor your information for five and six-year-old minds, right? You wouldn’t talk above their heads – it’s the same for creating content.

The other purpose for knowing your ideal client avatar (ICA) is so that you can begin to attract to you the people you actually want to work with.

I learned this lesson in my own business when I started out as a wardrobe stylist. The beginning of my journey started in the thrift stores of Newport Beach, reinventing my style. But my content focused too much on “thrifting” and not enough on “reinvention”. As a result, a large part of my email list was only interested in content that was about getting clothes at a discount.

In your own business, I’m sure you can think of at least one instance where you took a project and realized either the work or the client wasn’t something you ever wanted to experience again. Understanding your ICA helps you avoid this and focus on work you’re going to love.

To understand your ICA, you must get very specific. For this reason, many business owners avoid the exercise because they fear it will alienate people who don’t match the description exactly.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Tailored content helps you connect deeply with your ICA, and it also helps establish you as an expert within your niche. Simply talking to a specific kind of person doesn’t alienate reasonable people.

The best exercise I’ve seen for identifying and understanding your ICA is this reader profile questionnaire by byRegina.com. Use this to craft a character sketch about your ideal client.

Know what you intend to provide your ideal client

Now that you understand practically everything about your ideal client, you need to know what you intend to provide them.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “duh, design services.” But this is where your business can either flourish or flounder.

Here’s the deal …

Just having income from design services would be a mistake because it leaves money on the table.  Just offering design services means you’re not monetizing an entire section of your audience who may never hire you.

This is where the concept of a “value ladder” comes in (I learned about this idea from Clickfunnels founder, Russel Brunson).

Let’s say you’re a designer for both local and virtual clients and you already provide decorating services by the room. Let’s go back to that ICA description and ask, “what else can we offer this person?”

Dive deep into your own expertise and list out a few service or product ideas that may come before or after your current solution of design services by the room.

For example, you might think of offering a DIY guide to sourcing furniture for a home decorating project – that would go below your solution of design services by room if you were to place each of these solutions on a ladder. The idea is that, the higher you go, the more value you provide and the higher the cost.

Another example might be design services for an entire house remodel, which would go above your current offering of decorating services by room because it’s much larger in scope, provides way more value, and should cost significantly more.

Note here that I’m not instructing you to actually create any additional offers yet. Instead, you’re simply going to brainstorm what you would like to and could offer your ICA.

This is important, because now we’re going to …

Create an effective opt in

What I mean when I say “create an effective opt in” is this:

Create a piece of free, but highly-valuable, content that addresses your ICA’s biggest problem – but also leads them to their next step with you.

I learned this concept from Marissa Murgatroyd at Live Your Message. Basically, by creating the tiered solutions that we talked about above, you’re able to monetize your audience at an array of levels.

Your opt in is the beginning of that.

But, let’s go back to what an opt in is first: highly-valuable content, given for free, but in exchange for someone’s email address. In turn, you can use email marketing to reach them until they opt out.

Your opt in should not only be used as “bait” to collect emails, but also to tee up what it is that you eventually want to offer.

The first step is to identify what you want to, ideally, provide and work backward. So, let’s say you want to build your portfolio with some local remodeling projects.

What’s the step before that? Remodel projects are usually sold via an in-home consultation.

The step before that? The opt in, probably. So, what kind of opt in would tee up a consultation to talk about a home remodel? There are an infinite number of possibilities, but a client I talked with recently is considering a PDF guide to position herself as a remodeling expert by creating her best picks for quality home remodeling materials.

Do you see how that works? Start with what you want to sell, work your way back. Reverse engineer.

In the next installment of this series, we’re going to be talking about:

  • Getting your opt in into the hands of the right people with both organic methods and paid advertising
  • Two of my favorite ways to build your email list

In the meantime, take a moment to consider the three things we talked about in this post, and start keeping some notes:

  1. Your ICA
  2. What you want to offer
  3. Opt in ideas

Ready for Part 2? Click here to dig in.

Interior Designers' Guide To Building a Money-Making Email List (Part 1)

Why Interior Designers Should Be Video Blogging and Livestreaming if They Want to Grow Their Business

why interior designers should video blogging livestreaming nest and prosper

If you’re an interior designer and you need more social media followers, more engagement on your social media channels, more email subscribers and – hello! – more clients, you need to add video marketing to your repertoire.

Yes, from my experience, interior designers are hesitant to get out from behind the portfolio.

If you surveyed 100 interior designers, Family Feud style, and asked them why they’re not doing more video, their answers would look like this …
Why Interior Designers Should Use Video Blogging and Livestreaming
42 – Hate seeing themselves on video

27 – Don’t know what to talk about

18 – Don’t want to annoy family and friends with their business content

13 – Don’t have time

But, the cold, hard truth is that, to sell high-end services, people must know, like, and trust you. That’s where video comes in.

Video bridges the gap between simply having a following, and actually having an emotional connection with that following.

Emotional connections = sales and clients.

Honestly, you could just stop reading here; you need to be doing video. But let’s talk about these objections above:

1.) You hate seeing yourself on video

I get it. I could write a whole ‘nother blog post about how women’s value – as people and entrepreneurs – is tied to their physical appearance. But that would just be exhausting.

Certainly, it’s much easier to pull out your phone and record a quick video when your surroundings are perfect, you have the flawless complexion of Gwyneth Paltrow, and the body of a Victoria’s Secret model.

But, here’s the truth: people do business with people to whom they relate.

You are, in your current state, perfect as yourself. There is nothing you need to change or clean up.

With that said, something I’ve learned in my own video marketing adventures is that I can improve as I go.

If my lighting is bad in one video, I can find a better way to light the next.

If the camera angle makes my face look fat in one video, I can find a better way to shoot the next.

If my office is a mess, I can find a different location to shoot.

If my hair is too messy or makeup too shiny in one video, I can touch things up before I shoot again.

All of these things have happened to me, it’s just a matter of adapting. Don’t hold yourself to getting things perfect the first time – or, ever! You may not ever achieve video perfection unless you have a studio, a makeup artist, a stylist and a professional video team.

And, even then, you’d be missing the point; to really connect with you, your ideal clients want to see you in the environment where they would imagine you’d be.

Solution: just start shooting.

2.) You don’t know what to talk about

I call bullsh*t! You’re a professional at what you do – a bona fide expert! You have tons of material up in that brain of yours.

What niche do you serve? What are their foremost problems related to your business? What questions do they always have for you? What mistakes are they making without your professional help? What misconceptions do they have about your industry?

When I was creating content for my wardrobe styling blog, I would always worry that I was going to run out of content ideas – so I held off on creating the content I would think of.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that 1.) repurposing content is totally okay and 2.) the more content you create, the more ideas you get!

Taking five minutes to talk about your area of expertise will give you more ideas, not only from simply talking out the ideas, but also when you get questions and feedback from your audience.

Solution: write down 3 major topics within your niche and then 3 sub-topics of each, then get on video and riff about them.

3.) You don’t want to annoy family and friends with your business content

Again, I get it. But, isn’t being an interior designer something that’s a big part of your identity?

I’m a big proponent of using your personal Facebook profile to network and promote your business – as long as you’re in compliance with the Terms of Service, which means no making direct sales offers to your Facebook friends.

You can, however, show all the behind scenes work of your business and use live video to talk about your business.

And you should!

People who are connected to you know other people, and those other people might be your ideal clients. As designers, it’s ideal to have a referral-based business, and this is a way you can get that.

You should also being going live on your Facebook business page and in a group, if you have one. One of my favorite “hacks” is to go live on my business page and then edit the video and “tag” my personal profile. That way, I’m not going live on my personal page, but all my connections who follow me will see it.

Solution: get over it (said with lots of love).

4.) You don’t have time

Do you have time to be perpetually frustrated that your business isn’t where you want it to be??

As humans, we always have time for whatever we make a priority. But, honestly, I think this comes down to a confidence issue.

If you haven’t done a lot of video – especially live video – you’re not as confident about it. It’s unknown. And the only way you get past this is to make it known for you.

What I’ve found helpful is to actually schedule it on my calendar. I use Google calendar, so if I need to move it around, it’s no problem. But the point is that, even if I moved it three times in one day, it’s still there waiting to be done.

Something else I’ve found helpful is to speak from the heart; talk about the real issue behind something, not just “how to” content. People appreciate when they’re reminded of your humanity.

Solution: just start shooting!

Two Ways to Compete with Large eDesign Companies as a Small Business Interior Designer

how edesigners compete with large edesign companies nest and prosper

Laurel & Wolf.

Havenly.

Decorist.

You’ve probably heard of them, you might have even worked for them – or might still work for them.

Large edesign companies like this have a bad rep with designers for a few reasons (they supposedly don’t pay their designers well, their low rates have supposedly driven down the value of edesign), but I’m going to tell you how you can capitalize on their market presence as a small business interior designer – and why you should be glad they’re here.

Yes, you should be elated that large edesign companies exist – and I’ll tell you why …

These companies created a market for interior design services that practically didn’t exist before. Were interior designers serving clients virtually before L&W? Yes, of course – but not on this scale.

All three of these companies launched with a big vision: capitalize on the continuously growing DIY and hobbyist consumer interior design space. As part of their launch, they invested in marketing and advertising which did two things:

  1. educated their market
  2. created their market

Again, this was not done on a small business scale, but a much larger scale. And, as a result, they carved out this slice of related consumers that, before, did not exist. Before, they were all HGTV’s audience, sitting at home and wondering how in the hell they were going to duplicate what they saw Joanna Gaines doing.

L&W monetized them.

Now, as opposed to, maybe, a few thousand or so individuals who took a chance on hiring a designer from across the country, millions are now considering the idea because of the marketing efforts of these large interior design companies.
How Interior Designers Can Compete With Large eDesign Companies

That’s where you come in.

Now you have a few choices. You can:

1.) Compete directly on price.

Launch your own edesign company. You might have a much smaller budget for advertising, but it wouldn’t be impossible to start grass-roots and grow big.

The key in this strategy is outsourcing; you could utilize design school students or recent graduates, or you could tap into the emerging interior designer community in India – yes, India.

You’ll want to analyze what the large edesign companies are doing right, and duplicate it. You’ll also want to understand what they’re doing wrong (mostly from the customer end), and improve or do something entirely different.

The main complaint I hear about from edesign customers is 1.) lack of proper communication and 2.) uninspiring designs. Improve on this by creating a “customer service and project manager” position; designers would report to this person who would be responsible for communication with the clients and quality control.

Boom. Free business idea. Also, you’re welcome Laurel & Wolf (if you’re reading this).

2.) Create a strong personal brand and sell digital products.

The big edesign companies have done a great job at creating appealing, albeit, kind of boring, corporate brands. It’s intended to be palatable to a wide audience – the one watching a lot of HGTV – but it doesn’t do anything to connect emotionally with the audience.

It’s not intended to. That’s where you come in with a magnetic and possibly polarizing personal brand.

Back to Joanna Gaines …

Think about how many people love to hate on not just farmhouse style, but the relentless use of giant clocks, distressed furniture, and metal wall typography. Think of how many people love to talk about how annoying Chip is, or how secretly in love the table guy is with Joanna, or how the Gaines’ family’s traditional gender roles are ruining feminism.

See what I mean?

What is possibly the most benign thing ever has become a lightning rod for attention – and it’s made Chip and Joanna gazillionaires.

Boring, stiff, uptight, and Stepford-like interior designers won’t ever be able to create huge brands because they’re not doing anything to attract attention or stand apart from others in their space.

Think about what the public knows about interior designers …

Not much. Seriously. If you asked the average person to describe what an interior designer is like, they’d probably say something like “hoity-toity, fancy-schmancy, works with rich people.”

You and I both know there is so much more to being a designer – especially if you’re an edesigner who is much more accessible to a much larger market.

My point is that it’s YOUR JOB to take the most authentic stuff about your personality and let everyone see it. That person you are when you’re relaxing with your family or significant other, maybe when you’ve had a few cocktails – that’s YOU. And the world needs to see it.

  • Get on your social media platform of choice and rant about what really bugs you about certain styles of interior design – not from a design industry perspective, but in a way your clients can understand.
  • Wax poetic about why you love certain styles of interior design.
  • Opine in your authentic voice about how important good design is for living your best life.
  • Have a voice. Be somebody. Use social media and email to preach your own design gospel and gather up a following of superfans who will read every email you ever send them.

Then (here’s the business idea), sell those people DIY design information products. It could be anything from a PDF that walks them through a simple project to an entire multimedia course that shows them how to design their whole house.

Competing with the large edesign companies doesn’t mean you have to copy them or even go after their entire market. Instead, you can compete with a product at a similar price point and target a slice of their market.

Remember, that market is BIG – way bigger than you could build with a few hundred dollars in ads. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here, just capitalize on what they’ve built and monetize it your way.

Want to join our FREE Facebook group just for interior designers? We have over 900 designers already there, building their businesses! Sign up below and save your spot!

Why Interior Designers Need Their Own Facebook Groups and How to Start One

If you’re an interior designer and you need more clients, you need a Facebook group.

I’m sure that, by now, you’re aware that email marketing is an important part of your marketing strategy – and that’s not changing, by the way. Sure, people’s inboxes are as flooded as ever. But email marketing consistently has the best ROI of any type of marketing.

However, if you want even more of an advantage and are looking for a way to increase know/like/trust with your ideal clients, you definitely want to add hosting a Facebook group into your strategy.

In case you weren’t aware, Facebook allows you to organize groups, which you may link to your business page. You run this group from your personal profile, and creating groups for the purpose of networking with your ideal clients is free (for now).

A Facebook group is such an amazing tool for business owners – especially interior designers – because it’s like hosting potential clients in a virtual space for a virtual gathering where you can mingle.

The best part is that you control the tone and direction of the group, and you’re free to promote your business. 6 Tips For Creating a Facebook Group For Your Interior Design

There are an infinite different number of ways to use your group to get clients, and I encourage you to let your intuition guide you about leading, but here are my favorite guidelines to help you be as successful as possible.

1.) Make sure you understand who your ICA is.

ICA is short for “ideal client avatar.” This is a character sketch of the ideal person you want to work with. Your ICA is intended to be very specific; you’ll want to know her age, marital status, education level, goals, fears, favorite movies, etc.

It doesn’t mean you won’t work with people who are similar, but not exactly like, your ICA. It just means that, whenever you create content or something like a Facebook group, you’re creating it for this person.

Using a specific ICA tells that person you “get” them and understand their deepest needs and desires as it relates to your business. Even people who are similar to your ICA will consume your content and think, “me too!”

So, when starting a Facebook group, make one for that, specific person. Ask, “what would she need from a Facebook group?” Is it a place to ask about design tips for mothers of young children? Is she a single socialite who needs a resource to create a sophisticated living space? Is she an overworked lawyer who needs a sanctuary and wants to chat with other lawyers?

Tailor your space for your ICA. Create a virtual environment she wants to check in with several times a day.

2.) Launch your group.

Facebook requires that you add at least one person to open your group, so just add your best friend, your sister, your mother – someone who won’t mind being added without their permission.

Otherwise, people usually hate being added to groups without their permission, so don’t do that.

Instead do this:

Create a post on your personal Facebook profile teasing a new group that you’re opening for your ICA and how great it’s going to be. Use a good photo of something relevant to your group’s purpose and ask people to comment if they want to join.

As people comment, reply with a brief response or emoji add them to your group. The engagement will boost your post in the feed and get more exposure.

Here’s an example of the post I used to open a group and grow it to 100 members within a month.

Also, if you already have an email list, send out an invite using your email service provider.

Either way, it’s good to kick off opening a new group with an upcoming event that gives people a reason to show up and participate (more on that in a moment).

3.) Invite ideal clients.

Within your network, you should have at least a handful of people you believe would be ideal clients. If they didn’t already join from the post you created, send them a message and ask if they will join – but don’t just say, “will you join my group?”

Instead, take one of two approaches …

First, you could hype it up. Tell them how amazing it’s going to be and all the great events that are coming up in the group. Talk about the fabulous people already in the group and how it’s all just going to be the bees-knees.

Ask, “may I add you?” rather than passively dropping a link and putting it on them to join.

Second, you could approach it as though you’re looking for feedback – because you are. Tell them why you’re starting a group, that you believe it could be a great resource for them, and ask if they’ll be part of your “kick-off focus group.”

Most people will have a hard time saying no to that. Don’t forget to end with, “may I add you?”

In the beginning, don’t worry about having a small group and/or a lack of engagement. Just keep posting valuable content frequently and consistently. For members, valuable content trumps a large group with no sense of community any day of the week.

4.) Plan and create online events in your Facebook group to keep your ICA engaged.

Yes, having a group can keep your pipeline full. But it’s your job to keep your group in your members’ feeds. You do this by creating a lot of content that engages your members.

The key here is “engage your members.” Put yourself in your ICA’s shoes and figure out what advice and resources she needs now, then give it to her. I promise, if you show up with good, engaging content, your ICA will notice. Then, they’ll become more engaged and possibly start inviting friends – that’s how things go viral.

Here are a few specific guidelines to help you out:

  • Title your group with something that’s good for search purposes. I titled my group: “Interior Designers’ Marketing Mastermind | hosted by Nest & Prosper“. First, it identifies who the group is for (interior designers). Next, it mentions the purpose of the group: marketing. Finally, I added my company’s name to it, so that will show up in search results as well.
  • Keep the content on Facebook. Posting links sends users away from Facebook, and Facebook doesn’t like that. So hold off on posting links if you’re growing your group. If you want to post one of your blogs, just post the text and add a photo.
  • Go live (as in, livestreaming video) in your group every day – or Monday through Friday. Think of a tip or just something that’s on your mind pertaining to the theme of the group. Create a post, go live, and just talk as you would to a friend or a client. Livestreaming takes practice, and a small, growing group of fans is the best place to do it.
  • Host live workshops and actually teach your clients something they can use right now. Try to host workshops at regular times each week; Russell Brunson says in Expert Secrets to host a webinar every single week until you know what you’re selling and how you’re selling it.
  • Use your audience as a focus group and ask them questions using the “poll” feature. People love giving their opinion, so when you are writing a blog post or brainstorming an opt in idea, ask a question in your group and use the poll feature to capture responses.

5.) Keep promoting your Facebook group.

Once you have your group launched, a few dozen of your core fans and followers added as members, and you’re creating engaging content every day, you still need to keep promoting your group.

I recommend adding the url of your Facebook group (don’t forget to customize it in the settings) to the introduction section of your personal profile. You can also link your Facebook business page which helps fans of your page find your group.

If you have an email opt in, add a link to join your group in your welcome email.

And, if you really want to go guerrilla style, reach out by messenger to people in competitor’s groups to invite them to your group – but only do that once you’ve established a significant enough amount of rapport with each individual you plan to reach out to. You definitely don’t want to send messages to people you haven’t already reached out to with a friend request and some initial, introduction small talk.

You never know if someone might be looking for something you offer – and they won’t know until you offer it.

6.) Funnel group members to your email list.

Having a Facebook group is a great way to cultivate leads, but the real objective is to get these people on your email list.

Since it’s your group, you can promote as much as you like. So, to get the members of your group onto your email list, create an opt in or “freebie” to give them in exchange for their email address. You could even use the poll feature I mentioned earlier to have them help you decide which freebie to create.

You might be wondering how much time cultivating this group is going to take out of your week. The answer is: it depends.

Think of it like growing a garden. If you were to plant a garden, you probably wouldn’t think, “how much time is this going to take me?” Instead, you’d probably be excited to start something new, you would be eager to learn how to plant each item the correct way, and you would be diligent about checking in on it every day to see how much progress was made from the day before.

Think about growing your Facebook group the same way; there’s going to be learning and experimentation opportunities galore.