Let’s be clear: every business needs a content and social media strategy. This post is not a work-around to avoid it.
However, more and more, I’m seeing interior designers flustered by questions like:
- How much content should I create?
- What kind of content should I create?
- Where should I be spending my time on social media?
Before we get to answering these questions, I think it’s critical to remember your job and your purpose as an interior designer. It really comes down to only two things:
- Designwork – what you probably love the most
- Marketing to get design clients – an unavoidable task
Unless your career is veering off into different territory, your job is not being a content creator. Do you need to produce content? Yes. But what we want to avoid is positioning you in front of your audience as a go-to source for content.
Yes, I just said, we don’t want your audience to rely on you for content.
You’re. A. Designer.
As a former interior designer myself, I want to keep you in your zone of genius (design) and I want to make marketing the easiest, quickest, most direct way to get you those clients.
So let’s take a look at how to get more clients with content marketing.
The first step in getting clients easier, quicker, and more directly is to understand exactly WHO your clients are.
Your clients are not: anyone, anyone with money, anyone with a house that needs a new kitchen, anyone who will hire you, etc.
As a designer, you make things beautiful and functional. As a business owner, you solve problems. You must understand the problem you solve and who you solve it for.
If you haven’t done the work of figuring out who your clients are, stop right now and consider these questions:
- What is your ideal project? What’s the scale – one room or the whole house?
- Who lives in this space? Who would you love to design for?
- What problems do they have which your design services can solve?
Then, go deeper and develop a real persona around this person by answering these questions (hint: the easiest way to do this is to model your ICA after an actual client you love working with or the person you were before you could provide the solutions you provide now):
First, we need to know demographic info …
- Marital status
- Household income
- City of residence
- Children or none?
Next, we need to know psychographic info …
- Personality type (Myers-Briggs or other)
- Personality quirks
- Favorite saying
- How happy is she/he?
- What does she worry about?
- What is her primary goal?
- Favorite magazines
- Favorite books
- Favorite blogs
- Favorite movies
- Favorite TV shows
- How does she spend her weekends or off-time?
- Does she have hobbies? What are they?
- 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.
Now that you understand who your clients are, we have to figure out how best to position you so that you, your business, and the opportunity to work with you are irresistible.
To answer this question, we must understand, who do you need to be for this client?
We know you’re a problem-solver, we know you have design talent and skills, but who is the person you need to be?
Is it a trend-setter for up-and-coming entrepreneurs? And understanding resource for a busy family? A translator of someone’s luxurious vision? A discerning eye for someone with a bazillion ideas?
Choose who that persona is, then create content a.) for those people and b.) that positions you appropriately.
You don’t need to create an encyclopedia of random content every week. Again, your job isn’t to be a design magazine – your job is to be the interior designer for your ideal clients.
The problem with creating too much content is that your audience starts to view you as a content creator – do you see why that’s a problem?
To answer that question, think of what we do with magazines – even ones we love? We flip through them …
And that’s about it.
We don’t want your audience treating your brand like a design magazine. But we do want your ideal client learning about you and what you can do for them. So, create content that satisfies an actual problem your client has.
We also don’t want your blog content to just be installation photos.
Yes, of course, we definitely want to see your work – it’s how you position yourself. But the point of a blog is to educate your ideal client.
Finally, it’s time to decide how to be effective on social media.
The keyword here is “effective,” but, effective at what?
Your overall goal for marketing should always be capturing leads and converting leads into clients, but so often we lose sight of this in favor of “vanity metrics.”
Vanity metrics are things like number of followers, number of likes on a single post, shares, open rates for emails, cost per lead, etc. At the end of the day, all we really need to know is: are you profitable as a company?
But, let’s get back to the business of effective social media, which is capturing leads …
Now that you know a.) who your ideal client is and b.) what kind of content you need to produce for her, let’s take a look at which social media channels and tactics are probably best for you. I’ll review the most popular and weigh pros and cons of each.
With 1.8 billion users, it’s a safe bet your clients are on Facebook. But many interior designers get extremely discouraged because the organic reach (how many followers see non-sponsored content) on their business page is very, very low – as in, 3-6%.
When I created my first Facebook business page in 2011, there were no restrictions and no way to buy ads for a small business like mine – so everyone who followed my page saw everything I published.
It’s understandable why small business owners would be frustrated, but unlimited reach to your customers without paying a fee is a.) a thing of the past and b.) unheard of anyway.
If you’re a business, you need to be investing in advertising at some point. But that doesn’t mean you need to lose money in the venture.
Facebook is a great tool to use for advertising because it collects detailed, precise information about it’s users. If you’re an interior designer, we can easily target your ideal client if you have enough information about her.
Facebook pros: Detailed user information makes it good for targeted ads
Facebook cons: A very small percentage of followers will see your non-sponsored content
Instagram is a great platform for being visible as an interior designer because it’s one place where prospective clients go looking for interior design inspiration and interior designers.
It has great capability to both position yourself and search locally, and you can also advertise on Instagram via Facebook.
If you’re not using advertising on Instagram, though, you must rely on hashtags to reach your audience and – even then – it’s a bit of a craps shoot. In addition, without advertising, you’re limited to just one link, which is in your profile. So, whenever you offer a call to action to your audience, it must be through the link in your profile, and you must say in the caption of your photo, “link in profile.”
However, Instagram does have a messaging feature that allows you to talk with prospective clients. So use that to connect with people and make sure you optimize your profile with a link back to your website where you’ll capture their email for email marketing.
Instagram pros: Good combination of being both a visual medium and also social networking
Instagram cons: Limited ability to direct followers off the platform if you’re not using ads
If you’re like me, Pinterest is your happy-place. Pinterest allows you to curate collections of content – which is pretty similar to curation work interior designers do for clients.
Pinterest was practically made for interior designers, and it’s a great way to show prospective clients the range of your style. There’s also no restriction on how many pins you add that are directed back to your site, giving you the opportunity to share your valuable content as much as possible.
However, like every other social media platform, Pinterest allows advertising, which limits organic reach of non-sponsored content. In order to get some really effective Pinterest game going, you should be pinning 50+ images a day and contributing to group boards. Yes, you read that right; Pinterest is a part-time job. But the upside is that more and more virtual assistants are offering Pinterest management, so outsourcing is always an option.
Also, keep in mind, Pinterest isn’t a networking platform – so you can be as promotional as you want.
Pinterest pros: It allows you to demonstrate the full breadth of your style
Pinterest cons: Limited reach for non-sponsored posts
Using these tips, you will not only forge a bond with your audience, but you will condition your audience to see you as a solution to the problems they have. As an entrepreneur, content is part of your job. It’s a strategy that’s proven – just make sure you’re using it effectively.