Let’s be honest: most of us loathe networking.
The thought of standing around a room, trying to balance your plate of canapés, making small talk and trying to seem totally at ease, while also scanning the room for potential clients, doesn’t sound like the greatest use of your time.
Old school experts will tell you that relationship-building is a priority, and I don’t disagree with them! I’m just not convinced that real relationships are formed while networking at mixers.
Even if you did find a source for good networking, how do you let potential clients know you’re an interior designer looking for new projects without seeming desperate, overly eager, or just plain thirsty?
The answer to your problem isn’t more networking or better networking or professional memberships. The answer to your problem is positioning yourself so clients come to you.
In this post, I’m going to outline a strategy you can use to attract highly qualified prospects right to your door. Keep in mind, some of these steps you might already be doing, but it’s important you read all the way through because there might be some parts of it’s you’re missing that could affect your bottom line.
Sounds way better than making small talk over bland canapés and cheap wine, right? You can drink cheap wine at home while watching Netflix!
First, let’s cover the basics of social media for interior designers so we can bring everyone up to speed.
First and foremost, Facebook is mandatory for marketing your interior design business. As of now, there are 1.8 billion users on Facebook. It’s a safe bet to say that your clients are on Facebook.
Most of us know you can create a business page that allows you to connect with your ideal clients. On this page, you should share useful things to provide value to your potential clients. Because Facebook is designed to allow for sharing among it’s members, you have the potential of going viral among similar users should you establish your page as a go-to source for helpful, valuable content.
Most importantly, you can use your Facebook business page to run highly-targeted ads to find your ideal customer – more on that later.
If you don’t have a Facebook page, make one immediately and start sharing useful information. Note that Facebook’s algorithm prefers to keep users on Facebook, so avoid sharing external links. Instead, share photos that tell a story, infographics and quotes, as well as live video.
Live video will not only get better play in the feed, but it also helps you establish rapport with viewers.
You should also use your personal Facebook profile to position yourself as an interior designer within your community.
Although it’s against Facebook’s terms of service to advertise your business from a personal profile, you can still share anything about your design business – projects, client testimonials, behind the scenes photos and video. Also be sure to link your work history directly to your business page so connections can check out your offers there.
Pinterest, as you probably know, is great for collecting and curating style you love. It’s perfect for establishing your unique design sense – which is important, because you don’t want to attract clients who like styles you have no interest in creating.
Create your Pinterest business profile and keep it curated – meaning, create boards your ideal customer will find interesting. Save recipes and workouts for “secret” boards. Use apps like TailWind and BoardBooster to build your following and find group boards to join for more reach.
Instagram is genius if you want to give your followers and prospective clients a look at what goes on behind the scenes of your business. Don’t forget, most people really have no idea how the design process works. Use Instagram to educate them on how important your work is.
With Instagram, it’s all about quality over quantity when it comes to photos. The Instagram audience has high standards for photo quality, so only publish well-staged, well-lit, and well-edited photos. This is one of my favorite tutorials for establishing your Instagram account.
With Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, you should be optimizing your profiles to point back toward your website where you’ll be ready to capture ideal clients as leads – more on that in just a bit.
Houzz isn’t technically social media, but it does allow you to create a profile and show off your work. The good thing about Houzz is that it’s designed to attract people who are already interested in designing or decorating their home and might be looking for a professional. It’s a great way to collect leads passively, but it’s not guaranteed the leads that find you will be qualified.
Qualifying leads is one of your most important marketing jobs – let’s talk about how to do that.
You must have a good website. It must look like it was designed recently. It must be mobile-responsive and it must feature your portfolio of work.
Still building that post-graduate portfolio? No problem. Include any work you have, plus your student portfolio, plus any mood boards and renderings you create.
(Note: if you don’t have enough client work, you should be creating material on a regular basis to show off your personal design style.
In fact, designing for ideal, yet “imaginary,” clients on a regular basis will get you into a mindset that will undoubtedly lead to working with those ideal clients in reality. Create an account on Polyvore to start creating mood boards and mock projects in your down time.)
Most importantly, your website must capture prospective client emails with something called a “lead magnet.”
Simply having an offer on your website, inviting potential customers to connect with you for a consultation, is not enough.
A lead magnet is a piece of content that provides a ton of value to prospective clients and positions you as the authority in your field. In order to create an effective lead magnet, you must understand what your, particular ideal client wants, and then give it to them.
Enter your name and email to download “5 Lead Magnet Ideas for Interior Designers”
Again, what you provide all depends on your ideal client. If you don’t already know who your client is – with insane specificity – you need to do that now.
Ask yourself the following about your ideal client:
- Male or female
- marital status
- level of education
- do they have children in the home
- own or rent
- household income
- value of home (if owning)
- what are their favorite activities inside and outside the home
- what style of design do they already like, how much do they travel
- what are they typically doing on a Saturday night
- what are their favorite TV shows and movies
- do they mostly socialize outside of the house or inside
- where is their favorite place to have dinner
- what would they do in their backyard
Make a complete narrative profile on this person, don’t be afraid to get very specific; it doesn’t mean people who are similar – but not exactly the same – won’t be interested in working with you. But it does mean that you’ll be guaranteed to connect with your ideal client in a deep way.
Now, ask yourself, what problems do they have that your design service can solve?
- Do they feel like they can’t entertain friends without feeling self-conscious?
- Does their kitchen lack functionality?
- Is their master bathroom horribly outdated?
- Do they want a more open floorplan?
- Do they work from home, and their outdated place is demotivating?
- Do they work outside of the house in a stressful job and need a sanctuary?
- Are they moving into a new place and want a fresh start?
- Do they want to sell their place in a few years and need timeless design?
- Do they need to incorporate more opportunities to relax into their home?
Identify their top three problems and create a resource to help them. Creating this and then giving it to them essentially for free (in exchange for their email address) shows you understand them as a person and are a dedicated professional with solutions galore.
Enter your name and email to download “5 Lead Magnet Ideas for Interior Designers”
Funnels and Email Sequences
Creating your lead magnet is just the first step in creating a client out of a lead. Once you have a suitable lead magnet, it’s your job to lead that prospect from “interested” to “ready to sign the contract ASAP.”
Let’s go back to when your prospect opted into your email list in exchange for valuable content (the lead magnet) – what do you think happens next?
The answer is that it’s different for every business. But the goal is to find a balance of nurturing the relationship, while also seeing how ready they are to take the next step.
Let’s say you created a lead magnet that helped potential local clients understand how to hire the right interior designer for their project – a checklist of questions to ask, perhaps.
A lead magnet like this would get the prospect actually thinking about the project in more detail than they had before. Because you supplied the inspiration for thinking this much more in depth, of course they’re probably going to consider you for their project.
And, they’re probably already qualified if they’re interested in giving up their email for information on how to hire an interior designer.
The next step would be to offer them what’s called a “one time offer” immediately after they hand over their email. An example might be an in-home consultation priced at $197. Be sure to note that $197 is lower than your hourly rate.
If your lead accepts your offer, congratulations! You’ve got a prime opportunity to establish rapport, demonstrate your expertise and vision, and ask for their business at the end of the consultation.
If your lead does not accept your offer, they’re still on your email list, so you want to make sure they receive an email “nurture” sequence for a more expensive service – perhaps a consultation with a concept board upgrade for $597.
Again, these rates are introductory, and do not reflect your actual rates – always communicate this. And this, particular funnel may not be right for all interior designers. By knowing exactly who your ideal client is, you can create the best offer sequence for them.
Creating a sales funnel and email sequence helps you get the lead converted to a client – but how do you actually get those leads into the funnel in the first place?
The best way – hands down – is with Facebook ads. Let’s talk about why.
What I mean here is that Facebook allows you to target users based on limitless criteria. We’re not just talking about age and location – we can target users based on behavior, interests, and even financial status.
Looking for homeowners within a certain zip code with a home value of $1M and over? Done.
Looking for stay-at-home moms with a household income of $500K and up? Done.
Looking for people living within a certain state who recently purchased a home and are obsessed with HGTV? Okay, maybe not – but, if you did, done.
Whatever criteria you have for your ideal clients, we can use that information to ask Facebook to only show your ads to those people, so you know you’re getting in front of qualified leads.
Once you’ve run some ads, then you’ll be able to see who responded to your ad and who didn’t, giving you clues about how to tweak your offer or your ad.
Now that you know how to put lead generation on autopilot, you can audit your existing process and add in the steps you might be missing.
Sadly, the days of just having a website, or just having a website and a Facebook page are over. Creating your custom sales process from beginning to end will not only help you get out of lame networking events, but – if done right – can help you exponentially increase your annual revenue, allowing you to do more of what you love …