Not Everyone Knows About You – And That’s Okay
With everyone resorting to digital marketing these days, how can a designer stand out against the competition? That’s the question I put to my colleague Ken Lewis, managing partner with Client Expander, a digital marketing agency that works exclusively with companies in the design industry. He graciously shared with me some of his insights from more than twenty years of helping designers and others in the industry attract more clients and grow their businesses.
The first thing, Ken said, was to overcome your fear, uncertainty and doubt. Marketing doesn’t guarantee results, but there are things you can do to market more effectively and get a better return for your marketing dollar. The most important thing is to be consistent. Create a marketing plan and then execute it faithfully and continuously. Over time, you will reap the rewards.
More specifically, Ken said that there were four key elements to successful digital marketing.
Provide a Quality Experience
The first is to present yourself well. You want to use the best photography and other images you can afford. You need to have a current, engaging, professional-looking website. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Choose a couple of social media channels and provide fresh content on a regular basis. Focus on the quality of the user experience. What’s in it for them? What’s going to make them want to come back?
Second, you need to be discoverable. That is to say, when users or prospective clients are looking for an interior designer or for information about interior design, they need to be able to find you. Where do you rank on a Google search, for instance? There are experts and services available to help you improve your ranking and placement in your market through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other techniques. Even more important, you want to be sure the right people can find you—i.e., your ideal clients—and to minimize contacts from those you don’t want. This is a big one, as most novice business owners falsely believe that the more people who know about them, the better. Quality over quantity!
The flip side of being discoverable is being seen. To make yourself more visible to your ideal target market you need to push out content to them. This can be done in a number of different ways, including online advertising, email marketing, e-newsletters, blogs, articles submitted to third-party content providers such as design and home decor websites and e-zines, etc. You need to do this judiciously so as not to overwhelm or annoy recipients. Again, the quality and utility of the content are crucial to developing a lasting following.
Last but not least, once you’ve engaged with and attracted followers or prospects, it is essential to maintain contact. Marketing is not about making sales but about developing relationships that have the potential to generate sales at some point in the future. You want to achieve top-of-mind status with your contacts, so that when they’re ready to hire a designer, you are the first one they are going to turn to. Here again, periodic emails, a consistent social media presence, friendly reminders, holiday greetings, and personal outreach now and then will help to strengthen the connection you have with contacts.
Most designers have a fairly narrow target audience, noted Ken, which is a good thing. You’re not trying to sell cereal to 300 million consumers, so you don’t need to pay for a Google ad that everyone is going to see. That allows you to narrow your outreach efforts and focus your resources more effectively and efficiently. In other words, just like good design, you can achieve a lot more with less.
If you’d like to find out more about Ken and the services offered by Client Expander, visit their website at clientexpander.com.