By Gail Doby, ASID
CVO and Co-Founder of Gail Doby Coaching & Consultiing
How did last year’s marketing plan work out for you? Did you bring in the new business you hoped for? Were the revenues you earned worth the time and money you put into your marketing efforts? If not, it’s time to take a different approach to your marketing.
Before you choose which type of marketing you’ll be doing this year, go back and review what worked and didn’t work well last year. Did you not put enough time into your marketing? (Hint: most designers don’t.) Were you targeting the wrong audience for your services? Did you use the wrong marketing approach or medium? Did you communicate the wrong message or not engage with your target market (i.e., lots of lookers but few inquiries)?
Depending on the answers to those questions, you will want to do one or more of the following. If you don’t have the time, don’t have a knack for marketing, or just plain don’t like to market (hint: most designers don’t), consider outsourcing your marketing to a freelancer or firm with a proven track record promoting interior designers. It will cost you more, but you should get much better results for your money.
Whether you do it yourself or outsource, put some resources into having a quality, professional-looking online and social media presence. At the same time, keep in mind who your target client is. Are they more likely to look for you on Facebook, Houzz, Pinterest or Instagram? Will they respond to a direct approach, like an e-newsletter, or do they prefer a just-in-time, quick response exchange, like tweets or text? You want to have a broad reach just in case, but invest more where your target client is most likely to find you.
Focus, focus, focus. Don’t cast your net for everyone. Put your effort, especially your face-to-face time, on networking and referral marketing. You’ll have a better chance of connecting with qualified prospects. Take some time to think about how how you will do this. Who can you ask for referrals? How do you make contact with that referral? Once you’ve made that contact, what is your program, your value proposition, your hook? Referral marketing takes time and a big dose of self-confidence. However, it is by far the most effective means of acquiring new business. Plus, you’ll spend less time dealing with prospective clients who aren’t really serious or a good fit for your services or price point.
Many designers would just like to design and not have to market and sell their services. But if you want to have a business, there’s no way around it. You have to market to survive and thrive. Whether you choose to do it yourself or outsource, or some combination of both, having a plan and a strategy will get your further than just awaiting an opportunity to present itself.