As a business owner, you’re likely always thinking about how to find clients – or in other words how to market your Interior Design business.
Recently, I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I’ve tried over the years. Like the time I convinced my (now) husband to go leafleting with me.
I honestly can’t think of many things worse than going door to door shoving leaflets through letter boxes. The fact that I got my husband to help me do this just shows what a keeper he is. Way back in the mists of time, when I started my first interior design company, I decided I needed to find more clients. Back then I was the snappily named LJ Interiors.
It’s fair to say that social media is not what it is today. And, I can’t believe I’m saying this, I didn’t have a website. I decided that, much cheaper than placing an ad in a magazine, the way to get the word out was to design some fancy leaflets and post them through potential clients doors.
I can’t remember the number of leaflets we printed off. I can’t remember the number of hours we trudged around my neighbourhood, posting flyers through the doors of people I didn’t know, hoping they needed an enthusiastic, newly qualified interior designer.
The number I DO remember though, very clearly, is how many sparkly, new clients I got as a result of this marketing effort. Zero, zilch, nada, none. No nibbles or enquiries, no calls nor expressions of interest. No client work from a huge investment in time (plus design and printing costs).
Of course, it’s likely that the next logical step for anyone receiving a leaflet would be to check out my website – and I didn’t have one at the time. Marketing fail.
It demonstrates that marketing your interior design business needs to be a thought-out plan. Not an isolated action – or throwing spaghetti at the wall – but an ongoing plan with a goal and a purpose – and ideally directed at your ideal clients (not just the houses you can reach by foot).
As an interior designer, marketing might be right outside of your comfort zone, but if you are running your own business, it’s essential. So, here are my tips to make your marketing more ‘hit’ than ‘miss’.
7 tips to improve your marketing & find more clients:
- Do research. You’re not going to get your marketing mix right all the time. The key is to figure out where your target market is hanging out and focus your attention there.
I didn’t do enough research about the homes where I dropped the fliers, or provide a suitable next step (like the ability to check out my work on my website).
- Have a plan. Seriously. I had the naïve belief that, because I was so excited about my new profession and my ability to change peoples’ lives by designing their homes, complete strangers would be excited too – and sign up after seeing my flyer. Nope.
Consider the services you are offering, how to attract your ideal clients and the best methods to do this.
- What’s your marketing jam? You need to find not just what works for you in terms of developing a pipeline of interested potential clients, but also an activity that you enjoy – because marketing takes time and effort (and money) – and you need to be able to keep going for the long-term.
Leafleting didn’t work for me, it was a decidedly miserable activity, but that doesn’t mean that leaflets won’t bring you clients. Especially if you have children who might do the dreaded foot work for you. Find what works for you.
I wouldn’t suggest you commit to blogging if you don’t like writing – it will make your life a misery. If you have commitments that make getting out of the house early difficult, or you don’t like speaking in public, then morning business networking is not for you.
- Keep things fresh. Be open to things changing over time – especially as you develop your business or launch new service offerings. The same marketing approach might not work for each of your design packages.
Keep your eyes open to new opportunities. Being a small business means there’s no red tape or lengthy procedures – if you see a new way of finding clients – jump in!
- Eggs & baskets. Don’t put all your eggs in one marketing basket. If you rely on just one marketing method and it dries up – your pipeline of work can literally disappear overnight.
If Instagram goes down or changes the algorithm it can put you in an awkward spot. If you rely on all of your leads from a builder/developer and they retire – then what? And definitely, whatever else you do, have a website.
- Patience & perseverance. It used to be that a potential client needed ‘7 touches’ before they would consider a purchase. Now, with the ‘noise’ of social media, it is much higher.
Maybe those flyers did count as one touch? Maybe they weren’t just scooped up and thrown in the bin? Who knows. For an industry like interior design – you’ll rarely get a new client from one touch (the exception being if that one touch is a personal recommendation from someone your potential client trusts).
Marketing requires on-going, consistent effort. Be prepared to dig in for the long haul. That doesn’t mean persevering with a marketing activity that clearly isn’t working, but be honest about whether you have given it enough time and effort to see results.
- Data is magical. Track where your leads are coming from. Where have your existing clients come from? Is it the sort of work you want more of? How much money did you make on the work? It’s not just about the number of leads, it’s the quality too.
Make sure you understand what is going on in your business. Know how much time and money you are investing in any marketing activity, and the resulting clients you are working with. The data you gather about your marketing, like the return on marketing investment (ROMI) can absolutely drive your business to the next level, stop the feast and famine, and find you more of the work you love.
If you want to find more clients and build a steady stream of work, then check out my course ‘Finding Clients’ – you’ll learn all about the methods available for marketing your Interior Design Business.
This is a self-paced course and includes a marketing worksheet, marketing tracker, and BONUS marketing plan template for Interior Designers.