• Phyllis Harbinger

Top Marketing Strategies for Interior Designers

Who would not want to be in a business where new clients magically appear? They cannot wait to work with you, are invested in your vision before you even meet them and they have been told by others how wonderful you are! Unfortunately, we do not live in Utopia and having new clients fall from the sky does not happen without a great deal of planning, and an investment in yourself and your business both in terms of time and money. While many of you may shy away from this, Marketing is a critical component owning or working in a firm.

Whether you are just starting out on your own or seeking to grow your firm, or working with a team, finding new clients is a daily challenge that you cannot dismiss. When we are busy, we sometimes lose site of the pipeline and get relaxed about our marketing efforts. This should be avoided at all costs. Your existing clients are important but new clients help keep you afloat and build your pipeline. To maintain a successful business, you need to understand what marketing channels you have access to and how you can make them work for you.

For some this is an overwhelming task that they just refuse to tackle. We are now in an age of massive digital and social marketing opportunities, in addition to traditional tactics. Let’s take a look at some proven methods of Client Attraction.

There needs to be a marketing strategy in place in your business and it will be unique to you and your firm. It must fit your budget and the unique needs of our service businesses.

Email Marketing

Email Over the past fifteen years, email marketing has become one of the most critical components in my marketing plan. Both economical and effective, it is a great way to stay top of mind with your existing clients while you build your list of prospects for future business. In order to use this tool to build your clientele, you must continue to build your list of contacts, give them great value (a special offer, a tip, etc.) and provide useful information delivered in a meaningful and engaging way.

Each time I collect cards, I decide which list this person will be added to. You may wish to have multiple lists so you can create a more targeted marketing strategy. With new prospects/additions to your list, you can invite them to check out your website, your blog, attend your live events, etc. Also, giving them an incentive to subscribe is a great list building tactic. When I first started my newsletter in 2010, I went onto Facebook and offered to send 5 Feng Shui tips to add sizzle in your bedroom. I got 100 signups in one day! This was more than half of my fan base at the time. The power of social media can be harnessed for these efforts!

Tips for retention and keeping your subscribers engaged: · Send emails on a regular schedule — either weekly or monthly to start. · Keep your email messages short and catchy, and include a strong call to action that clearly states what you want the recipient to do. · Provide value. Before pressing the send button, ask yourself if your email content is useful and relevant for your customers. If not, rethink your message.

There are many resources and services but my faves are Constant Contact, MailChimp, and Vertical Response. They all have templates and support and many different plan options to fit every budget, making it easy to get up and running.

Direct Mail

Personally, I still do look through my direct mail marketing items as sometimes, there is something valuable there. I have run campaigns that have been successful in the high end luxury segment of various towns in my targeted geographic area. Purchasing lists of new home buyers and creating a beautiful post card or card in an envelope, addressed personally to the new homeowner and sending a follow-up a month later is one tactic that proved super successful, landing me two clients with profits of over 100K. I spent around $3500 – 5000 to run the campaign.

This certainly proves that direct mail can still be an effective marketing tool Printed materials are more tangible, have a longer shelf life, (many of my clients told me they kept articles they found in magazines for years before actually reaching out). When you send content that is well-designed via mail, you will attract your addressees’ attention as they sort through their mail.

So, how do you start? You need a list for your target audience. You may already have the list or you can purchase one. Be sure the content is well-written and the design is attractive. Also provide a call to action so you will have a greater chance of getting a response.

Social Media

Social media offers myriad opportunities to engage with customers, understand what’s important to them, and spread the word about your business.

Five main channels dominate the social media landscape:

· With well over one billion users, Facebook offers the opportunity to reach out to an ever-expanding number of contacts — through posts, invitations to online or offline events, targeted content and ads, and more. · Twitter is where people of all backgrounds and professions share ideas, information, and insights — all in 280 characters or less. · LinkedIn is a professional social networking site where you can connect with other business people, post business-related insights, and join like-minded online professional groups. · Instagram is a means to share what you do in a visual way — with images and videos that showcase your products and services. · Writing a blog gives your business a voice and is an excellent way to share your expertise.

If you had to choose just one social media channel for your business, Instagram will probably give you the biggest return on your investment of time as a Designer. But , be sure that you post consistently and respond to comments expeditiously on all of your social channels.

I like to also tune in to what clients and prospects are saying online. I also like to follow influencers in our field. There is valuable insight in this tactic so that you can target your marketing message more clearly.


I am certain that many of you have been contacted by local and national magazines to advertise in special issues or to create a campaign. This is a wonderful way to advertise and market your services but, it is also a very costly road to travel on. If you are a small firm or a solo-preneur, you probably did not budget for this expense and doing a one-time ad is not the best way to utilize this marketing tool. You truly need a campaign to get a true return on your investment.

More trade magazines are offering digital advertising at attractive rates and sometimes digital ads can be free if you write an article in kind or are featured in a story. It is your job to negotiate this! Many creatives opt to run targeted ad campaigns on multiple channels. There is also a pay-per-click option that appears in search results, on website banners, and other strategic internet locations. If you choose to do this, you must carefully plan your strategy.

I also suggest that you maximize your exposure on Google Plus with a business profile. Claim your listing and ask your clients to post reviews about their experience with you.

Public Relations and Publicity

Celebrate your brand by sharing news and publicity about your business. This builds trust and exposure for you and can also generate new leads to prospects.

You can do some of this yourself or if your budget permits, I would highly suggest engaging a Publicist. If not, here are some tactics you can use to spread the word:

· Send press releases to media contacts that cover your industry. · Post events on online and print calendars available through newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets. · Register with HelpAReporter.com as an expert resource in your industry. You may be quoted by reporters, bloggers, and journalists who tap your expertise. I have done this many times and it is always a great way to get press!

Word-of-Mouth and Referrals

Since the beginning of my career, word-of-mouth has been my biggest source of new clientele. People like to buy from people they know, like and trust and they will almost always take advice from a trusted friend, family member or colleague over a hunch on someone they have zero connection with.

In addition to the groups mentioned above, get out there and Network! Join a local Chamber of Commerce, BNI, Junior League, get involved with the PTA. Whatever you are attracted to will give you the opportunity to connect with a greater audience and establish a relationship.

Live Events — Both in Person and Online (Webinars)

This is my absolute favorite thing to do on the planet and it has proven to be a magnet for Client Attraction.

While not for everyone, a Live event can be a magical way to take your in-person presence to the next level by engaging your clients and prospects in a more formal way. Events may be held in person or virtually, and sometimes you can do both by Live streaming your event. Start with a fireside chat for a small group if you are not comfortable speaking in public. Do a workshop, speak at an industry event, the possibilities are endless.

Webinars are an interactive way to deliver training, lectures or workshops to an audience that is unlimited by geographical location. Top webinar tools include Zoom, GoToWebinar, ClickMeeting, and Adobe Connect.

You can also live stream events of which you are the host or participant via social media, such as Facebook, or applications such as Livestream.

When planning your event, be sure to blast your social media channels with information about the event, a link, a sign up opportunity and the like.

Ready to learn more? Stay tuned for next month’s story, where I will talk about Client Retention and increasing profit margins from your existing client base!

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