Designers: Twitter Is Rubbish – Use Twitter

Green tinged avatars appeared on Twitter, Face...As an interior designer you appreciate the beauty of the things you design. So how can this flimsily-named Twitter-thing have any beauty? or any use for that matter with the constraint of 140 characters. How can it be a professional marketing tool?

Well it is and I’ll tell you why. I should also let you know that I am from the original anti-Twitter brigade but have been converted as I wrote late last year.

  1. Many of the readers of this blog are owners of small to medium-sized interior design firms. We just don’t have that much spare time, right? Continue reading “Designers: Twitter Is Rubbish – Use Twitter”

7 Facebook Mistakes Interior Designers Make

Appraisal / Vanity
Appraisal / Vanity (Photo credit: CarbonNYC)

Facebook is a great place to start or participate in online communities based around your interior design service. Use Facebook as one of the ways to increase your business.

BUT “What are the pitfalls?”. “What mistakes do interior designers make?”

1. Facebook Groups: These are a way to communicate with people with like-minded interests, join the same groups that your customers might or start your own group. The problems here are that you end up talking to your competitors or trawling through voluminous amounts of irrelevant comments and receiving lots of spam. The mistake is to join too many groups that are not really relevant to your business intentions.

2. Vanity URL. One common mistake here is NOT obtaining a vanity URL for your business on Facebook. What is a vanity URL? Well ours is www.facebook.com/kothea , you want one like that.

3. You are foresighted enough to write a blog to support your business. However you copy and past your blog to your Facebook page (when you remember). Use Facebook apps to automate this process eg Social RSS

4. You do not clearly display your contact details. You do not have a ‘call to action’ throughout the page. Think what a visitor would want from you next…and provide it.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

5. You only put text on your blog. Spruce it up with photos and videos if you can.

6. You only use Facebook. Use it in conjunction with other tools like Twitter.

7. Thinking it is the same as linkedin. It’s not. Facebook is a place where you will more likely be able to reach your customer base more easily.

Velvet

Velvets have become increasingly popular over the last 5 years. Both residential and contract usage of velvets have increased tremendously. Having been produced for hundreds of years velvets never seem to have lost the attention of discerning designers.

Interior Designers are often interested in the properties and manufacture of velvet – the two being necessarily related. The depth of the pile, the durability of the finish, the ease of maintaining the beautiful finish.

Velvet is made in one of two ways – cut or uncut:

1. Cut pile

a. Here the loom is configured to Continue reading “Velvet”

Interior Designers – Facebook & 4 Ways To Correctly Use It

English: An example of an automated online ass...
English: An example of an automated online assistant. Further information is found in the Automated online assistant article in Wikipedia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you target the general public as an interior designer then you MUST have a facebook page for your business.

In previous posts I’ve wittered on about Twitter and given a few pointers on improving web sites. However I cannot stress the importance of Facebook to interior designers. It’s quite an important marketing channel now and it will become increasing important over time as it becomes more prevalent throughout the lives of your customers.

Let’s start off by trying to work out if you need to do something for your interior design business on facebook. Are your clients mostly businesses like restaurants or commercial offices? Are your residential clients technology averse? If the answer to these is YES then the ‘market segments’ (types of customers) you are targeting will probably be out of reach by Facebook. However that still leaves an awful lot of people who can potentially view communications about your company on facebook.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

You say, “Facebook is just glorified email, right? I can’t see how Facebook is a professional communications channel for my business.”

Well, people do use facebook for what could otherwise be achieved by email, that’s certainly true. But it’s a whole lot more than that. Facebook can be a proxy for a web site, it can be a customer service platform, it can be a portfolio showcase, it can be a design blog, and so the list goes on. It’s more than email, in that email is really a one to one type communication and it’s largely controlled by the initiator which, in the case of an email marketing campaign, is you. Facebook is a web of interacting ‘communities’ engaging in mass digital conversations.

But the world is changing away from the email we’ve all mostly got used to. People want information when they want it. They don’t want it when you want to give it to them. And they want it now. And that means immediately not tomorrow.

So let’s go back to your beautifully crafted email communication offering your services. It looks great and you were convinced into doing it because it is so cheap to do compared to paper mailshots, right? You send it out but…oh what a shame, the client’s project has just started with a competitor! If only you were quicker. Or maybe they will be starting their project in 6 months time and might mislay your email in the meantime. Maybe, as is more likely the case, they will treat your email with disdain and bin it without even reading it. So an ’email-shot’ was cheap to do but it cost you your time and it maybe wasn’t effective.

So instead, already having your design service offering and a online portfolio might have initiated that first contact towards winning the business. And totally new potential clients might have found your company facebook page because you write a blog with interesting content about home interior design issues and they discovered it through searching on google.

All well and good, but isn’t that a web site?

Yes, sort of! but there’s more. A  blog is the first element of interactivity over and above a regualr website. It allows potential customers to comment to you and each other about what they think about the issues you are raising in your interior design related posts. That buzz you create in digital communities creates your brand awareness.

But people might complain and everyone will see it? Well yes that’s true but you should have done it right in the first place. This gives you a second chance to rectify the problem and to show people that customer service is important to you. You get the chance to stop people complaining about you when you are not there to influence it.

Writing a blog from within Facebook is free. Hosting your digital portfolio on Facebook can be free to do. Creating a Facebook page for your business is free. Compare that cost with the cost of doing it on your web site.

Oh and there’s another thing. Have you noticed those flashy Blackberry mobile/cell phones and Nokia equivalents? I’m sure you have. They are becoming more and more common. People are using them for all sorts of communications and soon they will be using them to do their research (eg to find an interior designer) on google much more than they are now. So you’ve just invested let’s say £$10,000 on a cool new web site. Fantastic. However. First of all you probably cynically or intentionally forgot to put a blog on there (and even if you did you probably won’t keep up writing it for too long) and secondly I’ll bet if you borrow someone’s Blackberry and try to look at your new site 0n it then it will look awful. Great showcase for your business?…not.

So you’ve spent all this money on a web site. But have you tried typing “Interior Designer” into google and seeing where you rank. Probably not that highly. So how are people going to find you? Well you could spend more on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) but that’s a whole new and expensive ballgame so let’s not go there right now. Let’s do the effective and free stuff first.

Well once you built your network on facebook you will find people discovering your site inadvertently though your connections. For example Facebook will automatically tell a friend-of-a-friend that the friend is a fan of you, yes you the interior designer. So when the friend-of-a-friend is contemplating looking for an interior designer they discover that you have done a great job for one of their friends. It really is informal networking and digital PR, the sort that you used to do face to face and the sort that you used to pay for to get coverage in magazines.

So look. I’m not saying you can build an interior design business based on Facebook networks. What I’m saying is that it is a potentially cheap, new and effective marketing channel. Use it alongside your traditional methods that have already been shown to work.

And that’s another thing. With digital marketing you can see the metrics. When you placed an ad in a magazine you had no idea how many people saw it. all you had at best was an over-inflated circulation figure. You can now count the clicks. You can count where the clickers came from and you can track where the clickers clicked to. Be warned I’m watching you! (Digitally of course!)

So  Interior Designers how do you correctly use facebook?

Here’s 4 ways to get you started.

1. Create a vanity url, a business page and make sure that someone can see the ‘fan’ functionality.

2. Either write a blog in facebook or get a free facebook application to copy in the content of your blog to facebook.

3. Use one of the free applciations to add extra info about your company.

4. Build your network. Friends, family, colleagues, clients – the bigger nework, the better.

Spying On Competitors – Staying Ahead

It’s a bit negative really isn’t it? I mean spying on your competitors implies they are better than you and you are devoting time just to play catch up. Or you could turn it around and say that by employing ALL the industry best practice from all your competitors you will be ahead of almost all of them! Depends how you see it.

This article considers a few easy ways to ethically get more information on your competitors and then show you how to easily integrate all that information into your web browser so it’s there to use on an ongoing basis whenever you have time in the future. Fantastic long term investment merely for investing your time.

We look at:

  1. Google Alerts;
  2. Competitor News Feeds;
  3. Industry News Feeds; and then finish by
  4. Putting it all together in one place using Netvibes.
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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

Skip to the end of the article if you want the URL for the example created.

Let’s create a real life example by pretending that we are a Hotel/Hospitality focussed interior design and architecture practice. Now, I’ve only been to LA once so with my very minimal internet research I’ll pretend further that my main local competitor is Ralph Gentile Architects (www.rgastudio.com) – I don’t know this company  and  they seem to be in the hotel interior design industry. Also we will look at WATG (www.watg.com) who are a leading design consultant for the global hospitality market. Continue reading “Spying On Competitors – Staying Ahead”

Bad things they say about Interior Designers

Truth & Consequences
Image via Wikipedia

You have a great business. You have great referrals from clients and you have a good presence at events and online.

What if you suddenly started getting a lot of bad press, perhaps because of just one well connected but disgruntled client? What if you did not realise for 6 months? The consequences could be disastrous, right?

This is one of those things that are, hopefully, unlikely to happen but if it did the CONSEQUENCES would be severe. So it’s the kind of business event where you probably need not worry too much BUT you do need to give it some thought to plan contingent action.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

An easy thing to do as part of a response to this issue is to look at: online articles and publications; and online social networks.

At its most simple level: once you realise what is happening make every effort to politely counter what is said in written and make efforts to make the disgruntled client happier.

At another level think about a way of monitoring the PR you get on a regular basis to avoid cumulative bad press.

Happy new year

But not happy new decade.

Yes, unfortunately 2010 is the end of the decade not the start of a new one. Honest. You have to wait for 2011 for that. And yes I know that we were all wrong when we celebrated the new millennium on 1st Jan 2000, but it was still a great party wasn’t it?

Well that’s the ‘correct’ definition but I still think that we have now left the period we know as the noughties.

Hopefully it will not be called the teenies.

Facebook For Interior Designers: 7 Steps To Get Started

Now consumed Become a fan on facebook http://w...
Now consumed Become a fan on facebook http://www.tomtolkien.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This article tells interior designers how to setup a business page for their interior design business on Facebook.If you sell to the general public then the consensus amongst marketing professionals is that your marketing strategy must include Facebook. Facebook will work to promote your services through your network and through the networks of your network members.

If you sell to businesses (eg if you are a hospitality interior designer specialising in restaurants) then I’m not convinced that Facebook is the best medium. However, and its a big however, many of your clients will be using Facebook already so maybe you should use it to help them consume the information that you produce and to help them interact with your organisation in a way that suits them. It’s not what is easiest for you that should be the way forwards, it should be what is the easiest for your (potential-) clients.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

Let’s get started then. Here’s what you need to do and it will cost you nothing other than time:

1. Create a personal Facebook account if you don’t already have one. If you have one, use the one you have.

2. Create a business page for your business – sometimes called a fan page. Listen up here!

  • Don’t create another personal page.
  • Don’t create a group – you don’t need to know what one is.
  • Create a business(or fan) page: http://www.Facebook.com/pages/create.php

Make a note of your default business page ie the URL that Facebook gives you. KOTHEA’s is http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-United-Kingdom/KOTHEA/129265851209/ and yours will be similar, make sure that Continue reading “Facebook For Interior Designers: 7 Steps To Get Started”

Retail Interior Designers – 8 ways to sell more

Sales
Sales (Photo credit: Nils Geylen)

OK let’s focus on sales. Without further ado here are 8 suggestions for ways to sell more. Hopefully, at least one will be something new to try. Change is good:

1. One for the owners and managers: interact on the sales force with your staff and your customers. Be visible and foster relationships.

2. The retail world moves forwards changing all the time. Don’t look back to the glory days. Innovate, take a view on the future.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

3. Browsers. For all those people who just can’t be engaged by your sales people get the sales people to give these ‘browsers’ a flyer. The flyer (terrible word) can be a discount voucher, an unadvertised promotion or a brief look at a new product, anything of value. Keep it succinct.

4. On weekends when you are particularly busy ensure that a senior staff member greets entering customers and tries to engage with leaving ones (who have not purchased) to ask them what they were looking for that they could not find.

5. Make sure your best sales people are selling on busy days. Ensure they are properly incentivized to SELL. Customer service is great but you want the money, right?

6. Consider a promotional event that is invitation only for your best customers (and anyone they want to bring along). Make sure there is genuinely something in it for the attendees.

7. Ask your salespeople what can be done on a practical day-to-day level to sell more. More products? Better layout? Different incentivisation or promotion?

8. Work your networks. Through Facebook; through staff, friends and family, email list.

Facebook Fan Page & Vanity URL For Your Interior Design Business

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUNhvy-gfo0&w=200&rel=0]

This article looks at the very narrow area concerning how to make your Facebook URL for your interior design business appear professional. Specifically how to create a proper ‘vanity URL’ for your business fan page.If you have already done that then here are some more useful additions to the business side of your Facebook page.

Many Interior Designers who sell to the general public see Facebook as just one way of lead generation – to some it is more important than others.

Ok here goes. This is a real life example where KOTHEA’s MD set up her personal username on Facebook incorrectly, there was already a Fan Page for KOTHEA. This article takes you through the steps we had to take to get the ‘vanity’ url correct both for the individual and for the company. Our MD inadvertently set her personal username (vanity URL) as ‘KOTHEA‘. So if anyone typed www.facebook.com/kothea it took them to her personal page rather than to the ‘proper’ company page. This situation got progressively messy as she started to use Facebook more for personal matters with business messages appearing in the same place as her personal ones. The result was that many of her friends kept seeing fabric related articles when they were not interior designers. Hopefully you get the picture!

So we start with the erroneous situation:

www.facebook.com/kothea as her personal name

and the rather unwieldly

http://www.facebook.com/pages/London-United-Kingdom/KOTHEA/129265851209

as the original name for the company as it was assigned  by Facebook. Note for this all to work you must already have created a business page or FAN PAGE for your business.

What we want to do is threefold:

  • Release the facebook.com/kothea name so that it can be re-assigned to the business page
  • Change her vanity url/username name to something more like what it really is
  • Assign the proper company name to be KOTHEA.

Before we get started in earnest there are five critically important points: firstly, the person making these changes must be an administer of the business page and logged in to that page via THEIR PERSONAL ACCOUNT;  secondly, you can only make changes to names once so be very, very careful; thirdly you must have at least 25 fans of your business page; fourthly, your business page must have been created as a Facebook PAGE not a group or anything else, it must be a page!; and finally Facebook sometimes requires that your personal account has been verified by mobile phone before any of these changes are allowed to be made.

If you are creating a page for the first time BE VERY CAREFUL some Facebook Fan Page setting CANNOT BE CHANGED (Jan 2010).

Here are the steps to go through:

  1. Check to make sure what settings have already been made

Type in this exactly: www.facebook.com/username ie do not put in your username put in the word ‘username’. You will get a message like the one below.

This confirms that KOTHEA is my MD’s username.

2. From the facebook menu go to SETTINGS and then to “ACCOUNT SETTINGS”. You will see something like the following where we now want to change the Username NOT the name.

3. Click on the word “change” the one next to USERNAME. ie the one above the word KOTHEA in my example. You are then prompted for a new username. It must be unique and there are various limitations to what you can have (sorry I don’t know all the restrictions but Facebook seems to disallow certain names even though they might be unique – for example i think only one ‘full stop’ is allowed). Be very sure what new username you want. Continue reading “Facebook Fan Page & Vanity URL For Your Interior Design Business”