Most interior designers these days use social media. They might not use it effectively but they do use it. They might be using the wrong social media…but, yes, most still use it.
You: So, how do I best choose social media to ‘reach out’ (well that means “sell”, I guess) to my target markets?
Me: Well, silly, you use the same social media that your (potential-) clients use.
You: Ah! But what are they?
Me: Oh! 🙂
Well of course “It depends” is really the answer. Just as there are different types of interior designer so too are there different types of customer. If you understand your ‘type(s)’ of customer then you should already know where they digitally hang out. If, indeed, they do that sort of thing at all. Some won’t.
Anyway, as a guideline look at and consider the following:
A. Interior Designer With A Shop or online shops (e-commerce)
Choose: Mass-market retail-type social media: Twitter, pinterest, Google+ and Facebook
You need to work with images, with advertising and frequent/unique content in a highly sales driven way. Focussing on content that converts to sales leads.
B. Practice-Based Residential interior designer (mid-, top-end)
You need a great portfolio showcase somewhere. Probably on your own website. You might also reach out with your selected portfolio to PINTEREST. There’s also a good chance that many of your clients (or at least their partners) will use LINKEDIN. Showcase your service there as well.
You might also consider targeting advertising on facebook where you can select your demographic market quite precisely which will then, of course, mean that you should have a FACEBOOK presence as well.
As a one-off, you should also have a HOUZZ presence. But do not give too much away there. Make your content inspiring but tantalising. Link all the images and content back to YOUR website. Do NOT link to their website and let your leads go elsewhere. C. Hotel / Commercial interior designers
Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are the sites to use here. However, you CANNOT use them half-heartedly. You really have to interact on these sites. Not just with people looking at your content there but also, on Pinterest, with target clients.
Even then your success here will be limited. The phone call to find out about re-fits, office moves and new hotels will prove the best way to generate new leads. Perhaps couple that with industry knowledge site such as http://hotelprojectsworldwide.com.
How to get a 5-star rating on Google searches for YOUR Interior Design business.
Interior Designers and, indeed, smaller companies in general face a significant disadvantage in showing up and standing out in Google search results. You have a lot of bases to cover and, let’s face it, bigger companies like eBay may sell a similar (but inferior) product / service to you but it is VERY difficult for you to get ahead of them.
There are a few tricks that can help you. This post/article looks in a bit of detail at getting pretty STARS against stuff that you write. As shown in the image below.
Have a look at this screen shot of something I’ve worked on recently related to fabric searches for certain kinds of Mohair Velvet in one of the markets we are targeting.
You’ll notice a few things that make either KOTHEA or me stand out.
1. Being on the first page! Yes that helps!! If you write a blog then Google give you bonus points for new contentand that content ranks highly for a small period of time, say a couple of weeks.
2. Having a pretty mug shot of yourself. This is linked to ‘authorship’ of your page and is quite involved but can be achieved if you have time to spare. I can cover that in another article if anyone is interested. It’s quite important.
3. Images/Image Search Results at the top. That first product image at the top is one I took. I can’t remember whether it is on a blog page or a website page but I appropriately ‘tagged’ it with the ‘right’ keywords and voila! there it is.
4. Adverts. On the bottom right hand side one of my adverts is showing up. Cool!! but I have to pay for it 🙁
5. Brand/Company Results. These are not shown on the image above but if you properly set up a company or brand page in Google+ (or get a Wikipedia entry) then additional information about your company will appear on the right hand side where the shopping results and adverts currently are.
6. If you sell products OVER THE INTERNET then you can use Google Merchant and results will appear on the right hand side. I don’t really know how to do that as we do not sell products over the internet (that is a pre-requisite).
7. Ranking stars. You will see that on one of our website’s pages we have a ranking. 9.4/10 … how cool is that! This article/post is going to talk about how you can get those.
RANKING STARS – RATING STARS
OK. Here is where your problems start. (Don’t worry though if you keep reading I will tell you how to circumnavigate those problems).
To get a star ranking to show up then you have to have, from memory, at least 10 ‘proper rankings’ in ‘proper places’. The figure used to be higher but it has been lowered recently.
Now, if you are eBay or amazon then of course you could get hundreds of rankings every week from the myriad of customers you have and you can build trusted ranking systems into your online e-commerce package. Fair enough. Except, as an interior designer, you might only have 3 projects/customers a year and sometimes client’s don’t want to write a review even if they are super-happy with what you have done for them. So, if you can get one review per year, then you might have to wait 10 years for your reviews to filter through to Google’s rankings. You probably also do not have the same resources that Ebay or Amazon have to dedicate to their online e-commerce solution.
That is clearly not fair and clearly does not create a level playing field for small- to medium-sized organisations. Indeed it positively UNlevels the playing field in favour of larger firms. So, despite the internet giving smaller companies a chance, the nature of the search-engine-beast mitigates that chance considerably downwards.
And it’s worse than that. Because larger companies FOR SURE employ agencies to boost and create spurious/fake rankings. Cheating, basically. Google try and stop this and some of the companies that produce the rankings try and stop this but in reality the ranking companies are not going to stop their customers paying to use their ranking service.
Here’s what you can do:
1. TRUSTPILOT.com: This is one of the ranking companies. They all charge for their services as far as I know. Trustpilot are no different BUT do provide an initially free service where you can mail all your past customers asking for a review. Once the free service expires then your future customers can still leave a review but they have to create an account to log in and then leave the review. In reality that discourages customers from leaving a review. If you want to leave a review for KOTHEA then you can do it here: http://www.trustpilot.co.uk/review/kothea.com. I wouldn’t want you to leave a review about our products if you have not bought them, however it is ethical that you could leave a review about our blog and any value that adds to your efforts. The paid-for Trustpilot service might be appropriate for you if you have 50 sales transactions a month as there are other benefits to reviews rather than just getting pretty stars to appear on Google.
2. Google+: If you haven’t already got a personal Google+ page AND ALSO a Google+ page for your business then you should do. There are many google-related search benefits for having one. Once you have a Google+ page for your business then there is automatically a section created by Google+ for reviews. So you can invite your customers to leave a review. After you have finished a job or sold a product you should ALWAYS ask for a review to be left here. These reviews WILL count towards Google’s star ranking of you. The less honest amongst you will ask all your friends to leave reviews. Naughty.
3. Aggregate ranking code. You can look at all the rankings you have all over the internet and aggregate them together manually. You can then display the result on your website with a small piece of HTML. The less honest amongst you will just invent an aggregate ranking.
You might want to display this on each relevant page:
UK Interior Designer: April 2014
Rated 9.9/10 (1063 reviews)” : Ends
To do that you need to insert the following HTML code which will even work on a WordPress blog:
You can change the text if you think about it a bit. Basically you can change the bits in black.
There you go, you star!! Go give yourself a gold star for reading this far. Oh yes and please thank me by clicking ‘like’ or leave a comment. I hope you found it useful….there’s lots more business tips for designers on this website and there will be lots more in the future.
Interior designers are a visual bunch. At least they deal with stuff that is inherently visual, with the end product being an eminently visual thing.
Clients, too, are fundamentally concerned about the aesthetics of what they are buying.
So, anyway, it seems strange to me that many of us in the industry have a rather limited portfolio of images of ‘the stuff we do’. Maybe you have parts of your portfolio on your web site or Houzz or somewhere else.
Yet there is probably more we can do with imagery to generate some ‘buzz’ around our services (or products in our case).
Let me talk a LITTLE about pinterest for those of you who don’t already know. Basically pinterest is a way to ‘copy’ images from most websites and put them onto boards that YOU create for yourself within the pinterest website. You can keep those boards secret OR you can share with the wider world AND you can let other people add to your boards if you want to. You can put your own images there too.
Here are some examples of what we use pinterest for.
http://www.pinterest.com/kothea/luxury-cashmere-throws/ – This shows some standard product photos of ours. If you click on an image it shows you a slightly larger image and gives you the opportunity to add comments or questions. Nothing too amazing there (other than the product of course 😉 ).
http://www.pinterest.com/kothea/purple-interior-design/ – Here we have some visual resources that we have gathered from elsewhere on the internet. We have themed images by colour. This might be of interest to an interior designer putting together a mood board. You could do a similar thing with other colours/textures/shapes/designs or whatever. I guess the marketing idea here is that we would provide this sort of resource so you keep coming back to it and that might help raise the awareness of our brand in our target market. I suspect the reality is that the resource (the colours) would need to be updated much more often than we have the time to so do.
http://www.pinterest.com/carladeoliveira/wow-furnitureinteriorsarchitecture/ – So here is an alternative. Rather than colours we have “WOW architecture or Interiors” you can put your images here. You might do that to generate more interest in what you do; we let you do it because it saves us time whilst providing a useful and changing resource in a part of the internet that we (kind of) control and have our brand linked to.
So that’s how we have used it. As an interior designer, however, you might use it for these purposes:
Use a secret board to keep track of your competition. IF your local competitors or industry competitors produce lots of images then pinterest is a great place for you to keep tracks of them.
For market research: If you are researching a specific product you could gather images from diferent potential suppliers. You can also pin any old image that link to content elsewhere -for example pinning an image from this post will add a link back to this post if you find this content useful.
Understand your customers. Probably better for those of you who target commercial customers.
Client collaboration. You could create a secret board which you give your client access to – you can both post or comment on images that may or may not provide useful info to your project.
As an alternative to Houzz to organize your visual content – you have more control of how to categorise your content whereas Houzz tends to want you to use their classifications. A downside of this compared to Houzz would be that you would get more people who are not interested in your services (yes EVEN more than on Houzz!).
So those are some ideas of what you might use pinterest for. Now here are some of the technical ways of making this happen. To make them work properly you will need to convert your pinterest account to a free business account. Then use the tools that you can access through the pinterest menu at the top left hand corner of the screen.
1) Pin It Button
You will see at the end of each of the posts on this blog there is a pinterest icon. You click it to save to your pinterest board
2) Follow Button
Invite people to follow you on Pinterest from your site like this:
3) Widgets: Pins, Profiles & Boards
You can then use the pinterest website to get ‘widgets’ (bits of html code) that you can put on your site so that a nice image is displayed and that images links to either: a specific pin; a specific board; or to your profile. If. for example, any of those change (eg you add a new image to a board) then the image that you put on your wessite will be automatically updated. So it could, for example, display your 30 latest project images.
I’m very nervous about using third part site like Houzz or Pinterest to store content. Their whole raison d’etre is to get traffic on THEIR site not yours. So by incorporating their functionality on your web site your risk a potential client clicking away from your site and going onto pinterest. So be nervous about that.
On the other hand it would be a great way to share images with clients or for research or personal storage type applications for your business ie ones that are not involved in (pre-) sales & marketing.
Is it really important? For example, I’m writing this in 2013 and Victoria and David Beckham have just, apparently, commissioned Kelly Hoppen to do their London pad. Do you think they did that Google search? Probably not, in fact certainly not, as I am sure they were influenced by many other factors. So even if you target ‘rich people’ then you might argue that your target market will never make that search.
I bet some of them do though. I bet some of those responsible for recent influxes of property investment in recent years do as they are based out of London. Perhaps they did have one or two recommendations but perhaps they also wanted a few new faces to present fresh ideas. & you weren’t on that list!
So how do you get on that list? Well, this blog page probably did get on or near the top of that list. So you might wonder why? Well if you look at the first paragraph you will see that I use ‘who is the best interior designer in London’ near the start of my article (google likes that) Oooh and look I’ve just included it again in the previous sentence. Google likes that too. But I will stop putting it in as if you do it too many times Google does NOT like that. & now take a look at the title, the name of the page and the excerpt…do you see a pattern emerging? 🙂
So the lesson is that you actually have to put the words into your website that people might type (keywords). That’s an art in itself. Covered elsewhere on this blog. Of course, now you know the trick you will all do it and I will get bumped further and further down the listing…giving me a reason/excuse for not being on the first page when you finally get around to reading this!
Then, of course, you actually have to have a good website and I ‘m sure you’ll agree that those companies that come up do have amazing looking websites. We deal with some of them and they certainly ARE at least amongst the very best designers in Europe, let alone London. And yet if you have the time to check their technical google ranking or ‘pagerank’ (I’ve done it for you!) you will find that most are 3 or 4; which is not so great. Certainly no higher than this blog. So you DON’T have to have a really high pageranking to get on that first page. You have to have the right content (as well as an OK pagerank).
Now here’s how you can cheat. Search instead for a generic “interior designer in London“. Different results. And you will see that maybe your adwords advert for those keywords appears on the right-hand side (you don’t use adwords? why not?). You will maybe also see that you need to have a google business/places listing to get put there as well a perhaps a listing in Yell.
So you can cheat by paying for a position on the ads on the right-hand side. It might cost you a bit though. And if you get a lot of ad clicks then google will promote you to the ads at the top of the search (because your ad generates more revenue for them). And you will see that those ads at the top don’t always look like ads and then kind of blend into the normal search results. And people kind of think that they are the first results of the search…and click them. Good clicks if you can get them maybe?
Maybe a listing in Yell is a good idea and getting a Google Places/Business listing IS DEFINITELY a good idea.
So who is the Best Interior Designer in London? Well Google’s first page for that search shows designfinder.co.uk and their listing says that www.forsterinc.co.uk are the best designers…so it must be true.
9 Ways for interior designers to create a bad impression – digitally of course!
When you first present to your newest prospect I’m pretty sure that you will be wearing your best ‘business’ clothes. When you first speak to a new client I’m sure you will make a real effort to do your best. When you send out a brochure or some other paper based literature I’m sure you will have it looking good. Hopefully too you take first emails seriously. And yes I’m sure your website looks great as well.
So all is hunky dory right? you can stop reading now and move on 🙂
Well firstly, before I get into the meat of the subject matter that drew you here, I suggest that one exercise you can do on a Friday afternoon is to write down EVERY single TYPE of point of contact that you make with clients. I’ve gone through a few of them in the opening to this post. No rocket science there. However what I suggest you do is really think if they all present a coherent view, when taken together, of you and your business. Do they look similar enough and do they say similar things and present similar images?
Just like that fine evening wear you have to impress on really special occasions and turn heads as you walk in the room all these points of contact between your business and your potential client are the same thing FOR YOUR BUSINESS (business? you know that thing that pays for the evening wear).
Well I’m going to talk a little about how to create a BAD digital first impression focussing on your website. So You need to look at the first page that people most often go to. In techie terms these are ‘landing pages’; they might include your home page or any special page that Google Adwords points to on your site or any page of yours that ranks particularly highly and get a lot of ‘hits’.
So to create a BAD first impression here’s what your landing pages need to do:
No Graphics: No logo, no head-shot of a smiley-you and certainly NOT clickable.
Poor Content: Be sure to include waffle and irrelevance to the reason that drew the click..
Lots of words and certainly no Bullet Points as bullet points are too easy to read.
No Call to Action – an even better bad impression can be created if you make it as obscure as possible for the visitor to know what to do next. Perhaps presenting a beautiful image but making it as annoying as possible by adding some music and not making it obvious how to proceed to ANYWHERE else – Designers’ websites are OFTEN like this!
White Papers, Videos, Registrations, etc: OK you might have accidentally put some of these on your website to be helpful but you can soon change any good impression that that might make by giving them away without even getting the visitor’s email.
Confirmation/Thank You Pages: How rude! you forgot to add one of these and to make matters worse it didn’t offer the visitor another idea of what they could do on your site.
Testing changes you make might improve a visitor’s experience to your site. So you certainly don’t want to do that..
Google: create a bad impression with google as well. Ideally you will name your pages PAGE01, PAGE02 and so on. Never include keywords in the name of a page as that might help Mr Google do his job.
Speling mstakes. Sme ppl really hate splling mistakes and abbreviations. Include a few to enrich their day.
Always fail to deliver. Like by having 10 reasons rather than the advertised 9 reasons. Laugh! We might but our client’s probably won’t.
Am I perfect? No! Do I make these mistakes? Yes of course. It does provide some food for thought though.
Colour (color) really does matter. As an interior designer you don’t need me to tell you that. I think sometimes though we know what good colours are and what good colour combinations are and we know what feels right to us and to our clients in the spaces we inhabit.
Many of us are not graphic designers and perhaps our own branding may have suffered because of colour choices we would make in our day job.
Apparently if you look more closely at the infographic on the right then you will see that their research shows that more than 90% of the world’s top 100 brands use either red, blue or grey as the primary branding colour and more than 90% of those same companies use at most 2 colours. So there’s very much a ‘keep it simple’ line coming out for brand colours. No big surprise there I suppose.
41% only use text – so that will be the brand name and/or ‘strap line’ ie there will probably be no logo as such.
Colours considered suitable for companies in ‘the home’ are green and yellow. This doesn’t necessarily apply to the colour YOU should have for your branding as an interior designer.
Indeed their research shows that ORANGE & BROWN are questionable colours for companies in the interiors space. With our Pantone 464 I suppose we fall foul of that.
Then again it is interesting to read that people associate ‘vibrant and fun’ with Orange. It is also interesting to read that the colour is the first thing that potential clients perceive about your brand.
Yet the safest choice appears to be shades of grey. If we all had grey houses and grey business and grey clothes I guess the world would necessarily be a greyer place. And I’m not sure it would be a better place for that.
Summary: Conform or stand out. It’s up to you. You can probably make most colours work as a brand but maybe a myriad of colours won’t work. Is this all stating the obvious?
The content Marketing Institute created that nice little image up there that shows what a content mix might be.
This image has been bandied about on various websites as THE correct mix. It isn’t THE correct mix but it’s a good starter to make you think. It might make you think you are entertaining your potential clients too much or it might make you think you are being a bit boring talking about kitchen worksurfaces a little too much.
For a start it’s saying that you should blog 6 times a week or at least create content 6 times a week. For small businesses that just ain’t gonna happen in the real world.
However it certainly DOES give you ideas about what to write next.
Provide relevant information: Perhaps contribute to a thread somewhere telling people about some of the great things you learnt with a particular product on your last project.
Teach: Show you really know what you are talking about. Share some knowledge in an authoritative way on how you do your job.
Start a conversation: Perhaps on a LinkedIn group or your Facebook business page.
Inspire: others to do better. This could be on a forum or your could write something.
Many Interior Designers have Pinterest accounts and quite a few of us use them. Here are my thoughts on whether or not interior designers should use Pinterest and HOW they should best use Pinterest.
Here, for example is Paula Ovalle Vicuña’s beautiful pinboard of colors. Now, this and similar boards are great sources of imagery for colours for interior designers and of course there are other pins showing styles and colour themes and so on. If you had a board like this you could show your clients on your iPAD as part of your presentations.
BUT think carefully about how you are going to use this as a tool to win more business. How are your potential clients going to be driven to you and/or your web site. Why is your potential client going to be looking on pinterest for work by interior designers. They MIGHT be using it as a means of selecting designers but IMHO I doubt that many potential customers will be doing that – some, for sure, but not many.
Now, your competitors may be using it to get some inspiration. So you’ve done a bit of work to help your competitors. That’s all well and good as others will reciprocate and you will benefit from that potentially. But that hasn’t got you any more sales has it?
If you are going to use pinterest for collecting and presenting images then it may be great as a productivity tool.
You have the option with pinterest of creating secret/hidden boards – that may be a good way forwards for those of you conscious NOT to help out your competitors!
So you have to answer this question: “Do my clients hang out on Pinterest so making them more likely to find out about my interior design skills from my Pinterest account?”.
IF you can answer that question positively then read on…
Effective Pinterest Marketing
1. Fill-in the Form! Setup You Account Properly – Gets the Basics Sorted Out
Your name (first and last), username, logo, About, Location and Website information should all be properly included. PLEASE if you can make sure that, for example, you use the same name as you do across all media – printed and electronic. It’s good for your ‘branding’. Verify your website and put your blog address in your ‘About’ section.
2. Be a digital stalker! Follow People – You build a following, which looks good to potential new followers, if you follow people. They often reciprocate. It’s a bit like Twitter in that respect. Perhaps look for people or boards with certain of your keywords on them and then follow those people.
3. In the Digital World, Content is King! Get content. Regularly seek out and add new relevant content. To be truly amazing you will, of course, add your own original content. Content may be the king but creativity rules the Empire of Design.
Create a board and use it (link to it) on facebook or twitter to invite your other followers to discuss it.
When you blog you always add at least one great image right? Well make a collection of those great images on pinterest. That way you save a little time by using one piece of content twice.
Focus on the right content. Think always about your target customer. Only post what they are going to be interested in.
Put a url in your comments on pins to link back to the original content (your blog), Ibelieve I am right in saying that this URL is made clickable by pinterest.
Anything you want to of course. Although it is clearly best for you to write things that your target audience will be most interested in, the things that will make them come back to your blog again and again and again. In old marketing speak that raises your brand awareness (and the interest in it).
It’s also best to write the words that NEW potential clients are most likely to type into google.
However, I suspect that you have come to this post as you have run out of ideas. Don’t worry it happens to us all.
Use these tools to find alternative ways or approaches to subjects you have already written about: