Designers: Interior Design Links – How To Get Them

If I get another email from some dodgy company in some foreign country offering to boost my reciprocal links I’ll, I’ll, I’ll….I’ll probably either cry or laugh. You get them too I know.

Here’s how smart Interior Designers get some links without paying or investing too much of their spare time. Oh yes and ways that will actually work for you rather than work AGAINST your website.

Q. Why do I want links?

A. So customers can find your web site

A. So google ranks your website HIGHER in your customers searches.

You need to understand that good links ARE important for your business even if you then choose to do nothing about it.

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First DO NOT DO THESE TWO:

1. 🙁  Spend a whole weekend of your time posting your web address on various message boards, forums or comments on blogs to do with interior design. This does not work. There is a technical reason why this does not work even though it seems like a good idea. Trust me DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME DOING THIS (Here’s the technical reason in case you don’t believe me: the html nofollow tag is automatically inserted on blogs/forums to hide it from Google)

2. 🙁 Pay someone to create lots of reciprocal links from sites they control. This works only in a very, very, very, very I MEAN VERY limited way. Don’t waste your money. If you know a little bit about reciprocal links then you will think I am a bit mad as surely all links to your site are good? No, sorry. I can explain why not in detail but it’s quite boring. OK here we are then…a link to your site must be from a good, relevant and genuine site. Google know about this faux strategy of linking and actively penalise against it!

Now you need to think about something.

Why would any potential CLIENT go to your web site? Let’s face it your site is probably pretty boring. It might have a few nice pictures and things saying how great you are. Everyone’s site is exactly the same as yours. So ask why google should want to go to your site. there may well be no good reason other than you would quite like it to because you might get more customers! but that’s talking about YOU and not YOUR CLIENT. And YOUR POTENTIAL CLIENT is the one that Google is trying to help.

So once again we return to the old adage: “Your site must contain genuinely unique and relevant content that is frequently updated”. Apologies for the previous paragraph if you already do this!

Think about it. Someone who is going to spend thousands of pounds on your services and associated products wants to see your work. So yes you have a portfolio but they also want to know how you work. They are probably interested in your opinions and keen to see what things you like. If they go back to check you out a few weeks later, when they are more keen to make a decision, they might want to see some of your even more recent work…not the same static website that actually you put up there 3 years ago and haven’t touched since.

So you need to write a blog as well as having your show piece web site. Then you will have new and hopefully interesting  stuff that people, who you neither know nor pay, will be keen to link to.

So start by linking your blog to interesting things (work related). Don’t ask for them to link back, you can but concentrate on writing good stuff. When anyone links to our web site/blog we are automatically notified by wordpress.com and we of course check these people out and may link back. If you want you can get some friends or associates to link back to your blog/web site but only do that about 5 or 10 times. If you do it too much Google at best ignores it at worst penalises you as it ‘thinks’ there is some form of trickery going on (which there is).

Write about your clients and potential clients (nice ones) and link to them if you are operating in the commercial sphere.

Add your site to industry directories

Add your site to google local businesses

Link to your Facebook business page and twitter. Generate contacts and links through your network there.

.edu and .gov links – When you have an intern be nice to them and make sure they link back to your site when they return to their studies.

Embedded links – when you write an article (like this one) and relevant links at the bottom. some of the related links should be to your own website/blog. Also embed links within the text to link to other relevant bits of your site like a picture, video or maybe to Wikipedia to explain a term. These type of links help google rank your writing more highly than it otherwise would be.

Comment on others web site and blogs. But do so genuinely and professionally. On  your comments have a very short 3 or 4 line bio of you which links back to your site. remember, above, I said that these links don’t work for Google but they will help people get to know about you a little bit. Don’t waste too much time on this though.

Issue press releases from time to time with links on. eg through PRWEB.com again with links.

Write articles on specific areas of design that you are expert in and get them and your links publicised eg through ezinearticles.com

Interior Designers Get Repeat Customers – How To

We all do it don’t we? We sometimes are so keen to grow the business that we focus too much on getting new customers. We forget that it’s much easier to keep existing customers and sell to them, sometimes it’s good to evaluate your strategy in the light of this truth that we all know.

Marketing has progressed a thousandfold in its acronym use since the 4-Ps (Product, Price, Promotion & Place/Distribution). The latest variant to the customer retention model is the 5-Ss. SERVICE, SEGMENTATION, SELLING, SYSTEMS and, oh yes, SERVICE (again)!

I would argue that by looking again at your strategy in these 5 (four!) key areas of marketing there is a good chance that you will find opportunities to generate more revenues from your existing customers.

Step one: Segmentation – Successful sales organisations segment customers by their buying behaviour: are they loyal and relationship-based, value-seeking or fickle, transactional or price-driven? You should treat each group differently and expect different responses. For example, constant stimulus and repetition of sales offers works best with fickle transaction-based customers. A more subtle, less ‘hard sell’ approach is needed with loyal and relationship-centred customers.

Step two: Service – High service standards help build a brick wall around your customers. They may be tempted away by crazy prices but your superior service levels will make it hard for them to leave. Make sure your service is as good as you think it is. If you have time then use customer surveys (but use them well) and conduct one-on-one reviews with top customers. Do what one successful business I know does: each senior manager calls one customer a week simply to check that all is well and to tell them that they value their business. Good service sells repeat business.

Step three: Systems – Examine whether your systems are working for you or against you. Do they flag up soon-to-end contracts early enough? Is there a robust system in place to ensure that the customer is contacted? That the contact is followed up? Sage Act is as good as any.

Step four: Selling Do you still actively sell to existing customers? It’s ironic that no one knows a customer better than their existing providers, yet all too often we fail to sell to existing customers. We don’t want to seem greedy, or we worry being pushy might damage the relationship. Often, we’ll take the view that we’ve ‘already got what we came for’. Yet, customers expect us to come to them with new ideas and new offers, they want us to innovate and help them. If we’ve been doing our job properly they’ll want to stay with us. So why surrender that hard-won ground to the hungry competition?

Think, too, about your reward systems. Are you paying people only to win new business, or are you also rewarding highly profitable, but less glamorous, customer retention activity?

Customer retention is one key to profit and business stability, but it’s often (still) overlooked. Review your segmentation, your service, your systems and your selling, and seize the opportunities within your grasp.

Interior Designer? Did Your Web Site Just Pop Up In My Search?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGWQ-4lnwG0]Interior Designers increasingly understand the need to reach at least part of their target market through online search results.

With that in mind I have been looking through a few search terms that potential customers of interior designers might use. Unsurprisingly lots of interior designers popped up.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

But one thing that I noticed was that VERY few of you were making use of video.

I know it takes a long time to do these things to a reasonable degree of quality but I would suggest it is worth it.

The reason being that Kelly Hoppen popped up again and again. She is obviously a renowned interior designer of the first degree BUT she also appreciates the importance of PR to her new business generation activities. The internet is not much more than PR … just the digital kind.

Why did Kelly appear? Well google doesn’t favour her over you, that much is true. Google does not think that she is better than you. However Google DOES put more emphasis sometimes on non textual information eg pictures and videos. So her video (above) popped up. When you go and check it out, YOUTUBE takes you through lots more of her videos. Before I knew it I had spent 15 minutes looking at her work and hearing her views.

Now if you go to your web site designer and ask them to talk to your ISP and get the stats for YOUR web site, you will probably find that the average visitor spends MUCH less than one minute on your site.

Food for thought.

Interior Design Marketing Strategies

Silk Velvet Upholstery Fabric TextileInterior Design Marketing Strategies need to reflect the modern technological age as well as the creativity and organisation skills of the designer.

We have previously covered on this blog many aspects of the (click link here fro more info=>) business of interior design often focusing on sales and marketing issues. Mostly marketing on the internet using sites like Facebook but also covering sales issue for interior designers with retail spaces. The following articles give more…

Interior Designers: Facebook 5 Crucial Bits To Add To Your Fan Page

The good: Facebook is a great way for Interior Designers to target their chosen demographic markets.
The bad: Facebook is given little thought by many interior designers when considering how to market
The ugly: Facebook itself is a bit of a nightmare when it comes to organising your fan page just how you would like it. Whilst using it IS relatively intuitive to use, the act of making/building your fan page is a minefield of inconsistency and counter intuition on Facebook’s part – truly awful AND it is not going to improve anytime soon.

Let’s start. Facebook, by default, will not do all the bits that I would imagine you would probably want it to do. After you have created a basic page for the first time you will probably struggle to figure out how to make it just right. You may well get confused and frustrated, I know I did. Then you will figure out that actually it’s not possible to do what you want to do on a default Facebook Fan Page. You will need to use Facebook Applications to change various bits of the page. There are a plethora of these applications, I’ll tell you the ones you need to know to produce a reasonable stab at a first IMPROVEMENT over what you already have.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

OK here are the various key parts of the page that you will have to alter and work with (point number 1 you should already have done yourself). I list the parts of the screen first and then tell you afterwards what to do about each.

1. Get your business name and image added to the top left hand corner. Add you contact details and the like to the info tab.

2. Your vanity url eg KOTHEA’s is www.facebook.com/kothea. Here is a blog post I wrote earlier on this potentially tricky subject.

3. If you have read all our posts over the last year or so you will know that we keep saying GET A BLOG AND WRITE EVERY WEEK. I won’t dwell on the subject, you just need to do it for a plethora of reasons. However once you have a blog you will need to put it on Facebook as well as where you originally write it. you will need to use an application to avoid duplicating your effort. Like This.

4. Tabs. You will need to add new tabs containing the information about your organisation that you consider relevent. e.g. compare   this “traditional info” tab to this “additional info” tab . (Traditional vs. Additional). The frist one is from Pepsi and at first you might think what a poor show they have made of the tab. They have not. the problem is facebook. pepsi put the minimum amount of information on a page that Facebook says you have to have. Then, like KOTHEA, we put all the juicy bits onto another tab that we have control of. Far from perfect but that’s life.

5. Then you will want to customise the bits in the left hand side column. Again, www.facebook.com/kothea shows you some buttons we added on the left hand side to link to our twitter account, our real blog, our flickr feed and a final button to prompt an action to contact us via our real web page. You get the idea and can probably see scope to add many more buttons or actions or images that we have not considered.

How do I do those 5 things?:

1. You should have figured this bit out yourself. on your fan page just look for a mini “pencil” like image appearing near the bit you want to change. click it and change it. Get a nice big logo on there.

2. I refer again to this post <here>.

3. A Facebook application called SOCIAL RSS is used by about 500,000 people. This is how you get the RSS feed of your blog onto a new Facebook Tab. Just click the “Go To Application” button on the top left hand corner. It’s free and it works. There is also a slightly better/faster paid-for version, probably not worth the extra yet.

4. For an “extended info tab” you will need the aptly named EXTENDED INFO APPLICATION – click to go there. Again it is free. Here is KOTHEA’s example. The application works by creating a BLANK TAB, you then use the application to create all the fields (bits) on it. It is NOT straightforward to use. I would say 3/10 difficulty (with 10/10 being impossible). So persevere and you will get there.

5. To create new fields on the left hand side Facebook have kindly produced the Static FBML application. Click here to go to the page and add the application to your profile with the button in the top left hand corner. FBML is a bit like HTML. So if you do not know any html you will find this DIFFICULT (9/10). But if you already know HTML then Facebook and their application will only confuse you for a little while before you figure it out (3/10). I would imagine that with FBML you can give your Facebook fan page a similar look and feel to your web site – if you really want to do that.

 

Facebook & AdWords – Effective Ad Writing For Interior Designers

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The great thing with Facebook and Google Adwords is that your space to write advertising copy is limited. It stops us waffling and makes us realise that every word is important. To get that elusive click you need to stand out and truthfully say what can be expected when the click is made.But let’s go back two steps.

Firstly, in the UK Google is THE dominant search engine. We, KOTHEA, advertise to interior designers and I run similar campaigns on Yahoo and Bing. I can tell you that 95% of the impressions and clicks come from Adwords. So if you are short on time just focus on Adwords. It is a similar scenario in the US but Google’s monopoly is not so great there and Yahoo is more prominant.

Secondly, advertising through Facebook and Adwords is different proposition. This is because the audience has arrived at your ad through a quite different thought process in each case. In Adwords you get put in front of people who type in the keywords you believe to be relevant to your product/service offering ie people who are actively looking at your keywords NOW eg they may have just typed “Find Interior Designer In London”.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

Whereas in Facebook the users’ profiles are analysed so you can choose their demographics or select by keywords in their profile that match your target market eg keywords “Yacht Owner” and age profile 20+. Your ad is then displayed to all 20+ year olds who own up to being – or who claim to be – yacht owners. The Facebook ads are displayed periodically (and repeatedly) and could be displayed when the recipient is organising a cinema date with friends – or it could be displayed when they are researching interiors products for their yacht, you just don’t know.

I appreciate that my description is a little negative towards Facebook but there are benefits and dis-benefits of each approach to audience selection. In some scenarios Facebook will be better for you. So you, the advertiser, must appreciate that when your ad is displayed the person seeing it on Facebook will probably be at VERY different point in their interior designer selection process than someone who sees your ad on Adwords.

So if the abovementioned Yacht Owner is typing in “Find Interior Designer In London” into Google then I suggest it is likely that he/she is VERY interested in your services as an interior designer NOW. However if your advert is displayed to them in Facebook there is no guarantee WHATSOEVER that the Yacht Owner is interested in having anything interior designed at this moment, or ever, BUT they might be.

So think about the AIDA model ie Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action. The AIDA model represents a potential customers interest in your service. Your initial contacts with customers create awareness of your interior design service. You then hope to move them through the ‘customer voyage’ by increasing their interaction with your organisation to a point of action when they decide to commission you. I would suggest that your Facebook ad is more geared towards ‘Awareness’ part of customer acquitision whereas your Adwords ad is more geared towards an impending purchase-related ‘Action’.

Furthermore it might be a generally reasonable assumption that Facebook “Yacht Owners” probably own yachts and you can refine that to indicate the owners possible levels of affluence (eg simplistically to: Superyacht Owner). However someone typing “Find Interior Designer In London” could be very affluent or not. They could be someone like me who works for a fabric house trying to prospect for customers or they could be a potential customer looking for a designer for a restaurant or hotel or villa or, well lots of reasons. What I am trying to say here is that lots of types (segments) of people using your keywords in google may NOT match your target audience even though they are typing in the ‘right’ words to the Google search engine. So you are faced with the difficulty of writing copy that attracts only the right people and does not cause expensive clicks from people who are never going to buy from you. You are also faced with the dilemma of how to tailor your one ad to many segments (hotel-villa-yacht-restaurant owners etc). Also the further dilemma of what keyword-ad combinations actually work.

There’s more to go into on this subject but I’ll distill the rest into some recommendations. So without further ado here is what I think you should do:

1. Facebook

  • Write an ad that is positional of your services. More of an ad to further your brand awareness rather than selling your services today.
  • Use graphics where possible.
  • Be truthful.

2. Adwords

  • Write LOTS of different ads and get Adwords to rotate them and for it to choose the best ones.
  • Use the keywords in the ads as keywords get highlighted in the ad.
  • Really, really think what your customers will be searching for. Ideally ask some existing customers so you know for sure.
  • Take Adwords suggestions for capitalisation. eg it suggests I use KotheA and neither KOTHEA nor kothea. This draws the eye to the ad by using mixed capitalisation.
  • Use graphics where possible.
  • Be truthful.

If you search through my blog there are other related posts on these subjects. Look at the category “The Business of Interior Design” or the tag “Sales & Marketing In Interior Design” – they may well also pull up related blogs by other people.

Interior Design Trends (Again) For 2010

We are half way through the year almost. Who was right?

Maison & Objet said: 2010’s trends are for Grey, Linen, Pink, Natural Wood Finishes, Metalics, Over-scaled Motifs, Stripes & Ethnic.

Kelly Hoppen said: LINEAR SHABBY CHIC,

Colours:  neutrals still rock and always will. But with added bits like art, photography etc. can be anything and everything

Carpets and rugs: PATTERN, SHAG and THICK PILES with a comfortable sinking feeling.

Walls: seductive and edged and capped in metals. Wallpaper will be also be massive this year and it will all be textural.

– Floors: there will be a lot of wood in all colours

Farrow & Ball said:

industrial colour trends – earthy shades of stone, clay, chalk and brick. Soft grey neutrals and inky darks. Uplift with splashes of citrus shades.

aquatic trends: subtle natural colours contrasting with strong inky blues

urban decay: strong vibrant colours with a vibrant edge, use dark and dramatic colours and inject zingy bright colours.

glitz and glamour: use rich opulent shades alongside shimmering metallics. Exotic combining colour and excess. The key is a myriad of colours.

We say: Interior Designers do not normally push particular products. Manufacturers have a bias towards what their R&D (or whims) have told them to sell. I’d always give more credence to what designers like Kelly Hoppen have to say. Fortunately for here she took the time to write those thoughts on her blog and unfortunately for many of you…you didn’t. HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE IN WHAT YOU DO, tell us about it and trends blog post is the easiest thing in the world to do.

Designers: What to blog about

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

OK so you’ve decided to raise your business profile by blogging at least weekly. It will boost your brand awareness in your customers’ eyes and also, eventually, help your position in the results of google searches.

Unfortunately after a few weeks you run out of things to write.

So…

DESIGNERS: “WHAT DO I BLOG ABOUT?”

Let’s go.

1. Original content. Whatever it is it MUST be original. If you copy articles or republish them Google ‘knows’ that. It won’t help you one jot in your position in search results.  It might be of some benefit to your readership though but why not just post the link to the information preceded by your professional opinion about what is in the link and why is worth visiting? Add value, don’t plagiarise.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

2. Apple iPHONES? So many people blog about technology and how wonderful it is. Perhaps, I would suggest, many of those conversations don’t get far over the dinner table or at parties. Why? Mainly because they are of limited interest. And, let’s face it, those discussing technology just use the technology they don’t actually invent the darn thing! HOWEVER you design amazing interiors for houses. That’s interesting to many people, they live in them funnily enough, it is an area that is very interesting to many people. So talk about your job, its one of the few jobs that people envy and are interested in. Don’t be embarrassed!

3. So blog about your last job. More importantly make your last job into several blog posts. Focus on specific aspects of about 200-300 words for each post. Talk about; products, services your approach to the project, what your client thought, how good certain contractors were. Honestly you could go on for a few months based on one project alone (remember short posts with images ideally).

4. Talk about design in general. What’s good, what’s not. And I want to hear YOUR GENUINE opinion please, not a re-hashed version of something that someone told you was “cutting edge design”. True originality and creativity is rare -people with money want to buy that (oh yes, that’s right they are your potential customers).

5. Trends. At the turn of the year I found VERY few designers talking about trends for the year ahead. And many of them were just rehashing colour trends produced by paint maker Farrow and Ball (or whoever it was). YAWN. So who is one of the most sought after media-savvy interior designers in the UK…Kelly Hoppen. Look here, she gives her professional opinion on the year ahead and writes in an engaging way. Trends are one of the easiest things to write about and few of you (with notable exceptions)  did it. Great job Kelly!

6. PLEASE think about your readers. Do NOT write something that will be of interest to all your staff. Why? They are not your customers. Write about something that your customers might be interested in. So we, KOTHEA, sell great fabrics to interior designers but I don’t tend to talk about that. I talk in this blog about stuff that might help you make more money (eventually) by doing better business. Eventually KOTHEA will stick in your brain and you will buy some of our fabrics!

 

Facebook – Advanced Pages For Interior Designers

Once you have set up your Facebook (FB) Fan Page for your business so that it looks and feels ‘right ‘ then it’s time to take it to the next level. So if you are at that point, read on. If not go <here>.

Note: Before you start make sure you will be working on your business page (fan page) and not your personal page. You really should be using a business page (fan page), be sure what one is before continuing as lots of people go down the wrong route and then have to start all over again, FB is not very forgiving in that respect.

OK I’m going to look at Branding, Promoting, Enhanced Navigation & Content. These are the main areas to add a bit of spice to your FB Fan Page/Business Page.

1. BRANDING.

a. You need a 200 pixels wide x 600 pixels high image of your brand. Maybe you have a logo, if so use that. Upload this to the area to the left of where it says “Wall”.
b. Header. This goes above where it says “Wall”. Change the text here so that it has your company name. What if you get the name wrong? Well if you get the name wrong you cannot change it, so you have to delete the page and start again (as at Feb 2010). So please get it right first time.

c. The same applies to the category of your page, that cannot be changed either. So when you create your page get the category right.
d. If your company is called XYZDesigns then you need http://facebook.com/XYZDesigns as your url. This article <here> tells you how to do that.

2. PROMOTING

 

a. You probably already understand groups on LinkedIn. Well Facebook (FB) has them as well. Start one or use existing ones like Interior Design Lovers (requires you to be logged in to FB). Promote your page in groups. BUT DO NOT SELL, SELL, SELL. Let people know about the information your FB page will provide them with. Remember further that few people are interested in your business per se, they are more interested in what it can do for them. So talk about solving problems and NOT saying how great you/your services are. The sell-sell way does not usually work.

b. User comments. Engage with your fans, reply to them. Promote yourself to these people and remember that they are already on your page and are taking the time to write something, probably to find out something, so they have more than a passing interest in what you do. Again soft-sell not a hard sell. Try to help them.

c. Facebook Advertising.

You may have tried Google AdWords advertising or the Yahoo and Microsoft equivalents (they are each very similar to one another). Maybe they have worked for you, maybe not. Facebook also allows you to advertise your services. They take a slightly different approach to the other 3 by targeting the FB user base. I particularly like how you can be much more specific about the region and demographics of the person you are targeting; FB also tell you how many people are in the demographics you specify. Worth a look especially for Interior Designers who are targeting the general public rather than other businesses. I will not go into this area in any more depth yet as it really comes under ‘advertising’ rather than building a better FB page for your business.

d. Make sure the information about your business on the left-hand side really stands out. Get some good, engaging and genuine words about your company there.

3. ENHANCED NAVIGATION

 

a. You can administer your FB business page (fan page) <here>. You need to be an administrator of your business fan page.

b. Go to the wall. At the top of the left-hand column you will see ‘edit page’. Go there and then choose “Wall Settings: Edit”. Change the default view to the correct page that you want a user to land on, could be your wall, could be your info page. This can be changed later if you make a mistake.

4. CONTENT

 

This is what will make people come back to your site. It’s really, really important! So you will need to have some new ‘stuff’ on your FB page to make it worth their while to return. That ‘stuff’ could be new videos, articles or whatever. it could also be the content of communication and engagement with like-minded design professionals working together to solve problems online…

The most obvious route is through your blog. You can display your blog as the ‘wall’ for your business page. You have a few options for example:

  • Write your blog (the original content) in FB and post it everywhere else automatically from FB. You can even write your blog by accessing Facebook from your blackberry.
  • Get your external blog synchronised into FB automatically (I use a free FB application called Social RSS and my blog is on WordPress)
  • I prefer the second approach as WordPress also automatically publishes my blog posts to other sources such as Twitter. Apparently there is a FB Fan Page-to-Twitter application but I do not use that, sorry!
  • Encourage your fans to add content (photos, etc.). That makes your job easier and makes your site content-rich for others.

Interior Designers: What words jump out of your web site

This is a quick one from me. A little bit fun, a little bit serious.

The “Wordle” web site tool looks at your web site and then, I think, nicely presents what it thinks are some of your keywords based on some mysterious linguistic algorithm. It probably places emphasis on strong emotional words that you use.

As you can see from the image it picks up ‘loathe’, ‘discerning’ and ‘beautiful’ as well as words we commonly use like ‘Interior’ and ‘Design’. Although I’m not too sure about the visual combination of those words, which I can assure you I don’t! But it also makes me think maybe I should express strong positive comments like “love interior design” and not occasionally using strong negative words. Food for thought anyway.

Just click on the image and you can do one for your web site or blog as well. It takes a minute or two, not long.