Whether your interior design business is just starting or you have an established interior design firm, there’s likely room to grow.
What's next for your company?
Is it hiring more staff so you can take on more projects? Perhaps it's diversifying your project scope. Maybe it's creating a more focused interior design brand.
Don't underestimate this little slip of paper, even in today's digital world. It's still important.
First, ensure your business card reflects any appellations and credentials you have earned, like NCIDQ, LEED, or WELL. Next, list your professional memberships.
You aren't doing yourself any favors by finishing up that box of outdated business cards. Instead, replace them with something snappy, like Moo.
Even if you're an employee and your firm does not update your cards often, do it yourself. Share a project photo or sketches that show the work behind the scenes. Chatting about the process behind that newly finished project can be a great icebreaker. Just make sure you have permission to share when using photos of a client project.
A new business card doesn't just help you with new acquaintances; it’s also a great excuse to catch up with existing contacts. Since you'll follow up with everyone you hand your card to – make sure your email signature line is consistent with your card.
It's no longer enough to take advantage of social media; you must constantly refresh and keep up to date. Update your profiles, headers, and backgrounds to reflect your latest projects and services.
Don't just concentrate on the social media options your clients use. Connect with colleagues and peers in the industry. Make sure your posts always link back to your website.
You don't have to be everywhere all the time. Just pick a few that make the most sense for the people you want to connect with. Then, be consistent. If you don't use a network, don't let it sit stale — consider retiring it so you can focus your energy where it counts.
Ensure you or your company has an updated digital portfolio at the bare minimum. Interior designers need their own websites to display their work.
How many design websites have you visited, and no portfolio images are available to view? Or worse yet, small and out-of-date photos, or the last updated blog post was a few years ago. What kind of message does that send?
It’s hard from a client’s point of view to decide if a designer’s aesthetic and personality align with their own. Potential clients will pass you by if there’s little to look at or your work looks stale.
Houzz offers a unique opportunity to reach an audience that is looking for your services. Think of it like that giant online cocktail party where you can mingle and meet new people. But, like at a party, your goal should not be to try to sell someone before they get to know you. That's icky. You are not a used car salesman.
Companies that don't redesign their websites every few years look outdated — the kiss of death for interior designers.
If your website is clunky and doesn't work on mobile, redo it. If the navigation is confusing and visitors can't find your contact information quickly, it’s definitely time for a change. Your website should enhance your business, not detract from it.
Refreshing your website is an opportunity to reinvent its appearance and improve its function. Is your site as a search engine and user-friendly as it could be? Team up with a talented web designer and create a plan. Just like we use blueprints, they'll wireframe your design and can help you optimize it to help bring in new clients rather than have them bounce away.
Get your voice out there! Volunteer for panel discussions at interior design events. You'll build your authority and may even get some press coverage.
Another option is to participate in semester portfolio reviews at a nearby college. It’s a great opportunity to meet other professionals. You may also be able to make some student connections to recruit fresh talent for your firm.
If just the thought of public speaking makes you sweat or break out in hives, build your authority and show off your expertise in writing.
Start or update the blog on your company website or contribute to an already established design blog. You may find you develop a following and catch a new client or two.
Showcase your knowledge by becoming known as an expert source for articles on sites like HARO. HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out and is a source for news reporters and writers to find sources for their stories quickly. In addition, HARO brings reporters and influencers together and gives brands and businesses a forum to tell stories and promote their products and services.
Make it easy for writers to select you as an expert interior design source for their articles, either in media or traditional print. As a HARO source, you can request the reporter to include information about you and your blog if you have one. HARO's basic membership is free.
Research and understand your competition — other interior design businesses — and what they do and don't offer. Then, what do you do that's both valuable and different? For example, residential designers also compete with furniture retailers' free design services. Without devaluing your competitors, your goal is to prove how your skills and services better match the needs of your ideal clients.
Earning your NCIDQ Certificate already sets you apart as competent. You've proven your ability to design safely for code-regulated environments like commercial projects. But it's still up to you to show how this can bring business clients a better return on investment.
Interior design regulations vary by state, and your NCIDQ certificate may allow you to submit drawings for permitting. Use this to expand your business opportunities. This makes it much more convenient and cost-effective for clients who don't want the hassle of dealing with many people. Show them how you can save them time and money when you take the weight off their shoulders.
Play up your strengths and your unique offerings that save your clients time and money. Examples include quick turnaround on 3D rendering services or an exclusive team of subcontractors that can make even the most difficult projects come together on time and within budget.
Word of mouth is the best advertising. When happy clients share their delight with others, it bolsters your own marketing momentum.
- Join organizations or groups that attract the type of clients you want to work with. These don't have to be all business or professional groups. For example, include exercise classes, groups from your child’s school or sports team, or religious organizations.
- Host an open house or happy hour at your office
- Attend local Chamber of Commerce meetings
- Include client testimonials or videos on your website
Designer show houses can be a fantastic opportunity to promote your interior design business. They are one way for potential clients to experience your work firsthand. While participation is often by invitation only, you can volunteer to help run and guide a show house so you can meet the organizers. Help things run smoothly for the organizers and sponsors; you'll be next at the top of the list.
On top of the required CEUs for NCIDQ certificate holders or your license, it can be challenging to keep up with industry advancements, new products, and technology. So, continue to learn and stay current. Fortunately, there are plenty of events to help you do just that.
Schedule time in your calendar quarterly and annually to attend conferences or take an online class. Plan ahead to meet these goals well in advance instead of devoting your “leftover” time. Your best intentions to do something won't keep your time from vanishing into an abyss unless you block it out on your schedule.
Would providing 3D rendering help some clients visualize your ideas better? Find a source for renderings, or take a class in Revit or Photoshop. Many interior design schools offer continuing education courses in a variety of subjects.
Many top industry vendors offer CEU courses that count towards your continuing education fulfillment. Also, look for CEUs certified by the Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC).
Finding yourself short on time but still drowning in your inbox? Learn how to use new tools (not just Zoom) but Slack, Messenger, or WhatsApp with your clients and team.
Share mood boards, parti, and concepts with clients and teams using Pinterest private boards.
Screenshare and walk-through projects on live webinars or videos. If you find you love live video, consider Instagram and Facebook Live to share your expertise and grow your audience of potential clients.
You can use these tools to talk with your clients just like you're both there together. Then tie it all together and dump your to-do list into project management tools like Plutio.
Finally, be sure to manage your notifications and set a time to disconnect so you can actually get work done.
At Qpractice, we're big on scheduling ahead of time for studying and events 🙂
Trade shows are a great way to keep up on new products coming to market, forge vendor relationships, and attend seminars. Look at large trade shows and those given by your local metro area design professional organization throughout the year.
Get your request for a ticket or travel expenses in with your firm now by the end of the year so you're within the budget.