Are you having a hard time getting the word out about your fantastic interior design business? It’s a competitive industry, and this guide is going to show you how to let consumers who want an upgrade for their home know that you are the person they need to go to.From word-of-mouth to promotional marketing, here are 20 actionable tips that you can use to grow your interior design business.

1. Branded Accents

We all love free stuff, right? And when you’ve just paid a company to redecorate a room in your house, how nice would it be if they gave you some free accents as a thank you? These accents can be anything from a beautiful pewter business card holder and a fountain pen to go with your fancy new desk to a set of modern drink coasters. All of these items can be embossed with your company’s logo, slogan, contact information and a “Thank you for your business.” When your extended family, neighbors and friends visit, they will pick up these gorgeous pieces to admire them and see your business’s information on them. It’s free advertising and communicates that you care about your clients.

2. Know Your Target Audiences and How/Where to Engage Them

Are there a lot of house flippers (people who buy a house that needs work, fix it up and include modern design) around? Are there a lot of young families around that can afford to renovate or redesign? What kinds of style are they interested in? Open concept or cozy and rustic? Where would young parents be likely to see an advertisement for interior design services and what drives them to call the business number and inquire? These are the types of questions you need to consider. Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a clearer idea of who to approach and the channels through which you can reach more people who are in immediate need of your services.

3. Drive in style

Interior design is all about personal taste that functions well for the needs of the people who will be using the space. So you need to show your community that you are design savvy and aware of trends. What does that have to do with your vehicle? Well, you won’t look like a great designer if you’re driving an ugly old truck around. Get a ride that is modern and eye-catching with the color scheme of your brand, your slogan and contact information on it. Can you have a photo of your designs put on the vehicle? Great! And a promo code people can use for their order? Even better! People are much more likely to try a business if they see that they will save some money.

4. Look for education (licenses and certifications) and testimonials

It can be hard for consumers to tell which interior businesses are skilled and hard-working and which ones aren’t. After all, who wants dodgy work or a contract that takes longer than what you agreed to or a design that doesn’t look anything like the diagrams your consultant showed you? Yes, you need to be concerned about credibility, not just image. ne way to show that working with you is worth a prospect’s hard-earned money is to indicate your credentials in your marketing materials. Another method is to include testimonials on your vehicle, brochures, business cards, samples and more. These references should be easy for people to verify, so it can really help to have a reference from a well-known business whose credibility can be confirmed. Your references should include key messages about your business, too. Things like: you went above and beyond what the client asked for; your style and expertise is superior to that of your competitors; you delivered on time and on budget.

5. List yourself in online directories and online marketplaces for services.

Let’s face it: these days, if your business is not on the web, it probably won’t last. Not internet savvy? Don’t let the technology scare you. Listing your interior design business is easy and there are platforms specifically for interior design and other contract services! Houzz is a great example. And you should get yourself on Angie’s List, Thumbtack and Home Advisor, too!

6. Know how sellers get business from online marketplaces

Also, search to see how many other interior design businesses there are in your area, as competition can cost you jobs. A business that ranks highest in a consumer’s search results is much more likely to be chosen that a business that is lower on the list, especially if it has a lot of five-star reviews (or whatever the highest of the site’s grading system is). Getting great reviews is extremely important. And from a customer’s perspective, a rating system is an incentive for their contractor to do their best work. See number 6 for tips on getting reviews.

7. Show that you are socially and environmentally responsible

These days, fair trade, recycling and eco-friendly practices are very important to a lot of consumers. If your company appears irresponsible in any way of if you can’t confirm the sources and details of your products, word will get around fast. That can impact your business big time. Why lose potential business when you can also offer cruelty-free options? Faux leather is beautiful and it can look and feel exactly like real leather! And microfiber is super soft and durable. People don’t have to compromise comfort and style to get very ethical design that they can feel good about. You can also use products made in your country to support your local economy and decrease demand for emissions-heavy imports.

8. People’s Person

If you want to earn referrals from your former customers to get more business, then it’s absolutely integral that you keep yourself in their good books. Be kind, helpful, and be more of a friend than an interior designer to them. Everybody loves an earnest person, especially when it comes to taking care of their home decor. Guess who they’ll recommend the next time one of their friends is thinking of giving their house a facelift?

9. Stand apart from your competition

Design company Laurel and Wolf provide quizzes on their website. These are fun and can help prospective customers decide on a look or style they want. And notice that this feature of their website got them a mention on a popular news site? Publicity can be a huge draw for your business, so the more interactive and creative you are with your online presence, the more opportunities you will have to be discovered and explored.

10. Make sure your website is professional and engaging

Once you have someone on your website, there’s always potential for them to click around to see what you have to offer. Your website absolutely has to be user friendly and engaging and when you offer something different online from your competitors, your website visitors are more than likely to remember and consider you.

11. Partner with popular online businesses

If your client has a cat or dog that sheds, he or she could probably use a cleaning agent for that new carpet you had installed for them. Why not partner with a green cleaning product provider or a cleaning services company? You can sell these things to your clients as a discount add-on and get a share of the revenue from those purchases. It’s also a great cross-promotion opportunity as this company will probably list you somewhere as a partner or mention you in their social media or publicity materials. That’s great publicity and a win-win for you and your partner. Brainstorm potential partnership opportunities that would help your business grow.

12. Leverage other promotional opportunities

Does your local TV channel have a daytime talk show or news show? Does your community have its own newspaper? These media tend to showcase local businesses and that’s a total win for you! Reach out to the TV show producers and pitch a regular segment on interior design with a representative for your company as the guest or propose one of your products or services be included in a suitable segment. Businesses typically get this kind of media attention through public relations firms that push for these accomplishments on their clients’ behalf. These firms tend to have media contacts, so it can be really helpful to hire one.

13. Connect with influencers

Approach a media personality or another influential person about being a spokesperson for your company. This is a great way to not only draw attention to your business, but to also convey that you are reputable and professional. Remember: most influential people have an online presence. They could Tweet about you, blog about you – the opportunities are endless! Tip: Do your research before you pitch to someone to make sure your offer is a good fit and your offer is a great incentive for the recipient.

14. Have an active and engaging social media presence

Are you on Twitter and Facebook? If not, you probably should be! These are excellent networking tools, especially if your postings and comments give a unique insight into interior design. One technique is to offer advice on design issues or concerns. When you get comments and shares, that means your posting can be seen in others’ news feeds, which is great exposure and so engaging. Post daily and routinely.

15. Respond to comments and messages on your social media and reviews on website. Be prepared for a communications crisis!

Every message about you or directed to you is a potential opportunity. It’s also a potential risk. You know your business better than anyone, so you can offer great advice, tips and perks in your responses. Just make sure you’re prompt, polite and think carefully if you aren’t sure how to respond. You don’t want anyone commenting anything rude!

16. Direct Mail Marketing (Flyers and letters)

This approach can be helpful in neighborhoods where residents are less likely to use the web period, let alone to hire services. But don’t just put a conventional flyer in the mailboxes. Offer something special like a promo code toward their first purchase with you or a commission for referrals you make to the business that result in sales. Partner with a local business offer a discount toward it for people who use your services. Direct mail should always offer an incentive worth everyone’s consideration, not just people who would pay for your services. Do this and your flyers are much less likely to end up in the trash. As with all of your communications, your direct mail should always look very professional and well designed. Make sure you include images of your well-staged work .

17. Segmented E-Newsletters

This type of mail can be very effective because it is personalized to the needs and habits of its recipients. For example, in May you can send a newsletter all about summer furniture to customers who have worked with you for their summer parties or to revamp their patio in the latest styles. You can also write materials in different ways for different audiences: a 60-something old may be more receptive to a formal style of writing, whereas a 20-something might be more receptive to something cute or silly. Note: It is very important that you never subscribe someone to your e-newsletter without their express permission. Otherwise, you will irritate a lot of recipients and many people will mark you as spam. This puts your email address at a high risk of being blacklisted by email providers. In other words, your emails can go straight to recipients’ spam folders. And you don’t want that. Seeking express permission to subscribe is also an opportunity. You can offer 25% off the next purchase if someone subscribes!

18. Sponsoring Events

This is a great way to build a profile in local communities. When residents see that you are supporting them, they are more likely to remember you and your logo. For example, you can sponsor a barbecue at a fun fair. That means your logo will be on the tent and you can probably put flyers, branded buttons and pens on a table at the event. Kids love those!

19. Bulletin and Notice Boards

Remember that barbecue you sponsored? It was at a school and the school has a bulletin board in the foyer. It is very likely that you will be granted permission to post a flyer or announcement there. Think of the other places in the communities you serve: the coffee shop, the library, and the medical and dental clinics. Tip: Build relationships with these businesses before you ask to post your flyer: get a coffee at that coffee shop. Do some of your work in the library. Not only will the business clerks get to know you, but the other patrons will, too!

20. Resources!

Throughout this article, several services have been mentioned that you could adopt to improve your marketing strategy. Most of these need the help of a third party service. We thought we’d make your life easier by categorically listing out the services that you could use for your future marketing campaigns. Custom Promotional Merchandise: 1. 4imprint 2. Vistaprint Listing and Reputation Management: 1.  Synup 2. Yext Email Marketing 1. MailChimp 2. Autopilot Direct Marketing 1.  Dynamicard 2. TMR Direct


Bonus

Just to make things more interesting, we thought that we’ll host a challenge about interior design business marketing.