Time was, an interior designer could operate a successful business largely by relying on networking, referrals, repeat clients, and the occasional showhouse or project feature in a magazine or newspaper. Those days are gone. Designers today need to work much harder at attracting new clients and demonstrating their worth. Yet, many would rather lament the passing of the good old days than make the effort to market themselves properly. I can’t but wonder why.
In a recent article in Luxury Daily that should be required reading for every interior designer, Chris Ramey, former president of International Design Guild, talking about the decline in sales of to-the-trade and luxury goods, observes, “Amazingly, there remains a strange and misguided sense of entitlement among design professionals and design resources that they needn’t do what the rest of luxury industry understands is necessary to find new clients and drive business.” Not only are designers and manufacturers losing out to more consumer-driven home furnishings brands, they are giving up market share to non-design providers competing for the same customers’ wallets, notes Ramey. The old model just doesn’t work anymore.
Ramsey concludes, “Word of mouth may be favored, but designers need a solid foundation in branding and marketing to be truly successful. . . . The goal of marketing, both for to-the-trade companies and interior designers, is to expand their range of influence and communicate their value propositions directly to the people that most matter. In this industry, it is the affluent and high-net-worth individuals.” Surprisingly, surveys show a majority of interior designers have little or no budget targeted toward marketing (other than, perhaps, maintaining a website) and spend fewer than 10 hours a month on marketing and networking. How can they hope to compete with companies that are spending millions of dollars to influence the same client pool?
Longing for the good old days won’t bring them back. To maintain a successful business you need to adapt to today’s market. If you don’t know how to target or market to your ideal client, contact me, and together we can create a marketing plan and strategy to get your business back in the game.