Author Archives: Tim Diffley

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Amid all the ups and downs, hassles and frustrations that come with running a business it’s easy to lose sight of what led you down this road in the first place. I don’t know of any designers who went to design school because they wanted to spend hours on the phone placating clients or cajoling suppliers into delivering merchandise on schedule. At the end of the day, though, that’s what pays the bills. But unless you’re solely in business to make money, it’s not what feeds your soul.

The day-to-day grind of running a business can wear you down over time. You can reach a point where you begin to wonder if it’s all worth it. Believe me, I’ve been there. That’s why it’s so important to take some time once in a while to get back in touch with your original passion and vision, and assess what’s going on in your business.

What could you be doing differently that would free up more of your time to do the things that really matter to you, that give you joy and satisfaction? Are there routine tasks you could delegate or outsource? Do you need to schedule time on your calendar for the activities you enjoy and look forward to? Have you been wanting to try your hand at something new, to give yourself an interesting challenge, or develop a different skill? Or do you just need some time away to refresh and soak up some inspiration?

Any and all of the above are possible, even if you’re a sole practitioner. Many options are available. It just takes a shift in perspective and some planning. I can help. Contact me, and together we can create a plan to get your excited about your design business again.

Marketing One on One

Don’t think I’m being wishy-washy. Several years ago I advised designers not to put too much time and effort into social media. Lots of companies were jumping on the Facebook and Twitter bandwagon as a way to promote their products, but professional services, not so much. Then a couple of years ago suddenly everything changed. With the growing popularity of sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz, you had to have a social media presence, because that’s where clients were looking. Now the social media space has become saturated, and most designers are not getting the kind of attention they hoped for. Such is the nature of trends.

In my more than 20 years’ experience in this industry I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go. One thing I’ve learned is that when times are uncertain get back to basics. When it comes to marketing your interior design or architecture firm the most tried and true method is personal contact. Surveys confirm it time and again. A loyal client or a good referral is more likely to result in a sale than any other type of marketing.

There are a number of ways you can market one on one. Increase your networking and social activity. Invite a past client or promising prospect to lunch. Call or send a handwritten note to past clients to see if their living needs have changed lately. Send a small thank you, birthday or anniversary gift. Check in with your business contacts, such as vendors, real estate agents and contractors, and suggest meeting for coffee or a meal.

Of course, you don’t want to put all your marketing eggs in one basket. Keep up a social media and web presence, work at getting your projects published, take part in showcases, or whatever else has worked for you in the past. Marketing is all about being in the right place at the right time, so it helps to be active on multiple fronts. The more energy you put out, the more likely you are to get a return for your efforts.