"Having trouble getting clients for my interior design biz"
Hi, I've had my home-based interior design business for 10 years now, on and off (took 3 years off when I had my baby). I've never been great at marketing my business, but was always able to somehow get clients. In this economic climate, however, my business has gone from slow to completely dead. My current clients have all stopped spending money on their homes for now and I am not getting any new ones. I'm desperate for some great marketing ideas that could get my biz going again. I'd love to get my work into some local magazines, which is the best nod a designer can get, but I don't know how. Please help, I love what I do and am very good at it!! Lara Michelle www.Laramichelle.com p.s. Feedback on my website is also appreciated!
#1. "RE: Having trouble getting clients for my interior design biz" In response to Reply # 0 Mon Mar-09-09 04:42 AM by Boomer57
Your web site looks very professional, but my question is: "Are your prospective clients finding you on the Web?" My guess is "no" because your web site doesn't appear to be optimized for the keyword phrases that people are actually typing into Google and the other search engines.
If I was searching the Web for a home decorating service, I'd probably type in the words "interior designer, Short Hills, NJ" or "home decorator, Scarsdale, NY".
One of the reasons your site doesn't show up in those searches is that it looks like your website is optimized for the phrase: "Laura Michelle, Beautiful Interiors". While those words present a nice impression, people aren't going to be searching on Google for those specific words, so you might be missing some free opportunities for clients to find you on the Web.
SUGGESTION #1: (SEO tip) You might want to consider adding the words "interior designer" and/or "home decorators" to the text on your website. Also, keeping in mind that most, if not all of your prospective clients are searching for a local interior designer/decorator, it would be helpful to include your service area in your text and your title tag -- which is the information that's displayed in the title bar, right above the search field. In your case (as I mentioned) the page title says "Lara Michelle, beautiful interiors". That message is good for branding yourself and your service, but it doesn't help you get found on the search engines.
SUGGESTION #2: One paid directory site which seems to show up on the first page of search results when people Google for decorating professionals is: http://interiordesigners.buildingpros.com/build/prof_search.php . That might be a worthwhile site to advertise on. It appears to be only $30 a month, so if it produces clients, than it's worth it. Of course with advertising, nothing's guaranteed, but sometimes you need to take a calculated risk in business.
Those are a couple marketing ideas off the top of my head.
Hope that helps!
Joel Sussman Search Engine Optimization Specialist Mountain Media http://www.mountainmedia.com Ecommerce Solutions, SEO, and Website Development
#4. "RE: Having trouble getting clients for my interior design biz" In response to Reply # 1
Thanks for the suggestions, Joel. I've known about the keywords to help with the SEO, so I guess I would need to re-write the text trying to make it sound natural while incorporating the keywords as much as possible? Also, someone told me recently that search engines are starting to use links now more than keywords to find sites? Do you know if this is true? I don't have any links on my website...do you think it's important for me to have them? Thanks! Lara
#5. "RE: Having trouble getting clients for my interior design biz" In response to Reply # 4
It is very beneficial to have links on OTHER sites leading to your site. You've already started that process by posting comments on IdeaCafe with a link to your site.
On-site SEO is also very important because the keywords on your site help the search engines determine the theme and topic of your site, and how it matches up with what people are actually searching for.
You don't need to repeat keyword phrases in an unnatural way (which is actually counterproductive), but you definitely need to have them on your site at least a couple times and also mentioned in your title tag.
#2. "RE: Having trouble getting clients for my interior design biz" In response to Reply # 0
Frankly, as you're finding out, in today's economy most people are unwilling to spend money on anything except necessities. Unfortunately for you, that usually doesn't include interior design consulting.
That said, there are a couple of thing you can try.
1. Contact homeowners who are trying to sell. In a difficult market anything an owner can do to make his house stand out will likely lead to a quicker sale and for more money. If you can provide some lower cost ideas (no one want to put a slug of money into a home they won't be living in) you could generate some work. Along these lines, attend some open-houses of homes for sale. Take a look at how they could be improved. Offer a couple of suggestions (don't give it all away). Explain that a nicer-looking home sells faster and for more money.
2. Get to know the local real estate agents. These people are in a great position to refer business to you. They don't want to be stuck with unsold listings either. When they do a market analysis for a prospective seller, they can explain why the home needs updating or whatever else makes it more desirable and easier to sell.
2A. Along with #2, seek out relocation companies in your area. They are trying to sell homes also.
2B Ditto local builders with unsold inventory.
3. If possible, accept credit cards for payment. That way the seller can defer the biggest part of your charges until the home is sold.
4. Look into the home staging business. It combines your skills with what the market needs now.
#6. "RE: Having trouble getting clients for my interior design biz" In response to Reply # 2
Hi Steve, thanks for the suggestions...i'm seriously considering getting into that end of the biz. what is the difference between the home staging biz and your first idea (#1)? Thought it was basically the same ideas.
#7. "RE: Having trouble getting clients for my interior design biz" In response to Reply # 6
I'm not any kind of an expert in that field but I feel the difference is largely a matter of degree. To me, when someone says interior design I think of colors on walls, window treatments, hanging a mirror here...a portrait there, maybe an odd piece of furniture to set off a room arrangement.
Home staging (again, in my mind) involves major work. Take all the old furniture out and put it in storage. Fresh paint. Perhaps new carpet or floor refinishing. New bedding. Get as much as possible out of the closets, garage and other storage areas. Bring in new (rented) furniture, maybe even new appliances. In other words make this occupied home look as much as possible like the new model home that is also competing for buyers. Most likely you'll find that the best market for this is in upper price bracket houses. I'm sure you can Google "home staging" and get lots more info.
P.S. Real estate agents who specialize in higher priced homes can be a wealth of information. Take them to lunch or better yet see if you can go on one of the "brokers tours" of new listings - do lunch after.