Here it is! Bookmark this page, go get a pen and paper—then DO take some notes as you watch it. After completing Step 1, choose at least two ideas from Step 2 and get crackin’ on them. I’ll check in on you in a day or so.
As an interior designer, you can’t just work with anyone. Unless you’re doing a ton of e-design, you have some clear geographical limitations. Your clients are local.
You may have heard that one of the best ways to bring traffic to your website is to have a blog…and this is TRUE. So why do many designers make the mistake of writing generic blog posts that target, well, everyone in the world…instead of the local people who will actually be buying their services?
You don’t have to make that mistake. You can bring local traffic to your website by writing articles that specifically interest the people who live in your area.
This method is less about search engine optimization (which is a whole other thing and very much worth talking about on another day) and more about getting real humans to share your content and therefore spread the word about your business. It’s an old-fashioned use of technology. And an effective one.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Step 1. Identify your customer
Think about your absolute favorite client—the one that you most enjoy working with. They’re happy to pay your going rate. They love your work.
Basically, you want to find others like them. It’s about giving your marketing efforts a specific voice. Because you know what they say…”If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one.”
Ask yourself the following questions about your favorite client or, if you don’t currently have one, an amazing but imaginary client. Write down the answers:
- What city or area do they live in?
- What are their other interests? …Charities? Parenting? Sports? Technology?
- What kind of interior design questions does this person ask you?
- What do they read on the internet?
- What groups do they hang out in? Are they on LinkedIn? Facebook?
Don’t have an answer to one of these questions? There’s a solution. Ask them. People who have already hired you are an amazing resource when it comes to marketing.
Step 2. Start writing for them.
Yes, you need a blog. But this is NOT: “Write about anything just to keep your website ‘fresh’.” It’s about quality over quantity. You want to write articles that your favorite client (and others like him or her) would share. How do we know what they’ll share? Go back to Step 1. and think about this: People love sharing something that feels specific to the people they’re sharing it with. So, keeping that in mind, start writing articles that speak directly to your local customer.
What does this mean? Let’s look at some examples.
Interview owners of relevant local businesses that are not direct competitors.
If your clients tend to like antiques and up-cycled stuff, you could talk to the owner of a local antique shop. Ask behind the scenes stuff like how they decide which pieces to buy for their store. Include some tips for using older pieces in a modern room. Bonus: That antique shop owner will share the article too.
Do a round-up of something local and design-related.
For example, a “Top Five” of local restaurants with great decor. Again, those businesses will want to share the article too.
Team up with your favorite architect, painter or general contractor.
Work with your favorite painter to identify some general color trends in your city, town or county. Take that information, site your source so the painter also gets some publicity and write an article that includes your take on it.
Run a contest with a prize.
Not enough people are doing this. Write up a blog post about, let’s say, a contest for a front door make-over. You can collect email addresses through your website and pull a random winner. This type of thing is VERY share-able. Who wouldn’t want to win a front door make-over?? Then, when the contest is over and the prize has been awarded, write a blog post showing the “Before” and “After” and explaining why you did what.
Speak directly to their other interests.
If you have a lot of clients with small children, tie that into an article: “Buying a New Couch: The Definitive Guide for Parents of Small Children”. If your clients tend have home offices, write about that. You get the idea.
Answer their questions.
Jot down questions that your clients ask and turn them into blog posts. You can also scroll back through old client emails for ideas. Bring in the local aspect when you can. So, for example, if clients ask you things like, “Where can I get some good plants around here?”, you could write an article listing five great local resources for indoor plants. (Let each business owner know that you’ve included them on the list so they share the article.)
The sky, as they say, is the limit. Get creative.
Step 3. Distribute your content and let other people share it.
If you’ve been frustrated by posting to social media in the past, try it again with your new content. You’ll find that truly share-able articles really do get more action on social media.
– Post links in local Facebook groups where your favorite type of customer might hang out. Go back to Step 1 to figure out where to find them. And remember that relevant content is usually welcome (for example, the article on buying a couch when you have small children might do well in a parenting group) but random, out of nowhere stuff feels like spam. Tread lightly.
– Post on LinkedIn. Not everyone you’re connected with on LinkedIn is your ideal client, but they might know someone who is. LinkedIn is a nice way to let everyone know what you do, who you do it for and where to find you. Posting interesting blog articles keeps you top of mind. Also, it’s not as clogged with content as Facebook, so it’s easier to be seen.
– Promote your articles through any other social media platforms that make sense. Don’t lose your mind creating Tumblr accounts and SnapChatting and making Vine videos unless you KNOW that your clients are using those platforms. Use their habits as your guide.
Add “Share” buttons to your blog.
I’ll give you a little insider tip: One of the main goals of web design is to make everything super easy for the visitor. Make sharing your articles tempting and simple by adding buttons to your blog that allow them to share to social media, by email, etc.
Send relevant articles to people. Just one human to another.
If you have a client who would love your article about paint trends in your city, email them the link. Ask them to share it if they found it interesting.
Remember, website traffic is made up of actual humans.
It can be easy to forget that. And, depending on the model of your business, you may not need a huge volume of clients. Work smarter, not harder, by creating content that draws in the people who need you most.