To grow your interior design business, you can’t rely completely on word of mouth. While word of mouth is perhaps the best form of marketing, it can be unreliable. To generate leads on a consistent and dependable basis, you need to create a realistic marketing plan that covers both online and offline strategies.
Think that offline marketing is a relic of the past? Think again. Offline marketing efforts, such as cold calling and direct mail campaigns, are still effective ways to promote your interior design services to local prospective clients. In fact, you’re likely to reach more of your target clients through tried and true offline methods than you are with newer marketing concepts.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our guide to online marketing strategies for interior designers here: How to Use Facebook to Market Yourself as an Interior Designer. In this post, we’ll focus exclusively on offline marketing tips.
You Need a Business Card
First things first, you absolutely need a business card. While you can always verbally direct prospective clients to your website or social media pages, it’s much more convenient to simply hand over your business card. Business cards also minimize the likelihood that your new leads will forget your social media user name or website address.
Although it’s tempting, don’t cut corners with the quality of your business card. In other words, forego printing them yourself or buying the cheapest package. Instead, invest in a premium business card. Remember that your business card is part of your marketing efforts and indicates who you are as a brand. Because it serves as a first impression of your brand, your business card should communicate excellence. Opt for heavy cardstock which weighs more and immediately conveys the right message.
Your business card is an opportunity to showcase your unique design aesthetic (i.e., minimalistic, avant garde, traditional), so choose the design wisely.
When designing your business card, be careful to carry the same fonts, logo, and color scheme as you use with the rest of your branding. Be consistent with your branding. If you update the look of your website, update your business cards and printed marketing materials accordingly.
Other ways to make your business card stand out:
- Choose a unique background color instead of opting for the traditional white
- Design your business card in portrait mode instead of landscape
- Consider adding a magnet to your business card to make it more usable by a prospective client
Participate in a Designer Showhouse
Participating in a designer showhouse can provide much-needed offline, and even online, exposure. Not only will your design be seen by those who are able to physically tour your space, you’ll also reach prospective clients who discover your work through the pages of a printed publication or a television segment on a local morning show.
In order to participate in a designer showhouse, you’ll need to be invited first. Invites are usually issued by a jury of interior designers. To be considered, send in your portfolio months in advance of the show. It wouldn’t be a stretch to send out your portfolio as much as six months before the show, so start preparing early. To minimize paperwork, many juries prefer email submissions, so be sure that your portfolio is digital or accessible online.
Participating in a designer showhouse is not cheap. How much you’ll need to invest in your design depends on the strength of your professional connections. You may be able to get donations or loans for your space’s furniture and accessories. If not, you’ll need to cover the cost personally. You’ll also need to pay to advertise your showhouse in local publications.
Also, don’t think that showhouses are only for more experienced interior designers. Juries often consider new designers for spaces. Be tenacious and even if you get turned down one year, don’t hesitate to try again. Getting involved in a designer showhouse will increase your exposure exponentially.
Make Cold Calls
When’s the last time you picked up the phone and just started calling local businesses to find out if they need interior design help?
Cold calling may be an old-school marketing tactic, but it’s also one of the best. One reason is that you’re able to personalize your marketing approach. Instead of doing a hard sales pitch over the phone, start a conversation that allows you to get to the next step: a face-to-face meeting.Cold calling may be an old school marketing tactic, but it's also one of the best. Here's how to do it: Click To Tweet
Never tried cold calling before? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Identify who to call. To maximize your time on the phone, only reach out to people who are highly likely to need your services. It may be more useful (and less intimidating) for you to start out by calling small businesses, such as boutique hotels, cafes, and spas. You can also reach out to your former clients and ask if they know anyone who needs interior design services.
Research their needs before making the call. Always align your pitch with your prospective client’s interior design needs. Whatever you know about the prospective client can be used to help you customize your pitch and increase the likelihood of making a connection.
Keep in mind that cold calling is a numbers game. The more numbers you dial, the greater your chances of finding someone who needs your services. So set aside a block of time each week to call.
Create and Distribute Flyers
Handing out promotional flyers is a great way to get the word out about your interior design services. While it may not be as exciting as other types of marketing ideas, flyers are still around for one key reason: They get results.
Use flyers to promote your services in general or an upcoming event specifically. Flyers also give you an opportunity to meet and greet prospective clients and personally forge a connection with them.
Just like with business cards, it’s a good idea to invest in premium paper for your flyers. Remember that you can target exactly who to provide flyers to (such as a local business that caters to the same customer base), which means that you don’t need to print off a ton to get noticed by the right people.
Save money by designing your own flyer using a drag-and-drop graphic design tool like Canva. They have thousands of different (free) flyer templates that you can customize for your own purposes. Peruse their template library here. If you don’t trust your own graphic design skills, hire a graphic artist to make the flyer.
Don’t forget to include your contact information on the flyer.
Start a Direct Mail Campaign
No conversation about offline marketing would be complete without discussing direct mail marketing.
A direct mail campaign consists of sending promotional content through the mail. It’s also lovingly referred to as junk mail. While the idea of sending unsolicited advertising through the U.S. postal service may seem unpalatable at first, consider this: Direct mail has a 6% response rate compared to the 0.6% response rate of social media. That’s because direct mail seems much more personal than online marketing efforts.
Direct mail marketing is affordable and infinitely customizable. You can spend pennies on the dollar for each advertising postcard sent out. Even better, you can target specific areas with direct mail to get the most out of your marketing budget. For example, you can target specific neighborhoods or property values.
Get started with your direct mail marketing campaign here.
Before you go, check out these posts:
Increase Visibility and Grow Your Design Business
Why Interior Designers Must Also be Good at Sales
Multiple Revenue Streams for Interior Designers