Branding & Marketing Your Interior Design Firm with A Design Partnership
A Design Partnership (ADP) is a full-service marketing agency backed by a team of talented brand designers and marketing experts. ADP believes it’s more valuable to be a favorite brand than just a famous one, crafting beautifully useful & connected ecosystems that grow businesses and build enduring relationships between brands and people. ADP Founder & CEO, Natalie Norcross, shares the common marketing challenges interior designers face, why interior designers should prioritize content marketing, and their favorite social media marketing tools.
For a deeper dive, register for the Ivy Webinar hosted by A Design Partnership on Wednesday, December 6 at 12:30pm EST / 9:30am PST to learn how to develop a content marketing strategy for your interior design business.
Natalie – how did you get where you are today?
I am originally from Moorpark California, a small town in Southern California. I am currently living with my husband and two boys in Thousand Oaks, California, which is 8 miles from my hometown. I started my career as an interior designer. After selling my design firm, interior designers and architects in the industry started too approach me more and more for professional advice and assistance with marketing and business development; and so A Design Partnership was born. We are now a full-service marketing agency working primarily with interior designers and architects as their outsourced marketing department.
Why is marketing particularly challenging for interior designers?
Marketing is particularly challenging for interior designers because running an interior design business is simply not a small undertaking! There are multiple demands, details, and clients to manage daily, so marketing tends to be an after-thought when in fact it should be a primary focus for an interior design business that is looking to thrive, scale, and grow. Most interior designers are creative-minded and enjoy spending time designing for their clients. I haven’t found many interior designers who enjoy marketing and most are happy to outsource it. Most designers we work with or whom I’ve spoken with don’t really know how marketing works, what to do with marketing, or how to best market themselves.
Can you offer some sage words of wisdom to the interior designers who can’t find the time to prioritize marketing and business development?
Just Do It. Ha, my best advice is if you don’t have the time to market your business, you need to seriously consider outsourcing your marketing. Otherwise, make it a priority to spend a significant amount of your time in marketing your business. Marketing is essential and vital to the growth and success of your business.
How significant is the look & feel of an interior design firm’s brand image to the growth and success of their business?
Brand image is very significant, as you are in a visual industry and are selling your visions and designs that you create. Your brand image represents who you are and is vital to the growth and success of your business. I have found that when we do a brand re-design for a client and elevate their aesthetic, the clients they attract also elevate. So, if you want better paying, higher quality clients, you should invest in your brand image and elevate your brand aesthetic.
Which website platform would you recommend to Interior Designers?
How would you rate the power of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn from 1 being the least impactful to 4 being the most impactful?
Social media is another way to create a living website, share your expertise, define your aesthetic, brand voice, style, and drive traffic to your website. We have had several clients that have significantly grown their business through social media, get constant traffic, and new clients from their site. We also have clients who find great employees and talent through their Instagram channel. Based on impact alone, I would rank the 4 social media channels as follows from least (1) to most (4) impactful; 1. Instagram, 2. Pinterest, 3. Facebook, and 4. LinkedIn.
Can you name some of your favorite social media and marketing tools that interior designers should use day-to-day to build their business?
Marketing is a multi-faceted and organic part of continuously building your brand presence and your relationship with followers as well as existing and future clients. It’s critical, especially when marketing your own company without any outside assistance, to be active, impactful, and consistently on-brand on social media. For interior design, at the very least, I recommend a solid focus on your Instagram and Pinterest pages, where you have the highest exposure to design-minded clients and consumers.
For Instagram, use consistent imagery, brand messages, and style, including but not limited to the filters and flow posted. Followers will be drawn to the organized and stylish content you share and begin to connect with you through it. For Pinterest, the consistent posting of content that is inspiring and visually stunning is key. Becoming an influencer, an expert, and a muse is the objective here. If your followers see you as their source of style and design inspiration, they will think of you for their interior design projects. A large Pinterest following elevates your brand.
Another handy tool that I use regularly is bit.ly, a website that allows you to create short links to articles you are sharing and track clicks. This may be useful for articles you are sharing on Instagram in your profile description or on Facebook.
How much time should an Interior Designer allocate towards content / social media marketing per day?
I recommend at least 3 hours per day, or, outsource it and drop that time to 3 hours per week.
In your opinion, how has technology impacted the interior design industry?
Technology has greatly impacted the design industry. When I first started my company, the internet was just becoming relevant and clients were starting to find products we would specify online. Since then, we have come to rely on the internet to design and source product. Being able to use tools and products like Ivy for purchasing and specification are great ways to innovate and use the power of technology to grow your design business. As an agency, we use over 50 different tools and forms of technology to work with our clients and find that borders are being blurred. Working with clients across the country or on the other side of the globe has become easier. E-Design and virtually designing a home in New York when you live in LA is a reality that allows designers to expand to a national market instead of just a local market. Technology enables interior designers to sell products and goods across the country, allowing for growth and expansion in new capacities.
Why should interior designers adopt interior design software, such as Ivy to streamline their business operations?
Streamlining business processes through tools and technology saved me thousands of dollars in my design business and in our ADP agency. So, I’m a huge proponent in streamlining business operations through the use of tools and technology. I also adopted a belief early in my design business that utilizing user friendly tools that are easy for anyone to quickly adopt is key. Investing in very expensive technology that requires a ton of training for current or new staff is never a wise business decision, which is why I love Ivy. It easily integrates with Quickbooks Online which gives you freedom to work with a variety of bookkeepers and accountants, as Ivy is a well-known program. Ivy is also simple, cost-effective, and an easy platform to learn and use.
What’s ADP’s focus for 2018?
We’re really excited going into 2018 as we had a huge year of growth in 2017. Myself and our leadership team made a decision in October that we are not going to expand in 2018, as we are blessed with great clients and have a wonderful team of marketing experts, branding experts, and content creators. We are currently taking on 2-3 new clients and then we are at full-capacity.
In 2018, we plan on working closely with our clients to achieve their goals by creating strategic marketing strategies and creating/curating beautiful content. At that point, we will be building a waiting list of clients while e continue to serve and work closely with each one of our clients to expose and expand their brands.
Here at Ivy, we’re more than just an interior design software. Our mission is to provide interior designers with the community, resources and tools needed to manage your business beautifully. Are you searching for a business management tool to help streamline your workflow as an interior designer?