As an interior designer, it’s more important now than ever to embrace technology and the plethora of digital tools available to build your brand and business. Not having the time or knack for technology is no longer an excuse. Especially when we have people like Kate Greunke of Kate the Socialite
, a digital marketing guru who has not only dedicated her business to help creatives navigate the digital marketing world, but specifically focuses on empowering interior designers. Why? Because due to the rapidly changing digital landscape, there’s a need to quickly learn new platforms, apps or updates which can feel overwhelming at times.
Kate the Socialite has the knowledge, experience and patience needed to help interior designers effortlessly have a live social portfolio. Kate shares ways to create and pre-schedule social content, the importance of having a beautiful website at all times, and her favorite apps, platforms and tricks needed to cover all of your digital bases.
Photography courtesy of Kate the Socialite
Kate – you’re a marketing expert for home professionals – how did you get where you are today?
I started my marketing firm 3 years ago. It was the same year I got married, and completely relocated (ha!). I had a degree in English and one published novel on my resume. I knew I wanted to make a career out of writing, but my little fiction book wasn’t the ticket. After launching my firm, I found a deep need for written content, especially email newsletters (no surprise – they drive sales like no one’s business).
In the early stages, I offered my marketing services to “anyone with a business”, and that was a huge mistake. Not only did I attract less-than-stellar clients, I also failed to show my specialization. After many months of frustration, I finally realized that I needed to more narrowly define my niche market. I looked at my client roster and realized that my favorite clients were in the home industry. They were pleasant, artistic, and willing to try new things, and I knew instantly that these interior designers and window covering pros were the only clients I wanted to work with going forward.
In your opinion, how has technology impacted the interior design industry?
Technology, specifically websites and social media, have completely rearranged how interior designers should market themselves. For example, Instagram has made it possible for designers to have a live, social portfolio at all times. Instagram allows for them to be found and featured by top magazines. In a sense, the interior designer is now his / her own publicist.
Additionally, the importance of having a beautiful website that mirrors the interior designer’s work is also key. The interior designer might have a wall full of design awards, but if her website doesn’t reflect that, she’s losing out on major projects. It’s 2017, and we are most certainly judged by our websites; by both potential clients and by national magazines that would feature us.
Why is marketing particularly challenging for interior designers?
Due to the increasingly tech-based and online nature of marketing, interior designers have to constantly learn new apps or platforms. At the very least, they have to maintain a consistent and on-brand social presence. Coming up with enough content to post on Instagram between projects, for example, is a big stress factor for many designers I work with, which is why I created a subscription program that provides them with email and social content they can customize and use.
One thing I’ve been seeing more of, and it’s incredibly concerning, is that interior designers are paying hundreds of dollars a month for some sort of vague “SEO service”.
Designers, listen to me: If your site already has the right keywords, and especially if you have an active blog, you don’t need to pay for monthly SEO. Quite honestly, most of it is a scam. There are some reputable SEO companies out there, so I’m not trying to hate on that entire sector of my industry, but please be cautious. If your SEO company isn’t sending you monthly reports that indicate their strategy is working, and that you’re getting business from it, you don’t need them.
How do you personally engage with your community?
As a marketing guru – what are some tips of best practices for building a marketing plan?
Know who your niche market is and speak directly to that person with every piece of your marketing. Hint: It’s not “anyone with a house” or “anyone with a budget of ______.” Several awesome niche market ideas include stating that you are…
- An interior designer who specializes in kids’ rooms
- An interior designer who specializes in small spaces (1500 square feet or less)
- An interior designer who specializes in bachelor pads
The beauty of specializing in something is that it won’t alienate you from clients who want other projects. For example, if you’re a designer who specializes in bachelor pads, that bachelor will call on you again when he and his new bride are ready for their first home. Your specialization gets you in the door. Your expertise keeps you there.
Can you name some of your favorite social media and marketing tools that interior designers should use day-to-day to build their business?
Asana is a great task management tool. It doesn’t manage projects like IVY does, but it will help you keep track of the day-to-day operations of your business (e.g. reminding you to send a newsletter or write a blog post or mail a payment).
I also love Hootsuite. It helps me schedule social media posts to Facebook, Instagram, and Google+ ahead of time.
How much time should an interior designer allocate per day for social media and marketing efforts?
ZERO. If you have to market your business daily, you’re doing something wrong. I schedule batch days for marketing, and it’s extremely effective. For example, tomorrow, I’m scheduling a month’s worth of Instagram posts (using Hootsuite, of course). It will take me around an hour, but I’ll be free of it for the next 30 days. It’s a win-win.
The same can be done with Facebook, Pinterest (using BoardBooster to schedule pins), and email newsletters (my favorite is MailChimp).
You also offer a free mini-series of videos teaching designers how to schedule social + email marketing for the entire month – why is it important to schedule content in advance?
Simply put, so that you don’t have to do it every day. Setting aside “batch days” for content creation is going to save you hours of time. To help interior designers with this batching, I offer pre-made newsletters and social media posts through my Socialite | Subscribe program. All content included is completely customizable to match the designer’s brand, and it takes away the stress of “what do I post?” or “what should I say in my newsletter?”
In the end, it makes batching your content and scheduling it ahead of time really easy, because the content is already created. All you have to do is customize it and plug it into the days of your choosing.
I have samples available of both the pre-made newsletters and social media posts, for any designers who are interested.
One of the services you offer to interior designers is web design on SquareSpace. What do you like about SquareSpace? Why do you prefer SquareSpace over other platforms such as WordPress or Wix?
SquareSpace and I are tight. An annual membership with them includes everything an interior designer could ever need in a website; beautiful portfolio options, built-in SEO, SSL security (you need this or Google will penalize you), and so many customizable template options. With SquareSpace, you don’t need to hire someone to upload your project photos. The platform is so user-friendly that just about anyone can login to their own site and make any changes they want. Truly, SquareSpace puts website power back in the hands of business owners.
What are some of your favorite Stock Photo resources to gather images for social media, emails, and other marketing channels?
For non-design photos, I love to use UnSplash, Pexels, and Pixabay. For design-related stock photos, I have a private library that I allow my Socialite | Subscribe members to access.
What are your personal business goals for 2017?
To create a more passive income and hire my first (official) employee. It’s turning out to be an amazing year!
Are you an interior designer in search of an easy interior design software and project management tool to run your business? Learn more about Ivy here