Decorex is here again. This time it’s the 2010 version.
Beautiful logo isn’t it?
For those of you interested in fabric there are many fabric companies here. Not KOTHEA of course! but more of that another time.
Decorex is probably the magazine equivalent of House & Gardens. It competes with 100% Design and Focus (Chelsea Harbour Design Week). 100% Design is probably the equivalent of Elle Decoration.
Personally I’d go just because of the logo.
If you are keen to get new contacts in the world of fabric then there are some interesting companies here. Quite a few new ones as well as some you will have heard of before.
As with all exhibitions of this sort it is a good place to go to get an idea of ‘consensus trends’. Try to figure out where all the manufacturers are heading. Of course they could all be heading in entirely the wrong direction for your particular target market so go having your own opinion as well. Go with that opinion in mind and see if what you find validates it.
Remember as well that the exhibition stands are there to grab your attention. To drag you to talk to a sales rep. Just because the stand looks good and the fabrics on display look good in the exhibition it does not mean they will work in your schemes of course! Although obviously striking designs do sometimes work for some people.
We were tempted to show off some of our new Cashmere Throws and Cashmere blankets but we weren’t quite ready with the full range yet. And we’d like to think that the best quality throws will generate interest through word-of-mouth throughout the industry in the year ahead! (Hmmm)
We are half way through the year almost. Who was right?
Maison & Objet said: 2010’s trends are for Grey, Linen, Pink, Natural Wood Finishes, Metalics, Over-scaled Motifs, Stripes & Ethnic.
Kelly Hoppen said: LINEAR SHABBY CHIC,
Colours: neutrals still rock and always will. But with added bits like art, photography etc. can be anything and everything
Carpets and rugs: PATTERN, SHAG and THICK PILES with a comfortable sinking feeling.
Walls: seductive and edged and capped in metals. Wallpaper will be also be massive this year and it will all be textural.
– Floors: there will be a lot of wood in all colours
Farrow & Ball said:
industrial colour trends – earthy shades of stone, clay, chalk and brick. Soft grey neutrals and inky darks. Uplift with splashes of citrus shades.
aquatic trends: subtle natural colours contrasting with strong inky blues
urban decay: strong vibrant colours with a vibrant edge, use dark and dramatic colours and inject zingy bright colours.
glitz and glamour: use rich opulent shades alongside shimmering metallics. Exotic combining colour and excess. The key is a myriad of colours.
We say: Interior Designers do not normally push particular products. Manufacturers have a bias towards what their R&D (or whims) have told them to sell. I’d always give more credence to what designers like Kelly Hoppen have to say. Fortunately for here she took the time to write those thoughts on her blog and unfortunately for many of you…you didn’t. HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE IN WHAT YOU DO, tell us about it and trends blog post is the easiest thing in the world to do.
Once you have set up your Facebook (FB) Fan Page for your business so that it looks and feels ‘right ‘ then it’s time to take it to the next level. So if you are at that point, read on. If not go <here>.
Note: Before you start make sure you will be working on your business page (fan page) and not your personal page. You really should be using a business page (fan page), be sure what one is before continuing as lots of people go down the wrong route and then have to start all over again, FB is not very forgiving in that respect.
OK I’m going to look at Branding, Promoting, Enhanced Navigation & Content. These are the main areas to add a bit of spice to your FB Fan Page/Business Page.
a. You need a 200 pixels wide x 600 pixels high image of your brand. Maybe you have a logo, if so use that. Upload this to the area to the left of where it says “Wall”.
b. Header. This goes above where it says “Wall”. Change the text here so that it has your company name. What if you get the name wrong? Well if you get the name wrong you cannot change it, so you have to delete the page and start again (as at Feb 2010). So please get it right first time.
c. The same applies to the category of your page, that cannot be changed either. So when you create your page get the category right.
d. If your company is called XYZDesigns then you need http://facebook.com/XYZDesigns as your url. This article <here> tells you how to do that.
a. You probably already understand groups on LinkedIn. Well Facebook (FB) has them as well. Start one or use existing ones like Interior Design Lovers (requires you to be logged in to FB). Promote your page in groups. BUT DO NOT SELL, SELL, SELL. Let people know about the information your FB page will provide them with. Remember further that few people are interested in your business per se, they are more interested in what it can do for them. So talk about solving problems and NOT saying how great you/your services are. The sell-sell way does not usually work.
b. User comments. Engage with your fans, reply to them. Promote yourself to these people and remember that they are already on your page and are taking the time to write something, probably to find out something, so they have more than a passing interest in what you do. Again soft sell not hard sell. Try to help them.
c. Facebook Advertising.
You may have tried Google AdWords advertising or the Yahoo and Microsoft equivalents (they are each very similar to one another). Maybe they have worked for you, maybe not. Facebook also allows you to advertise your services. They take a slightly different approach to the other 3 by targeting the FB user base. I particularly like how you can be much more specific about the region and demographics of the person you are targeting; FB also tell you how many people are in the demographics you specify. Worth a look especially for Interior Designers who are targeting the general public rather than other businesses. I will not go into this area in any more depth yet as it really comes under ‘advertising’ rather than building a better FB page for your business.
d. Make sure the information about your business on the left hand side really stands out. Get some good, engaging and genuine words about your company there.
3. ENHANCED NAVIGATION
a. You can administer your FB business page (fan page) <here>. You need to be an administrator of your business fan page.
b. Go to the wall. At the top of the left hand column you will see ‘edit page’. Go there and then choose “Wall Settings: Edit”. Change the default view to the correct page that you want a user to land on, could be your wall, could be your info page. This can be changed later if you make a mistake.
This is what will make people come back to your site. It’s really, really important! So you will need to have some new ‘stuff’ on your FB page to make it worth their while to return. That ‘stuff’ could be new videos, articles or whatever. it could also be the content of communication and engagement with like-minded design professionals working together to solve problems online…
The most obvious route is through your blog. You can display your blog as the ‘wall’ for your business page. You have a few options for example:
Write your blog (the original content) in FB and post it everywhere else automatically from FB. You can even write your blog by accessing Facebook from your blackberry.
Get your external blog synchronised into FB automatically (I use a free FB application called Social RSS and my blog is on WordPress)
I prefer the second approach as WordPress also automatically publishes my blog posts to other sources such as Twitter. Apparently there is a FB Fan Page-to-Twitter application but I do not use that, sorry!
Encourage your fans to add content (photos, etc.). That makes your job easier and makes your site content rich for others.
This is a quick one from me. A little bit fun, a little bit serious.
The “Wordle” web site tool looks at your web site and then, I think, nicely presents what it thinks are some of your key words based on some mysterious linguistic algorithm. It probably places emphasis on strongly emotional words that you use.
As you can see from the image it picks up ‘loathe’, ‘discerning’ and ‘beautiful’ as well as words we commonly use like ‘Interior’ and ‘Design’. Although I’m not too sure about the visual combination of those words, which I can assure you I don’t! But it also makes me think maybe I should express strong positive comments like “love interior design” and not occasionally using strong negative words. Food for thought anyway.
Just click on the image and you can do one for your web site or blog as well. It takes a minute or two, not long.
Really, I’m not interested in what you had for breakfast, nor what the weather is. If you want to be followed by people who are not decision makers then ‘your breakfast’ or ‘which train you are currently on’ is a great thing to Tweet about. But that’s not what you want is it?
1. Automatically Tweet your blog posts once a week – that’s a great way to start. If you use a WordPress hosted blog (like this one) it’s just a case of ticking a box and you are done.
2. Every day just go through your suppliers. As a designer you have lots of them. Tweet a compliment about a DESIGN RELATED supplier &/or one of their products/services.
3. Maybe tweet a promotion
4. Tweets are eventually deleted from the net. So you don’t have to worry about keywords too much. If you are writing a blog post then that post will be permanent and the keywords in it are important. So with your Tweets just keep it simple, interesting and professional. Think “interesting narrative”.
But would you…
5. Tweet about your competitors? Sure if you want to help publicize their work (??) and sure if they reciprocate and Tweet back.
This article tells interior designers how to setup a business page for their interior design business on Facebook.If you sell to the general public then the consensus amongst marketing professionals is that your marketing strategy must include Facebook. Facebook will work to promote your services through your network and through the networks of your network members.
If you sell to businesses (eg if you are a hospitality interior designer specialising in restaurants) then I’m not convinced that Facebook is the best medium. However, and its a big however, many of your clients will be using Facebook already so maybe you should use it to help them consume the information that you produce and to help them interact with your organisation in a way that suits them. It’s not what is easiest for you that should be the way forwards, it should be what is the easiest for your (potential-) clients.
Let’s get started then. Here’s what you need to do and it will cost you nothing other than time:
1. Create a personal Facebook account if you don’t already have one. If you have one, use the one you have.
2. Create a business page for your business – sometimes called a fan page. Listen up here!
Don’t create another personal page.
Don’t create a group – you don’t need to know what one is.
Create a business(or fan) page: http://www.Facebook.com/pages/create.php
Many Interior Designers who sell to the general public see Facebook as just one way of lead generation – to some it is more important than others.
Ok here goes. This is a real life example where KOTHEA’s MD set up her personal username on Facebook incorrectly, there was already a Fan Page for KOTHEA. This article takes you through the steps we had to take to get the ‘vanity’ url correct both for the individual and for the company. Our MD inadvertently set her personal username (vanity URL) as ‘KOTHEA‘. So if anyone typed www.facebook.com/kothea it took them to her personal page rather than to the ‘proper’ company page. This situation got progressively messy as she started to use Facebook more for personal matters with business messages appearing in the same place as her personal ones. The result was that many of her friends kept seeing fabric related articles when they were not interior designers. Hopefully you get the picture!
as the original name for the company as it was assigned by Facebook. Note for this all to work you must already have created a business page or FAN PAGE for your business.
What we want to do is threefold:
Release the facebook.com/kothea name so that it can be re-assigned to the business page
Change her vanity url/username name to something more like what it really is
Assign the proper company name to be KOTHEA.
Before we get started in earnest there are five critically important points: firstly, the person making these changes must be an administer of the business page and logged in to that page via THEIR PERSONAL ACCOUNT; secondly, you can only make changes to names once so be very, very careful; thirdly you must have at least 25 fans of your business page; fourthly, your business page must have been created as a Facebook PAGE not a group or anything else, it must be a page!; and finally Facebook sometimes requires that your personal account has been verified by mobile phone before any of these changes are allowed to be made.
If you are creating a page for the first time BE VERY CAREFUL some Facebook Fan Page setting CANNOT BE CHANGED (Jan 2010).
Here are the steps to go through:
Check to make sure what settings have already been made
Type in this exactly: www.facebook.com/username ie do not put in your username put in the word ‘username’. You will get a message like the one below.
This confirms that KOTHEA is my MD’s username.
2. From the facebook menu go to SETTINGS and then to “ACCOUNT SETTINGS”. You will see something like the following where we now want to change the Username NOT the name.
3. Click on the word “change” the one next to USERNAME. ie the one above the word KOTHEA in my example. You are then prompted for a new username. It must be unique and there are various limitations to what you can have (sorry I don’t know all the restrictions but Facebook seems to disallow certain names even though they might be unique – for example i think only one ‘full stop’ is allowed). Be very sure what new username you want. Continue reading “Facebook Fan Page & Vanity URL For Your Interior Design Business”
I have worked on, sold and managed many projects in the corporate world as well as in the interiors world. It strikes me that the nature of ‘projects’ is very similar across all industries.Often how you propose to engage with the client to tackle the project will win you the business. Price and competence are obviously important. New clients might not trust you enough to feel they can commit to your services for the full duration of the project; so bear that in mind. Sometimes elements of risk in the project are high or unknown – you must deal with these in you proposal/pitch
(Nugget 1: By highlighting riskswhere others haven’t could win you the project on the risk issues alone).
Anyway, the point of this article is to summarise different approaches to charging for projects. You’ve probably heard of most of them but maybe not all:
1. The design fee
“I’m an interior designer and I provide a fantastic service. I charge you for my skills and you benefit from me being able to buy things for you at trade price, I don’t make a profit on the things I buy for you”.
This is a fair and honest pitch. Well done, I’d think about buying from you. It probably won’t differentiate you from anyone else though.
2. The markup
“I’m an interior designer and I provide a fantastic service, I’m going to do it for free for you though. I have to make a profit so I’ll make that on the difference between trade and retail prices for the things that I buy for you.”
I really don’t like this and yes I know it is widely used in the industry. Firstly your service is so good that you are giving it to me free? Really? Things that are given away free are generally valued very lowly in business. This approach might appeal to a cash strapped buyer though, so don’t dismiss out of hand. Secondly can I trust you to charge the fair and correct margin? Probably not (I don’t know you, how can I trust you?), you probably won’t have any degree of transparency on your purchases and their true retail and trade prices. Besides a savvy client can get many things at trade price anyway, buying is easy (ish) – selecting and creating is more the art, that is where the value lies.
This is the best way to make money. Read on, I know you don’t believe me!
Many of the top consultancy companies in the world manage their fixed price projects very, very carefully and in great detail. They win the projects essentially because of their low price BUT that price is conditional upon lots of conditions. Once those conditions cannot be met by the client then the price goes up (a lot). After committing to a company the client finds it very hard to pull out later and change suppliers. In any case they share the blame for not properly specifying the project at the outset, so in itself that really is not a reason to think of ditching the new supplier.
(Nugget 2:) For this to make money, lots of money, you have to really understand what you have to deliver, in detail. You have to know all the risks and where things can go wrong and how you will handle those eventualities. You have to be clear about what is and what is not included. (Of course add-ons for what was not originally included will cost a LOT, later on when the client changes their mind!)
This relies on you being organised and the client less so. In the corporate world many buyers are themselves now very organised and so this approach to projects is consequently becoming less profitable. These projects often become acrimonious unless one side gives in over points of contention that arise “I thought XXX was included” – you’ve been there.
Remember that when you are extracting every ounce of $/£ out of your client, at least be nice and polite and friendly about it. Seriously.
Of course if you’re new to the industry you might just go for this approach to win the business and you MIGHT just strike it lucky based on little or no detailed preparation. Or you might not.
4. Phased Approach
This works best where there are unknowns that the client appreciates exist, it’s a good and fair way of making money.
You identify the phases of the project: scope, functional design, technical design, aesthetic design, etc – whatever you choose to call them are unimportant.You come to a financial arrangement for each phase before it happens. When the first phase finishes you definitively quote for the subsequent one. You might have earlier given an indication on the cost of all phases but you make it clear up front that you have a chance to revise prices as some of the risks become more clear.
The great things about this approach are inertia, deliverables and risk.
‘Inertia’ because clients are unwilling to change suppliers unless really annoyed – in which case it’s probably a good time to move on as you’ve messed up and lost their trust.
‘Risk’ because you MUST plan for all risks in this approach. Your prices include the risks, you say you are charging a lot for phase H because of risks X, Y and Z.
‘Deliverables’ because when you revise (typically up) the cost of a subsequent phase it’s because the deliverables have been changed by the client (no matter how small the change).
Oh and of course its easier for the client to commit to small sums of money rather than the whole thing.
Here’s one you probably haven’t considered.
Sometimes you just know that a client is fishing for ideas for their project. You just know they are going to do it themselves. (Nugget 3:) Well if you know that then why not tailor your proposition around that fact? “Look Mr X, here are the 8 phases of an interior design project, you can probably do much of them yourself but you are not experienced. I am. Let me work with you on a half-daily basis to help you along in the various stages. If there’s one bit you are not happy with like instructing builders or architects I can do that bit for you”
“I really like this approach,” says client A. “I’m not a designer but one day might like to be, it can’t be that hard and yes I know I don’t yet have all the skills, so having someone to help me along would help.”
Of course many clients will find their project too time consuming or their skills lacking. That’s fine though because they have already committed to you when they realise that and so you will be there to take over and finish it. At a price of course!
The secret of this one is to snare the project that others have no chance of winning because of their approach.
6. Selective Phase Bidding
I don’t like this one.
You essentially bid for just the phases that you are expert at. Essentially if you do this you will rarely win.
Many clients do not want to deal with many suppliers, they want one monthly invoice.
Yet you might not feel comfortable to handle all aspects. The solution is partnership with another supplier. Partnerships are fraught with danger but can sometimes work out well. (Nugget 4:) Make sure you work with someone you trust and make sure they know that partnership involves reciprocation ie they have to get you involved in their next project.
7. Capped Price
“I will charge you based on my time and the cost of the materials. However you have a budget so I promise I will not exceed it.” Crazy, don’t get involved in this type of project unless you are desperate. How do you benefit when you are taking on all the risk, this could lose you thousands.
8. Floor Price
This sounds more like it! A minimum price! However you have to sweeten this with discounted rates above the floor price so the client understands that if the floor is exceeded then you are making much less than you normally do and that you will strive to avoid that situation happening as you want to only do profitable work.
This one can work well, get your numbers worked out before you start.
Many interior designers just can’t take Twitter seriously as a business tool. Until recently I was a dissenter too; I’ll tell you about my epiphany in a moment, but it just seemed plain wrong that the self-obsessed media could be right about something they love, for once. And it just made matters worse when Oscar Wilde’s famous phrase “The Witterings Of A Wit” could oh so easily be changed to “The Twitterings Of A Twit”. And then I was further annoyed because everyone says that that was an Oscar Wilde quote and yet Wikipedia said it wasn’t (so it can’t be one of his). And then, really anyway, it should be the “Tweets Of A Twit” and that’s just silly.
And then I calmed down a bit and thought rationally.
Twitter is just a bit of technology with a silly name, we must all agree on that as a starting point. But if, for little or no cost and effort, I can get more potential clients to visit my blog or my web site by using Twitter occasionally then who is the Twit…my competitor who uses it? or me, who doesn’t?
Then Ceil Petrucelli commented on one of my blog posts saying that one of her friends had tweeted my post and here she was reading it and, in the post-modern vernacular, loving it. She’d never heard of KOTHEA fabrics before. So some other kind person had been doing my marketing for me, which is great, but I felt that maybe I should be making more of an effort myself. And then I realised that I was writing yet another blog post and I was anti-blogs a year ago! Did that make me a Twitter-blog tweeting, blogging hypocrite? (My surname is Seuss, by the way).
But is it easy? Well, from a technical viewpoint I’m sure you can automatically generate a tweet from most blog posts or from within Facebook. So we can probably all produce Twitter output SOMEWHERE in our digital marketing without any ongoing additional effort. (In fact this post has been automatically tweeted, apparently).
So I’m going to make an effort and start to use the KOTHEA Twitter Feed/Page thing that I had already set up some months ago; just in case I might need it. In fact I’m already doing it because, as I said, I made it automatic.
Great Web Sites are important for Interior Designers. Often they are just too great-looking and neglect to do a proper all-round job.
As an Interior Designer you have a web site for numerous reasons, those reasons will almost exclusively be related to sales & marketing.
Your web site must personify your brand at its highest level, it should probably showcase your work and maybe it should showcase some of the talents of your most trusted and valued staff. It must look wonderful.
So far so good?
I can show you many sites where Interior Designers have done just that. They have produced the most amazing works of art almost.
But why? I’m not saying it is wrong to do that I ‘m just asking why have you focused all your efforts on creating a work of art? Who exactly is going to see it? Where is the audience to your work of art? Who is the audience? What is the purpose?
Often the web design agency have made matters worse. Their creative staff have wanted to do just that; be creative. There is much merit in creativity but only as part of what your customers are looking for.
Maybe the web site has to look good to make your staff or management proud of working in your organisation. That’s a valid reasons too, in part.
Has anyone considered your potential customers? Your existing customers? Has anyone considered at what moments in the customer’s decision making process they are likely to look at any given part of your web site? Definitely not in many cases.
Ask: “How have your (potential-) customers got your web site address?” If it is from your business cards then the role your web site should play at that time is to support the image, the brand journey you have already started to create with them. If the customer is a longstanding one then they may visit your web site as a sort of post-purchase gratification – maybe they want the project you did for them showcased to the world? If it is a potential customer, that you have not yet even contacted, then they have probably got your web address from a search engine. They will need some degree of showcasing BUT these potential new clients are looking for information, something to make them more interested in your company and they need something to make them be reassured of, and desirous for, your services.
So you’ve probably done a lot right in creating a tool to help the sales process along but you have probably not also created a marketing tool that plays a significant enough role in new lead generation.
What, in detail, have you done wrong then? (not you, sorry, those other interior designers!). Most of these are really very important points and not just designed to make up a list:
1. Publically invisible – there are a lack of quality inbound links to your website;
2. Picture rich, Word poor – insufficient content/information on your web site, instead you have too many nice images;
3. Gorgeously bland – if you changed the name of your company on your web site to that of your biggest competitor would anyone really notice? Do you share their language? When you write in media-speak you do not differentiate your company from anybody else. You are marketing yourself in the same way as everyone else, if that is true then you are trying hard to be average!;
4. Lost in space – your site should be easily navigable, leading visitors from one thoughtful insight to the next breathtaking interior (or at least to the contact page). On several interior designer sites I have visited the first page presented has no obvious form of navigation to suggest where to go next;
5. Even the IT guy got confused – lack of meta-tag and headings, too much flash-content that search engines cannot see at all; and
6. Hide and seek – lack of search functionality. Without search on your site you are making it as hard as possible for your potential customers to find what they want. They will be used to using a search engine for finding information – just like you are.
There are more things interior designers do wrong with their web sites but those are ones that should be rectified ASAP.
So what exactly should you do? I’ll answer that by answering the ‘mistakes’ listed above:
1. Get quality inbound links. This is a traditional PR exercise but applied to digital media rather than print media. You want links from sites with a higher page rank than your site’s page rank NOT reciprocal links. Find out what pagerank is and put some time into creating inbound links, at first play catch up by seeing what some of your best competitors do (not KOTHEA, we are not a competitor)
2. More content: describe what you do and how you do it and why you do it. Google rates your site based on this type of content rather than pretty picture content.
3. Speak in plain, conversational English. You are not a management consultant, although your client might be.
4. Get your friends or kids (even better clients) to work through your site and watch them do it without helping. Getting around should be intuitive. Also think about the term “call to action”, wherever your potential client is on your site there should be an obvious call to action, an obvious thing for them to do next such as sending you an email or telephoning you for a brochure or appointment.
5. Keep the nice flash bits if you have them but get your IT guys to talk to you about meta tags/keywords, titles, sitemaps, and h1/h2 tags. (Actually get them to JUST talk to you about those first of all and as soon as they mention web 2.0 just glaze your eyes over and pretend you don’t want to understand! That’s next month’s marketing job for you, don’t let them distract you!). Look puzzled and concerned when they tell you why some of these technical bits are just not possible on your site (they are not being fully truthful) and then ask them why the site was designed and implemented like it was as surely that is the cause of the problem. with the exception of inbound links, all of the things on this list really should have been done when your site was designed and built, I would almost say that if they were not done then they should be corrected for free if they were done by a paid ‘expert’.
6. Introduce site search. This can cost thousands or it can be free. It depends who you talk to!
I hope that helps. These really are genuine, important problems with many sites and not just an excuse for me to write another list. You can read more of my articles on the business of interior design <here> the articles tend to be about sales and marketing issues rather than technology though I answer questions on either!
PS: This following link is written by Google, it covers related areas of interaction between you and your potential online customer. It is more geared towards selling over the web but you will get the idea of what you should be doing by inference: http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/landing/conversion/ebook.html