Marketing your interior design business is a business all its own. Social media marketing is essential, but so is marketing in real life, and spreading that all-important word of mouth. So on today’s podcast, we’re talking with someone who knows marketing inside and out, because she was a professional marketer before leaving her corporate job to begin her career in interior design. Darla and Natalie talk with Michelle about how her marketing career informs her interior design business, how brand marketing and direct-response marketing are different, and how she drummed up her first client with a simple marketing trick.
In 2016, Michelle transitioned to interior design after spending 15 years as a marketer. Since then she’s worked on countless projects, has been featured in Design*Sponge and Room magazine. She’s also a former Roller Derby jammer, and she has her own podcast called Business Homies where she picks the brains of experts.
Michelle spent years in marketing, but as she says she didn’t have a lot of experience with online marketing. However, she knew right away that she needed to put up a blog (even though she didn’t tell family about it) that attracted the type of clients that would want to work with her, and turned away potential clients that would not, in the end, jibe with her personality. That’s a hard lesson to learn for anyone starting out, but Michelle’s years in marketing helped her figure that out from day one.
And knowing that, it allowed Michelle to really own her own personality, and not be afraid to be herself and share her true self as part of her business. It’s not always easy to be yourself in business, but if you’re going into business for yourself, it’s truly the only way to make yourself happy, and have an authentic connection with clients.
Every interior designer should hear Michelle’s advice for maximizing the potential of Facebook groups. She lives outside of Toronto, and she’s a member of loads of Toronto Facebook groups, and each of those Facebook groups has rules about when you can post to promote your own business. So Michelle made a calendar for all of those Facebook groups, and she would make sure that on those days she’d go on to promote her interior design business.
Michelle tailored her posts in Facebook groups to be less promotional, more sharing blog posts, etc. She wasn’t trying to be overly promotional, but she would leave information if someone wanted to schedule a consultation. And the very first time she posted in a group, she landed a consultation. Social media marketing works, people!
Social media is the biggest sea change to hit marketing in a long time, and there are few who would argue you shouldn’t have a social media presence. However, there are many who would argue about the return on investment for a business spending on social media. How can you be sure the money you’re spending is leading to actual client work? This week, Darla and Natalie open up their books and looks at what gigs they’ve gotten directly from social media.
Now it would be easy to fudge the numbers a bit, and count some accounts as driven by social media because maybe a client became aware of Darla Powell Interiors through Instagram or Pinterest. But Darla and Natalie take a hard look at the numbers, and only count the work they’ve landed directly from someone through a social media portal, whether it be Facebook, Houzz, or another platform. They also outline how much they charge and how many hours they work on a project, so you can then calculate your own ROI. The numbers may surprise you.
Darla and Natalie go through every social media account and track client work from each platform. Some, like Facebook, have yielded a handful of clients, and some, like Pinterest, may be more about generating word of mouth. But the top social media platform for interior designers in terms of ROI has been Instagram.
Instagram has generated four full-service projects for Darla and Natalie, including a full-home redesign and another that’s an entire floor of a house. And one of the clients from Instagram is actually Darla Powell Interiors’ first commercial project. The numbers truly show how much Instagram, and all social media, generate not just little red hearts, but actual green dollars for an interior design company.
If you’re interested in seeing the numbers that Darla and Natalie discuss on this week’s show, you can email info[@]wingnutsocial.com for a PDF. The numbers don’t lie, and while skepticism is never a bad thing when it comes to ROI, as Darla and Natalie say in this week’s episode, the proof is in the pudding. Mmmmm…pudding.
Sometimes social media feels like shouting into the void. Or even when you have an audience who’s responding to what you’re posting, it can feel like a beast that always needs to be fed. Sometimes you need to take a break from the pretty wallpaper photos and try storytelling. If you can tell a story on social media, then you can connect authentically and emotionally with an audience. Sometimes that’s a story about you, sometimes it’s a story about a client, but it’s always a story that people feel they can relate to.
Today’s guest on the Wingnut Social podcast has a story like none other. Susan Wintersteen runs Savvy Interiors in San Diego, California, but perhaps her most amazing work comes from her nonprofit, Savvy Giving by Design. Susan and her team redo spaces for children and families facing medical crises, often kids facing the long road of cancer treatments. Susan has built a community by telling the stories of Savvy Giving by Design’s work. On this episode, she tells Darla and Natalie how she discovered her method of social media storytelling, how she crafts her stories step by step, and how she navigates her clients’ privacy when telling these stories.
About four years ago, Susan was introduced to a friend of a friend whose daughter was diagnosed with cancer. So Susan and her friend raised money to redo the kid’s room to make it a little more comfortable and fun as she underwent a year of chemotherapy. From there, Susan started her nonprofit where they makeover spaces for children facing a medical crisis.
Storytelling became a part of Savvy Giving by Design from the get-go. Susan had built a community on Facebook, they were able to raise $6,000 in three days, and from the jump she kept the community looped into the process. And as the people in the community got to know Susan and her voice, they started to respond to that.
Darla asked Susan how she constructs a story on social media for Savvy Giving by Design, and she takes a really fascinating approach. As she says, every story has a hero and a guide, and she considers herself the guide. And when they start telling a story, they start what she calls “pebbling” before “hitting with a brick.” So that might mean posting that she’s about to go meet with a family, or showing a little bit about what’s coming up for that particular project, and then gradually building from there.
One of the things Susan struggles with is information overload, making sure that her community knows what she’s working on, and that there’s no confusion between stories. So that means she creates specific anecdotes that help people identify with and relate to the individual stories of the kids and families facing a medical crisis. That also impacts the tone of her social media. Rather than writing press releases, Susan is trying to tell stories like she would to her friends, to connect with her audience on an emotional level.
Everyone tells you that you need to be an “influencer” on Instagram. But what does that really mean? Does that mean you should have 10,000 followers, 20,000 followers? Does it mean brands are knocking down your door to work with you? There’s no one key number that will grant you magical influencer status, but if you can really make your personality shine on social media, you will build a following. And more importantly, you’ll connect with that following.
Case in point: Today’s guest on the Wingnut Social podcast, Natalie Reddell. Natalie is an interior designer based in Richmond, Virginia, and under her social media nom de guerre Commander-in-Chic, she’s made a name for herself in both the interior design social media sphere and the lifestyle/beauty worlds. On this episode, Natalie discusses how she grew her following on Instagram, how she navigates speaking two different audiences, and what makes her #struggle videos connect so strongly with audiences. And let’s just say her personality is not restricted to Instagram.
Darla asked Natalie how she got started making her #struggle videos, and even though the videos are about her struggles, she says she started doing them because they’re fun. As she says, no matter how much good intention you have, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing on social media, eventually you’re going to stop. So you have to have fun, and then your audience will have fun with you, too.
Natalie is a living, breathing example of what Wingnut Social always preaches: Be authentic, be yourself, and people will follow you. As you’ll hear on this episode, Natalie has a story to tell, and because she does it with so much personality, people want to hear it.
Like all of us, Natalie saw some of her engagement on Instagram fade away when the platform changed its algorithm. But, she says it has gotten better, and one of the reasons that’s gotten better for her is because she has been an early adopter of new Instagram features. So when IG put out IGTV, she hopped on right away, and she found they reward adopting new features.
You only get seen by 10% of your followers now, which is obviously very frustrating. But, if you adopt new features IG puts out, whether it’s stories, or live, you’ll pop up more. They want their users to be using all of the bells and whistles, and your followers will get notified if you go live, so it’s an if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em approach to social media, and it’s worked like gangbusters for Natalie.
Interior designers know they have to be on Instagram and on Facebook and make sure all their pins look great on Pinterest. But LinkedIn is just a place to stick your résumé or look for your next hire, right? Wrong. LinkedIn can actually be a very fruitful networking platform if you put in the work and if you have a great strategy. And on today’s Wingnut Social podcast, we dig deep into how LinkedIn can pay off for interior designers.
Darla and Natalie welcome Joe Apfelbaum, CEO of B2B marketing firm Ajax Union to the show today, and Joe is all about LinkedIn. Joe started Ajax seven years ago to use advanced technologies to help businesses with their internet marketing. But what he realized is that many companies don’t actually have a marketing strategy, and many are ignoring a goldmine in LinkedIn. Today Darla and Joe talk about why LinkedIn can pay off, and why it’s so often ignored.
Darla tells Joe on this week’s show that she has 14,000 connections on LinkedIn, but she never really logs in. Joe draws the analogy of showing up to a networking party every day, but sitting in the corner and not talking to anyone. And this is actually most people’s problem with LinkedIn. It’s a very active platform, but few users are actually standing out by posting.
Joe cites some stats from Microsoft about LinkedIn’s usage. He estimates there are about 500 million professionals on LinkedIn, and 40% of those professionals log in every day. So what’s the problem? Only a million people are actually posting on LinkedIn. If you can create a LinkedIn strategy for posting every day on the platform, you can truly distinguish yourself. And Joe lays out how to build that strategy on this week’s episode.
On this week’s show, Joe staged a sort of LinkedIntervention with Darla, encouraging her to log onto the platform more often, and engage with the people there a lot more often. But direct messages on LinkedIn can be really sales-y and annoying, so Joe cautions that you need to have a direct message strategy. Part of that is genuinely wanting to reach out and connect with people with whom you could do business.
You need to ensure that, when reaching out to people on LinkedIn, you’re not burdening or spamming them. So that means keep your messages short. People don’t spend more than seven seconds reading messages. Get straight to the point, offer them actual value, and don’t sell anyone anything ever. Try to build an actual relationship with them.
You have ideas, you’ve been working your butt off for years gaining experience and insight, and now you want to share that with audiences. But, if you don’t have a lot of experience on stage or on mic, how do you become a public speaker? For interior designers, being able to guest on a podcast or speak at a conference can be huge for raising your profile and the profile of your business.
So today on the podcast, Darla and Natalie talk to the G.O.A.T., LuAnn Nigara, host of the A Well-Designed Business podcast. Darla opens the episode with an homage to LuAnn, who has been truly influential on her as she got her design business and the Wingnut Social podcast started. LuAnn began her career more than 30 years ago as a co-owner of Window Works, an award-winning window treatment and awning retailer in Livingston, NJ.
Not every interior designer is like LuAnn, naturally gifted at speaking to crowds. But if you want to become a public speaker, LuAnn has two bits of advice for you. The first is to just do it. There’s no substitute for practice. The second is to make sure you’re confident in your content. The less secure you are in your ability to speak, the more confident you have to be in your content, so that your content becomes second nature.
LuAnn also cautions that you don’t have to become a public speaker. If it’s really something you’re not comfortable with, then you should focus on your blog posts, or your other social media, or whatever way works for you. But Darla and LuAnn do dig into the ROI of public speaking, and its ability to bring in new clients. So if you have the knack, or want to develop it, it’s a worthwhile pursuit.
If there’s one thing LuAnn said over and over again was at the root of her success: It’s her planning. She is a researcher by nature, so whenever she embarks on a new project, she researches it first, and then sets out a plan for how it’s going to go. The same thing applies to becoming a public speaker. You have to plan your approach, your content, and where you want to get your start.
Darla and Natalie asked LuAnn what her biggest mistake was as a public speaker, and though she admits to making mistakes, she views them as learning experiences that help her plan for the future. (She does cop to an ill-conceived “trinkets” venture, but other than that, it’s all learning experiences).
You know how it is: You sign up for an email newsletter, and then the second it first appears in your inbox you delete it. So if you’re an interior designer, how do you get people to sign up for your email list, and how do you keep them interested in it once you do? The answer is email funnels, a system that automates your emails and keeps you engaged with your audience. Email lists are essential to reaching out to potential clients, and on this week’s Wingnut Social Podcast, Darla and Natalie go deep on funnels.
Alycia Wicker is this week’s guest, and though the bio she sent in was only a single sentence long, stating that she’s a business coach for interior designers, Alycia is much more than that. She runs an entertaining email newsletter, she produces amazing marketing guides for interior designers, and her diction is somewhere just north of sailor.
Getting your work in front of potential clients’ eyes is never easy. As Alycia notes, everyone has had difficulties with Facebook’s algorithm ignoring their posts. The “magical unicorn” of Facebook is dead, and if you want to really engage with your audience you need to speak to them directly. But that’s not the only reason email is so important for interior designers.
It’s vital that you build and maintain a great email list because you are then not dependent upon other platforms, like Facebook, to bring traffic to you. You own it, you talk directly to the people who want to hear from you. And you get to drive traffic to your own website, which has enormous benefits in the long run.
You can put a “subscribe for updates” link wherever you like, but unless people really love you, they’re not going to invite you into their inbox. But what you can do is show readers that you are able to solve a problem they have. So maybe that’s putting up a blog post that shows how to properly do a coffee table, then you have a link to your newsletter so they can get more helpful advice like that.
Essentially, when we’re talking about getting people to sign up to your email list, we’re talking about lead magnets. As Alycia says, you should have more than one lead magnet if you want to build your list quickly. Your first goal for an email list is 1,000 subscribers, and to do that you should be looking at what content you already have, and adding lead magnets to that content to get people onto your email list. And from there, you create email funnels to automate communication with potential clients, which is how you turn leads into clients.
There are roughly 4.5 billion apps that proclaim they’ll help you manage and schedule your social media, but there’s one in particular that is really piquing the interest of graphic designers: Tailwind. A social media scheduling app that allows you to post to Pinterest and Instagram, two very important platforms for interior designers, Tailwind is a key tool for those who are doing their own social media.
So today on the podcast Darla and Natalie are talking to Melissa Megginson, the community manager of Tailwind, who describes her job as being there to make sure Tailwind’s users look good and are having success on Pinterest and Instagram.
Posting to Pinterest and Instagram is essential for interior designers’ marketing efforts, but it takes a TON of time. As Melissa tells us on this week’s episode, Tailwind allows you to schedule your pins from your computer, from your blog, wherever it’s most convenient, and allows you to post directly to Instagram as well.
One of Tailwind’s greatest features is what Darla calls its “magical fairy dust algorithm” (™) which allows users to see when the most effective times to post are, and then the app schedules your pins and posts to those times. The Smart Schedule looks at your PInterest and Instagram followers and when they’re on the most often, allowing you to increase your visibility. It lets you get that 5 to 10 pins a day, at least, in front of your followers’ eyes.
Pinterest can be huge for interior designers, but one thing a lot of designers struggle with is content. Whether you’re new, or you haven’t been thinking of content online for years, you may not have hundreds of photos or blog posts to share. That’s why Melissa recommends thinking of Pinterest as a magazine rather than a catalog. Build an aesthetic that people will be interested in on Pinterest, rather than just showing your own work.
Melissa is a wealth of knowledge about how to get the most of your Pinterest and Instagram, and one of the fascinating things she says is that it’s best for your Pinterest to not just be your own work. As she says, a representative from Pinterest recommended that you split about 50/50 between your content and other people’s content that you find compelling or matching your aesthetic.
It’s easy to feel like we live in two different worlds these days, one online and one in real life. And so interior designers often craft two separate marketing and networking strategies, one for each. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Just because you’re working to develop your social media presence doesn’t mean your real-life connections don’t play a role. Today we’re talking about how creating community with real people in real, high-definition life can help you build your online presence as well.
That’s because today we’re talking with Amy Flurry, author of Recipe for Press and Recipe for Press: Design Edition, and a leading expert in how interior designers can get more press for their work. Amy Flurry is an editor and contributor to some of the biggest magazines on the newsstand (Lucky, Country Living, Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle, Better Homes Gardens). Her book, Recipe for Press, has been called “the small business blueprint for DIY publicity,” packed with good, no-nonsense advice on how to get your story or product onto the pages of influential publications. Amy’s lectures and workshops serve to further educate entrepreneurs on how to refine their message, engage media and create relationships with editors and bloggers, including powerful examples from across industries and around the country, plus her own art company.
Amy’s book was initially a total DIY project. She wrote it, produced it and launched it herself. And she booked her own speaking engagements. But instead of trying to land large auditoriums, she started putting together gatherings with other interior designers for the book. The events then become about more than just the book, Amy puts on her editor’s cap and thinks about how the events can produce content that all of the attendees can take and share and use for themselves.
When Amy throws an event, she invites other designers, or people who enjoy design, who might be interested in what she has to learn. But she also invites local magazine editors who might be interested in meeting those designers, and she will share photos from the event and encourage others to do so as well. And so the idea is that the event happens in one, real-life place, but has many other “tentacles” as she says, that can help a variety of people and be used online.
When Amy first started putting together her small events, she realized quickly that she wanted to invite people she didn’t know, instead of default to the people already in her contacts list. And she invited a designer from Nashville who came and was so excited by it, she emailed the group afterward with a recap of all the takeaways, and then invited Amy to Nashville to do a similar event in her town. That designer then used that gathering that she threw to take pictures of her home, which she then used in a myriad of ways, including landing an article in HGTV Magazine.
Amy says that while designers may have concerns about their competition, the truth is there’s enough work for everyone, and creating community can help foster learning and networking that lead to amazing opportunities. You want to make sure if you’re throwing events for other designers, you’re offering something of value for them. Otherwise, as Amy says, “it’d be really weird.”
Going live on Facebook can be a great way to connect with, and build, your audience. But it can also be election-night-level anxiety-producing. Luckily, the Wingnut Social Podcast has you covered. This week, Darla and Natalie discuss everything you need to have in place before you go live, what benefits you’ll see in collaborating on Facebook streams, and the one trick today’s guest uses to make Facebook Lives seem totally natural. And no, there’s no way you’re guessing it.
Business coach Nancy Ganzekaufer joins Natalie and Darla on this week’s episode, breaking down how she got started on Facebook Live, and what her famous Weekend Wine Down broadcasts have done for her business. Through her work, Nancy empowers creative entrepreneurs to build the life and business they have always wanted. She leads by example through her hard work, encouragement, and most of all, her no b.s. leadership style.
When Nancy first started her Weekend Wine Down Facebook Live shows, it was for a reason many people can relate to: She was uncomfortable talking to a camera all on her own. She was so uncomfortable, in fact, she put googly eyes on either side of her camera so she would have something to look at while she was talking. But what started out as daunting has now become second nature to her and a huge value to her audience.
On this week’s episode, Nancy talks about how her weekly chats have brought in all sorts of different creative types, from entrepreneurs to fitness coaches. It’s a win-win-win situation for Nancy: Her audience learns from her guests, the audience values Nancy for bringing them that guest, and past guests have landed clients through the Weekend Wine Downs.
If you want to get started using Facebook Live, but aren’t sure how, Nancy recommends making it easy on yourself. Commit to doing a 15-minute show once a week where you’re giving tips in your area of expertise. And if you’re anxious about it, grab another designer from another state (so they can’t compete for your business) and have them do it with you.
Getting up on Facebook Live and truly making it valuable for your audience requires just a little planning, a little commitment and maybe a couple tools to help improve the experience. Nancy uses a platform called BeLive which brings all the bells and whistles that makes it fun for an audience. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of all of the great advice Nancy delivered on this week’s episode of the podcast!
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