Have you ever come across an outfit from years ago and wondered what in the world you were thinking when you got it?
Imagine throwing on that outfit today, looking in the mirror with a grimace, then shrugging and heading out the door.
You wouldn’t, right? You’ve figured out your style by now.
Unfortunately, I often see interior designers doing just that — not with clothes, but with clients.
They take on jobs that aren’t really “them” or that don’t fit quite right, figuring that they just have to deal with it for now.
It’s time to stop.
You may think that your clients choose you, and not the other way around. But you do choose your clients, starting with the type of people you’re attracting with your marketing strategy.
Making a conscious effort to figure out who your dream clients are and then nurturing them through each stage of your sales funnel is a game changer.
And today, I’m going to take you through the steps you need to take to do just that.
What is a Sales Funnel, Exactly?
Put simply, a sales funnel is the process that a potential client goes through as she develops a relationship with you.
Funnels may vary in structure, but they usually consist of some form of these stages:
- Awareness – This describes the group of people who would be great clients, but who aren’t aware you exist yet. Your goal in this stage is to help people find out about you.
- Interest – This group knows you exist, but isn’t sure they need your services. Your job is to convince them to opt in to learn more about you — usually by following you on social media or joining your email list.
- Decision – These people have been keeping up with you, but they haven’t committed to your services yet. You need to demonstrate your value.
- Action – Those in this stage have decided that they want to hire you, but they haven’t done it yet. Give them a little push by eliminating any doubts ( showcase your portfolio, share testimonials )
- Retention – You may consider a fifth stage: Retaining people who have already become clients for future projects and referrals. This stage of marketing may include personal follow-up emails and special “thinking of you” cards.
This process is called a “funnel” is because of the shape it would take if you lined up the actual people in each stage. Each progressive step gets a bit narrower as the pool of potential clients shrinks.
Great marketing plans typically address each step of the funnel, focusing on the parts that need the most improvement. The awareness stage might include social media marketing (such as your Instagram page). The interest stage could be a series of emails that teach your prospects something new. Converting your leads into customers might involve promoting your availability timeline.
Each of these marketing efforts should be designed with your ideal client in mind. However, you can’t do any of this until you know exactly who you want to reach.
Create a Profile of Your Dream Client
You might think you already know who you want to target: People you enjoy working with whose projects inspire you.
Nope. Way too vague.
It’s time to really get in your ideal clients’ heads by creating a detailed persona for them. Go through the steps below and note the answers for your theoretical perfect client (it’s totally fine to base the answers on a real person or a combination of people you loved working with in the past).
Demographics – List your dream client’s likely age, gender, income, neighborhood, education level, family structure.
Preferred Design Style – This is really as much about defining your OWN style as it is theirs. I wrote about this a bit in my post “How to Magnetize Your Dream Clients.”
Design Goals – What does this person really want to achieve with their design? A space that makes them feel comfortable? A space that impresses guests? A space that helps them concentrate? Understand their underlying goals.
Project Budget – Newer designers or those just designing on the side may want to take on smaller-budget projects at first, then work up to the bigger projects. Fewer projects with larger projects are wonderful, but have you considered if you’re ready to deliver the design or experience that accompanies that larger project / budget?
Getting Their Attention
- Where does this person get their information? Where do they go online? What blogs, and magazines do they read? Who do they follow or listen to in the community?
- Where does this person like to hang out on the weekends? Where are other places they may frequent?
- What’s their day like when they’re at home? How do they like to use their space?
- What language and tone do they use or would they respond to?
- What style of image or ads would get their attention?
- What are their main pain points when it comes to making their living space work for them?
Keep in mind that this isn’t permanent. As your style and experience evolves, your ideal client may, too. This is about what works for you now.
Now that you’ve thought about your ideal client’s specific needs and habits, you can start building your marketing plan. Break it down for each stage of your sales funnel.
Here are some examples:
Awareness – Where and how can you reach these special customers based on where they like to spend their time, locally and online?
Interest – How can you use this person’s specific pain points to draw in your dream clients and grab their information?
Decision and Action – Considering your ideal clients’ specific style and needs, what would make the decision to buy easier or more appealing for them? How can you channel your language and visual brand in a way that appeals to this group?
Retention – What would really win the loyalty of this client for the long-term, based on their personal values and the style they’re trying to project to the world?
Seek Quality … and Quantity
There’s a real sense of freedom that comes with finally embracing the fact that you’re not going to be a good fit for every client. By letting yourself focus on the style and projects that are the best for you and your business, you’ll find yourself growing as a interior designer.
Your portfolio will stop looking like the closet of your youth — crammed full of way too many different styles that you don’t love — and start looking like a curated, streamlined collection of beautiful pieces that you truly enjoy.However, just because you’re targeting a smaller group of people doesn’t mean that you should settle for fewer leads. Click To Tweet
On one hand, a single valuable client can be worth a handful of difficult clients. The best clients energize you and respect your time, and the worst clients drain your energy and time away, leaving a lingering drag on the rest of your work.
But you still need to focus on increasing the number of leads in your funnel.
After all, we’re dealing with people’s disposable income — clients that seemed like shoo-ins before can quickly bail on a project if their financial situation changes or they get other spending priorities. Even if all prospects eventually close, they’ll close at different times — meaning that you need as many as possible in the funnel to get steady flow of work.
That’s the beauty of combining your client-targeting with the power of the sales funnel, which will help you reach as many of your IDEAL clients as you can in each stage.
If you can’t drop what you’re doing and plan out your client-focused sales funnel today, you can still take a few steps in the right direction.
Questions? Ideas? Tweet me at @idmasterclass.
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