How to Promote Your Design Business on a Budget

October 27, 2021

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A common question I see being asked in interior design Facebook groups is, “What’s the best way to market your business?”

I tend to respond with more questions, as this question is vague and without more context, it’s hard to make a good recommendation for you. I think a better question and perhaps what they really mean to ask are “What are some effective, affordable options to promote my business and be seen?”

So I’ve rounded up a few recommendations here to hopefully inspire you. Not every idea will work for every business, that’s going to depend on who you’re targeting, how your niched, location, etc. but at least some should work for you.

HARO

HARO is an acronym that stands for Help a Reporter Out. It is a free email subscription service where writers look for sources for their articles, blog posts, stories, podcast segments, etc. Emails typically go out 3x a day. There are a plethora of design related queries that go out on a regular basis from publications looking for designers to submit their opinions on trends, tips for homeowners and just generally share their expertise with the world. Best of all, typically writers will give you a backlink when they credit you which will help with boosting your SEO and will give you some logos to pop onto your “as seen in” section of your website or your press page.

Target local publications

Local publications tend to be a little easier to break into than larger industry publications, and depending on who you’re targeting, may be better at helping you reach your target audience. Look for articles that are already being written about topics that your business could fit into (new business openings, partnerships, home tips, real estate, etc.) and reach out directly to those writers with a carefully crafted pitch mentioning your news, your expertise, and ask if they have anything coming up in the editorial calendar where you might fit in. There’s no guarantee you’ll be included, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.

Cross-Promotion

Look for other businesses (such as retailers, manufacturers, real estate agents, etc.)  where you can bring mutually beneficial value to each other, are not direct competitors, and are targeting a similar audience. You have a couple of options here when exploring cross-promotion opportunities. You could reach out directly and suggest a formal partnership of some sort where you share each other’s content, refer each other business, etc. (psst… make sure you get it in writing if you plan to enter a formal partnership and/or there’s a compensation exchange!)

It can even be as simple as taking pictures next time you’re on a shopping trip and tagging the manufacturers and retailers on your Instagram. Businesses love seeing their customers (especially when that customer is you as a designer who has a lot of influence over what brands people use in their homes). They may be so excited that they’ll regram the picture or share you in their Instagram stories! Similar ideas can include mentioning other businesses in a roundup post of your favorite ________ (bathtubs, window treatments, home decor retailers, etc.), or which vendors you’re most excited about seeing at _______ (HPMKT, LVMKT, Dallas Market, etc.). Make sure to tag these vendors when you share your post on social and they will likely re-share for you. You can even reach out directly to let them know you plan to include them and ask if they’ll re-share.

Meetup Groups

Networking is still a tried and true method for meeting new potential clients and getting referrals. In this increasingly digital age, networking can help to establish feelings of familiarity and trust and explain your value to people in a setting where your message is not sandwiched between cute animal videos or political posts.

I recommend checking out the site, meetup.com to find local networking groups in your area to help you get started. You don’t have to limit yourself to just business groups either, there are meetup groups for all sorts of different interests and activities

Speaking at local events

For those of you who actually enjoy public speaking, this is a fantastic way to establish yourself as an expert in your field and get to meet new people. You can find some of these opportunities through the above-mentioned Meetup groups, partnerships, chambers of commerce, colleges/universities, local conference organizers or even create your own event!

In the past, we’ve worked with local showrooms to co-host events (they provide the space and we provide the content), you can work together to offer some sort of swag/door prizes and even include other local businesses. Have some refreshments on-hand, and voila, you’ve got yourself an event. For the guest list, each local business participating, including the showroom would combine resources to create guest lists and encourage people to invite others as well or you can create an event using Eventbrite or Facebook and encourage those participating to reach out to local networks and spread the word. You’d be surprised how quickly the attendees list can grow with the right content and the promise of free refreshments/swag.

Facebook Business Groups

Depending on where you live, you may be able to find some great referral groups for local businesses in your area. I’d highly recommend actively participating in groups like this. The key to success here is making your introduction so people know who you are to recommend you, but also not being overly promotional. When you see discussions around topics you happen to be an expert in, contribute to the conversation, give your opinion. You’ll establish yourself as a domain expert in no time.

As mentioned previously, not all of these tactics will work for everyone. Hopefully a few of these ideas have sparked some creativity in you and help you to start being seen!

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Written by Sarah Daniele

Sarah Daniele is the CEO and co-founder of Mydoma Studio.

Starting off her career as an interior designer, the first version of Mydoma Studio was built to fulfill a personal need. 

But after some encouragement from friends and colleagues,  Sarah traded in swatches for shoulder pads, taking up the mantle of CEO and building up Mydoma Studio for the interior design industry. 

Sarah is passionate about building tools and technology to allow interior designers to grow their businesses.