Author

About the Author
Host of The Chaise Lounge and The Business Brush Podcast, owner of Walls by Design, and Creative Director for iMayMedia LLC.

Why YOU Should Be Showing Up at Market

Why YOU Should Be Showing Up at Market

By Nick May | July 24, 2018

Last month, I wrote about building a personal brand and the benefits that can follow.  Now we’ll go a step further to explain why showing up at market is crucial to becoming recognizable, connecting with movers and shakers, and creating opportunities.

Everyone loves market. Whether you’re at High Point, Las Vegas, or BDNY, the food, drinks and parties are enough to keep anyone coming back. Beyond that, the showrooms are probably the best opportunity to see what brands, designers and manufacturers are up to and where the industry is headed.

Sure, all of these things are great! But if you think market is all about seeing trends and having a good time, you’re probably missing the point.

Ever heard the phrase, “It’s not who you know, but who knows you?” This is my mantra for market. Markets are the only space to rub elbows with the people actually making their mark on the industry. These hundreds of people are the decision-makers shaping the future, and if you want to be a part of that, you need to be visible.

On any given day, a market will hold over fifty events with designers, publicists, shelter magazine editors, and furniture manufacturers. You name it, it’s there. Starting a conversation with someone might lead you in the most random but rewarding place.

Consider my friend Kelli Ellis, who is out front at every market. Not only is she killing it in her design business, she’s also got licensing agreements, furniture lines, and a brand ambassador gig or two…in short, every designer’s dream. And where do you think she made all of these opportunities for herself?

Consider my story as well. When I first started out, no one knew who I was, and I certainly was not offered panels and interviews right off the bat. But over time, by being present, I built relationships with a wide range of folks who saw an opportunity to add value to each other’s careers, and benefit the industry as a whole.

If you’re not at market, you are simply not present and are not a part of the conversations shaping the future of the industry. So pack your bags, book a flight, and join the movers and shakers. Bring value to others, forge relationships – and most importantly – have fun and enjoy the ride. Who knows what will happen?

Note: This blog can also be read as part of The Chaise Lounge‘s blog exchange with Gail Doby Coaching and Consulting.

Lee Rotenberg’s Message: Turning the Corner on a Marketplace

As many of you know, I found myself in the middle of the Ivy/Houzz controversy last week. A lot has been said about how IvyMark is trying to support the design community, and that it is not about the money. If you listened to my interview with Lee Rotenberg, one of the co-founders, you heard how she berated, tried to bully, talk down, and talk over me… yet still managing to avoid my main questions while accusing me of being a “fear-monger.” I, like many of my interior designer friends, feel that the sale was nothing more than a way to leverage the data that Ivy was able to mine from designers, collected by their platform, AND from their “private” chat community the designers were invited into…all under the guise of trying to build a better solution FOR DESIGNERS.

A friend of mine just shared a piece that was written by Lee on 2/6/2018 titled “Turning the Corner on a Marketplace – One Year Ahead of Schedule.” This article was posted on Medium.com, but was quickly scrubbed. Thankfully, an interior designer was smart enough to save it as a PDF so I could share it with you. Here is the article.  I have copied and pasted the text, but would gladly email out the original capture to anyone that would like to see it.  Sorry, I could not get the graphics to copy over…but they are just boring graphs.

Today IvyMark is the leading operating system for interior design firms. Everything a firm does — from ideation, sourcing, collaboration, billing clients and paying vendors — is done on IvyMark’s platform.

The neat thing about owning 100% of our users’ workflow is that we’re bringing their transactional networks online. Two weeks ago I wrote how we had $121M in transactions in our first 12 months and now at the time of writing this we’re at $153M in transactions (comprised of credit card, ACH, and check):

This crazy invoicing volume is even crazier when you think about it’s impact on IvyMark’s greater mission of reshaping the way B2B commerce works in the home remodeling space. Every line item in every invoice feeds IvyMark with data that doesn’t exist anywhere else and allows us to understand the types of vendors that are being used on projects (budget, geolocation, style, room), as well as the vendors that were included on proposals that never made it to the invoice stage.

By owning the workflow of interior design firms IvyMark is the iceberg of trade decision-making, whereas ecomm players like Wayfair are just the tip of it. What exactly do I mean? Well, we see the entire story of how sourcing decisions are made — not just whether a product is added to checkout cart or not — and how these choices translate into the invoices themselves. That’s the magic of owning the workflow.

You know that little thing called Pinterest? Interior design firms pinned products to create ideation boards for their clients within Pinterest — that is, until IvyMark introduced our Product Clipper that empowers designers to source products from anywhere on the web directly into the proposals & invoices (BOOM! Now that’s a timesaver!).

Since launching the clipper in December 2016 we’ve had more than 154,681 products added into our system giving IvyMark unique perspective on how interior designers source.

IvyMark’s ownership of a firms workday enabled us to launch Discover this month— a year ahead of schedule — because our users built out this section for us. That’s the unstoppable magic of being the center of the decision-maker’s workflow.

Unveiling Discover: A new way for the trade to find the right pros Discover is a new section within our platform that allows users to connect with service pros outside of their existing network. The really unique thing about Discover is it’s 100% curated by our community — service pros are only included if they’ve done business with our members. This is an important element because it creates a trusted knowledge exchange amongst industry peers.

In the first 7 days of going live with Discover over 600 firms used this feature even before we announced it. Our team wasn’t surprised by the success of this silent launch because we see over 28,500 discussions on sourcing products & pros from the Ivy Community every single month.

Discover has done two really important things: 1) IvyMark is now more than just a platform to run a business — we are the place to source & discover new connections; 2) IvyMark is gaining deeper understanding on how new connections are made to empower better ones in the future.

We’re passionate about helping businesses run better and in doing so we’re reshaping the way the industry does business.

Why did they not want people to see this online after the sale and the fallout? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

167 – High Point Market: Hospitality Designers Share All

High Point Market: Hospitality Designers Share All

Today in The Lounge, Nick hosts the Hospitality Insiders Share All: What it Takes to be a Designer in the Hospitality Sector panel with guests Gary Inman, Nina Magon, Patrick Sutton, and Todd Ellenberger. The panel was recorded live at High Point! Nick also talks with Lynne Lawson of Lawson Dream Team at Norwalk Furniture during High Point. Lynne and Nick discuss how she finally entered into interior design and how she did it with no interior design education. 

Hospitality Insiders Share All: What it Takes to be a Designer in the Hospitality Sector

The panel begins with each designer introducing themselves and talking about how they began their careers in interior design. They all work in varying design firms, from large to small. Both Gary and Nina have fashion design backgrounds and then later moved to interior design. Patrick is the son of a pioneer of ‘travelism,’ so he spent his childhood seeing the world and enjoying its architecture. He loved the world of architecture but felt something was missing. In order to complete his story, he stopped doing architecture and began designing interiors of buildings. Todd started thinking about interior design in high school and right out of school began designing handmade draperies for high-end residential clients. A few years down the road and he now works for Hirsch Bedner Associates.

The designers talk about their transitions into the hospitality sector and some of the difficulties they faced in changing from residential to hospitality. They discuss the differences in design, such as logistics and fabrics, as well as the change in monetary profits. They also chat about how long it really takes to design a hotel from start to finish. For more input, listen to the full panel!

Getting to Know Lynne

The last vacation Lynne took was in Europe when she visited Austria and Switzerland this past summer. She fell in love with Switzerland during her two-week stay. Lynne lives in Columbia, Maryland and the last home decor piece she purchased for her home was a convertible cocktail to dinner table. The one room in her home that she would never put on Instagram, is her daughter’s room because it’s still in transition from her moving out… Lynne plans on converting it to her ‘woman cave.’ “Beer, wine or cocktail?” Lynne prefers wine.

How Lynne Got Started in Interior Design

Lynne previously worked at IBM for 19 years, as a salesperson, consultant, and a consulting principal. She would sell mainframes to NASA, classified agencies, the White House, House of Representatives, the Senate and the World Bank. She left because she was traveling a lot, lost her younger brother, and turned the age where enough was enough. She thought about what she really wanted to do with her life and decided to go ‘interior design.’

Decorating Den Interiors is a 47-year-old business of individually owned and operated franchises. It is for both start-up interior decorators with no experience and interior designers with degrees who want to take advantage of the business, marketing, and public relations opportunities that Decorating Den Interiors provides. To get into Decorating Den, you first have to contact the corporate office and they take you through a series of steps: you qualify the company and the company qualifies you. At the end of the day, you should be able to run your own franchise! If you move forward in the process, you are then given both business and design training. Some of their training includes how to recieve leads and how to market your business. You are encouraged to have a grand opening seminar to generate leads so you can get started on designing. In the beginning, you continue to receive training from a manager as well as continue going to CEUs (Continuing Education Units). Lynne says that running your business from a series of consistent and repeatable processes makes it successful!

Nick, Lynne Lawson of Lawson Dream Team and Christi Tasker of Tasker Agency at the Norwalk showroom during High Point!

The Business Today

Lynne’s team is made of three people: Lynne’s husband, Bruce, is the general manager and IT guy; Lynne is the decorator; and Lynne’s daughter, Laura, is the interior designer. They have done some commercial work mostly for funeral homes. Lynne defines an interior designer as someone who is classically trained to design and decorate a home. A decorator, like herself, can essentially perform the same tasks, just without a degree. For example, Lynne does not move walls; when it comes to architectural changes, that’s where her line is drawn. She and her team mostly work on furnishings and finishes.

Lynne has been named the top decorator in Decorating Den three times, which is unprecedented in Decorating Den’s history. Decorator of the year is based on decorating, not sales. Every year there is a dream room contest, if you have done beautiful work throughout the year, you can enter this contest with a design board. It is then judged by magazine editors from House Beautiful and others as well. The room is entered into different categories and you have to be the top in all categories to win designer of the year!

Designers Den provides substantial training on how to market your business. Before training, Lynne would go and promote her business with flyers door to door. Now, it’s all about internet presence and her digital footprint. Laura stays on top of all Lynne’s social media. Lynne’s number one leads source is from repeat and referral customers. Number two is search engine optimization, which they keep track of by asking their clients where they heard of her business. A small phone interview determines if a client is a good fit. At any given moment Lynne has 7-15 projects going on. She also does paint color consultations, which is another way to bring in more business. Lynne prefers Benjamin Moore paint because the colors are just beautiful.

Lynne’s favorite hat to wear is the ‘interacting with clients’ hat. She also loves doing ‘the reveal.’ Lynne’s clients love the experience of the reveal as well because when the photographer comes in to take pictures, it makes them feel like they are on TV. Her least favorite thing to do is placing the order for clients. It’s nerve-wracking so she always quadruple checks it before ordering. Lynne never work with vendors that aren’t IT savvy.

What’s Next

Down the road, Lynne does have an exit strategy, which is selling to her daughter. Lynne would stay on as a senior designer, pick her projects, and only work with ideal clients. She would also help out her daughter with the business, even in retirement.

For more information visit www.decdens.com/llawson/index.html. You can also email lynnelawson@verizon.net or call (410)531-758.

  • Upcoming Events

BDNY  – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market Jan 28 – Feb 1

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

 

162 – #IwannagotoSpain with Eloy and Nina

#IwannagotoSpain with Eloy and Nina

XXIV International Architecture & Interior Design Exposition in Spain

In the world of porcelain, stone and ceramic wall & floor design, there are two key international exhibitions that take place every year – Cersaie in Bologna, Italy during the close of September and Cevisama in Valencia, Spain.

Earlier this year, The Chaise Lounge along with sponsor Porcelanosa visited the Spanish Group’s exhibition which ran concurrently with Cevisama.

The following shows recap some of the highlights of the tour with guests sharing their individual and collective experience from the trip, the inspiration for which was the Chaise Lounge’s social media competition #Let’sGoToSpain.

Eloy Selles

Eloy Selles is the General Manager of the West Coast of the United States for Porcelanosa. A native of Madrid, he can now be found in the company’s Southern California offices.

Eloy and Nick discuss the itinerary that sees guests take in three major cities and eight factories over a whirlwind five day period, where the emphasis plays to enjoying all that Spain has to offer in culture, hospitality, gastronomy and of course, great design. Some of Porcelanosa’s newest product launches that were displayed on the trip included Tono by Foster + PartnersVitae by Zaha Hadid, K-LIFE by KRION®, and the Seedwood collection by VENIS. It is clear that Eloy could not be happier or more proud than when he’s hosting clients and guests in his homeland. The experience of touring the most modern High-Tec manufacturing facilities and artistically designed showrooms leaves visitors with lasting memories and inspiration.

Nick recounts some of the highlights which included Santiago Calatrava’s modern City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, the work of Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona – from La SagradaFamília to Park Güell – and the countless restaurants and boutique hotels enjoyed along the way.

Above: from left: Tomas Palomar: Porcelanosa International Division, Nick May: The Chaise Lounge, Nina Magon: Contour Interior Design, Pratibha Naware: Marriott International, Maria Jose Soriano: President of Porcelanosa Group, Kelli Ellis: Kelli Ellis Interior Design, Andrew Pennington: Porcelanosa USA, Lina Goldberg: HBG Design, Jessie Clayton: Jessie Clayton Designs

Nina Magon

Nina is the Principal of Contour Interior Design and was familiar with Porcelanosa before the trip but was not aware of the extent of the company’s offering beyond tile. Nina chats with Nick about the value she gained from the experience, the sincerity of the customer service and absolute absence of any agenda to overtly promote product to the group at any point.

Nina enjoyed everything on the trip during the group’s hectic days together. One outstanding memory was the timely coincidence of joining the crowds in Valencia during the Las Fallas Festival. Enroute to Madrid the group had just finished touring the last factory in time to witness daytime fireworks with what seemed to be a million people celebrating Valencian culture in the center of the city in the early afternoon. Nina’s undoubted opinion is that anybody who has the opportunity to join a Porcelanosa design trip to Spain is blessed, high praise indeed from a former guest on The Chaise Lounge.

Currently, Nina and Contour Interior Design are working on a multitude of projects – including the owner suites at Minute Maid Park for the Houston Astros, a medical center and a 42,000 sq. ft. office building.

Nina was also chosen as a blogger for the 2017 High Point Market to talk about her favorite products as a trend spotter for the new season. Her blog, Live Stylish Daily was awarded Best New Design Blog during the National Design Bloggers Conference in Atlanta and she’ll join Nick on the Chaise Lounge High Point panel Hospitality Insiders Share All: What it Takes to be a Designer in the Hospitality Sector.

  • Upcoming Events

High Point Market – Oct 14 – 18

BDNY  – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market– Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market Jan 28 – Feb 1

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

161 – Mark Zeff: Interior Design Hall of Fame

Mark Zeff: Interior Design Hall of Fame

Today in The Lounge, Nick interviews Mark Zeff, a recently inducted member of the Interior Designers Hall of Fame. Mark tells us how he got started in interior design and how moving to New York was the best business decision he’s ever made. Find out on the episode how he has created a full-service firm, from branding all the way to designing fabrics.  

Getting to Know Mark

Mark was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and moved to Cape Town at the age of five. He attended University in London and moved to Australia after finishing school. Soon after, Mark decided that New York is where he really wanted to be. His favorite vacation spot is Bay Beach in the Hamptons and this is where the inspiration for his New York shop came from. When Mark is asked beer, wine or cocktail, he responds “definitely a cocktail.”

How Mark Got His Start

Mark first became interested in interior design when he attended an industrial design school in Johannesburg. He soon found that interior design wasn’t enough, he wanted to be an architect. Mark loved art and machinery so architecture was the perfect career to marry the two together. He landed a job at a firm in Sydney but New York seemed like the place to be in the 80s. So, Mark took off to NY in 1982 to have a little fun. Three weeks later he was out of money, called Ken Walker up on a whim and got a job with him the following week. Ken Walker worked with some of the largest retailers in the industry such as Bloomingdales and Macy’s and the firm had 300 people working for it. Mark’s first big project was with designing a toy store. Later he was invited to work with Ken’s product development team. After 2 and a half years with Ken, Mark went to work for Robert Gerson, whose firm specialized in industrial design. With Robert, Mark worked on the control center at NASA as well as on the machines. While working there he met some people who asked him to design their fashion showrooms. That’s when Mark left to start his own firm in the late 1980s.  

       

The Business Today

Mark runs his business from Dumbo, ‘Down Under theManhattan Bridge Overpass,” in New York. He fell in love with the interior of this 1920s building and converted it into his studio and store. Over the years Mark’s firm has had various employees, but now he staffs only about 25-30 people with backgrounds in branding, interior design, and architecture. They work all over in the industry including on homes, restaurants, condos, spas, rental units, townhomes, and apartments. Mark loves working all over and having a small firm. They do about 20 projects a year and some projects can last between eight months to three years. Branding is one of Mark’s passions. At fourteen he wanted to be a graphic designer so he looks at the world through a graphic eye. Mark runs a business that services everything you need designing furniture to fabrics and wallpaper. He uses branding as a huge tool in his business.

When Mark first started his firm he began by doing residential projects. The jobs he got were from people he met in nightclubs. His first big job was with Ann Baton, who came from a wealthy family and hung out with Andy Warhol. His transition to commercial design was by opening up a furniture store, that was similar to Design Within Reach. He imported furniture from Germany and Italy and also started designing his own furniture collection. A hotel business took notice and wanted to partner up with him. Mark’s first restaurant was the Red Cat on 23rd street. Later he worked on the Night Hotel, which really put him the map as a commercial designer. No else had done this kind of project before and to this day it is still called the sexiest hotel in New York City.

Mark opened a store in the 90s called Zeff Style but closed it after 9/11. He knew he wanted to open up another store again, so he gave a try in Brooklyn. BLACKBARN’s brand is to develop a home brand that has soul. People really love his store in Dumbo. It’s unique with its merchandising and collections. Mark received an offer from the Chelsea Market to bring his store into their business and make it the most exciting store in New York. It’s an experience where you can buy furniture and taste food to go with it. It will be a brand new concept for shopping and is scheduled to open late October of 2017.

Find out more about Mark at his website, and visit Blackbarn’s website as well.

Resources

Design Manager‘s software has great functionality and makes it easy for designers to control their business, while also looking very professional. If you haven’t tried them, there is nothing to lose with a FREE!!! 30-day trial and a 90-day money back guarantee.

Porcelanosa Porcelanosa not only offers tiles for your home but everything you might need to decorate, from plumbing fixtures to furniture, so be sure to check them out.

  • Upcoming Events

BDNY  – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market Jan 28 – Feb 1

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

How to Market Your Interior Design Business Using Google Ads

How to Market Your Interior Design Business Using Google Ads

Whatsup! I’m Tyler and I work for Nick at Walls by Design. One of the various things I do for him is manage our Google Advertising. Nick has asked me to explain how you can use Google Ads for your interior design business. I use Google Ads to market interior and cabinet painting but you can follow the same template for interior design!

First and foremost, you have to be the better business to be successful in Google Advertising. Ultimately, Google Ads spotlight your competitive advantages. Let me explain, pretend we’re a consumer in the early stages of their decision-making process. We have already decided that we need help in designing our new home and now we are doing our initial search on the web for a designer. Generally, the first search is for something simple like “interior designer (location)”. I just did a search for interior designers in Boston and Denver. What you notice, regardless of location or service, is how every business’ Google listing looks on the web page. They all read as follows, “(Company Name) – (Service Offered)” with a brief and simple description.

When looking at the Google search, there’s no real insight to help you choose one over the other. Nothing special separates these businesses aside from their name and their wording choices. The reason for this is because they are limited in what they can put in their title/description. The main goal is to receive a first-page spot for the searched keyword because as consumers we usually don’t look past the first page, never mind the first link. That’s why Google Ads are so special. They are first page Google listings where you can put whatever you’d like, in this instance your business! That is why Google Ads is a spotlight on competitive advantages because it allows your listing to stand out from all the rest.

I’m not going to give you a tutorial or step-by-step instructions for setting up a Google Ads Campaign. Google already does a great job at explaining that. You can find out how here. What I will talk about, is some strategies and performance metrics to keep in mind when you set up your campaign.

The most common strategy is targeting relevant keywords. A painting business would target things like interior painting, painting contractor, painter in (location), etc. Good words for an interior design business would be interior designer, interior decoration, interior decor etc. Google’s keyword planner is a great tool to help make sure you’re getting as many keywords as possible. Something to always keep in mind is utilizing negative keywords as well. Negative keywords are used to block keywords you might not want your business showing up for if that word is searched. For example, since Walls by Design only does interior painting, I have added negative keywords related to exterior painting so people don’t accidentally call us to paint the exterior of their house.

The second strategy that you can use Google Ads for is targeting your competitor’s web traffic. Instead of targeting keywords related to your service you can target keywords related to a specific business. This is where being the better business really comes in handy. For example, one of our competitors has a comparison chart for the best painting company (them) vs the oldest company (unknown) on their website. The whole idea for this comparison is to make them look like they’re the better painting business. Well, when they compared themselves to one unnamed business it definitely looks that way. That is until we started targeting their audience. Our most successful competitor’s ad has the title “There’s a reason why (our competitor) doesn’t compare us to them” and the description “We were voted best painting contractor of 2016, come find out why.” The link then sends them to ‘Our Painting Difference’ web page.

So essentially anytime a customer Googles the name of our competitors business, the first thing they see is the ad created by us. This was a golden opportunity for a competitor ad, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. As long as you have a competitive advantage over them though, it makes sense to target a competitor.

What I can’t stress enough is using the location feature for your campaigns. By targeting only the locations you service, you’re not wasting your Google Ads on useless leads. The only problem I noticed is that it doesn’t reach people who don’t have the location feature enabled. A moderate fix for this is to target city related keywords without the location feature on. For example “interior painting” will only be available in the cities I selected it to show but I will have “interior painting Denver” available worldwide.

Google does an excellent job at helping you create and manage your Google Ads. It seems like a lot at first, but like I said, Google is there to help. Google will constantly send notifications and reports to help you improve your campaigns. Listen to every suggestion it has. It’s the one that decides if your ads are quality or not.

If you do everything it asks, then it’s as simple as making sure you’re seeing a good response from using it. Keep in mind the average for all industries is a 2% click-through-ratio. It might not seem like a lot but anything over 1% is generally decent. Personally, I use the click-through-ratio only to measure how well the actual ads are doing. What matters most is tracking how people interact with your site after they click the ad. I use designated landing pages for this. A designated landing page for Google Ads allows you to gather keep performance metrics on the users who clicked your ad. The designated landing page for our ad is exactly the same as another landing page on our website, “Our Painting Difference”. The only difference is the URL and how the public can find it – only through the ad. This allows you to track how many people found the page through the ad only, as well as things like bounce rate, how long they stayed, and additional pages they viewed after. Another thing a designated landing page is good for is doing AB testing. You can have two identical ads lead to two different designated landing pages. This will help you improve upon the performance metrics on your website.

If you keep these things in mind, then you and your business will be golden. Don’t be intimated about diving into a head-first commitment with this form of marketing. It’s not a $1,000+ commitment like TV or radio but instead, you can do something as little as $2 a day. If you see a good return on investment then you can bump it up to your liking. The number of benefits that Google Ads has, far exceeds the risks. It really makes sense to at least give it a try. It’s worked for us so it can work for you too!

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