Business

S23 E1 – Sally Williams, Not Afraid To Try

Today in The Lounge, Nick kicks off this season with Sally Williams of Colorful Concepts Interior Design. Based in North Carolina, Williams built her business from scratch after falling in love with interior design. She talks about trying new things, the hardest part about running her business, and the importance of investing in your work.

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.

The most important thing to remember about targeting keywords is to target phrase match keywords instead of broad match or exact match keywords. The best way to explain this is through examples. Let’s say interior design is the keyword. If you target that as a broad match, you can appear for any search related to interior design like interior decorating. This is bad because sometimes you show up for searches that are not relevant to your business at all. Exact match is when you just target that exact keyword. So if you were using exact match, you wouldn’t show up for a search like “interior design near me.” This is why phrase match is the best. Phrase match allows you to appear for everyone searching topics related to your business but without the risk of appearing for something entirely irrelevant. 

Something to always keep in mind when using phrase match 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. One of our most successful 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 Contractor 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 5% click-through-ratio. It might not seem like a lot but anything over 3% 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 $10 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!

145 – Francesca Bucci: Cruise Ship Designer

Francesca Bucci: Cruise Ship Designer

Today in The Lounge, Nick sits down with Francesca Bucci to talk about a BIG topic: how to design Cruise Ship interiors. 

Getting to Know Francesca

Francesca Grew up in Rome, Italy, came to U.S after she earned her degree in architecture, and finished her studies at Cornell. Sardinia and Bermuda are her two favorite places to vacation as she loves being close to the sea. Her favorite fashion accessory is a headband; they’re a little retro, unexpected, or even preppy. If she wasn’t designing cruise ships, she’d either be singing or figure skating. As an Italian, her drink of choice is obviously wine- “don’t ask an Italian a question like that” says Francesca. She loves cooking and entertaining, so, she would rather stay home than go out but does gravitate towards French restaurants.

Finding Ship

When Francesca studied Architecture at the University of Rome, it wasn’t interior-oriented, which is why she finished at Cornell. Her education in Rome was focused on architectural history, restoration and all of the technical aspects. Francesca first became interested in architecture in High School because she has a passion for drawing. Specifically, she loves drawing cartoons. In her cartoons, she is able to write the story of a building, as they take place in and are inspired by Rome interiors.

Francesca’s first employer out of school was Perkinson Whales in Washington, DC. She felt like she was at a disadvantage compared to people who did all of their schoolings in the U.S. because she was much older and lacked the interesting theoretical knowledge one might learn in the U.S. In Italy you get out of school when you 25-26 versus 22. She felt as though her knowledge was basically useless in the States, where sketching and hands-on practices were practical. So, she jumped right in and had to learn at a fast pace everything there was to learn.

Francesca’s first task at the job was solely to put project slides in containers but it didn’t matter, she was on top of the world just to have a job in an American firm. Later, she transitioned into a drafter position and her employers picked up on her keen eye for details and started to teach her more. After, she worked in a couple firms in DC then moved to NY, where she learned a lot. After 4-5 years, Francesca found herself with little knowledge on how to specify things so she went to learn! The next firm she worked at is where she learned the specialization of retail, residential, and cruise ship lines.

The Business Today

There are a lot of custom elements that go into a cruise ship. One must consider the weight and size of everything, how the ship is built, compliances, materials and outdoor elements. You need to be able to determine the parameters in a flexible way, as the building code is 10 times bigger than in NYC. There is a big learning curve when doing cruiseship interiors as it would be very challenging to learn how to build a ship in the span of one project. 

Based in New york in Times square, BG Studio International, Franseca’s firm consists of 15 people, a small firm with big projects. Projects often last 3 years and the team does multiple vessels at the same time.

  • Upcoming Events

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

High Point Market Oct 14 – 18

  • 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!

110 – Schlagenhaft Studio: The Saving of a Brand

Today in The Lounge, Nick talks to Kelly Becker of the Schlagenhaft Studio. Kelly is the first person Nick’s interview who isn’t a designer but still runs a successful design firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Kelly talks about how she got into the Interior Design business, how Schlagenhaft Studio has been able to branch out into attaining both national and international clients and how she uses marketing and business strategies to become successful.

106 – Gulla Jonsdottir: From Iceland to Los Angeles and Beyond

Gulla Jonsdottir: From Iceland to Los Angeles and beyond

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Gulla Jonsdottir. Gulla talks about her projects around the world, what her business looks like today, and launching her own furniture line.

Getting to know Gulla

Gulla is originally from iceland, but currently lives in Los Angeles. She moved to the US twenty years ago, since at the time there were no architecture studies in Iceland. Gulla loves champagne and chocolate, going to the spa, and reading. She also enjoys Italian and French wines.

When Did Gulla Become Interested in Interior Design?

When Gulla was twelve years old, she traveled to Florence, Italy with her mother, where she fell in love with the architecture of the city. In addition, her grandfather was an artist. She often drew with him. Gulla studied math and biology in school and later was able to marry her math background with her love of art as she moved into the field of architecture.

After graduating from the Southern California Institute of Architecture, Gulla applied for two jobs and received offers from both. She decided to go with Richard Meier and ended up working on the Getty Center project for four years. From there, Gulla has held positions with Disney and Dodd Mitchell Design. In 2009, Gulla took a leap, opened her own company, and has never looked back.

What the Business Looks Like

Currently, Gulla employs nine individuals in Los Angeles and one in Paris. The group handles projects all over the world (LA, New York, China, Lebanon, and Paris to name a few). Projects include exteriors, interiors, furniture, and more. Gulla’s company helps select everything. And if they can’t find it, Gulla creates it, hence her furniture line.

Gulla prefers commercial projects as there are less emotions and more professionalism. She mentioned that the cycle for hospitality projects can last for about two months from winning a bid to starting work and up to four years or beyond the bidding process to opening day.

As a creative, Gulla admitted that she is not the best business person and that every architect should to go to business school. Currently, Gulla employs someone to help with human resources and finance. She said to know your strengths and weaknesses and that it takes a village. Her office space is open and full of like-minded people. It’s like a family.

How to get the word out?

 

Gulla doesn’t market her company or do business development purposefully. Most projects are from word of mouth, though she employs someone to focus on marketing and branding. Overall, she doesn’t stress about this. Gulla dreams and works hard, then the projects come.
Gulla would love to work on an Olympic stadium. She is inspired by nature and the human body and doesn’t want straight lines. She also would be interested in civic buildings, museums, and skyscrapers.

Learn more at Gulla’s website, Instagram, and Facebook.

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!

96 – Industry: Interior Design PR and joining getting involved in an Association

Interior Design PR and joining getting involved in an Association

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Andrew Joseph from Andrew Joseph PR, and Phyllis Harbinger jumps in with some tips on getting involved with American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).

Getting to know Andrew Joseph from New York (3:55)

Located in New York, Andrew Joseph starts his days around 4am. This ensures he is able to properly service his clients around the world. Andrew also admitted that starting his day so early allows him to indulge in mid-day naps.Few people know that Andrew came from humble beginnings in a small farm community in Oklahoma. If he wasn’t working in public relations, he would likely be a farmer like his sister’s family.

How did Andrew get into public relations? (9:00)

Andrew moved to New York 17 years ago and landed his first job as a  research assistant at Vanity Fair, before moving on to other publications. In these positions, he noticed a great deal of turnover and realized this profession was not right for him. However, while in these jobs, Andrew was able to interact with the public relations departments and fell in love.

Andrew moved on from fashion and found a firm that exclusively represented architects, interior designers, and luxury home furnishings. He mentioned that fashion is ephemeral and moves fast, where interior designif focused on the home that sustains and supports your soul.

What does Andrew’s business look like today? (12:31)

Currently, Andrew Joseph PR employs four individuals full time and additional interns from all walks of life. The team services 15 clients and is on a growth curve. Andrew and his team fulfill about 50% of their clients’ pipelines with traditional public and media relations opportunities including print publications, speaking gigs, etc. However, based on compiling the average number of print opportunities, the team was able to see the limited inventory available, which led to a greater understanding of what they can offer. Andrew Joseph PR is not only a creative resource for magazines, but also provides more non-traditional opportunities for its clients, including social media, blogs, and podcasts.

Andrew really looks to make sure potential clients are the right fit and has even turned clients down. He stated that his company delivers on agreed upon goals and objectives, not just bringing in new business. A few words of wisdom from Andrew include – This is a visual industry. You need a good website, images, branding, and to document your work over time.

If you would like to connect with Andrew:

Associations with Phyllis Harbinger (40:19)

Phyllis has been a member of ASID since 1990, when she joined as a student. She mentioned that serving in associations like ASID, IIDA, NKBA, etc. provide leadership opportunities  and allow you to hone your skills in dealing with all kinds of personalities.

Phyllis was asked to run for president, turned it down, and then later realized that she was interested in the opportunity. She was able to serve as president and now is a chair on the chapter support team at national level where she supports and councils eight presidents. Phyllis has enjoyed unexpected opportunities since being involved in ASID, including: panel discussions, speaking gigs, and even a book deal.

In the beginning, Phyllis volunteered on committees. She found a support system within ASID and developed meaningful relationships. And recommends the same path – Join committees to see how it works and then think about leadership. Get information on available committees and how they support board members. It’s OK to move around until you find one you like. Your profession will continue to advance if you support it through an organization. Overall, Phyllis said that ASID has made her a better business person and a better leader.

On a separate note, Phyllis was invited to participate in George To The Rescue, an NBC show that provides home renovations for deserving families all via donations and pro bono work. Phyllis is extremely passionate and excited about this opportunity. The episode will air in February.

If you would like to connect with Phyllis:

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!

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