A successful business isn’t built on accepting any client that comes. One of the most confusing facts about owning a business is this: trying to appeal to everyone means that you appeal to no one.
But that doesn’t make it any easier to niche down, change your messaging, or say no to leads.
The Iggy Azalea lyric “Never turn down money” might pop into your head and have you saying yes to less-than-ideal clients.
But your ideal interior design client does exist, and you should actively pursue them. In this guide, we walk you through why it’s so important to know your ideal client to the letter, how to discover what’s holding them back from hiring you, and exactly how to market to their needs and wants.
Why you need to identify your ideal interior design client
Getting clear on your ideal client will bring a lot of benefits:
- Better focus – The more intimately you know them, the better you’ll be at vetting client projects, networking opportunities, and marketing ideas. No more pointless to-dos.
- More successful marketing – Marketing works best when it’s highly specific. If you come across as a jack of all trades you’re not giving potential clients a reason for why they should hire you over any other designer which will make it harder to convert site visitors into leads.
- Higher rates – When you’re clear on your ideal client avatar and your marketing and services align, you can charge more for what you do. Your ideal client will know that you are the expert and they’ll be willing to invest more in your services.
What is an ideal client avatar?
An ideal client avatar (ICA) acts as a guiding light for your marketing campaigns and service package strategies. For interior designers, your ideal client avatar should include information about their favorite styles and pet peeves, what they aspire to be, what they worry about as well as classic details like age, income, and marital status.
Other strategies for understanding your target clients
Marketing has evolved a lot in recent years. In some industries, Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) is a popular theory. With this method, you consider what is the job that the client needs to get done, and how do you help do that job. So you would tailor your marketing to a busy working mom who didn’t have time to get her nursery done, as opposed to listing out her college education.
StoryBrand is another popular messaging theory that teaches business owners to view their target customer as the hero of their own story (Harry Potter), while the business owner is simply the guide (Dumbledore). This framework is effective because it puts you in a position of service. You’re there to help your client live their best life, not steal all their glory and take all the credit. After all, it will be your clients who will be showing off their new living room or office. Most importantly, StoryBrand teaches you how to harness the emotional part of decision making, and help your clients see how you can take them from frazzled and frustrated to relaxed and in bliss. (You can read more about how to use the StoryBrand method as an interior designer in our guide to StoryBrand.)
In reality, all of these methods, ICA, JTBD, and StoryBrand, have merit. That’s why we used all three frameworks to develop our Ideal Client Avatar Worksheet.
What’s unique about YOUR ideal interior design client?
All interior design clients should be courteous, responsive, and pay you on time. But each and every interior designer will have a unique ideal client avatar that fits who they are as a designer.
Here are the things you should intimately understand about your ideal interior design client:
- Their demographic details (Age, gender, career, marital status, etc.)
- Who they are on the inside (Personal goals, professional goals, top current struggles, etc.)
- Their motivation for hiring a designer (Wants the perfect space, values time over money, etc.)
- Their objections to hiring you (Unsure about the process, worried they won’t like it, etc.)
- The transformation they truly desire (What they want the room to be like, what emotions they want to feel, etc.)
We’ve covered all of these in our ideal client worksheet, with prompts to help you dig deep.The most important parts of the worksheet for your marketing and messaging purposes will be the transformation that the client wants and the objections that keep them from pulling the trigger. However, listing out your clients’ favorite magazines can help when you need inspiration for your Instagram content, blog posts, or media pitches.
How to get interior design clients
It’s not enough to know who your ideal interior design client is. You have to own that knowledge. I mean really, really own it. Here’s how to use this newfound clarity to bring in more clients.
Update your messaging and branding
Be bold (or subtle).
Be bright (or muted).
Create a super feminine (or masculine) website.
Whoever your ideal client is…you need to cater to them like never before. Call them out directly in your copy with lines like “Hey busy momma! You’re going to love your new nursery, full of affordable, and easy-to-get products hand-selected by me to nurture your precious babe.”
This copy not only calls out “busy mommas” but it also handles the objections about the types of products you’ll recommend.
Handle objections on your website and during sales calls
Once you know your ideal target client’s objections, you can handle them like a champ.
Here are some examples of objections and how to handle them:
- Approval process – Let’s say they’re worried about the approval process. You could have a process section for every service page and detail how feedback works. You could even mention that you collect feedback on each product, to make it easy to review.
- Time of installation – Maybe your ideal client assumes that all design projects take about 4 months to complete, but they don’t want to wait that long. You could write a line of copy like this in your process or FAQ section: “I pick products from brands that ship fast, so you don’t have to wait months to enjoy your new room.”
- Cost – If cost is the biggest objection, you could remind your leads during sales calls that because everything is chosen to match the space perfectly and every conceivable measurement is considered, they’ll spend money on pieces that will last for years and won’t waste a dime. If your target audience isn’t accustomed to hiring designers, you might add something to that effect to your website too.
Market your services with their desired transformation in mind
Don’t just cater to the demographics of who your ideal client is. You also need to incorporate the transformation they want, and the job that needs to be done.
Here’s an example line of copy from Tobi Fairley’s site that communicates the transformation well:
Build relationships with people who can introduce you to your ideal clients
Not all networking opportunities are worth the mascara! Seriously, sometimes you’re better off staying home on the couch.
With a crystal clear ideal client avatar, you can politely decline invitations and keep yourself from signing up for events, forums, and communities that don’t really fit your business needs and just waste your time.
Be more proactive about the sorts of real estate agents and business owners who you should be connecting with ― the ones who already know dozens of people who match your avatar.
Update your ideal client avatar continuously
As you grow your business and work with more people, you’ll uncover more objections and you’ll hear more stories about what people are struggling with. You’ll also collect raving testimonials about the incredible transformation that your services provided.
Make sure to keep a file or folder where you routinely jot down notes as they come up. This way, whenever you want to update a page of your site or craft a new social media post, you’ll have plenty of inspiration/content that speaks to your ideal interior design client directly.