trade tales | Jan 13, 2023 |
How do you find new clients?

Word-of-mouth may still be the top lead generator in interior design, but the ways that people talk these days are multiplying. When it comes to netting new clients, there are countless avenues to explore. We asked six designers—Noelani Zervas, Chrissy Jones, Julie Dodson, Karen Harautuneian, Samantha Struck and Ruth Gamarra—to share the strategies that keep their pipelines full.

How do you find new clients?
Noelani ZervasKatie Kaizer Photography

Gold Standard

“Early in my career, I was lucky to do a project with a fabulous local real estate broker, and she has been the best of matchmakers, connecting me with new clients who have just moved or need help envisioning home upgrades. [Some] new clients find me through Instagram or my website, but the overwhelming majority of new projects are through word-of-mouth, which is really the gold standard. It means the world to me when a client has enjoyed the experience and finished product enough to recommend me to family or friends.” —Noelani Zervas, Noelani Zervas Design, Boston

How do you find new clients?
Chrissy JonesMadeline Tolle

Bases Covered

“Over the past few years, about 80 percent of my leads are coming from social media, specifically Instagram. With social media efforts getting the most return on investment, it was very important that I home in on strategic content planning, including ads that target our client avatar. As a result, potential clients reach out via DM, where they are met with need-to-know information about how to get started. Our firm’s [Instagram] profile serves as our portfolio, a go-to for interior design facts and a guide to creating a dream home—content that instills trust and credibility in potential clients. Whether it’s general content, inspiration, portfolio shots or personality-driven content, social media is totally unavoidable if you want to capture the attention of millennial clientele. I also follow a grassroots approach from my marketing career days—sending direct mail to the communities that we serve. I’ve found that this helps narrow down the types of projects and clientele who inquire about our services. Mailers are sent to recently sold Los Angeles–area homes (usually more than 4,000 square feet), much like the homes in our portfolio. New homeowners are typically gearing up for a renovation project or purchasing new furnishings and fixtures, so this tactic has been extremely helpful in matching the best clients with the best service at the right time. [Beyond social media and direct outreach, we’ve also acquired] several clients through word-of-mouth, [in which case] we send a gift to the client who referred us.” —Chrissy Jones, Twenty-Eighth Design Studio, Los Angeles

How do you find new clients?
Julie DodsonCourtesy of Dodson Interiors

Baby Steps

“Finding new clients can be tricky, especially when you are just getting started. We find that the majority of our new clients are through referral or found us through Instagram. Focus on massaging the clients you already have, and hopefully they will refer you to friends.” —Julie Dodson, Dodson Interiors, Houston

How do you find new clients?
Karen HarautuneianLeslie Barton

Community Counts

“As an established interior designer in West Hollywood, the majority of my new clients come from word-of-mouth referrals, either from previous clients or allied professionals that I have worked with over the years. Establishing relationships and supporting those who support you is the best way to be successful and have a continuous stream of clients in this field.” —Karen Harautuneian, Hub of the House Studio, West Hollywood, California

How do you find new clients?
Samantha StruckEmily Kennedy

Connect the Dots

“We have always grown through grassroots efforts and networking. Our small town is very referral-driven, so we have worked hard to make connections with industry partners and stakeholders that we know we can collaborate with and serve well. There is a pretty large gap in project management services in our area, so we have made that a pinnacle service to help both the clients and the build team, and it solidifies our position. With the talk of a recession, we have had to pivot and dip back into the networking pool to form new relationships.” —Samantha Struck, StruckSured Interiors, Hood River, Oregon

How do you find new clients?
Ruth GamarraCourtesy of Unique by Ruth

Domino Effect

“We get most of our new clients through referrals. We work with a lot of architects and interior designers in the mainland of the U.S. That said, our Instagram helps a lot—it showcases our portfolio to anyone interested in the design services we offer.” —Ruth Gamarra, Unique by Ruth, Rockville, Maryland

Homepage image: In this Oregon kitchen, Samantha Struck mixes soft neutrals with dark finishes and a black countertop | Emily Kennedy

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