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A world-changer, at your fingertips

Getting Started With Internet by Steve Bursten

t’s been clear for several years that the old ways of marketing—newspaper advertising, the Yellow Pages, etc.— are no longer effective. Today the Internet is one of your best ways to create customers. There’s no reason to be intimidated by Internet marketing, even if you haven’t tried anything before; instead use the creativity and problem solving skills you apply to a design project to this new project. It can be fun and profitable, so here are a few tips to get you started. Education The basics of an Internet marketing campaign require a website with email capability, client and potential client databases, a blog and/or additional social networking outlets. These should all be opportunities for clients and potential clients to learn about you—what you sell, what you have to offer and what you can do for them. So educate your audience on your skills and services, your products and preferences, all in a way that is entertaining, engaging and allows them to see how you can assist them. Competition As a small business you don’t have to try and match big business websites—instead, think small and local. An Internet marketing and advertising campaign can be targeted to just a single zip code if you want! And while Search Engine Optimization is a big business buzzword word search engines also love new content, so 14


you can push your website up in the rankings by frequent blogging and social media updates that generate new content for your website. Beat the big competitiors with personalization, frequency and relevancy to your target market. Time It’s okay to build your Internet presence gradually, but plan a definite schedule. Decide how much time you will spend on internet marketing (possibly start with 6 to 10 hours a week) and schedule the time on your calendar like a customer appointment. Then keep the appointment and get with it. Use your time for Facebook, Pinterest, blogging and other social networking.

Next is media mix—how you allocate your budget—but we’ll talk about that in a future story. Embrace the Internet. Let it change your business as it has changed your life. V Steven C. Bursten, has more than a half century of experience in window covering shop-at-home sales, marketing and management. He founded the world’s largest interior decorating franchise, co-founded the International Window Coverings Exchange of major industry retailers, and co-founded the Exciting Windows! national network.

Use your time wisely: Do not write your own email newsletter unless you can do it in two hours or less. Instead, determine what you should do yourself and what it is more cost effective to pay others to do. Money You understand that you need to invest in your business if you want it to grow. So your internet marketing needs a budget. I recommend no less than 5% of your annual sales to maintain a business, but if you want to grow, at least 6-8% is usually required. The key is to set a sales goal before you plan your marketing budget. Because marketing should not be based on today’s sales. Instead, base it on your goal.

Steve Bursten At IWCE: VISION ’13 On Saturday, April 20, Steve Bursten will lead the third annual Business Success Workshop, a full day of information, insight and inspiration from small, independent window treatment business owners who have achieved $1,000,000 in annual sales and more. If you want a more profitable business, learn from those who have done it!


A new take on a ‘talking therapy’

Telling Tales: Apply an Skill by Maria Bayer

f you have happy clients, you’re overlooking one of the most powerful, simple and ‘nonsales-y’ tools to help you win new clients. It’s powerful because not only does it cause prospects to say “yes” to hiring you, but they’ll do it faster, too. So often designers tell me they don’t like selling because they think they have to brag about themselves, and that makes them uncomfortable because they don’t want to sound conceited or as if they’re giving a sales pitch. The problem is, your client won’t hire you unless they know what you can do for them. So what is this tool? Storytelling! One of my favorite ways to do this is by telling client stories. People are wired to enjoy stories, so rather than bragging about yourself, you’re telling a story about someone else. It just so happens that you’re the person who helped that client. Why it Works • It provides social proof that other people have hired you and loved what you did for them. • It allows you to demonstrate how you uniquely solved your client’s problem, which will make you stand out from other designers. • It encourages your prospective client to put themselves in the other client’s shoes and imagine 16


themselves experiencing the same result. Telling the Right Story But be careful. If you do it the wrong way, it could come across as ‘sales-y’. Here’s what you should focus on to ensure that it comes across the right way, and makes your client want to hire you:

benefits—benefits which you, too, want to experience. So you imagine yourself in the commercial, knowing that if you bought that product or service, you’d get to enjoy those great benefits, too. And then…you go out and buy the product or service!

• It needs to be a relevant client story. The client you use must be similar to your prospective client or they won’t be able to relate. Or worse, they might think, “That’s great, but how does that pertain to me?”

At the end of the day, your prospective client needs to know that you’ve helped other people like them before, and telling a relevant client story is the easiest and fastest way for them to know— quickly—that you’re the best designer for them.

• Focus on the relevant problem your client had…and how you uniquely solved it.

If you use client stories the way I just described, you’ll give them exactly what they need to hire you. V

• Paint a picture of the finished space – how did your client feel about it? What did it do for them? What were the benefits? Be as descriptive as possible so your prospect can visualize themselves in that picture, too.

Maria Bayer, the Authentic Sales Coach for Design Success University, teaches interior designers how to win ideal clients quickly and make more money without being ‘sales-y’ using her Six-Figure Success Formula. This formula, which helped Maria close over $25M in business, recently helped a designer win a $400K remodel project.

Super Bowl Inspiration Think about this year’s most succesful Super Bowl commercials. What do they do? They show people just like you, with a similar problem as you. You start to relate to them and maybe even feel the same problem or frustration as the character on the screen. Then they show how they uniquely solve that problem with their unique solution. And finally, they show the character on screen enjoying many wonderful

To learn more, register for a complimentary three-part email series at

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Working with the‘new normal’

There’s no More as Usual by Gail Doby, ASID

n December 2012, I had an epiphany. A few designers asked a pivotal question in our DSU LinkedIn group, on our Client Services Desk at DSU and at speaking events. If a few people are asking, then it is likely that many more designers are wondering about the same question … Is interior design a dying profession? Between 2008-2011 the industry reeled from the recession, HGTV and the invasion of the Internet. Nearly a quarter (23.2%) of practicing designers called it quits. It’s not surprising because the new external conditions left the industry in a state of mild chaos and uncertainty. It is reasonable and necessary to question how to deal with the ‘new normal’ of the world. Interior design is not a dying profession, but it isn’t business as usual as in the past. Three Givens of the ‘New Normal’ 1. Clients shopping on the Internet and purchasing their own products. 2. Misinformation that continues to confuse consumers—‘reality make-over shows’ that say rooms cost $2,000 when in the real world, they cost at least $20,000 or more. 3. Clients wanting to negotiate fees for small packages of services. Adjusting to the ‘New Normal’ While not all clients or consum18


ers want to manage the purchasing process, the numbers that want fullservice are indeed dwindling. This means rethinking how you charge and what services you can charge for. ‘Reality makeover shows’ are here to stay. Consumers love the ”edutainment” and will continue to believe what we know is unrealistic. We have to educate them, and as one of our LinkedIn members suggested, we need to ask our prospects if they watch HGTV so we know if we need to reorient their thinking. Consumers will negotiate for services because they know they can. You have to decide what types of clients you want to serve, and how you will present your pricing in a way that works for them. Pricing and Setting Fees Consumers are focused on what they want and what you can do to serve them at a fee that makes sense to them. I recommend spending some time on to read the questions and comments from consumers regarding interior design fees to get a sense of the new mindset. It takes a different approach to provide services that appeal to the new consumer. More and more consumers want fixed fees because they don’t like surprises. They want transparency about mark-ups, and if they don’t like the costs you’re quoting, they will shop you.

You also need to have great consultative sales skills to close today’s prospects and I defer to my colleague, Maria Bayer, to show you how to close clients effectively. Your prospects have options and they want to know why you’re different and why you’re worth the fees you’re charging when they have options that “don’t cost money” like buying from a furniture store that offers free interior design services. They know they can Google anything online, and because they don’t understand quality differences, if it looks like an orange, it must be an orange, and if it is less expensive on the Internet, why pay someone else to purchase it for you. We can’t change external conditions, so think about what you can do to change your offers to your new prospects. V Gail Doby, ASID, is the co-founder of Design Success University whose mission is to help you earn six figures doing what you love. Get the 2013 Interior Design Fee & Salary Survey eBook at’ll receive an invitation to a complimentary webinar How to Avoid Interior Design Fee Fiascos … And Attract Your Ideal Client after you download your free book.

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