The old adage of it isn’t what you know, but who you know may still feel true in the interior design industry, making it hard for emerging designers and new design firms to find their place. Fortunately, the audience is vast, as are the endless opportunities available to designers. However, knowing how to find, develop, and cultivate a community of potential buyers may be the hardest part of your business.
How do you get in front of decision-makers? How do you meet new professional contacts outside your inner circle? How do you develop a relationship with someone that you only know online? And, finally, how do you cultivate professional relationships through an online community to sell more services?
In this article, I outline 7 ways to expand and maximize your marketing efforts to reach more potential customers on LinkedIn. Many of these tactics can also be used on other social platforms. If you want more ideas, I have compiled 30 cultivating ideas in a free online download.
What is the one thing that all your design clients have in common?
I bet they are all successful professionals or married to successful professionals. Do you want to know how I know this? Well, if your business is primarily residential design, your target audience must be able to afford your services. If you are a commercial designer, your audience is professionals that use LinkedIn to grow their business. No matter what your market, you have an opportunity to reach your target audience on LinkedIn.
What to Share
Let’s talk about content marketing. What is content marketing? Content marketing is a form of marketing where you create, publish, and share content that is important to your target audience. The content is usually shared through your website and social channels that are ideally reaching your audience. This content may include how-to articles, project images and stories, webinars or presentations, company or employee announcements, and so forth.
How to Use Content to Cultivate your Community on LinkedIn
First, stop thinking about how content or LinkedIn can help you grow your business. It can, but your mindset needs to shift. Rather than thinking it is all about me, repurpose your thought process to how I can use my content to help my community. [If you haven’t already read “How to identify my target audience,” it is an excellent article on how to focus your marketing efforts to capture your target audience.]
For instance, if you want to show a project you completed, rather than saying “see what I did,” instead say, “this is the problem my client had, and here is how we solved it.” Be specific by explaining the problem and focusing on the solution. Do you see how that mind-shift can resonate with your audience a bit differently? By a simple shift, you are showing your target audience that you listen to your clients and help them solve the current space or workflow issues.
Cultivating a community starts with serving others. Your purpose is to help your community thrive. This may include ways to improve work efficiencies through space planning. It may consist of creating a relaxing space to come home to after a busy day.
7 Fresh Ways to Cultivate your Community
1. Tell a story. People love stories. When a story resonates with the audience, it boosts feelings of trust, compassion, and empathy.
2. Reach out to existing contact with a positive message – “Hi, I was thinking of you and wondering how your business is going. If I can be of assistance, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.”
3. Respond to other people’s posts with words of wisdom, encouragement, and applause – just don’t like someone’s content, instead, take a moment to write something heartfelt to the person.
4. Join and participate in LinkedIn groups. Start by introducing yourself either through words or a video, then add compelling content that will feel educational or useful to the groups’ participants. Groups are not an opportunity to push your products.
5. Repurpose content to show different aspects or views. Repurpose content by changing the headline, changing the format, and changing imagery. It also includes taking a different look at content and pointing out a fresh aspect.
6. Connect and engage with people you don’t know through the feed. If you look through your feed, you will see your contacts have liked or commented on someone else’s content. If you click that person’s name, you can connect directly with the content author. Use this as an opportunity to engage with someone new.
7. Make a personalized video and send it to a contact. If you are excited to work with someone, why not tell them. A personal video introduction will make a more meaningful impact than words. Don’t make the video all about you. Rather introduce yourself and discuss why you would like to work with this particular person or company. Mention something you admire about them or the company.
Want More Ideas to Cultivate a Community on LinkedIn
Check out this free download that includes these 7 ways to cultivate your community, as well as 23 more ideas. You will also have access to the LinkedIn Strategy Template and numerous educational articles on how to use LinkedIn to grow your design business. It is entirely free.