FAQ

Answered by Managing Partner Ken Lewis

  • GENERAL
    • What Marketing Services Do You Offer?
      • We have two departments: website development and marketing promotions.

        Website development includes custom designing and coding, as well as branding.

        Marketing promotions include search engine optimization (SEO), Houzz management & optimization, digital PR, advertising, video marketing, content marketing, and social media management, networking, & paid promotion.

    • Who Do You Serve?
      • We exclusively serve the design industry. Interior designers, architects, general contractors, and builders, as well as those that sell products and services to them.

        Without such a narrow specialty, one’s craft could not get refined. When an agency switches off between promoting restaurants and car washes, dentists and bail bondsmen, there simply isn’t the time and attention to go deep and develop true specialization.

        We love the design industry and couldn’t imagine a better group of people to support. And, we are proud of how much we have transformed the lives of our clients through brand building that has delivered them increased revenues, profits, and job satisfaction.

  • Website & Branding
    • What Is Your Specialization?
      • We specialize in interior design websites and websites for other home pros. We have the most experience in this niche and every new website we make is in someway better than the last one because we build on to the existing experience.

    • Do You Really Design Websites For Designers?
      • Yes, we love designing for designers! Our clients have high expectations and we take great pride in meeting and exceeding them!

        Our websites go far beyond aesthetics. We include decades worth of marketing intelligence into the branding, layout, messaging, and the call-to-actions. We put an incredible amount of attention into usability and user-experience. Designing a website is in some ways similar to designing a kitchen- pretty isn’t enough! It must be totally functional and intuitive. The designer must anticipate every need in advance.

        All of the knowledge that we have, based on being uniquely situated in the design industry, goes into how we approach each aspect of your site. And, we design with the patience and attentiveness of a Japanese bonsai master. We never rush website design and you can see that in our final product.

    • Do You Use Website Builder Software?
      • No, we have worked on many such software such as Wix, SquareSpace, and Weebly, and none meet our expectations and needs.

        We do 100% customized design and coding, and we run them on the Wordpress platform.

        The themes we make are custom built from scratch to fit the needs of this specific design pro niche. Every last piece of code that we add is used and nothing is redundant. Our sites are categorically different from the “premium” (premade) themes that are over bloated with features to fill the demand of a wider audience.

        Most "website designers" sell custom websites that actually use these premium themes because they are quicker and easier to build- requiring little technical skill. Yet, these premium themes don’t fill everyone’s needs, so clients end up with heavy, slow and problematic websites that don’t even offer some of the things they want. Then the developer ends up adding a bunch of plugins to attempt to fill those other needs. The end result of this process is a messy, bloated site that has too many plugins that lead to slow loading times, security issues, and maintenance hassles.

        Client Expander’s development team builds websites that have everything our clients need and not an extra line of unnecessary code. Meticulously clean code is just one of the main benefits that differentiates our superior offerings.

    • Are Your Sites Easy To Manage?
      • We prefer to manage the back-ends of the websites we develop because website security is a complex affair.

        However, knowing that clients might want to add or adjust content, we code our Wordpress admin UX in a superior manner. You can send anyone to the admin with no instructions and they will figure out how to post every content change. Even in the case of our most complicated websites, a teenager can figure out how to edit the content. We have never seen any other Wordpress websites that are as easy to add and edit content as what we develop.

    • Are Your Sites Mobile Friendly?
      • We strive to make fast, mobile friendly websites without compromising functionality and user experience. Our combination of functionality and speed is well above industry standards.

    • Do You Use The Latest Technologies?
      • Yes, our websites are W3C Validated, meaning they are cutting edge. No outdated HTML markup and old coding practices. Everything is up-to-date.

    • Do You Offer Hosting?
      • Yes, we offer hosting of websites that we have developed. We have our own designated server (that has every form of safeguard and backing up available) and a dedicated system administrator to manage it. Our entire server is tailored to run the specific kind of website that we create. Thus, there are no limits and no sharing resources with other web developers and websites that could have an impact on performance. The entire system is designed around our client’s hosting needs.

        Typical hosting companies will have thousands of websites on one server. We have a fraction of that. It keeps your online neighborhood clean and safe- which is important for your site security, load times, and your online reputation in Google’s eyes. Google will judge you by your neighbors- so it’ll take an architect’s site less seriously if it is on a mega-server with the websites of gambling, payday loans, and other ill-reputed industries. You want your home pro site to be housed with other home pro sites, in a clean environment free of viruses and poor coding.

    • Do You Use Lots of Plugins?
      • No, plugins are a quick and easy way for an all-in-one web designer type to build a site without the time, knowledge, or resources to do it right. We tend to code most everything from scratch- which is the best practice. When we need a plugin, and there are cases that plugins make sense, as much as possible we make our own plugins to fit our custom needs- avoiding security risks and slow page loading speeds.

  • SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
    • Can You Guarantee a Top Position in Google Search Results?
      • No, we cannot promise that. What we can do is allocate the budget to move in the direction of continual SEO growth and strength.

        Doctors don’t promise your health, fitness trainers don’t promise Olympian physiques, and we can’t promise top positions. There is too much outside of our control to make such promises. We can’t promise an end point, just a direction. We would work hard to achieve your goals, but we will measure success by the movement achieved in the right direction, not be reaching an end point of #1 positions for all keywords in all towns.

        This article, written by one of the leading SEO authorities, describes why such guarantees don’t make sense and are actually unethical. Promises are the easiest way to get new clients and also the easiest way to break trust and ruin a relationship.

        A wise marketing campaign supports upward movement in search engine ranking for major keywords while simultaneously achieving many other marketing successes. We don’t believe that one should put all eggs in one basket- especially not in Google’s constantly changing basket.

    • How Long Does It Take To Get SEO Success?
      • SEO takes time. If it was quick and easy, everyone would be at the top. However, as it is a zero sum game, to push one site to the top means to derail someone else, which then only makes them work harder to regain their position. So, it is a competitive situation and the one who is most committed over the long-term is the one that prevails.

        It is hard to estimate how long it’ll take to get a top placement because there are so many variables. A consultation with us will allow you to learn about your site’s current strength, the strength of your competitors, and would yield a prediction on how much time it might take to achieve your goals assuming that Google’s algorithm doesn’t change in the meanwhile.

  • DIGITAL PR
    • Can You Get My Company Media Attention?
      • Yes! Rather than dealing with pitching stories to editors and journalists of printed media, we take the digital route. Why?

        Pitching a story to traditional media requires much effort and leaves you at the whims of others buying into the uniqueness of your story.

        Hiring a PR agency can be expensive- and it offers no guaranteed results. They are great to contract in certain circumstances, but they don’t fit everyone’s needs and budgets.

        Digital PR, in contrast, is an essential component of a digital marketing campaign. It is a path to getting back-links to your site- which is crucial for SEO- and for having something juicy to promote on social media. Digital PR makes it look to the world like your business has been recognized naturally, although it is in fact a 100% sponsored experience.

        Our digital PR is completely in our hands. Our in-house journalist writes about you and publishes it to one of a dozen online platforms. She will then promote it on numerous other platforms as well as on social media. This will then be targeted to your demographic via Facebook advertising. So, it is guaranteed that "your people" will see this promotion. It is a guaranteed success.

        When done consistently over time, your targets will get to know you, like you, and trust you. From that to making the sale is a very small step.

  • VIDEO
    • Do You Do Video Marketing?
      • Yes, it is a huge part of our marketing campaigns. We have our own in-house videographer and we take your still images and any video that you may have, and package it along with your marketing message in a unique format that communicates your branding, what differentiates you from the rest, and the advantages of working with you.

        Our video marketing is completely interrelated with website marketing and social media marketing. From a holistic perspective, they are all complementary and thus mutually supportive of each other.

        We place much value on getting your video seen on Facebook by your target demographic, and use advertising dollars to achieve this.

  • HOUZZ
    • What Is Houzz Profile Management?
      • Ensuring that over 25 tasks are done to your profile to keep it current. This includes getting your project images loaded, writing all of the project and image descriptions, and carefully setting all of the hidden meta tags.

    • What Is Houzz Profile Optimization?
      • Taking the next step beyond Houzz management, Houzz optimization is looking with a wider lens and seeing all of the opportunities that can be acted on to increase the ranking and visibility of a Houzz profile.

        Many of these actions are done on Houzz- such as different forms of engagement that have the potential of increasing followers and likes (which on Houzz are referred to as Ideabook adds). Others are done off of Houzz such as driving traffic from social media to the profile.

        Collectively, a well-optimized Houzz profile can typically get 3x as much visibility as opposed to the paid Houzz advertising program Pro+.

    • Shall I do Houzz Pro+ Advertising or Optimization?
      • Our marketing minds prefer actions that you own over those that you rent. Optimization efforts have long-term effects- even if you pull the plug on the campaign. Advertising is temporary- the moment you cancel, its value completely disappears.

        Houzz offers Pro+ subscribers positions in rotations with other providers. If you are rotating with 150 other local service providers in your category, your visibility in search will be much less than if you earn a top organic position.

        Houzz Pro+ also includes your paid visibility in photo search. Our SEO-centric thinking tells us that the photo search will most likely get more do-it-yourselfers and dreamers than upscale clients looking for a designer. Yet, it could always lead to someone finding you.

        Our observations lead us to believe that DIYers and full-service interior design clients use Houzz differently, and thus our singular end goal is achieving a top position in the Pro directory. Every other placement across the site only supports that end.

        For example, in general, we don’t suspect that Photo search will lead directly to new client acquisitions. However, the more people who see and display a liking of your photos by adding them to their ideabooks, the more value Houzz will place on our clients’ profiles and thus the higher their directory positions. Optimization is always a holistic effort- and advertising can support the metrics that help give it an organic strength.

        And, Houzz optimization doesn't work for every service provider. For example, if you are a new interior designer without project photos and reviews, no amount of optimization will help you to be seen more. In such cases, Pro+ can be a foot in the door while you are building your business. That is the power of advertising- instant visibility, instant access.

        We discuss Pro+ and other advertising options with our clients and help inform their decision making.

  • BLOGGING
    • Do You Provide Blogging Services?
      • Yes, however, they are not core components of our basic marketing package as not all clients are in need of this service.

        Our content writers regularly blog for home pros and are skilled at speaking to the many levels that good blogging requires- as one’s audience is not just potential clients, but also DIYers, design lovers, and the search engine bots that are looking for key data.

  • SOCIAL MEDIA
    • Will You Manage My Social Media?
      • Absolutely. We fully manage clients’ social media campaigns as an integral part of their digital marketing campaign. And, within this management, there is still plenty of room for our clients to participate and add the unique value that they can offer.

    • What Social Media Do You Manage?
      • We tend to work where home pros, interior designers, architects, general contractors, and builders, as well as home decor manufacturers find success: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram.

        Despite Instagram being all the craze in the design industry, we are mindful that many design clients are on Facebook as opposed to Instagram. Therefore, we propose and admin social campaigns that take into account the client's customer base and their habits.

    • What Are Your Thoughts About Instagram?
      • Instagram is one of the newer darlings of the social world. Although it is all the rage amongst 20-somethings and creatives, it is not yet where most of our clients' target demographic spends their time. Our target audiences are primarily of the Facebook generation. For this reason, we don't view Instagram as a necessary part of an interior designer’s marketing campaign, although it does hold many opportunities.

        Instagram is best used as a photo-journaling tool, so a successful Instagram campaign tends to take more collaboration between our marketing team and our clients. As photography is such an essential aspect of Instagram, it helps when our marketing agency is involved in the strategy behind the visual content creation before production.

  • MARKETING PACKAGES
    • What Specifically Will You Be Doing For Me?
      • For our basic marketing packages, we experiment with a wide range of strategies, we track for success, and then we shift budget and attention accordingly. Our marketing campaigns have some elements of predictability like an orchestra playing a written composition and other times they are more akin to jazz improv- with the artists responding to the situation of the moment.

        If there are any specific actions that are important to you- say having a successful Pinterest page or weekly blogging- we need to know in advance so that we can structure the contract and the work plan accordingly. Otherwise, our marketing packages will be administered based on our proprietary strategies, endless experimentation, and regular brand building.

        While our marketing activities differ based on the client's specific position and goals, for interior designers we typically post once per week to any of these channels that you use: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

        And, we will then post additionally to our social channels on your behalf- every week to one of our Twitter channels, and at minimum twice per month to our Facebook channels. This is to get a regular stream of "look at them" attention, as opposed to your typical posts that communicate the less trusted "look at me."

        We view frequency of posting as valuable, yet not an end. The end is building your brand recognition and visibility. Thus, the channels we use and the audience that we advertise the posts to are as important to us, and we advertise every single Facebook post we make, in order to help accomplish our goals.

        In addition to the above, we also will add additional posts to other channels when we create videos for you.

        The content we feature in social posts is pulled from your client intake form and written interview (the two onboarding documents), as well as from the content on your website, notification from you of new projects-news-awards, and through following your brand mentions using Google Alerts. So, we have many streams of content coming in on your brand, and our content manager ensures that they all get utilized. Of course, the timely stuff will get priority and when there are gaps in new projects-news-awards we turn to featuring existing content- like a "from the archives" post that mentions an old media mention or award, or featuring an old blog or project.

        You will be put into contact with our content manager and you are welcome to participate in the process as much or as little as you like. She is awesome at finding content, so the burden will never be on you. You can provide her with topics to feature when you have information she doesn't have.

        Pinterest and Houzz engagement work on different cycles than the above, but they are also regular. LinkedIn networking is also outside of the above schedule- it tends to be done upfront- as we connect you to professionals in your area that could serve as referral sources (architects, Realtors, builders, etc).

        The amount of hours that goes into your monthly marketing campaign varies based foremost on your budget and secondarily on the type of tasks that we are tending to.

        There is so much that is done one-time for account set-up and on the SEO of the website. Then there is ongoing SEO efforts, video production, social posts, Houzz optimization, digital PR, etc.

        Account set-up, for example, is recorded at a lower hourly towards your budget. However, higher level tasks such as strategy is more expensive. Our most basic marketing budgets tend to result in ranges between 13-47 hours/month on your account, depending on what we are doing.

        Typically we see more effectiveness when client dialoguing doesn't go the extreme of us having less technical hours to execute the campaign. It is very rare, but once or twice we've seen budgets get used up in such dialogues. So, it is important that our clients understand that any special requests that they make should either be invoiced additionally or to accept that it will be a little less budget that we'll have to put towards our planned activities.

        Our marketing package do not include writing or preparing email/newsletters or blog posts. We are happy to write them for you at an additional fee.

    • Do Your Marketing Packages Offer a Set Amount of Hours of Work Per Month?
      • We don't work with set time allotments because much depends on what work needs to be done. For example, our social optimization team- which includes Houzz and LinkedIn optimization- costs you much less per hour than consulting and strategizing time. Writing and videography are somewhere in the middle.

    • Do I Need An Additional Advertising Budget?
      • It depends on your situation, goals, and budget. For most clients, we run advertising from the monthly budget. Additional advertising funds are strictly optional.

        We tend to prefer putting ad dollars into social promotion rather than into search ads. Google Adwords is great for some companies, yet most of our clients see a better return on their investment through strong SEO rather than paying per click.

        Our most successful ad strategy is using Facebook to regularly target our clients’ target demographic, so that these targets get familiar with our clients' brands. We use a sequence of Facebook ads to get our clients’ targets to "know, like, and trust" them. This 3-part sequence is what drives sales.

    • How Long Before Your Team Starts Working On My Account?
      • Within one business day from when we receive your client in-take form, it will be reviewed and we will begin to put your marketing into action. Some procedures, such as Houzz optimization, will begin immediately without knowing the entire scope of the project and the specific goals. Other tasks require brainstorming and strategizing before implementing. Within a week, you will see much activity. It takes 1-2 months for us to get the campaign fully operational. Things like video creation take longer than other tasks.

    • Do You Have A Minimum Contract Commitments?
      • Yes, for our monthly marketing campaigns, we sign six-month contracts with new clients and then they automatically roll over to month-to-month. Six months gives us plenty of time to prove our worth.

        Houzz optimization only contracts have a one-year minimum.

        Website development work is done per project- not as a monthly commitment.

    • How Much Do You Expect From Me As A Client?
      • As much as we try to protect our clients from marketing burdens, marketing is a collaborative effort that requires a commitment on both sides. We ask for clients to fill out two onboarding documents so that we understand your business, values, goals, and have access to the necessary accounts.

        Once those documents are completed, we try to minimize our engagement with you so that you can focus on building and maintaining your business. Yet, we are always available for dialogue.

        We really try to protect your time. We can run the campaign independently or in cooperation with you. That is your choice and it may change over time depending on how busy you are. Most of our clients prefer that we run their marketing campaigns independently- that we contact them only when a question arises.

    • How Long Before My Marketing Pays For Itself?
      • Results don’t come on predictable timetables. Every campaign has too many variables to make accurate predictions on future performance. In each project, we are inheriting a wide range of assets that may include: branding, website (design, functionality, messaging), portfolios, products, reputation/reviews, and more. Even the local economy and competitors are significant factors.

        And, we are dependent upon the client for a few essential parts of the campaign including completing the onboarding documents with complete and accurate details, as well as being responsive to any inquiries we direct their way. The client’s participation in providing us with these core ingredients largely determines the effectiveness of the campaign and the timeline on getting a good return on your investment.

        What we do before signing a client is give their online presence a brief audit and then we quote a marketing budget that we deem adequate to succeed for their brand, with their assets, in their market. If you are the impatient type, you should probably double our quote so that you have twice as much of our team's time which would halve your waiting time.

        Keep in mind, this is investing, not gambling. You have your initial capital. This is the power of your brand: the quality and quantity of online reviews, testimonials, and referrals; your brand's reputation and recognition; the size and quality of your portfolio; your operational efficiency, etc.

        Your business development investment is then starting from that point and moving upwards at the rate of investment.

        Business development can be achieved through networking, marketing, advertising, brand refinement, sales, and cross-selling.

        What we do here at Client Expander is to largely or fully take care of the marketing portion of your business development investment.

        The greater your initial capital, the less you will need to invest to get the same level results. For example, a well-known interior designer, such as a Kelly Wearstler, has, let's say, $50 million of initial brand capital. Therefore, if she invested $2k/month in marketing, it could result in her getting an additional $5 million/year in revenues. However, if a designer with just one or two projects in her portfolio, and lower budget projects at that, has, let's say, $50k initial brand capital, then it might take a $20k/month to achieve that same $5 million/year in revenues.

        Yes, it doesn't feel fair, but Kelly already invested and built up her capital. Like a retirement account, the earlier and stronger your investment strategy is, the more your annual returns will be.

        Thus, practically without exception, the ones that get the highest rate of return from their marketing investments (or other business development activities) will be the ones with the most brand capital.

        Those with high brand capital come to us for more consistency with projects- often a requirement to keep a growing staff busy. Sometimes they come to us expand their client reach to new circles. Other times it is to enter new geographic markets.

        Those with lower brand capital come to us largely because they want to build brand capital- they want to gain access to bigger and better projects. If you fall into this category, you need the mindset of a long-term investor. Business building takes time. You can't expect to turn your thousands into millions overnight. You need to be in it for the long haul. You need to trust the process of brand building. You need to be able to weather the droughts. Even though our contracts start at six-months, you should expect to spend years building your brand. And, you should participate in business development if you want to increase the impact of your marketing investment. Develop yourself or hire a sales professional to close the deals- being nice and talented isn't always enough. Network heavily in your community both with possible referral sources and with potential clients. Take 100% responsibility for your business growth while simultaneously delegating what you can.

        If you limit your business development to one channel and delegate that channel out, then you are setting yourself up for a possible disappointment. Thus, we always recommend that you develop multiple channels. Rivers don't arise from one source- they are the result of hundreds if not thousands of streams. Business development is the same. Thousands of tweets, handshakes, birthday cards, business lunches, introductions, emails, courses, consultation sessions, etc.

        Another analogy: you don't expect your fitness trainer to keep you healthy. She might be able to get you build some heart health and muscle, but you still need to eat right, avoid stress, get good sleep, etc. As only you can be 100% responsible for your total well-being, the same applies for your business well-being. Hire the pros that can support you in achieving your goals- yet always retain ownership of your business development. Empowered people build strong businesses.

    • Will I See Everything Done On My Behalf?
      • Much of what we do is going to be visible to you online and/or via email dialoguing. Some will be behind the scenes, such as some of our optimization procedures, and yet you’ll see the effects of those actions- instead of the actions themselves.

        You will have no doubt that a ton of activity is happening on your behalf. It will be very obvious.

    • What Is The Onboarding Process Like?
      • We ask of you to fill-out two documents: a client intake form and an interview.

        The client intake form gathers all of your essential details from your logins to your business goals.

        The interview has about 7 questions that we publish in an interior design blog, as well as 10 photos of yours that we want you to share more information about (which could be answered just by linking to a good description of the project on your site or Houzz profile, if you have them there), as well as a section of about 10 short answer questions (2-3 sentences).

        This content, from the intake form and interview, is enough for us to:
        -publish an interview with you
        -write articles on specific topics that quote you
        -create up to 10 "room explainer" videos
        create a "promo" video
        -write social posts with messaging to reach your target client
        -create your target "audience" for Facebook advertising

        Once these two documents are completed, which can take as little as an hour or two if you are organized, we will have everything we need to run your marketing campaign for the first year, if not indefinitely.

        At this point, you can fully step away from the marketing process and allow us to completely handle it, or you can be as involved as you like. Some of our clients like to dialogue with us on occasion to discuss direction, others prefer regular involvement by blogging or making social media posts. Often client involvement fluctuates with their workload, personal interest in writing, and fondness (or lack thereof) of social media. The two best online activities that you could do for your marketing are blogging and social media posting/engagement/networking.

  • DETERMINING SUCCESS
    • Do You Do Reporting?
      • Most marketing agencies will use traffic to the site to monitor the success of their campaigns. However, that is an easy-to-manipulate metric that only encourages agencies to drive any possible traffic. Rather, we are all about finding your targets and building your brand with them. Our goal is not traffic, but relationship building.

        Instead of reporting numbers to you, we ask the opposite- we ask the client to report to us when their phone is ringing and when deals are getting closed. That is the crucial final piece of information that allows us to intelligently run the campaign.

    • How Do I Track The Success Of My Campaign?
      • This is a complicated question. We’d like to track success based on conversions, but there is so much more in the sales funnel than a marketing company can control. Do you have professional images? Stellar reviews? Competitive prices? How do you handle your sales inquiries?

        Thus, we track success based on the movement we achieve towards your goals. This can be measured and observed in many different ways- some analytical, some observational.

        In order to assess direction, one aspect that we always look at is growth in visibility through increased search engine positions, Houzz position, social post impressions, and growth in getting visitors that are deeply interested in your website- not just generic site visit metrics.

        Another way to assess direction is from an increase in your predetermined goals- whether it be leads, sales, subscribers, or whatever other action matters most to you.

        Just like managing any other type of investment portfolio, all eyes are on upward growth. We have plenty of metrics to be able to track this.

    • What Shall I Expect?
      • In all businesses, it is important to set clear expectations. We set the expectations of needing six months to build up a solid marketing foundation.

        Every single business day we work on each of our clients’ marketing- on their SEO, website, Houzz, social promotions, networking, etc. Like little streams coming together, they eventually take the shape of a river. Time will strengthen that river and make it the great force you desire. It is inevitable if we all stay focused and continue to do our best that it will continue to grow.

  • SUPPORT
    • When I Become A Client, Will You Be Available To Answer My Questions?
      • Yes. Consulting time comes out of the monthly budget, so we recommend that it is used wisely.

    • What Methods Of Communication Do You Use?
      • Typically, we use emails to be most efficient. We are always available to get on the phone for when a conversation makes more sense.

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