Exploring Short- and Long-term Marketing Strategies
Studio Designer CEO Keith Granet shares the following advice:
To keep your business running, it is essential that you make the continual effort of looking for work one of your main priorities even if you are swamped. You want to make sure that you have a steady flow of work as one project winds down, another can gradually wind up. Develop the instinct to know when to take on work, when to make clients wait until you are less busy.
As a marketing provider, I regularly get calls from designers that haven’t acted on this. In these cases, I typically hear something like this:
“Last year was a great year but projects are all dried up and we desperately need new ones now.”
Or, “We are wrapping up a project now, but have nothing lined up after that.”
That makes it REALLY difficult for the marketing provider and often sets up the situation to fail. Marketing, like other forms of investing, takes time. Just as you wouldn’t go to a financial advisor weeks before retirement to start your savings, doing just that with marketing is creating unrealistic expectations that will likely disappoint.
Part of my job then is to communicate to clients realistic timelines and expectations. We also discuss strategies that could work for them- both short-term and long-term.
Here, we’ll cover some of the most vital information:
Your best leads are the hot leads that are actively searching for your services. They typically are searching via search engines- such as Google.
Therefore, digital marketing campaigns, in general, should give the search engines primary preference. Exceptions exist, but they are rare cases, such as popular bloggers, vloggers, and others with the passion and knack for creating content that others love to consume.
Everything social is largely brand building, which is great to do with a long-term perspective, but it doesn’t reach to those who are actively searching for your services now.
THE 3 MAIN ACTIONS
It helps to understand the anatomy of the search results page. You can see a thorough description of that in this article on understanding your Google neighborhood, and ideally you’ll read and understand that before continuing on with this blog.
To summarize that article, in search engines such as Google, you can get traffic from:
- Organic search engine optimization (SEO)
- Paid search advertising
- Via sites in top positions- which for interior design is predominately Houzz and secondarily a range of other sites including Yelp, HomeAdvisor, and Thumbtack.
1. SEO TIMELINE
These days, organic SEO is the most difficult to achieve and it takes the longest. Depending on a wide range of factors- including the SEO strength of your domain, your website’s technical speed and performance, and your competitor’s strength- you should expect it to take from 6 months to several years to make significant headway in SEO. Of course, this is largely dependent on one’s budget, as doubling budget often translates to moving twice as fast.
When you expect SEO gains too quickly or for too little of an investment, it often leads to only scrupulous providers taking on your account and this can put your website at risk of a Google penalty. For this reason, it makes sense to avoid all of the spammy emails you get from marketing providers and stick with reputed agencies with solid track-records and reputations to maintain within your industry.
2. SEARCH ADS TIMELINE
Search ads, such as Google Ads (formerly called Adwords), is the only way to jump to the top of Google search instantly… well, once the campaign is setup. This can be effectively done within a week or two, and then with the proper bidding and “quality scores”, you can get a ton of quick visibility and traffic from hot leads- albeit at a price.
The biggest issue with search ads is that it is easy to lose a ton of money in ad spending if your campaign is not set up and maintained with precision. Most buyers of ad services focus on minimizing their expenses, which encourages the industry to cut corners and provide inferior services. Then the businesses end up with a tremendous amount of advertising waste- which destroys effectiveness and ROI.
For example, if you offer luxury interior design services, you need to ensure that you are not paying for do-it-yourselfers to click to your site for inspiration. When you are paying $3-6/click, you don’t want to waste it on the wrong type of searchers.
3. HOUZZ TIMELINE
Both paid search ads and Houzz optimization are much quicker to implement than SEO.
A marketing provider without Houzz expertise won’t know how to optimize you, so you need to go to a specialty agency that deals specifically with the design industry, such as our Houzz optimization services. Given my team’s experience in this process, we typically estimate it takes just 5 days to get our clients to the top of Houzz search in their area- and this is dependent on multiple factors. One can’t effectively provide Houzz optimize for a company lacking projects, images, and reviews. As it is case-by-case, feel free to contact us and we’ll give you a sense on whether your profile/business has what it takes to achieve #1 in your area.
Those with top Houzz positions get a good amount of traffic and visibility, if they are in major metro areas. And, this can begin happening from as soon as 5 days into your optimization process. This doesn’t mean you’ll get the project(s) you desire within 5 days, it just means you are situated so that when the right client comes along, they will see and consider you first.
Note: Houzz optimization is very different from the paid Houzz Pro+ advertising. That advertising program, in general, isn’t an effective investment. Read about why you want Houzz optimization, not Pro+ here.
SHORT TIMELINE STRATEGY
Now you understand that if you didn’t heed Keith Granet’s advice to look for work even when you are busy, that there are some marketing avenues to play catch up.
Catch up with Houzz optimization (see here) and Google advertising, but not with SEO, social media, or with any form of content marketing.
Search engine ads are the emergency medicine of the marketing world. They are one of the best methods to create a quick turnaround.
LONG TIMELINE STRATEGY
If you are currently a busy designer, then you face a different marketing landscape. For those who don’t need new projects now, but that want to invest in the long-term growth (or maintenance) of their design studio, a great approach would be to skip on search engine ads altogether and to exclusively focus on building your marketing assets and positions.
The distinction here is that when you invest in SEO and brand building that you own the results. You work to get to the top of Google and that momentum helps sustain itself. Whereas with ads, the moment you stop your campaign you completely disappear.
SEO, social, and content marketing is the preventative medicine and healthy living of the marketing world. You need to start long before you need an intervention.
THE IDEAL SCENARIO
The goal is that your business will have a regular stream of project leads, even when you don’t need them. Ideally, you will be able to pick and choose the projects and clients that best fit your personality, lifestyle, brand, and goals.
It is recommended by the US Small Business Administration to spend 7-8% of revenues on marketing. As they say, it takes money to make money. We already discussed in 7 Insights For Wildly Successful Marketing how Coca-Cola spends 25% of their revenue ($3 billion) to maintain revenues at $12 billion.
A 2017 survey of Chief Marketing Officers shows that on average 11.3% of company revenue is being spent on marketing.
From what we at Client Expander have seen is that the design studios that are most business-minded, and thus most committed to a healthy marketing spend, are the ones who secure short-term and long-term success for their companies. The consistent spending over time along with the diversification of marketing investment is what leads to a robust company that is without drought. They invest in a life beyond the feast or famine mentality of under-invested companies.
This article has focused on digital marketing opportunities, strategies, and timelines, yet the same applies to off-line marketing activities. Whether you are sending mailers or shaking hands at the Rotary club, networking with Realtors or chatting everyone up at your country club, key aspects of successful marketing is diversification, consistency, and investing abundantly.
Looking for a marketing partner that can listen to your unique situation and then help you identify short-term and long-term strategies to meet your needs? Then contact us for a thorough consultation today.