Renee Bush: Brand Strategy & Positioning for Interior Designers

Episode 9 March 03, 2023 00:56:52
Renee Bush: Brand Strategy & Positioning for Interior Designers
The Interior Collective
Renee Bush: Brand Strategy & Positioning for Interior Designers

Mar 03 2023 | 00:56:52

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Show Notes

Renee Bush: Brand Strategy & Positioning for Interior Designers

 

Episode Details.

 

In this economy, turning away potential clients seems unrealistic, but it’s the only way to make room for your target audience. In today’s episode, interior design brand strategist, Renee Bush, talks us through identifying your ideal clients and positioning your brand to reach them. Renee has helped top designers like Studio McGee, Light & Dwell, and Boxwood Interiors with her proven strategy for identifying the unique differentiator that sets every interior designer apart from the rest. In this episode, we’ll help you identify your ideal client, personify them, and curate your services to both attract and serve them at every stage of life. 

 

In this episode, Renee and I discuss:

 

Mentioned in This Episode:

Light & Dwell

Studio McGee

Boxwood Ave Interiors



Thanks for listening to this episode of The Interior Collective. You can listen to our episodes on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, or access all the show notes on our website.

 

You can follow along with Renee on Instagram, and discover more of her work on her website.

 

SHOW NOTES

The Interior Collective: Website

IDCO Studio: Website | Instagram | YouTube

The Identité Collective: Blog | Instagram | YouTube

Design Camp: Website | Instagram

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:09 In this industry, finding your ideal client can feel daunting. Turning away interior design projects to make room for your target audience may sound romantic, but it can also feel a little unrealistic. In today's episode, interior design brand strategist Renee Bush, who has helped top designers like Studio McGee Light and Dwell and Boxwood Interiors, guides us to find clarity in your brand. Messaging through Renee's proven strategy will identify your unique differentiator as an interior designer. After carefully assessing your business goals today, we'll help you to identify your ideal client, personify them, and curate your services to both attract and serve them at every stage of life. Speaker 1 00:00:52 Hello and welcome to the show, Renee, I am so honored to have you. For everyone listening, I had scheduled an intensive with Renee. I guess it's probably going on six months ago now. Yeah. And it was just the reset I needed to really start thinking about my business long term. And the work I have seen her do with close friends of mine is really incredible. So I'm really excited for this sort of abnormal episode. We're gonna record today because it's gonna be a lot more interactive, a lot more hands on, and I think you're gonna want to be taking notes. So if you aren't in a space that you can really dig into this, make sure to download this and come back to it later. We'll have all of the show notes and all of Renee's tips and tricks written down on the website as usual. But I just want you listening a little extra carefully today. Renee, let's go ahead and dig into your background a little bit. You have a pretty unique resume that makes you expertly positioned for what you do. You acted as a key member of the Studio McGee team until you opened up tandem just a few years ago. Can you walk us through your role there and how it really shaped your work as a brand strategist to interior designers today? Speaker 2 00:02:14 Yes, absolutely. Um, so when I first started out working at Studio McGee, I really came in more as a project manager. You know, um, prior to that, I had worked at, in a couple marketing departments and in a graphic design studio that did, you know, pretty high level graphic design projects. And I had worked as a producer and project manager. So I came in really saying I'm fascinated by creative operations. I've worked a ton with designers with billable hours. I kind of understand how a creative studio runs. Um, so I came in with a lot of that background and wanted to just kind of apply it to their design team. Like they have designers doing billable hours. Um, and just kind of take what I learned about creative operations and see if I could help them run more efficiently and more profitable. Speaker 1 00:03:10 So as a project manager, were you project managing a specific design project or were you project managing designers? Managing design projects? Speaker 2 00:03:20 Exactly. Design managers, managing the designers. So like they all have their own projects working closely with Shea. You know, most design studios work like this. They're managing their own projects, all of the details, everything that goes into everything. Um, really where I came in is thinking more about the business side of things. So like the business process, um, not necessarily the design process and keeping those things separate and understanding how they inform each other. Um, but yeah, really more focused on the profitability of the, that department, um, how each project was profiting, what auditing, all of that kind of stuff. So really understanding the design operations more than the interior design process. Speaker 1 00:04:07 I know I am not speaking solely for myself when I say that, that is the part that gets really scary, that is the part that just kind of seems to be scrambling to keep up with the designing mm-hmm. <affirmative> of running a business. And so I'm so grateful you're going to share some of those insights with us. Could you share your top three lessons you learned while at Studio McGee? Speaker 2 00:04:33 Definitely. I think first and foremost, just learning about the interior design industry. Um, you know, there's a lot of different schools of thought within the industry and understanding people who approach it a little bit more traditionally or a little more new age or the flat rate versus hourly, the vendors, the, you know, all the different pieces that make up this very robust industry. So many players, so many, um, you know, different people that come together to bring a home to life. So understanding all of that was huge. The, the interior design community, um, really getting into the process and understanding the process. I was researching everything I possibly could to learn about the industry and, you know, I, that that was invaluable, obviously. And then lastly, I think really how to stay true to your purpose and how to connect on an emotional level. I think that's something that Studio McGee, McGee and Co has always done amazing at and really helping people connect to not just the products they sell, but the lifestyle and the, the emotional feeling behind that. Speaker 1 00:05:44 Yeah, absolutely. So I feel like we are in a super unique moment in the industry, whether someone has jumped into interior design in the midst of Covid or they were a, a seasoned designer scrambling to keep up with that demand over the last few years, it's been an unprecedented time. Can you tell us what like the most common phase designers are in when they come to you for a strategy intensive? Speaker 2 00:06:11 Totally. I think it's like three different main places in the business that I see the most. So the first is when designers are just starting out and they're also going and doing a ton of research and figuring out what they should price and how the process should go and how to own a business, how to run a business. Like there's so many pieces to that. Um, so really, you know, zero to one years when they're trying to figure everything out. And then the next place is once they've gotten everything started, their business is going, they're getting clients, they're getting projects and they kind of start asking themselves like, there's gotta be a better way to do this. Like, what's the best way to do this? How do I make this more efficient or more profitable or more enjoyable? Um, maybe just feeling like there's a little something missing and they wanna get more efficient. Speaker 2 00:07:04 And then the last one, um, is really designers who have maybe been in the business for a while. You know, people who ha are used to running their business. People who ha maybe have a team or they have clients that, you know, they know who they're gonna get, they know how to do the process, but maybe they feel like they've lost their way just a little bit. They're like, is this just gonna be like this forever? You know, am I just gonna be doing the same stuff, you know, till the end of my career? And really digging deep into, you know, what they're looking to get out of their business and how can they innovate and evolve and grow in the direction that they wanna grow, feel like they're, you know, getting clarity and getting more confidence to have the business that they want. Speaker 1 00:07:53 That's so interesting cuz I always break down our guests at design camp in a really similar way. We group everybody in like years of experience. And so it's either you're just starting out, you've been in business for like two to three years, five years plus, and then 10 plus years. And I certainly feel that, especially these people who have been in business for 10 plus years, once you're in a groove, it's really hard to take a step back and say, wait, could I be doing this better? It's like, even if you are, sometimes it's just nice to, to get a little confirmation and reassurance that that is the case. And so I love that that's what you're really seeing on your end too, that it is amazing. It is so forward thinking if someone who's just starting out comes to you. It's also really important for a check-in a couple years in especially after the couple years that everybody's just had. And then also if you've been doing this for a long time, just being like, Hey, am I doing this the best way? Because I have the skills, the portfolio and the team to really do it the best. So help me make sure I'm doing that. So in these strategy intensives, talk to us about what you really plan to cover with each of those different pots that you put these clients into. Speaker 2 00:09:06 So normally I either focus on business strategy or I focus on brand strategy. And these two things go hand in hand. Um, sometimes with people, we'll even do one session on each because they really do go together. But with the brand strategy we wanna focus on who's your ideal client, um, what is your unique differentiator? Um, how do you position yourself in the market? What is your aesthetic and how do we describe that to people? Um, there's a few other things as well, but I feel like that's kind of the main stuff. And then with the business strategy ones, we're gonna dig into what should your pricing be? What services do you have to offer and how do we define the scopes for that? Um, what is your overarching vision for your company? What are your goals quarterly, annually, uh, what's the strategy and the steps that we can take to get there? What do you want your team to look like and how should it grow over the next few years? So really just thinking about like the business side and then, and or the, the brand side. Speaker 1 00:10:10 I know personally from our session together, the most challenging part of our intensive was actually being super honest about what my business goals were, I and are <laugh>. Even when I'm saying that to you now, I still pretend like it's a past tense thing and it's like I should have those clearly right now today. I don't think that everyone has taken the time to pause and reflect on the last few years. And in that reflection really identify what they really are wanting in the future. When you are asking about business goals, can you break down your top three guiding questions to identify your own personal business goals? Speaker 2 00:10:47 Absolutely. So, um, one of the first things is just what do I want? Because no matter what business you're building, you, you can really take it in infinite directions. You can build with the same resources, the same team, completely different business models. So understanding at the end of the day, like what do I want as a person in my life? Do I want more flexibility? Do I want more income? Do I want more prestige? What is it that I'm really after here? Um, what kind of life do I want? What do I want my lifestyle to be? Like, you know, do I want more money and to work more? Do I want more flexibility and decent money, but I wanna be able to go on vacation and shut down for a month in the summer? What do I want there? Um, one question I love to ask people is to just look into what I call the fuzzy future, right? Speaker 2 00:11:40 Like you look as far as you can see until it's, you can barely see anything and really try to focus on it and think about what you see. Um, you know, oftentimes people will visualize, you know, like working on vacation or staying in a fancy resort or like, you know, being able to go to kids' games or maybe, um, you know, having a studio space or a book deal, right? Like so many different things like what is the furthest I can see down this path and what are some like the most tangible, what's the most tangible vision I can get? Um, so with that, I mean I think you can dig into that many different ways, but ultimately at the end of the day, like what does success look like for me in our businesses we're constantly being told what we should do, what we can do, what we ought to do. And this is your job, this is your business, and you get to decide that for yourself. So what does success look like for you? And that can definitely be a million dollars and plenty of time off. Like you can have whatever you want if you just figure it out. Speaker 1 00:12:56 I find this question so intriguing and so challenging at the same time because I feel like the industry as a whole, uh, certainly not everyone, but as a whole, everyone felt really busy over the last few years and with busyness comes more money. And so, you know, 10 years ago the answer to that question would be like, well I hope that I can be making six figures and I can pay my team six figures and whatever that looks like. And now that, that might have come to fruition. As of recently asking that question again and saying, well now what does that look like? It gives me chills, it gives me a different perspective on it cuz it's not just about surviving at this time, it's like, okay, well how do I make this thrive truly long term? So I really appreciate how you break down those questions. A recurring theme we discussed a lot both here at ICO and they're at tandem, is identifying your ideal client or target audience. And this concept makes so much sense to me. We are a creative agency, we focus entirely on interior designers, but for interior designers, targeting one specific type of client seems really hard and honestly kind of unlikely. Can you provide some clarity as to what an ideal client means for interior designers? Speaker 2 00:14:14 Yeah, so when you're thinking about your ideal client, um, one thing that I think a lot of people struggle with is they try to make it a group of people. So I think that when you're thinking about your ideal client, it's one person, wait, you know, a person, a couple, a family, but one individual that you can begin to craft this perfect soulmate of a client. What is, if every single thing was checking the boxes, what would that look like? For me, I like to find photos, give this person a name, you know, really make it somebody that's identifiable where when they come through the door you can hold up that description and say, yep, that's exactly who I'm looking for. So I don't think it's about like circling into a specific group of people. I think that's where it can get really tricky and really fuzzy. And also maybe not even that helpful, but I think when you can really focus in on one person and understand that person and know that your ideal client is going to relate to that person, that's the goal. So you wanna be finding people that are like 80% that perfect soulmate person. Like there's, you probably weren't not gonna find the like perfect one, but um, as close as you can get. Speaker 1 00:15:36 That's such a fascinating benchmark. I love that 80% because you might have one perfect client in your whole career that was your exact target client, a hundred percent checked every box. But honestly shooting 80% makes for a very successful client process. You're gonna end up with a project that you really love, that you're really proud of, that you wanna showcase and that will help attract more of those perfect soulmate Speaker 2 00:16:02 Clients. Exactly. Speaker 1 00:16:04 So it took me a long time to understand how powerful it is to say no to the wrong jobs and patiently wait for the right jobs. I honestly resented the concept of turning away business. I was supporting my family and at the time Quinn and I were struggling to make rent. It was just the two of us and the concept of like turning away a project because it wasn't my ideal client, I felt really icky about. And everyone who was telling that to me, I sort of resented. I had actually gone on a great retreat in my third year of business where they emphasized this over and over and over again. And finally they had me sit down and do an exercise where I wrote out my five favorite projects I ever did. And four out of five of those projects were interior designers. And in that moment it clicked for me and I finally could drink the Kool-Aid and get on board with everything that they were teaching. So again, I totally understand how that target audience makes sense in a business to business model, but tell me how that really translates to interior designers. Speaker 2 00:17:16 Okay, so I'm gonna give you a couple examples. So working with a past client who, you know, going through the process of their brand st brand strategy and really trying to figure out what it is that makes them special, what sets them apart, what we really hammered down to was that uh, they really excel at the details of just like, you know, in everything they do, they just really are thoughtful about the details. And I know that a lot of designers are like, that's okay, it's not your unique differentiator that absolutely no one else on earth has. It's the fact that this is what sets you apart as your strong, your strongest thing, right? Like your, your strongest characteristic. So when you get down to that characteristic and you really start to think about what you do best, and then you think about that person who's a nice match for that. Speaker 2 00:18:08 So we're not looking for someone who's exactly like you, we're looking for an ideal client that is going to compliment your business, right? So this person who is extremely, extremely detailed, we don't wanna attract more people that are also highly, highly detailed, right? Because that can maybe create some tension and make for some not good client experiences. So what we wanna do is we wanna try to attract someone who wants the details taken care of, not necessarily that they want to be micromanaging every detail. And that comes across in the brand messaging on the website, in the Instagram post when you say we take care of every single detail, right? Like, come to us and let us manage everything so you don't have to, you're gonna be more likely to attract that right client that will make your process easy, make your life easy, um, that will really trust you instead of you saying we're so, so, so good at the details we have, you know, we are detailed about everything Speaker 1 00:19:10 That is <laugh> that is blowing my mind right now. Every single time I talk to you, Renee, you just dropped these golden nuggets. But that concept of looking for someone who isn't just like you, but compliments your strengths. And I think that detail oriented example everyone listening can relate to because if you are detail oriented, you likely do not actually want the client who is also detail oriented because it can make for a tougher working relationship. Um, when we had chatted last week getting ready for this episode, you gave me a really amazing example of a client that you worked with to help identify what was their unique differentiator. And you talked about hosting, will you give us that example? Speaker 2 00:19:50 Yeah, definitely. So again, with each designer we really start digging into, you know, what is it that's special about you? So some of the questions that I like to ask are, at the end of the day, what do you wanna be known for? What do you want people to think of when they think of you? And think of your business, um, at the end of every project, what do you want someone to say about you? What's the one thing you want your client to say at the end of the project? Um, you know, what is it that you think is your strongest quality or your team's strongest? Because that's a huge part of this as well. So like, asking yourself these questions and then seeing if there's any common threads. So this one designer that I was working with, we are going through asking a lot of these questions and the thing that she really came up with that she was like, what I feel like I'm really good at is making everybody feel comfortable, making everybody feel, um, you know, cared for, thought about. Speaker 2 00:20:45 And as we started to dig and dig what we got to was how incredible, incredible of a host that she is, how good she is at thinking ahead, being proactive, having every detail thought out so that way everyone that's there in this space can have an enjoyable experience. And how she brings that to her interior design practice, you know, she really thinks about everything from that like host perspective of, you know, am I setting everything up for everyone to have an incredible time and to feel cared for and to feel attention paid to them. And so she creates spaces that do that and being able to know that and understand that and bring that into every aspect of her business, um, whether it's like subtly or more overtly in copy, you know, it just gives her that understanding of who she is and why someone should work with her that not everybody else has. You know, and she can, that builds confidence and that is, you know, a game changer for, for business. Speaker 1 00:21:48 I love that example so much, Renee, because I think when you first hear the concept of like target audience, target market, who are my ideal dream projects, things like vacation homes or townhouses, like you can get focused, hyper-focused on very specific concrete black and white projects like that. And I, I love this more abstract concept of the things that really make you shine as an interior designer and how that could be applied to someone who has a vacation home or has a city townhouse. It doesn't, it doesn't limit you in the type of projects you can take on, it's really about finding that unique perspective and how you can apply it to a wide range of projects, which I know so many designers wanna get to do all different types of work. So thank you for explaining that in more detail. Let's chat about what example criteria are really the things that you would shape a target client with. Speaker 2 00:22:48 So when it comes to finding clients and really marketing, we always wanna try to attract people to us, right? Like that, that's kind of attraction marketing is how marketing works these days. And I think that it's important to remember that people purchase for completely emotional reasons. Like yes the analytics need to be there, things need to make sense, but for the most part people buy from people that they know, they like and they trust, right? People purchase things based on the emotion. People purchase luxury items, especially which interior design is um, for the aspirational quality, right? Because they want to aspire to a certain life, a certain feeling. Um, and we need to connect to people on that level. So I think even with your target client, your target market, anything, it's how do I really understand this ideal client and what their attitudes are to life, what their values are, what their aspirations are, and how do I set myself up to help them achieve that? Speaker 2 00:23:55 So if you are selling interior design services and you just go around saying I have interior design services for sale, do you need interior design services? You will find some clients, but they may not be the ones that are excited to really hand over the reins and trust you and you know, have larger budgets and be willing to let you lead the process as a partner. And when you can like understand who you're speaking to and relate to them on a deeper level and more emotionally and say, I understand that you want your home to be a sanctuary, you want a place that like you have a busy life, you're a C E O and you know you wanna have a place that you can come back to that feels customized to you, personalized to your lifestyle is the perfect backdrop for your family. I understand that and I'm gonna help you achieve that. Um, we need to sell one step beyond just what we do into what life we're helping our clients achieve. Speaker 1 00:25:00 Something I always talk about with our clients at ICO is the concept of not focusing so much on this exact specific ideal client because if you start speaking to one specific person as you're guiding us to do, the people who are receiving this message will either personally identify directly with it and that's a perfect match or they will aspire to that and that's where people will also identify themselves with as well. So it's not just about who they are, right in this moment, it's about who they want to be in two years and we'll talk more about that. You have such in ingenious insights to that, but I think that's really important cuz you can get a little bit caught up in thinking about where everybody is right here right now. And as you said, we are in a luxury long-term industry and so sometimes we need to be thinking about a little more full breadth of that concept and not necessarily in the moment right this second. Speaker 2 00:25:55 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah, I love that. Speaker 1 00:25:57 So in a previous episode this season we chatted with light and dwell and we talked a lot about how pivoting their brand strategy to focus on Charlie, who is their ideal client, transformed the quality of their project inquiries. I know that you were the mastermind behind identifying and formulating Charlie. Can you provide examples of what you asked Amy and Molly to really pull that target audience out of them? Speaker 2 00:26:23 Yeah, we actually got to this question even because I had originally, uh, started working with them to help with some operation stuff. And so we were like trying to figure out a few process questions and you know, just going over a few specifics about pricing and process and we kind of got to a few different points where some decisions had to be made. And what I started realizing was it's really hard to make these business decisions if we don't really understand who we're making them for, what our goals are and like what our priorities are with this business. So that led me to really start asking them some questions about like, well what do you want this business to be? And um, what, you know, where do you wanna go from here? And who's your IDO client? Some of the questions that we asked were like, you know, what do they like to do? Speaker 2 00:27:14 I mean, there's obviously demographics and psychographics, so your demographics are gonna be like, oh, they're male or female, they are this age, they live in this location, you know, that type of thing. Um, that can be somewhat helpful just to give you some idea, but for the most part these days people don't identify with their demographics, they identify with their psychographics. So those psychographics are gonna be, you know, the things that they care about, like their, uh, lifestyle, their interests, their, you know, whether they like to go to yoga or they like to binge watch, watch a TV show, um, whether they drink, you know, tea or diet coke, like these little choices tell us a lot about people. So when we can really dig into the psychographics behind your ideal client, right? What do they like, where do they like to travel? What's their favorite drink at a bar? Speaker 2 00:28:09 What kind of car do they drive? Where do they shop? What are brands that they aspire to associate with? Um, you know, also like, is this someone who likes to collect little things or someone who gets rid of all the knickknacks? Is this somebody who um, loves pets, you know, and their dog is their child? Or do we not really like pets and you know, we'd rather not have pets in the family or, or whatever it, it's trying to understand the psychology behind this ideal client. Um, so asking them a lot of those questions, we started to really get an idea of who this person was, you know, um, before they even had the name Charlie. It's like, you know what? Like what, how does this person approach life? So I think this is something that anybody can do for themselves. Like ask yourself these questions. Write down a day in the life of my ideal client. You know, are they working? Are they a stay-at-home parent? Are they, um, you know, what do they do with their day? What do they spend their money on? What do they care about? Speaker 1 00:29:23 One of the first impressions prospective clients have of your brand is your website. If you don't have a strong online presence to show off your work, though you're losing out on potential clients. ICO Studio offers a selection of limited edition website templates designed specifically for interior designers just like you. If you're looking for a more hands off experience, you can add on implementation and professional copywriting and we'll have your new website up and running within a few short weeks visit idco.studio to choose your favorite before it sells out. One thing I think is so powerful after you spend the time working out this exercise is once you have an understanding of how these people like to spend their time, it gives you an incredible marketing opportunity. So when we work with our clients on social media management, we have them answer all these questions because we then go seek out these ideal clients of theirs in the spaces that they are hanging out. Speaker 1 00:30:20 So if we know that we are an interior design studio who is only interested in doing local renovations or new build projects, we know we have a very specific area that we are going to be spending our digital time marketing online. So we know that they love yoga and that means that we will be spending our outbound marketing time on local yoga studios commenting and engaging with the community there because you have now identified where your ideal client is spending their time out in the universe. And so you can put yourself out there into the universe right next to them. I think that we get in the habit of just focusing on putting out information and throwing out information and saying, we are open for business, we love this type of client, come and find us. And I think what is really going to be the pivoting point for seeing those great inquiries come in and to really take you from a few inquiries a month to multiple inquiries a month that are really strong projects is figuring out where these people are spending their time, what their interests are, and making sure that you are aligning yourself with them in those spaces. Speaker 1 00:31:34 So it's a lot easier for them to say, Hey, yes, I would love to work with you. You are getting in front of them instead of expecting them just to find you. Speaker 2 00:31:42 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I think it is, it's so important to say, oh man, you want your client to come across your stuff and be like, this is exactly who I've been looking for. You know, write price, write aesthetic, and I love the way that they think about things. I love their philosophy, I love their business and like, this is exactly who I want to work with. Speaker 1 00:32:03 I think when you have identified what's important to them and what's important to them, compliments what's important to you, even if it's not identical, it makes that emotional decision for them to decide to work with you so much easier because you are an alignment not just with aesthetic and price, but you have similarities and complimenting interests that will make the process so much easier for someone making that yes upfront, so much easier to commit to. Speaker 2 00:32:35 Yeah, and just to take like a quick little tangent I think, think that's exactly, I think that's exactly right. And like when I first started even working with creatives in a business setting, um, one of the first things that really fascinated me was businesses are more productive and more profitable. It's good for business for designers to be happy. If you can make designers happy, if you can make sure they're inspired and that they have creative flow and that they have security in their role, um, and trust that they will be more successful, right? They will get more done. And it's not data entry, right? It's not just show up and put, put the product out on the factory belt or whatever. Like you have to create that environment for designers to be successful and the business will profit. And I think that like when you're really pulling in ideal clients, when you're really pulling in people that compliment your strengths and value what you have to offer, they value your strengths, you can charge more because they actually value what you have to offer and everything will go so much smoother. So not only are you working less hard, you're making more money. And that's really where we wanna be. We all wanna be in a place where we're making great money and we also are working in a really smooth, like fun, creative environment. Speaker 1 00:34:06 So last week we chatted in prep for this and you lit up when you were explaining the term unique differentiator and you're doing it right now, y'all listening, do not get to see her on camera, but she's glowing talking about this. This is a term that I've heard in the business world, I heard it in advertising school. Um, but I'd love to hear from you, Renee, what does unique differentiator mean to you? On a very basic break it down for us listening who don't know what we're talking about level. Speaker 2 00:34:37 So your unique differentiator is your special quality, it's your superpower, it's the thing that sets you apart and makes you an excellent investment for your partners. It, it's, yeah, it's superpower is probably like the best word I can think of. Speaker 1 00:34:54 Does your unique differentiator always involve the end product somehow or can your unique differentiator be something that's in the way you design things? Does that make sense? Yeah. Is it always going to be the end product or could it be something that's happening in the middle? Speaker 2 00:35:11 I think it can be definitely something that's happening in the middle. I actually think it can be anything. And I firmly believe that every single designer out there that's designing homes, that's putting out good work has a superpower. You know, they have something valuable, um, that if they can just know what it is and know how to tell people to value it, that they can be really successful. So everybody has this and it's, it's never exactly the same for any two people in the same way that, you know, everyone has a different voice when they sing. Everyone has a different touch when they design and it's always going to be unique. The trick is knowing what it is and knowing how to talk about it. Um, I think a lot of people know, well they know deep down that they're unique, but like how do we explain that to people I think can be a, uh, an additional challenge to it. Speaker 1 00:36:08 So your unique differentiator as you're trying to process what this is, I I find an interesting, um, sort of crossroads earlier you were talking about your big ultimate grand supreme dreams and what you call the fuzzy future, thinking about what you wanna be known for. And then part of me is also what exploring, how do I identify this first step of my unique differentiator? And I can't, can't help but think, well maybe I ask people, do I ask the people, my colleagues, the people I work with, what is it that they see in me that they feel is the standout? And and I feel like that's a really great starting point, but then I'm also like so fascinated because when I have identified my unique differentiator, it's almost never what other people say and I am working to align those to make sure that what I'm putting out into the world with your coaching is aligning with what the world is seeing. So that what I want to be known for is what people are knowing me for. So talk to me about how would you start to identify that? Do you ask other people? And if you do ask other people and it's not what you thought, how do you circle that back around? Speaker 2 00:37:28 Yeah, I think that's a really good observation and good question. Um, I think what you, your strength is something that has to, it has to be something that you also enjoy. So I think really digging into what are you talented at that you also love? Because the more you put time and attention into it, you can always get better because you want your superpower to be something that you actually love doing. So I think it's as much a strength and a talent as a passion. Um, and maybe if other people in your life haven't seen that, it's because you haven't had the opportunity to share your, that passion with them. So I think digging into what it is that you really care about, what you wanna spend your time doing, what you love and what gets you really passionate and then really trying to even write it out to yourself. Speaker 2 00:38:15 I think asking other people is a great way because sometimes even hearing the wrong thing helps you to know what the right thing is. You know, it's like any mini Mindy Mo or something. So I do think like asking your clients, what did you really appreciate working with me asking your friends and family, what do you think I'm really good at? Um, definitely asking people in a professional sphere because your friends and family see you in a completely different light. Um, I think another thing is like writing it out. Writing to yourself is such a powerful exercise and writing out like what am I really good at? What do I love doing? What am I passionate about? What type of work days do I love the most? You know, when, when do I have my favorite work days? You know, that's a question I love to ask people, um, because I think it goes to show what you enjoy and then I think when you really know what it is and you can say, yeah, that's totally it, that is what I'm really good at and I I love doing that and I wanna do more of it, then you start just letting people know that that's what you're known for. Speaker 2 00:39:16 And like luckily you can just put it on your website. We are known for our incredible, you know, like just put it out there and then people will start to associate that thing with you. And that's really a lot of marketing is figuring out what you wanna be known for and then putting it out there consistently for your ideal client to hear in the right place and in the right way for them to really hear and understand you. And I think the people who are doing this the best are the people who are the most consistent. And where that comes from is really knowing who you're talking to and what you have to offer. And when you know those two things, you can be more consistent and it's only a matter of time before people really see what you're trying to show them. Speaker 1 00:40:02 So, tough question, and I'm just being like super honest here. In an industry where everyone is sourcing from the same vendors, working with the same workrooms, finding the same craftspeople or sourcing similar vintage, how unique does this unique differentiator really have to be? Speaker 2 00:40:24 I think everyone's is unique and I think if it isn't, it's only because people haven't really dug down deeper. So yes, we use a lot of the same things. We have a very similar process. We have, there's a lot that is similar, but there's always going to be something that you do that can be unique to you, right? Um, and I think the key here is look around at other people, familiarize yourself and then put it away and make decisions based off of yourself. Um, you know, when you go and you try to do everything the way that everyone else is doing it, um, or you're copying, you know, what you've heard other people are doing, I think sometimes that can make it a little bit more difficult, um, for you. So I think when in doubt, like really looking inwardly what would look at my ideal client, what would they really want? You know, a lot of people may offer this one type of service that you don't want to cuz you don't like doing it. So really thinking about like, well what would my ideal client like instead or coming back to yourself and saying, okay, how can, can I do this my way? What, what would I really appreciate as a client and what do I think my client appreciates? And then kind of answer the question from there. Speaker 1 00:41:42 Okay, so you've identified your unique differentiator and you've named your target audience, you've really narrowed that down to a single person. How do those two things come together as an interior designer? For an interior designer? Speaker 2 00:41:57 I think it comes down with or comes like for example on Instagram, if you're writing captions and you're trying to reach your audience, you are consistently telling people, this is what I'm really good at, I'm really good at. Um, for example, I have another client who just does a lot of different interior design projects, but after looking at them all, what we find is that where they make the most profit is in their kitchens and where they really, the projects that they really love are ones that have somewhat of a historic vibe. Whether the people are trying to renovate a historic home or they're trying to bring some of that charm and character in, that's what they really love. So when they look at, wow, this is what I'm really good at, I'm really good at designing kitchens and designing spaces that feel um, you know, really historical or his historically influenced or something like that, that charm and that character, um, when they can start putting that out, this is what what I do then their ideal client who's like, oh my gosh, I just bought a historic home and I really want it to feel, you know, true to the era, or I wanna have some of these details, they're gonna then be attracted to you. Speaker 2 00:43:10 So I think it's knowing what it is and then putting it out on social media, really weaving that thread through everything. Um, so like with every single question saying, okay, how can I uh, directly curate this for my ideal client? You know, Speaker 1 00:43:30 So you have coached a lot of designers through offering tiers for that ideal client. And you talked to me about this last week and I thought it was so, so, so honestly relieving to hear that you have a strategy for this because not every ideal client is that ideal client in this exact moment. As in it's a long sell. You're hopefully working with someone for every home they have in the future and maybe they like to move every seven years. Um, and it can take a long time before someone's really saved up the funds to have this dream project with you. Um, talk to me about what this concept of different service buckets mean to your ideal client at different phases of their life. Speaker 2 00:44:17 So going back to what we were talking about, about about psychographics, when you really think about the type of person that you're trying to reach, when you really understand them, um, that that person is like who they are, whether they're 20, 30, 40, whether they have $10, 50, $50,000 or in infinite money, right? Um, they're still going to make choices that align with their values and the way they approach life. So when we think about creating different service offerings, we don't wanna create them for a bunch of different people and be speaking to a bunch of different audiences and then your messages get really mixed. Instead think about your ideal client for full service and then think about the person right underneath that who aspires to be that, right? This might be the ideal candidate for um, virtual design or eSign, right? Something where it's like, I love this aesthetic, I'm willing to put in the work, I'm willing to do the elbow grease to make this happen, but I really want a custom design. Speaker 2 00:45:19 I'm gonna pay the money for the custom design and I understand that I'm not gonna get the full service experience, but I am gonna get that quality design and that is worth it to me and this investment is so valuable. Um, and then the person maybe right below that, that's like, I can't afford virtual design but I can afford a consultation or I can afford a designer for a day session, right? What is it that they can afford? And you think about like Tiffany's, like you can go in Tiffany's and you can buy a $10,000 necklace or you can also buy a key chain. It's all luxury, right? But, but what is it that people can maybe buy from you that could benefit your business as a whole? So some of these smaller services I will say like if you enjoy doing them, cuz if you hate them then you know, maybe they're not the best fit. Speaker 2 00:46:11 But, but if you think about these services, they can bring in faster cash, um, you can sell them consistently, team members can help with them. There's a lot of value to increasing the revenue for your whole business by offering a few smaller services. And one thing I see designers do a lot is they have full service design because they really believe this is the right way to do it. This is the, you know, this is the best experience and they're totally right, this, that is the best way to do it, but not everybody can afford that. So if we can create a couple other options that people could afford, we can now make more money on the same size audience, on the same people coming toward us, but rather than discounting our best offering to make it affordable for people, instead we give them something very profitable for us that matches their budget. Um, this is very much like the good, better, best or like the, the Starbucks kind of thing where you've got tall grande venti, you know, it's, it's giving people those options means that you'll be able to make more money off of the people coming to you without compromising what you stand for and the work that you're doing, the service that you offer. It's just creating more options for, for people to be able to buy in to the services that you sell. Speaker 1 00:47:35 So let's say someone listening, their ideal client definitely is a full service project, start to finish concierge level, but, and they're, and they're not opposed to doing distance design or, or designer for a day or consultations. They're not opposed to that, but they question whether that waters down their, their key purpose. Um, I imagine those listening are wondering do these additional service buckets live on different places on the internet or is it all available in one place on my key website where I am hoping to push people to full service? Speaker 2 00:48:16 Um, honestly, I think some of that just comes down to what feels right to each designer. I don't see any reason why you couldn't put them all in the same place because I don't think it does water down the message of what you're offering because all of them are luxury in the same way that that Tiffany's key chain is luxury. Th this would be the same with your service the way that you do virtual design is the way you do it. And if you do high-end full service design, I would assume you do really quality high-end eSign as well. So you are just doing the very best of that type of service and you're making sure that the price matches the scope. So one other thing I would say is really making sure there's plenty of what they say like daylight between the offerings. So these should not be too close together, right? Like we don't want it to be like $500 and you can do a design consultation or $5,000 and we can do virtual design or $8,000 to do full service, right? Like that's not a very clear choice for people. It needs to be like 500, 5,000, 50,000, right? So something where it's so obvious to the client, which bucket they fall in, they come to you and there's no question, you know, they know where they fit in cuz they know what they're looking for. Speaker 1 00:49:41 So what are five key steps that our listeners can take over the next, let's say 30 days to identify, clarify, and really target those ideal clients? Speaker 2 00:49:53 I think first, like we've talked about is to create a description of your ideal client. So writing, answering those questions, writing out a day in the life, give them a name and sometimes it can feel really silly like, I've done this with so many designers and you know, people oftentimes like kind of laugh and at first they're like, I don't know. And then you start getting into it and you're like, oh they totally wear golden goose shoes and they love spicy margaritas and you know, and you can kind of get really into this story. Um, so lean into it and really try to like define this person as specifically as you can. Number two, like I said, find images to represent them. Give them a name. Make this somebody that like everyone in the studio would kind of know, like be able to joke about and be like, oh that's totally our person or not. Speaker 2 00:50:41 Um, I think also to curate your discovery call questions and your intake form to help you identify, not always to scare them away or anything, but just to help you identify if this is the person for me, uh, you know, whether that's a dropdown that's like, should we do, is this a full scale renovation, partial renovation or you know, a small scope project, like what are little things that you can help identify to yourself so that you know when they're coming in, whether or not they're a good fit. Um, and then speak directly to your IDO client on social media, your website, everything. Really trying to tie that thread all the way through. Everything that you are building in the business should be really strongly aligned. So anytime you're thinking about my services, it should cater to the ideal client. When you're thinking about your investment guide, what information does your ideal client want When you're thinking about how you do presentations, you know, is your ideal client gonna get overwhelmed by everything on the table or are they gonna get like so jazzed? Speaker 2 00:51:45 Um, do you need croissants there or like what do you need there to make that experience good for them? Um, and then lastly, I think really just being true to yourself. Like, you know, Anastasia, you were saying at the beginning, it's really hard to say no to projects and you have to have the belief that something else will come and you know, when you're saying no to a project that's not a good fit, really you're saving yourself the trouble of maybe something that could have been a bit of a waste of time. And I'm not saying never, like never take some of those projects that aren't a hundred percent right. What we're saying is let go of the ones that aren't gonna serve you. So if they're not gonna make you money to help build the business or build your portfolio to help you attract better clients or be inspiring, you know, what I say is like, it's something that you wanna work on and if you were doing it for free, you would be doing it. It should be doing one of those things to help you grow. Um, so yeah, I think just like really being confident that the person that you're trying to target is out there and knowing that I've, again, I've talked to several designers and I have never once had anyone describe the exact same person. You know, everyone is out there searching for different things and there's plenty of space for all of us and um, you know, just like really know who you're targeting and and be able to recognize them when they show up. Speaker 1 00:53:12 One of my all-time favorite quotes from this show was actually in season one talking with Jake Arnold and it actually had happened at Design Camp when he was keynote noting, and I made him say it again on the show at the beginning of every project he asks himself in three years when this project is done, will this project have propelled my business forward or will it have held me back? And I think that is such a powerful way to just take a step back and look at it and just say, yeah, this is gonna push me forward or you know what, this probably isn't the best project for me, but I have a designer friend that would love this project and it's a perfect fit for them. And so I really, that has really stuck with me and I think it applies honestly in so many aspects of life, not just in our businesses. And I love, I love to hear you Renee really reiterate that and really emphasize that this has been so incredibly helpful. There is something about taking a step out of your business and looking into it through someone else's eyes that can be so profoundly helpful. Can you walk us through how interior designers can work with you directly? Speaker 2 00:54:25 Yeah, we normally do 90 minute one-on-one strategy sessions or full day strategy intensives. Um, thinking about my own ideal client, I know how busy a lot of designers are and so rather than doing like a bunch of ongoing services, our goal is to make them as concentrated and as possible, um, and efficient. Uh, other than that we also offer brand messaging, copywriting and brand and website design as a design agency Speaker 1 00:54:56 That is so exciting. I love that you do those short term ones. I actually need to get on your books cuz I feel like I wanna check in in with you probably on a quarterly basis. Like you said, doing stuff like weekly or monthly, too busy to do so, but to have a check-in and really just like hold me accountable, <laugh> seems like a really nice way to just force my friendship upon you. Speaker 2 00:55:17 So I love that Speaker 1 00:55:18 <laugh>. Renee, thank you so much. If you missed anything in today's show, you can find all of it in our show notes at idco.studio/podcast. You can reach out to Renee directly from there or visit her on her website and follow on Instagram. All linked below. Renee, thank you so much for your time today and we will chat very soon. Speaker 0 00:55:37 Hey, thanks Speaker 1 00:55:44 Renee. Thank you so much for taking the time to teach us, inspire us, and break down some fairly complex concepts into actionable steps. Every time we chat, I feel so inspired to make small pivots and I see the rewards of those pivots so swiftly. If you haven't already, follow Renee and her team at with tandem on Instagram and learn [email protected]. If you weren't able to write down everything you heard today, you can find all of the links, an outline of the questions needed to identify your target client and more from this episode of the Interior Collective on our website at id code.studio/podcast. We are nearing the end of season two, and if you haven't already, please, please, please leave us a review. Your reviews are critical to our ability to continue providing this amazing free resource. If you'd like to be on the show next season, want to suggest a guest or have a topic you'd love to learn about, email [email protected]. Again, that is Podcast idco.studio. I'm your host, Anastasia Casey, and this is the Interior Collective, a podcast for the business of beautiful living.

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