Finding Your Clients

Strong brands attract new clients. Brands rule. Marketing is the process of building brands and making them work.

Most prospective clients socialize within circles of influence—their friends, families and neighbors—who often determine the social order invisibly. Since interior design is such an intimate experience, often referred by one member of the circle to another, we need to know who the influencers are. Who is in the potential client's circle? You may be fortunate to find the "mavens"—those "go-to" people who create and start word-of-mouth epidemics. Out of whose mouths is your story being told?

And don't be afraid to ask! You will never know, unless you do. Find intelligent and sophisticated ways to prompt your last "best" client to tell someone else about how much value you were for him or her. The most direct path to your next client is very likely to be through your last good client, so ask.

Give your prospective clients the opportunity to be delighted meeting you, and then teach them the most mutually satisfying way to work together. Thrive on their desire. Never underestimate their capacity to spend.

Your current and former "best clients" are a wellspring of value for you. They are always easier to keep than get, so stay connected even when they may not need you.  They'll remember you when they do need you. And they will respect you for preserving your relationship with them "even when they are not spending." Send notes, stay in touch, make a warm call, and notice them. Be a part of their lives; so much a part of their lives that you're their first call when it's time to design.

What makes a client one of your "best clients"? Make a list. Do they express themselves clearly? Make decisions promptly? Do they have taste and style? Are they low-maintenance? Do they pay on time? Do they recommend you to others? What else is on your list?

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