Designed by Wingnut Social | Interior Design Business

How to ’Shock and Awe’ Potential Interior Design Clients - Episode 263

May 4, 2022

How do you attract the perfect interior design client? How do you decide what type of client will be the best fit? After 30 years in high-end commercial and residential design, Pamela Durkin now helps other designers create a business they love by teaching them how to attract their ideal clients. In this episode of the Wingnut Social podcast, she shares how to design your perfect client, how to leverage your network for referrals, and how to “shock and awe” potential clients so they become actual clients. 

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [2:07] Wingnut Webinars and Wingnut Academy Updates
  • [4:10] Mini News Sesh: NEW Instagram features being released
  • [9:11] Learn more about Pamela Durkin
  • [12:35] How to find your perfect client
  • [17:11] Pamela’s tips for new interior designers
  • [21:23] How niching down impacts your bottom line
  • [27:58] How to leverage your network 
  • [30:26] Pamela’s process of auditioning clients
  • [35:10] Pamela’s “Shock and Awe” box
  • [41:41] The What Up Wingnut Round!
  • [45:05] How to connect with Pamela Durkin
  • [50:42] Blooper Reel!

Connect with Pamela Durkin

Resources & People Mentioned

How to narrow down your perfect client

Designers are scared to leave money on the table, so many don’t narrow down their focus and choose a niche for their design business. But you need to. Pamela shares that you should start the process by taking the best things about past clients that you’ve worked with and molding them into a persona. 

  • What motivations did they have? What was their personality like?
  • What work have you done that’s been profitable? 
  • How much do you enjoy doing that type of project?

These things create a goal for the type of client you’re trying to attract. Pamela is from NJ and realized that when she did her best work, it was with people who made decisions quickly. Executives are the best types of clients for her. They make thousands of decisions every day, they make them quickly, and they hire professionals. They appreciated her personality and they were on the same page. Knowing this allowed Pamela to create connections quickly. You want people to say, “I feel like I know you.” 

What do you do if you’re new to the business? How do you choose considerate people to work with? How does narrowing your focus impact your bottom line? Listen to learn more!

Pamela’s process: auditioning clients

It may sound odd at first glance—but it’s genius. Pamela auditions her clients. She starts by having a 15-minute phone conversation with them (nine out of ten times it’s a referral). She asks them to tell her about the project. The goal is to get a feel for their personality and their style—not their budget. 

Why does that matter so much? Because interior designers are in the most intimate parts of people’s homes. They need to build rapport and foster open communication. Pamela will turn down a job if she doesn’t think it will be a good fit. Most people appreciate that. 

Pamela will also ask for the project address and look at photos of the home to talk more intelligently about what they want to do. This will also help her gauge the value of the property and if it’s within her scope of work. If everything lines up, Pamela will schedule an in-person meeting. Her next step is genius

Pamela’s “Shock and Awe” box

Before the meeting, she sends potential clients a “Shock and awe” box. The box will include a gift, a drink and snack, and a handwritten note that says, “Enjoy this snack while learning more about us.” She’ll include a few back issues of her monthly newsletter so they can get to know her. She shares her professional profile, an FAQ sheet, her project process, and more. 

The key is to send this before they’ve hired her. Not only does it make an impact, but the box shows how organized you are, shows how you’re going to take care of them, and shares your communication style. You have to remember that people are buying the experience. Once you get to the in-person meeting, they’ve learned so much about you that they only ask questions about the things they actually have questions about. It leads to a more productive and intimate conversation. 

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