Last week, I was in Minneapolis moderating a panel of designers discussing their businesses in light of the current economic condition. They all said they were holding true to the integrity of their brands, restoring the intimacy of their relationships with their best clients and revitalizing their own buoyant attitudes about the value of design. Shouldn’t we all.
Despite anxious appeals from the audience for silver bullets and quick-fixes, these designers were determined to resist the temptation to try to extract the mythical genie from the lamp, and encouraged others to resist this impulse as well. Instead, they ask for new opportunities to surprise and delight new clients. Shouldn’t we all.
You can, too. Ask. Yet perilously, some designers think the mere hint of inviting a referral is somehow rude, impolite, too self-serving or embarrassing. Think again. Ask for new business? Can we? Yes we most assuredly can.
Referral by word of mouth is not a passive sport. It may have been six months ago, but not now. Today, only a few prospective clients possess most of the wealth. Although the slices of ‘pie’ may be fewer, it’s still a big pie. The affluent have not stopped deserving to live well, but are actually staying home, reorienting their life style around friends and family while expecting an interior designer to inspire their desire to live even better.
Asking is a purposeful pursuit. Strong brands attract new clients. Yours can too. Your current and former clients are a wellspring of referral for you. You will never know, unless you ask. Find intelligent and sophisticated ways to liberate their willingness to tell someone else about how valuable you were to them. The most direct path to your next good client is most likely through your last good client, so ask. Co-host a small party, demonstrate your concierge services, collaborate with other connoisseurs of living well, ... you have plenty of creative ideas. Inspired to ask? Share some examples here with us. How did Ask become Design? Talk.