Home Staging Business Marketing: Business Cards, Copywriting, Networking
The next thing to get started on is business cards.
Once you get your order placed you’ll be looking at some turnaround time so you can get the ball rolling on the cards and then move on to the next step. If you have the budget to hire a graphic designer to create cards for you, that’s wonderful! This section will probably not apply to you since we’re going to talk about getting business cards from an online service that allows you to design your own cards on their platform.
I have gotten good results from Zazzle and VistaPrint and OvernightPrints. I also like a lot of the designs on Moo.com. With the exception of Zazzle, where they seem to have an endless list of attractive but non-categorized designs, you can sort by category so you can look at interior design or real estate designs, or pick something classic and non-industry specific.
If you have some before and afters ready to go, you might think about getting a marketing postcard made at the same time.
Postcards have replaced pamphlets and brochures in a lot of ways, and you can use them for sending to agents as well as handing out with your business card when you meet people. It can be like a mini version of your portfolio and services presented in a concise postcard format that can have a huge impact in just a few seconds.
You can hand someone a business card so they have your contact and website info to look at later. But a postcard tells your story and shows your work. It’s something you might want to consider.
When you’re writing your website copy, it’ll be helpful for you to have an understanding of copywriting so that you can more easily connect with potential clients. You can also opt for a writer if you have the budget.
Places like Upwork are full of great writers and they aren’t too expensive — it’s a competitive field, and if you post a job and have a reasonable budget available you will probably receive a dozen proposals from qualified writers within a few hours.
If you’re doing it yourself, here are some things to keep in mind.
People want an easy-to-read, conversational style when browsing websites.
Avoid long paragraphs. Stick to 2-3 sentences per paragraph so there will be plenty of blank space for the eye to move around, which will make reading easier.
Keep it professional but conversational. Try to make it sound like you’re talking to someone in person.
Also, keep in mind that when people are visiting your site, they’re really looking for the answer to one main question — “What can you do for me?” They want a problem solved. So always keep your client’s needs and wants at the forefront when you write, and find ways to let them know what they will gain by working with you.
In addition to getting all of the benefits of home staging, let them know why they should choose you. Put some personality into the site. Keep it professional.
Here are some of the classic books on copywriting if you want to invest in more in-depth knowledge. I highly recommend that you do so since it’s a skill that will serve you well in all aspects of your life.
Make People Like You 🙂
People will find ways to connect with you when you’ve made it look like a real person is behind the site. They’ll choose you over other stagers for all kinds of reasons.
It could be because you’re a native of the area and you’ve been decorating for two decades, because they like your smile (choose a great headshot), they think you seem nice, you remind them of their sister, you never know.
Make sure you explain your service and how it works. Make sure people know that it’s an easy process that’ll help them a lot once they make that initial contact with you.
Be sure that your contact info is easy to find on every page.
There are different schools of thought when it comes to listing your fees on the site. You’ll have to decide what you’re more comfortable with.
If you list your fees, you may be giving people sticker shock too early in the process, before they’ve talked to you and before you’ve had a chance to connect and win them over. But you might prefer to weed out the people who aren’t comfortable with your fees.
If you don’t list your fees, you may be scaring off people who will assume it’s too expensive and won’t contact you to find out. It’s harder to put the brakes on a potential transaction once a client has actually called you and initiated the process, and if they have no idea what your fees are, they may be reluctant to get into a potentially awkward spot if it ends up being too expensive.
You can try it both ways if you aren’t sure. Experiment. Why not? It’s the best way to see what works best for you.
You can also choose to give a quote only after an in person meeting at the home, not over the phone. This is of course the safest way to go, since you won’t have any surprises to deal with, but you may end up going to client meetings without winning the job.
This is just part of the job in many business models and you’ll have to account for time spent this way when you determine your overall fee structure.
Another option is to post a fee for a service like consultation but not for your hands-on home staging services. That way, clients can call you for a consultation and potentially end up hiring you for hands-on staging after you’ve met with them. Once you’ve built a rapport with them through the consultation, they will be more likely to hire you for a much more expensive service.
Search engine optimization is something you need to have a working knowledge of when you work on your website copy. There are lengthy courses, free and paid, if you’d like to get further into it, but for this course I’m going to give you the main points.
First, you need to be specific in your wording so that the search engines know what your site is about. That means you want to have keyword phrases like “Denver home staging” rather than just “home staging,” which is too broad of a term.
You want people in your area to find you, so make sure you have specifically mentioned your city or town on the site, as well as other areas you serve. Sticking with the Denver example, you can say “Home staging in Denver, Lakewood, Arvada, and Golden Colorado.” If your service area covers various cities or suburbs, go ahead and list them.
Next, be sure to do so only in small doses. While you do want to give search engines the clues they need about who you are, what you do, and where you are, you also need to make it readable. The days of “keyword stuffing” are long past, and a search engine like Google can spot it a mile away if you’re overusing keywords in the hopes of getting ranked higher.
Something like “Jones Home Staging is a home staging company in Denver offering home staging service to sell your home for more money” is definitely going to be frowned upon.
So, make it sound good for humans while giving the engines what they need.
A safe ratio would be to use your keyword once every 100-200 words.
Use your keyword once in your site title and once in your site description.
Ideally, each page should have at least 300 words of copy. Once per page, put a keyword in bold or italics.
All of these are referred to as on-page SEO techniques. Make sure you have good on-page SEO when starting out.
There are other aspects of SEO that you won’t have much control over as you get started, such as having quality sites link to you and having hundreds of social media likes and shares. We’ll work n that in the social section coming up.
Here is the go-to book if you’d like to know more.
Social media is one of the best ways for you to find clients.
There are principles that apply to social media marketing no matter which platform you’re using. You need to post regularly. Make interesting posts that your potential clients/followers will find engaging or helpful. Also, you need to engage with others. Comment on people’s posts, share things, like things. Be yourself and be genuine. Think about it as mingling more than selling.
I would recommend using at least two of these platforms.
Nextdoor (this one is a must)
Nextdoor is kind of like a neighborhood-specific Facebook. Basically what you do is set up a personal account and then start chatting with your neighbor about things going on where you live. Put your business information in your profile so people can find it if they want to know more about who you are. You’ll see neighbors posting about lost pets, furniture for sale, babysitter recommendations, etc. Just spend a few minutes once or twice a day and try to answer a question or take part in a conversation that interests you. You can easily position yourself as an area expert on staging-related topics like home selling tips, decorating, organizing, etc.
With Instagram, create a business account and put up your portfolio photos and other real estate and home staging-related photos. Dog and cat photos are OK now and then Use hashtags to help people find you. For example #denverhomestaging
Pinterest is not one of the platforms I would use primarily, but it definitely won’t hurt to put an account together for your business. All social media account help add credibility and trust factor to your business, when used appropriately.
Always be professional.
In addition to your online networking, you can also start getting to know agents.
One way to do this is by going to open houses. When you walk in, introduce yourself to the agent and hand them a card. Chat with them for a minute if they seem like they have a minute. Don’t tie up the agent when there are potential buyers that they need to be tending to.
Another way you can network with agents is by joining your local Realtor’s association. Most associations have a level of membership designed for businesses that are related to real estate, such as home stagers, mortgage brokers, etc. Here is an example of an affiliate membership page that explains the sign-up process and benefits. As an affiliate member, you can participate in events and functions that can get you mingling with agents in your area. There is probably something similar in our area.
If you’ve gotten some postcards made, go ahead and send some to every real estate office that’s within your desired service area. Just write a quick note on it and drop it in the mail.
Keep it up with these techniques and before you know it you’ll have a list of Realtor contacts that’ll steadily build over time.
Letters/postcards to Realtors
Meeting Realtors at open houses
Ads in neighborhood newspapers
Magnetic sign for your vehicle
Yard sign placed temporarily where you’re working
Neighborhood bulletin boards (coffee shops etc.)
Sponsorships with youth sports organizations like Little League
Sponsored posts on Facebook or Instagram
Word of mouth — talk to people, let people know you’re a home stager every chance you get!