So, you say you'll market your interior design business more in the year ahead? Why? Marketing is meaningless unless you have a specific reason in mind. Too many design professionals don't.

Sure, they have a vague notion that they should promote themselves though social media and other channels as a way to "get more recognition."

Right idea. Wrong reason.

Increasing your recognition is too vague a goal when it comes to mounting a marketing campaign. You need a much more specific, tangible purpose for your promotion.

Like building your pipeline by landing 10 in-home consultations with key prospects by March. Or increasing your corporate hospitality business by contacting five international hotel chains or getting invited to bid on three major office buildings. Or connecting with local real estate companies by doing a guest post for a realtor blog.

Point is, you should promote yourself on purpose by having an intention and a desired outcome in mind for every marketing step you take. If you're not strategic in your marketing, you'll likely waste considerable time and money.

Let's say your desired outcome is to attract more prospects. One of the logical marketing steps you might then take is to create and offer a free report (e.g., "The 12 Costliest Remodeling Mistakes that Local Homeowners Commit") that prospects can download once they provide their contact information.

Another effective prospecting strategy could be to offer an introductory consultation session — call it something like a "design discussion" or a "kitchen conversation" — as a way to introduce yourself to those who don't know you.

A wise and worthy goal for your marketing would be to reach out more consistently to your past and current clients. Why? Because they know and trust you. Management consultant Peter Drucker estimated that you have a seven times better chance of selling something to a client than to a prospect.

Promoting additional services to those you've worked with before will help you avoid one of the costliest mistakes that interior designers commit: leaving money on the table.

Make it a marketing mission to replace "one and done" projects with ongoing relationships. Promote "next steps," such as offering to design a client's vacation home once you finish work on the primary residence. Or suggest remodeling a company's regional offices, after you complete the corporate headquarters.

The most financially-successful design professionals are the most focused in their marketing. They have a laser beam focus on their greater goals every time they talk in front of groups, tweet, write a column, post a video or interact with prospects in other ways.

You, too, can gain that focus by planning before you promote. Before you launch a new marketing campaign, ask yourself three questions:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Why will the outcome justify this use of my time and money?
  • Why will this take my business to the next level?

Bottom line: The more purposeful you are about your promotion strategies, the more successful they — and you — will be. Knowing why you're marketing your design firm is every bit as important as knowing how.