Is your online presence magical or mundane? | Cheryl Kees Clendenon


Positioning is the key word for 2023 for my team and the designers I coach, too.

Understanding how we want the public to perceive our brand and then communicating it in everything we do — beginning with the very first interaction someone may have with our firm or shop, the website or social channels — is an integral part of a strong marketing plan.

I often reference our website as a living breathing extension of our business and we are constantly tweaking, updating and rereading our messaging to make sure it is on point and truly considers the impact it has on potential clients or customers. Same with social media — it is critical for our brand personality to come through.

What are you doing to command attention and stand out?  Key components of good marketing for 2023 demand we position our businesses with intention from the very first interaction. Here are some ideas that deliver magic and not just the mediocre and mundane.

Create a sense of how the client will feel when they hire you or purchase your products.

 People will buy based on how you make them feel about your service, product and the experience of dealing with your business. This is the best way to make it not about price but about your unique selling point. But go look at 10 websites selling product or design and tell me if you can figure out what the unique selling point is in five minutes or less (and of course, an average person is on your site for far less time.)

That USP must be front and center. Do not fear being different; proclaim it loudly and with honesty and truth. Prospects need to see what makes you special right out of the gate.

Identify your target market tightly then speak to them honestly and with a strong voice.

 You do not need every client and customer, only the right ones. Drill down to find your truly ideal client or customer. Don’t rely on the same profile you had 10 years ago. Be important to a few and let the masses go. Develop three concise hashtags that reflect your core brand values and message. This will help focus your team on your message in a quick, on-brand type of way.

Ours are #realpeoplelivehere #detailsmatter #callusforagoodtime. Yes, crazy I know. But this is exactly what we want to project for our design firm: “Don’t worry your pretty little head about anything. We are going to make this (awfully painful sometimes) process exciting, fun and productive.” It is not much different from our shop. We want shoppers who are interested in unique and different, so why not show our unique and different personality? Be real because dammit, there is not enough of it in the world as it is. Do not be a carbon copy of the Instagram darling of the moment.

Understanding the client’s viewpoint and conveying you are “one of them” is one step closer to getting them to nod their head in agreement and beginning a relationship. It is not unlike flirting in a crowded bar.

Establishing common ground is important when a prospect walks into your store or showroom or visits your website or sees you on social media. Someone is “walking into your store” when they click on your name.

Knowing how your prospect views the world is essential to delivering the best customer experience. You do not have to “be” your ideal customer or client, but you do need to relate to them on some level so they can visualize being in the spaces you want to create for them, or shopping in your store.

Have a passion for what you are selling. When you are passionate you are helping someone buy. 

If you are a boutique showroom or a designer, do not sell anything you do not love on some level. Truth. If you do not, find something else. If you love what you sell, you will know it inside and out and you are providing a service as well as a product. Convey this across all media. The passion you bring to your work or business is contagious and mediocrity is the norm these days.

Ask friends and family and especially customers or clients to give you their honest feedback on your marketing “personality” and presence. An awareness of how your brand is perceived is important to discern. Even bad feedback is a good thing. Feedback of any sort gives you an opportunity to develop strategies to address the perceptions. This self-awareness, along with the brand you put forth, can really change how you see your business internally. All it takes is the courage to do ask the questions and the willingness to listen carefully to the answers.


Cheryl Kees ClendenonCheryl Kees Clendenon is the owner of In Detail Interiors in Pensacola, Fla., a small business coach and writes HAT’s monthly Retailer to Retailer column. [email protected]


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