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Influencer marketing

How interior designers can boost their brand through influencer marketing 

From fashion and beauty to food and fitness, people are turning to their favourite Instagram stars, Twitter profiles and YouTubers for advice and recommendations on purchasing decisions in ever greater numbers. As such, influencer marketing has become a preferred choice for many brands looking to reach lucrative, niche audiences of buyers who are likely to make a purchase due to a well-time endorsement.

While the influencer phenomenon in the interiors realm may not be quite so well-versed as the likes of the fashion and travel industries, interior designers are increasingly starting to appear in influencer channels with positive results. From Rebecca Hughes, who transformed the home of fashion & beauty influencer Amelia Liana, to Bradley Reeve, who now counts the likes of Mrs Hinch and Mark and Michelle Wright as clients, the rewards – which are numerous – are there to be reaped.

“Forming a relationship with an influencer or a celebrity is one of the most expedient ways to grow your audience as an interior designer,” says Molly Schoneveld, president of the Storied Group who – representing both interior designers as well as celebrities and influencer – is in a unique position of understanding the work that goes into building personal brands with impact. “Having a notable name attached to your projects will almost always work in your favour if you are looking to grow awareness or even place your project in the press. A beautiful kitchen stands alone, but when it’s the home of ‘so and so’, it’s just more compelling.”

A beautiful kitchen stands alone, but when it’s the home of ‘so and so’, it’s just more compelling.

Molly Schoneveld, president of the Storied Group

Kishani Perera, who boasts many celebrity clients including singer Molly Sims and actress Kate Bosworth, was the first interior designer that Schoneveld represented. “She understood the importance of having notable names on her client roster,” explains Schoneveld, “and it gave her an edge in terms of publicity, visibility in the industry and ultimately allowed her to make a national name for herself.”

Next up, on the back of a collaboration with Hammer and Spear and well-known entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, Schoneveld was able to secure a 10-page print feature in a tier 1 industry title, which was particularly impressive given that it was the brand’s very first project as a new design firm. “Hammer and Spear was founded by husband-and-wife duo Scott Jarrell and Kristan Cunningham who really wanted to solidify their place in the high-end Los Angeles interiors scene,” explains Schoneveld. “The piece gave them clout at a critical time in their new business and helped them to attract new clients.” Similarly, she enlisted Seyie Putsure to design the home of actress Virginia Williams, which also led to an impressive amount of press – and in return, exposure – for the designer.

Influencer marketing: Interior designer Seyie Putsure (left) with actor Virginia Williams
Interior designer Seyie Putsure (left) with actor Virginia Williams (Photo: Ashley Burns)

Bradley Reeve got his ‘in’ to the industry when the company he was working for was enlisted to refurbish the kitchen of Sophie Hinchcliffe – otherwise known on Instagram as @mrshinchhome, whose current follower list stands at 4.5 million. Hinchcliffe was so happy with the job that she asked Reeve’s permission to tag him in a post. “I was a bit of a dinosaur in that regard to Instagram as I didn’t really understand how it all worked,” he tells Effect. “But within ten minutes of her tagging me I had 4,000 new followers. I was able to leave and set up my two businesses – one interior design and one construction company – just off the back of that one post.” Reeve still works with Hinchliffe today, as well as the likes of TV personality Denise Van Outen, reality TV stars Billie and Greg Shepherd, Olivia and Alex Bowen and Mark and Michelle Wright, whose home he recently helped knock down and build up again from scratch.

Within ten minutes of her tagging me I had 4,000 new followers. I was able to leave and set up my two businesses just off the back of that one post.

Bradley Reeve, interior designer

The interior designer-influencer relationship is of course a synergetic one, with the latter also reaping benefits – usually at a cost savings. “They will often get an extremely talented designer to reduce or even waive their design fee,” explains Schoneveld. “Sometimes they might receive furniture or goods at a discounted rate too, or are able to partner with a brand in exchange for donated products. The interior designer is usually the one to facilitate these discounts by leveraging their relationships with the trade.” Then of course there’s the content side of things – influencers are always on the hunt for content and a project property can provide months’ worth of posts.

Saying that, unlike many of these relationships, Reeve has gained such notoriety off the back of his projects that he is now able to charge influencers his full fee. “At the start, people would message me and ask if I could work for free in return for posts, and when I was first starting out I would have said yes, but I’m now at the point where I can simply explain that I have enough work, so I no longer give discounts,” he explains. “Working with influencers really is one of the best forms of marketing out there. With some influencers you might be reaching four million followers, and to get the same reach through marketing you would need to invest in a TV advert. And how much would that cost you? After a post, you’ll need to spend the next 24 hours behind your computer replying to messages, as this is when your influx of enquiries will come through. That’s the peak moment.”

When it comes to choosing which influencers to work with, it can be tempting to jump directly to those with the most followers, but both Bradley and Molly agree that’s not always the best course of action. “It’s better to focus on engagement and audience alignment rather than sheer follower count, and there are a number of important questions to ask yourself before jumping right in,” explains Schoneveld. “What types of client will I attract by working with this person and will their audience have the means and resources to actually hire me need to be considered, while it’s also important to target someone who is equally excited about the partnership and willing to post about it.”

Hammer and Spear helped build their brand by collaborating with a well-known entrepreneur and influencer (Photo: courtesy of Hammer and Spear)

Schoneveld continues: “Many times, influencers can be very rigid with what they will and won’t post to social media so it’s important to have a contract in place if you’re giving a discount or working for free. We prefer to work with influencers who are flexible and excited to share beautiful images of their space rather than focusing on a specific number of posts and fulfilling a quota.” In other words, if the request is incoming and the influencer has reached out to you, it’s especially important to establish parameters from the start and find out what they are willing to post, if they will have their project photographed for the media, and if they are happy for you to use their name in the press.

In Bradley’s case, he similarly recommends taking the influencer’s fanbase into account before taking the leap. “When working with influencers, it all depends on who you are doing the work for,” he says. “Michelle Wright and Olivia Bowen’s followers, for example, will be different to Mrs Hinch’s. I’ve always had a lot more interaction off the back of Sophie’s posts because people follow her for her home content rather than her fashion or fitness choices. It’s what she specialises in. The best thing I can recommend is to look for influencers whose followers are actually looking for interiors inspiration and people who have home accounts as then you will have a higher chance of reaching your target audience.”

With some influencers you might be reaching four million followers, and to get the same reach through marketing you would need to invest in a TV advert.

Molly Schoneveld

From generating sales and creating content to raising brand awareness and converting leads, working with targeted influencers is a no-brainer for many interior designers, especially those new in the business and looking to expand their client base. From the minute an influencer starts talking about your product or service, sales generations start, and with the trusted voice of the influencer now in vogue, there might be no better way to communicate your brand message.

Effect Magazine is brought to you by Effetto