Are you the type that can't envision something until you see it right before your eyes? This can be a problem when you're designing a room - it's hard to be inspired by those tiny paint samples. Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can hop onto the web, and using some of the many online tools available, decorate a fantasy room, right down to the furniture placement, color of the walls and accessories.
There are a lot of sites out there providing decorating assistance, but here are two I've found helpful.
1. Better Homes and Gardens:
This tried and true magazine has a variety of user-friendly tools for painting a room, the exterior of a house, choosing drapes, designing a closet, a deck or planning a garden.
Choose from a variety of rooms with different themes such as Escape from Beige land, Bungalow Living Room, Bookshelf Nook, or Updated Casual Living Room. Next, choose colors for the walls, furniture, throw pillows, and fireplace. Add corresponding stripe or check patterns to your sofa and accessories, or create a leather look. You can even add a stone or tile finish to the fireplace. Click on each room feature and then click on the color or pattern tab below to see what choices are available for each item.
This allows you to view different window treatments before you go out and spend the cash. Start by selecting a window, then choose your wall color, drapery rod, or curtains. If you select a style with sheers and tiebacks, you can color those as well with a variety of shades and patterns.
This is where you plan the design treatment for the exterior of your home. Begin by selecting the desired house style, including Elegant One-Story, Wrap-Around Porch, Dormered Cottage, Covered Entryway, Bungalow, etc. Choose from the roof, trim, siding, trim, shutters, and door, and paint to your heart's content.
Once you're done, you have the option of saving your room, printing it off, or emailing it. This is a great way to play with new design trends, and experiment with colors outside your safety zone.
Take the first step toward creating your dream closet by playing with an online design. Begin by setting your wall size and choosing your closet style. Keep in mind when selecting a walk-in with 2 or more walls, you have to choose which wall you are working on to apply your design ideas. Next, pick your rod, shelf, divider panel, door, cabinetry, wire shelving, drawers and even shoe shelves. Each of these can be re-sized accordingly. I found this part of the tool a little awkward and it was difficult to get a sense of how the furniture would fit properly.
Next, choose from the types of clothing and actually fill your closet to see if your choices make sense. The final tab "List Contents" gives you a summary of your choices.
Imagine your deck built with the click of a mouse, including furniture, accessories, stairs, trees and flowers. Start by selecting a new deck and indicate your desired yard size measurements. Go to Structures and choose from among deck shapes, posts and railings, walls, doors, stairs and windows. Drag each item onto your screen and click info to view the dimensions, or select one of the surrounding boxes to drag the desired shape. Add privacy walls, screens, benches, tables and chairs, plants and even a hot tub. This was an easy tool to use and provides a very good rendering of the final product.
2. Home Sense (homesense.ca) - Fall Trend Guide:
This is a slick, online flash tool, designed to use Home Sense Fall inventory to create a designer room. Begin by choosing from the Safari or Bohemian Style and suddenly, your room opens up. Curtains drop down, and bare bones furniture items are laid out to expose a room badly in need of enhancements.
View items from various categories and drag and drop into your room. As a user, you don't have to think to hard - once selected, each accessory is automatically placed in a strategic position in the room.
Upon completion, you have the option of printing the design and creating an instant shopping list. This is ultimately a catalogue that attempts to pass itself off as a design tool. It does an excellent job, however of demonstrating how to use various accessories effectively and may give you some good ideas.
Learn all about Florida's Emerald Coast, and the Destin real estate market, at EdKirkland. This site has everything you need to get started in the market, whether you're buying, selling, or investing. Our users enjoy a free home search and extensive information on local communities, such as the Seagrove Beach real estate area.
When any business is writing its email marketing campaign, part of its goals are to ensure that the emails you send are received and read by the intended recipients. As we all know in this digital age, every inbox is inundated with email messages from both people we want to hear from and those that we don't.
In order to cut down on receiving email that we don't want we set up SPAM lists of users, words, phrases and other key factors on our desktops and laptops not only do we as individuals do this but also our Internet Service Providers (ISP) have their own master lists, so Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo and AOL pre filter our email before it reaches our inbox.
This is a list of some of the not so obvious words and phrases that won't pass through the standard SPAM filters:
• Debt Free
•...and of course the list of course goes on and on!
So how do you avoid your carefully planned and executed email marketing campaign ending up in the junk or SPAM folder?
Spend some time planning your goals for each email marketing campaign; a sales email will have a different set of results to a newsletter, as your readership will expect to see different things. Think carefully about how you word your subject line as this is what will initially make the difference between a read and not read email.
For instance don't say "Fantastic not to be missed once in a lifetime free offer"
You could say "Dear (insert their first name) we have a special offer available for you"
Spend time on wording your email marketing content, be careful to make sure that your content matches your readers expectation, a newsletter is generally meant to be informative not a sales message.
When you have prepared your email, get it professionally checked against known SPAM filters (commonly known as pre-send SPAM testing), and should it fail, spend some time looking at why it failed and how you can best improve this and future email campaigns.
Below are some useful tips and hints that could start to make a difference to the results of your email marketing campaigns.
Use professionally designed HTML emails with well written content and code.
Don't forget to title your email.
Spelling and grammar are very important when writing to clients whether digitally or not.
Don't just send images; make sure to add some text.
If you are using HTML code when sending your email makes sure that you always send a plain text version.
It seems like the worse the economy is, the more marketing advice I hear thrown around. I'll spare you the long winded lecture explaining that you should have been marketing your landscape design business just as much when times were good as when they are bad.
Instead, I'll focus on five marketing strategies that landscape designers can implement that meet two specific criteria: First, these strategies can generate more business immediately, and second, each can be implemented at very little cost. I understand that no one wants to hear about long term marketing strategies that come with a large investment up front. Here we go...
Seek Free Publicity
Getting free publicity is easier than you may think. Our local press and media are hungry for positive stories right now. Chances are you are sitting on a unique story right now that someone would like to write about. The mistake that most landscape designers make is that they wait for the media to contact them. Now is not the time to wait around, you need to approach the media with your story first. Here are some potential story ideas:
· Unique landscape design projects you have recently completed.
· A unique design feature you have implemented such as a system to re-use storm water on site.
· Problem/Solution-how did you solve a difficult problem on site with a creative solution?
· Landscape design awards and certifications you and your employees have earned
I have found the best way to get publicity is by sending well written press releases. Sending a press release via fax is most appropriate. If you need to include photos, then postal mail is the best way to send a release, not via broadcast email unless you have permission. I have also had success posting press releases online using free services such as PitchEngine.com.
The benefits of free publicity are many, but most importantly you will be positioned as an expert in the eyes of homeowners, local business leaders and your peers.
For me personally, networking is one of those "ugly" words that conjures up thoughts of traditional salesmen in lousy suits and fake smiles. That said, you can not minimize the powerful effect that networking can have on your landscape design business. Not only can strategic networking bring about immediate results, it also leads to long term business success in the form of collaborative and mutually beneficial relationships.
There is no better time than right now to develop a comprehensive networking strategy. Take a look around you, are there other landscape industry professionals you can collaborate with? I know of many landscape designers who partner with landscape contractors, and vice versa. Do you know of other allied professionals you could refer, and receive referrals from? Remember, we're all in this same economic situation together.
I also highly recommend joining networking groups such as your local chamber of commerce and referral groups such as BNI (Business Networking International). Less work means more time for networking right? So get out and meet some new people. This almost always leads to immediate business.
Most of you by now are probably familiar with e-newsletters, or e-zines. You have probably had many delivered to your inbox, with or without your permission. Permission-based email marketing is an easy and inexpensive way to stay in contact with past clients and your other business contacts. If you have done a good job of collecting contact information from past clients and others, now is the time to develop an e-newsletter.
Monthly newsletters are the most succesfull, but if you cannot consistently produce a monthly newsletter then consider a quarterly mailing. In my experience cost typically ranges from $15 to $30 per month for a service that enables you to design your newsletter, maintain your email list, send the newsletter and give you detailed reports. I have used and recommend ConstantContact.com as well as AWeber.com.
The key to producing a quality e-newsletter is to provide valuable content to your readers. Sure, you can write about current landscape design projects and the latest happenings in your business, but make sure you are providing helpful and useful information as well.
Pay Per Click Advertising
If you hesitate to spend big bucks on traditional print advertising, then consider advertising online in the form of "Pay Per Click" advertising. Google is the predominant player in PPC advertising, but Yahoo also offers a service. With PPC, you have direct control over how much you want to spend. And unlike traditional print advertising, there is no time lapse between when your ads run like with monthly magazines.
A somewhat new player in the game of pay per click advertising is the social networking site Facebook. When advertising on Facebook, you actually have the option to select very specific demographic groups you want your ad to appear in front of. Because ppc on Facebook is relatively new, there will be less competition if you get in the game now. Like with anything new, I suggest doing your research before jumping into pay per click advertising.
Finally, think about ways you could collaborate with your landscape industry peers and other allied professionals. Co-op marketing and advertising is less expensive when two parties split the costs. Not only that, but you can build credibility when you link your landscape design company with another successful company.
I know of landscape designers and landscape contractors who have advertised together, splitting the cost and the leads generated. The best example of co-op marketing that I have seen in our industry is when like-minded companies put on workshops together. Garden centers and nurseries can host workshops in which they invite landscape designers and contractors to present their expertise. This is a win-win for each.
Do you know that you can actually turn your garden into a money maker? Yes, you can. Do you enjoy designing garden beds? Do you receive lot of appreciation for your garden beds? Then it is the right time for you to start garden business. This articles explains about how to start and run a gardening business.
a. Start telling people that you can design their gardens for a fee.
b. If you do not have a degree in landscape architecture, check out the state's regulations before doing any structural garden design. You may have to work with a landscape architect to create and implement structural garden beds.
c. If all this looks a tedious work, you can work on maintaining others garden beds. Many people need advice in maintaining their gardens.
d. Many people grow plants to sell to plant nurseries. Some rent them out. Some, sell their plants in their backyard through online marketing and by displaying ads in local paper. Get a state grower's license before selling plants.
e. You can also prepare gift baskets and sell them to the people in your area. You can sell them using online marketing.To sell gift baskets, all you need is garden, baskets and flyers.
f. Create a blog and start blogging about gardening and offer tips to the readers. Post the images of your garden and gift baskets in your blog. Make videos and upload them in different sites.
Design flyers and distribute them in your area. Collect online subscribers using article marketing. Email them about your gardening business. You can write an eBook on gardening and sell them to your subscribers.