Of the four P’s of marketing, “place” as a designer may not appear as important as the others but its still a subject worthy of discussion and thought for your own business. Market placement is defined in two ways, the actual physical location of your business and the market that you service. eg Demographic and or niche.
Market placement physically, or your location. This is going to depend on the size of your market and the city/s that you service. For smaller areas, under a hundred thousand in population, location often isn’t critical as the distance to travel is much less than say cities of over 500,000. Also the population and physical size of differing cities will influence location. With those cities of one million or more, location can be critical to the success of your business. For example Jacksonville, Florida covers 874 sq. miles with a population of about 1.3 million people, while Denver, Colorado covers 159 square miles with a population of about 2.5million. It’s easy to see that travel times and accessibility to do the design jobs should be easier in Denver. So if working in a city that is very spread out (often those that are built on flat land rather than hilly or mountainous terrain) you need to locate your business where it has easy access to your markets. Time is money and the faster you can service the project the better.
Market Placement within the Market
Market placement within the market. What is your niche or speciality, if you have one. Are you brilliant at large office space planning, or hospitality? Are your services more generic. General decoration of homes or full interior design and alterations of homes? Your services must be tailored to the market. Why would an office fit-out designer be based in the suburbs, or if in hospitality you need to be in a highly populated area that supports many restaurants and bars. Do you need to be close to your main source of income? San Deigo, Las Vegas and Hawaii all have strong tourist and entertainment industries. Would a designer specialising in hospitality ideally be situated in one of those areas?
A number of points need consideration here. If you are well established and have a large clientele and are sort after, often it will make little difference where you are based. Medical or hospital design is a highly specialized niche but to be located beside one hospital would not work, being located close to the governing body or department of medicine may be beneficial though as they will be the decision makers. When you consider the market you work in and what expectations that market has of you as a professional you need to be able to offer the service in the location of that market and the perceptions that the market has of you.
Lets look at some speciality design types.
Domestic or Housing
For large scale projects such as working with developers who require you to help their home buyers what services and facilities would you provide. A showroom with fabrics and samples of furniture and window treatments, paints and joinery finishes. A consultation area that is private from the main showroom where the public are looking at products. Is this showroom to be located close to the areas of the city that are developing or a high traffic area or high visibility area or a combination of the three?
Corporate Office Fit-Out
The closer you are to your market the easier access that your clients have to you and vice versa. New York City, Boston and Chicago are all good examples of cities with large amounts of high rise and general size office buildings. An interior designer specializing in office fitout would ideally be located in that area. Even with a smaller city if you are located in the CBD then you are better able to service those clients.
Surely you need to be close to the areas where retail fitouts are occuring or at the very least be close to where the propety managers or tenancy coordinators are for the largest of malls. Malls generally have a policy of refits every four to five years at a minimum to keep the malls fresh and vibrant. A design business that made itself available to those by location is going to have an enhanced chance of success at marketing to those companies. Of course it is impossible to be located at every mall and many retail shops are part of chains and have inhouse designers. You will need to analyze the market to service those companies efficiently.
So now you’ll be getting the idea about the very basics of what you do and the market (remember the expression cut your cloth to suit?). We as the owners of a design business must realize that the client’s needs drive what products we should be offering. Do you have a niche?