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Design Chicago
Posted by:Denise Butchko,

Social Media Marketing Required.


That’s the “state of design” message that dominated this 2-day design lovers event at the Merchandise Mart, even though there was plenty of design education, discussion, sharing and designer cocktails (Hibiscus and English Tea infused vodka) all around.

Amongst the designer teams from Italy to the English color experts were the NYC digital marketing professionals. And all were accompanied by video cameras and Facebook live streaming, topped off by Instagram posts and Tweets galore.

I noticed that every session related to marketing not only filled all the available seats, but had standing room only attendees filling out the rest of the showroom space.

It seems that mainstream understanding and integration have finally reached critical mass.

Bottom line is that you won’t be effective using old world marketing techniques even if old world antiques are still the passions of your client base.

Effective social media marketing is the linchpin to staying relevant and growing and branding your business.

So here’s a fun stat for you – 93% of people over the age of 35 are on Facebook.

Process that for a moment.

Then look me in the eye and tell me you see no business value in Facebook and that your audience isn’t there.

If, however, you already get that and you’re using (or have tried using) social media to market your business and ended up in the land of confusion and ineffectiveness, the following insights should clarify a few things.

Boiled down, there are really three ways to to categorize your approach to marketing.

Director of Digital for Sandow Publications,  Pam McNally, breaks it out this way:

1)Digital Marketing Companies

A “comprehensive” marketing company that supposedly can do it all. Make sure you test their social media management skills and ask for references regarding social media.


2)Content Marketing Companies

These companies put blogging at the core of their strategy. Content is king and social media are platforms for distribution. Test their social media management skills and ask for references specific to social expertise.

I would add that email marketing is part of that core blogging concept. Don’t just settle for “curated content” and automated posting. Choosing that method for execution is not going to yield you any success.


3)Social Media Marketing

This is probably what you’re looking for if your only focus is managing and distributing the content creation that you’ve already mastered.

I know very few companies in the design/build niche’ that have the art and science of generating great content mastered.

Truth is that things are way too sophisticated now to just put out “crap content”. You have to create and share things that you, yourself, would find clickable. If you’d scroll right over it in your feeds, other people are likely to do the same thing.

So this all begs the question – do you take this on internally or do you outsource?

In either case, you should know your goals and which metrics are relevant and appropriate for you to measure.

If you’re outsourcing, I would want to know what experience the agency has in your industry. Do they speak your language and understand your processes. Also, how often will they update you with information and progress and will one of their employees be doing the work or do they outsource the tasks.

So it seems “Design Chicago”, or design anywhere, goes beyond measurements and material specifications. What’s integral to selling your design work is marketing it.

And marketing it effectively involves social media.

And to end the day on a high note, one of the rock stars of the design industry, Julia Buckingham (Bucking I+D), launched her book “Modernique”. Of course I had to get my own signed copy. And my own “selfie” with her. Not just because I admire the holy heavens out of the design work she does, but because hey, it’s good marketing.

Toasting “Modernique” with author and designer Julia Buckingham


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