Connect with us

Beyond Décor: Rachel Nunziata

Textile Printers Should Do These 3 Things to Build Relationships with Interior Designers

Start with understanding their business.

mm

Published

on

Do your homework, understand the designer's priorities, and build a long-term relationship to grow in the interior market. Do your homework, understand the designer’s priorities, and build a long-term relationship to grow in the interior market.

I DIDN’T REALIZE just how much has changed in the past five years until reconnecting with someone from a 2017 work project. My contact had moved, some of our mutual connections left for new careers, and a few, myself included, had babies during a global pandemic. Minutes into our call it became clear to me the world is very much reopening, IRL events are back in full swing, and people are eager to reconnect or pick up where they left off.

During that 20-minute call, we discussed a substrate they specified after guidance from myself and colleagues for a wall product prototype. At the time, my role as the company’s in-house and self-taught SME (subject matter expert) was to spearhead interior décor market development activities. For this project, I was tasked with connecting the designer to a full-service PSP within our customer base who could handle printing, cutting, kitting, and drop-shipping.

In a full-circle moment, I learned the project was back on track after making headway with buyers at a major big-box retailer. Since then, lots of new opportunities have popped up as consumers continue to personalize their homes with unique décor products. But for a product designer and creative new to our industry, finding a PSP that prints on that exact material or could compete with overseas pricing was next to impossible. Keep in mind, the overseas printer offered a subpar alternative that removed paint after six months, a frustrating quandary for this designer, to say the least. They’re still actively searching for a fulfillment partner to print on their specified substrate and pricing that still falls within fair wholesale and retail costs, with a profit.

Three lessons can be learned from this relationship – keyword, relationship. Let’s break them down to help build your reputation with designers, and ultimately convert to more business growth within the interiors market.

Do Your Homework

Have you ever been in a discovery conversation with a potential business partner and you can sense by their line of questioning they did zilch to prepare and are quick to pitch?

Anyone in sales knows that doing some light research before you engage to ask a few tailored questions goes a long way. In this example, I did research early on about their brand and expressed interest and enthusiasm. Designers, like PSPs, mostly work project-to-project, so take it a step further once you’re in the discovery stage and ask detailed questions about their design process. This is a great time to explore how you might work together and educate them on the printing process, including what to expect: anything from file preparation and color matching to different inks and applications.

Advertisement

On a field visit to an A&D firm, I learned offering smaller swatches for each job jacket not only made the contractor’s life a lot easier, but it also increased our chances of doing more business because we provided assets to their procurement teams.

Understand the Designer’s Priorities

One of the challenges this particular designer faced is probably common. There’s a sea of information out there. Navigating which service provider to partner with and then learning all the unbranded terminology of different materials is pretty daunting. Whether the substrate was vinyl or coated fabric, all they knew is the vinyl looked, well, cheap, and the latex printed material initially specified looked premium. Building out a print program for designers should ideally include an in-house SME and a range of substrates geared toward the designer’s taste; the good, better, best pricing approach works here for an additional layer of offerings and flexibility.

Build a Long-Term Relationship

For project-to-project-based businesses, we know every step counts: from introductions, to the discovery, to proposal, negotiations, and through execution. However, assuming you always read Beyond Décor, you know there’s been opportunity to work with designers seeking to create their own lines. If your business has the capacity to tap into wholesale work that incorporates everything a brand needs from start to finish, you should think about how to strategically build long-term relationships with your clientele. It’ll take getting to know the ins and outs of their world, what’s driving them, how you as a business can be in better alignment, and how you can churn out high-quality goods that meet a product-market-fit and pricing requirements. You never know when a one-time project could turn into a partnership.

Have you thought about tactical strategies you and your sales team can implement to grow high-value clients in the décor space? If not, take these three pieces of advice and test them for yourself. Connect with me on LinkedIn or at bigpicturemag.com/beyonddecor. I’d love to know your results.

PHOTO GALLERY (2 IMAGES)

Advertisement

Rachel Nunziata is a digital print business and market development specialist with an undeniable enthusiasm for interior and home décor segments. She is a graduate of Ringling College of Art & Design in Sarasota, Florida, and has a knack for enabling synergies between artists, interior designers, and industry experts. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter @RachelNunziata.

Advertisement

SUBSCRIBE

Advertisement

INSTAGRAM

Advertisement

Most Popular