How to Advertise Your Business: 28 Ways to Get the Word Out About Your Firm

Looking for intel on how to advertise your business and get more clients as a result? Consult this extensive list of ideas culled from pros
How to Advertise Your Business 28 Ways to Promote Your Small Company
Illustration by Tim Lahan

One of the most daunting tasks of leading a company is knowing how to advertise your business. Making sure you do quality work and treat your clients well is the foundation of any good endeavor, but there are so many innovative steps you can take to pull in potential customers and increase your recognizability. Even better news—your marketing efforts don’t have to feel impossible or cost you half your budget. AD PRO is here to help you learn how to effectively and creatively bring in interest without spreading your budget thin so you can focus on maintaining connections. With over two dozen cost-effective techniques, you can find a few (or more) that work for your business and its needs. 

“Successful advertising requires a delicate balance of varying yet complementary efforts,” says Benjamin Johnston, partner and creative director of AD PRO Directory–listed studio Benjamin Johnston Design, in Houston, Texas. “We’ve built our business through a comprehensive approach that maximizes the chances our firm will come to mind when clients are ready to build or decorate their homes.”

1. Attend trade shows and other local events

Knowing how to promote your business locally will help you to spread brand awareness while allowing you to take in new information—like getting to know what your community is actually looking for in your field. 

“Locally, word of mouth is invaluable,” says Bethany Adams, based in Louisville, Kentucky, and principal of Bethany Adams Interiors. “I have several clients who have become great friends and are very generous about recommending me to their friends.”

She recommends volunteering for a committee offering pro-bono design work for a foundation and participating in in-person events like trade shows, trunk shows, or show houses. All of these tactics are low-cost options that involve your local community and word of mouth. 


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2. Hone your business profile 

To ensure that your business is highlighted during a Google search or an alternate search engine, set up free profiles with Google My Business and Bing Places for BusinessYahoo Local ($8–$42 per month) can also help boost your search results in online directories, maps, and even voice-activated searches. 

Adams also recommends getting listed as a trusted professional on sites such as 1stDibs, Freddie (through Schumacher), and the AD PRO Directory. You will attract clients tailored to your specific needs.

3. Build a website

One of the most important marketing tools is your website. If you don’t already have a website, building one can help your firm appear in searches, explain to prospective customers what goods and services you offer, present your portfolio, pricing, customer recommendations, and so on. To keep costs down, platforms such as WixSquarespace, and WordPress offer simple, do-it-yourself templates. Make sure to include a phone number, email, or a direct way to contact your business.

4. Create a strategy

One of the most important marketing strategies for how to to promote your business comes down to two key aspects: know who you’re trying to reach and figure out how to get in front of them. If you’re running a design business focused on coastal homes, for example, but you live in a landlocked part of Texas, the local paper won’t be your best bet. On the other hand, if you’re an interior designer who wants to make a splash in your local market, regional media may be the right choice. Any information you know about your customers—age, demographics, and income level, for example—can help you target them more directly.

“If you’re serious about growing your business, you can’t sit around hoping that the phone will ring,” Johnston says. “Develop a holistic plan that includes each audience you’re trying to reach and then outline daily, weekly, and monthly action items.”

5. Compile contacts

A pop-up window or widget on your website is a not-to-miss opportunity for collecting emails from visitors. Add value by offering an exclusive discount or freebie to those who sign up. You can also add a link into your social media profile with platforms like Linktree to collect valuable contact information while pulling traffic to your website—win-win. 

6. Optimize your email marketing

Once you’ve collected those contacts, it’s time to let them know what projects your business is working on. Send out a newsletter with some regularity, but don’t overstuff their email inboxes, and never spam, sell email addresses, or add names without permission. MailChimpConstant Contact, and Emma are great services to use. Email marketing is still a valuable tool as long as you create catchy subject lines, send your emails at optimal times, and keep your content engaging.

“Share your current projects, firm insights, upcoming events, and any notable business announcements,” Erich Ploog, partner and managing director at Benjamin Johnston Design.

7. Get people talking on TikTok and Instagram 

The social media platforms your future clients already know and love—such as TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn—are effective ways to reach out to them. Make sure to turn the business profile option on your accounts where applicable to get the most data possible about how your content is doing. 

“Instagram is the best free advertising tool you can possibly utilize—post daily, engage with your followers, and make sure the majority of your content is professionally shot,” says Westchester, New York–based Ariel Okin, who runs her eponymous interiors studio and lifestyle publication Fenimore Lane, and is also listed on the AD PRO Directory. “Think of the feed as a magazine spread of your work, and stories as more personal and behind the scenes—and keep it consistent.”

You don’t need to be active on every platform; focus on those that make sense for your business or industry. Create quality content that highlights your achievements, projects, specials, or other worthy news. Social media marketing is one of the best ways to reach new people, especially when you take advantage of suggested accounts. 

“Giving clients a peek behind the curtain can make them feel more comfortable committing to you for a year or more of their lives,” Adams says. 

8. Target your audience with Facebook ads

To get your posts in front of as many eyeballs as possible, consider paid advertising on social platforms to boost your posts or gain more followers. Many allow you to specifically target the audience you want to reach by categories, such as age, location, and interests. Facebook ads are a great place to start and measure feedback. 

9. Use pay-per-click advertising

For certain industries, print ads may be useful, but when it comes to cost and conversions, online ad campaigns are generally more affordable and easier to track and yield more sales. Pay-per-click advertising can help you reach a highly targeted audience and allows you to tailor a message until you get it right. You can use Google Ads to understand your customer base’s habits and needs.

10. Utilize your strengths for content creation

Crafting blog posts, articles or other content on your website can be a significant asset to your search engine optimization. Known as inbound marketing, the idea is to use concepts, terms, topics, and phrases that show search engines that you’re an authority on certain topics. Think about what your business is excelling at and where your expertise lies, and then start writing. 

“Big, extroverted personalities do incredibly well on social media, and social media channels like Instagram stories or YouTube might be a great vehicle for growth,” Johnston says. “If you’re more introverted, you can still utilize reels, static Instagram posts, and even outlets like Pinterest to connect with industry professionals.”

11. Optimize for search engines

Chances are that if you offer valuable services or goods, people are already searching for them. To write the best possible content—or to retool content you already have—and attract those customers, learn what phrases and terms are most searched for, and what terms will help you return the best results in search engines. Search engine optimization can get very complex, but it’s not hard to get a grasp of SEO basics.

12. Create impactful visual content

Great images and videos are also excellent tools for promoting your business online. Videos are not only helpful and entertaining but also much harder to ignore in our feeds. In one recent Hubspot survey, 54% of consumers said they’d like to see more video content from businesses they like. And people are much more likely to click on and retain information when it’s paired with a high-quality image.

“I budget about 10% of my overhead for PR and marketing, which includes the cost of hiring a stylist and photographer to shoot two to three projects per year,” Adams says. “Excellent photos are the key to getting good publicity and good clients.”

13. Give interviews or write guest posts

Consider creating or acting as a source for content for other web destinations too. This can help you become recognized as an expert, get in front of a new audience, and get valuable links back to your own site. Reach out to sites you admire and see if they would be willing to host your article on their platform or if they’re looking for expert input.

“While having a strong social media presence is important, so are press placements in regional and national publications,” Johnston says. “We find that it’s best for those placements to be a healthy mix of earned and paid opportunities.”

14. Send press blasts and direct mail

When you have meaningful news to announce, like unveiling new products or hires, send out informative press releases. Keep an ongoing list of consumer, industry, and B2B press contacts who may be interested in your news; there are also multiple wire services that can help you spread the word. You can even send out direct mail, including physical copies of your latest events or accomplishments, to reach people physically too. 

15. Pad your email signature

Don’t waste the valuable real estate below your email signature. Add customized info about your business, a special offer, or a great review from a customer. Or direct people to your social pages, website, or particular products.

16. Network online

Building an online network of customers, clients, and other business owners is an excellent way to promote your company in an authentic way. Follow and interact with other social accounts you like or find interesting. Comment on or like posts, share, and give shout-outs. Just be sure to engage in an authentic way; don’t use others’ digital spaces to promote your business if it’s not relevant—you may lose followers as a result. You can learn marketing tips from analyzing what’s working for your peers or competitors. 

“Following local businesses and engaging with them on Instagram, TikTok, etc., and posting your work locally where you’d like to get more work is always helpful,” Okin says. “Also, reaching out to other local businesses and seeing how you can co-promote each other.”

17. Host or attend webinars

You already know that attending conferences and industry events is a great way to meet like-minded peers and stay informed. Take it a step further and volunteer to speak at events or sit on panels, which will give you the chance to put your brand in front of new audiences. Webinars are a great place to showcase your expertise and grow your community by interacting with experts in your field. This will make your potential customers know how approachable you are. You can start as small as simply hopping onto Instagram Live!

“Rather than intentionally marketing to a certain client, I try to align myself with other companies or vendors who work on the same types of projects I do,” Adams says. “This makes it more likely that the right clients will find me.”

18. Join professional groups

Whether it’s your local chamber of commerce or a chapter of a national organization like the International Interior Design Association, take advantage of the clout and connections that professional groups can offer. Getting to know other business owners and what has and hasn’t worked for them is invaluable when learning how to advertise your business. It’s often good for your résumé and for referrals too.

19. Give back

Your marketing tactics don’t always have to focus solely on your business and its direct needs. Contribute to your community through volunteering or donations, and allow employees to do so too. It’s a great way to promote your company in the community at large and reinforce your values.

“Get involved in the community through volunteering and fundraising for local causes that are near and dear to you,” says Johnston. “These opportunities invite you to connect with like-minded individuals who may one day be interested in collaborating with you.”

20. Market your successes

Did you win an award? Were you interviewed for an article? Spread that news via a press release, post it on your website, or get the word out on social media. Don’t forget to use proper handles and appropriate hashtags, which can help you extend the reach of your posts. This is an easy marketing strategy to get the value of your business in front of as many potential customers as possible.

21. Join a business incubator

If you’re looking for information about grants, loans, or training, participating in a business incubator can be a great way to connect with other entrepreneurs in the know. If none exist near you, check out the US Small Business Association, which offers general and localized advice. 

22. Focus on quality over quantity

Metrics and goals are important, but don’t focus solely on getting great stats. An interactive online community based around your business is much more impactful than many ghost followers. Nurture these relationships!

“Remember, less than 5% of your followers on most channels will be true followers, but that 5% can change everything,” Ploog says. “Those small but mighty connections are often where the magic happens.”

23. Create a Groupon deal

Consider offering a discount or special offer via a site like Groupon. You’ll attract the attention of potential new customers who weren’t aware of you previously—or who were, but will convert because of the bargain. E-commerce is a booming field, and there’s nothing more exciting than a great deal. 

24. Offer a free consultation

When you offer a free consultation for services, you provide value to a customer—but you get some back too. Even if he or she doesn’t hire you, you’ve got a new name and email for your mailing list. Leave them with promotional material; they may recommend you to someone else or call on you in the future. Follow up in a few weeks and see if they’re still interested. You will leave them feeling impressed and valued.

25. Share great reviews

Have a pleased client or customer? Ask them to leave a review on a site like Yelp, or share one you can post on your website or use in other collateral.

“Word of mouth from past clients is a fantastic source of marketing that no one really values as highly as you’d think because there's so much emphasis placed on social media,” Okin says. “Some of our best clients have come from previous clients.”

26. Consider affiliate marketing

Affiliates are resellers or lead generators who help promote your work or products and, in return, take a cut of the profit sent your way. Just think through your pricing structure and make sure you’re comfortable having affiliates promote your company before you get on board.

27. Cross-promote your company

Team up with other businesses on events, promotions, or offers to tap into each other’s customer bases. For example, a florist and interior designer partnering on a workshop could use both of their email lists to promote the event to a wider audience than one alone could. Digital marketing across other similar accounts, especially small-business owners in your local community, gives you a reach into similar customer pools who more than likely fit your target demographic.

28. Run a contest or giveaway

Ask people to sign up for your newsletter or follow you on Instagram to enter a contest, sweepstakes, or giveaway. People will want what you’re offering, and you’ll get valuable contacts and followers in return. Tip: Read up on the legal particulars first; some stipulations apply.

After following these steps, you’ll likely start generating buzz for your business without a serious capital investment. Continue to keep your client base, followers, and media contacts updated with news, and make sure to keep your digital platforms up-to-date in order to attract new customers who may be looking for a designer just like you.