Thoughts on Marketing for Small Interior Design businesses


Today I want to give you a simple quick set of tips for effective marketing.

Just five (5) points.

#1 Follow the 10-minute rule

#2 Have a strategy

#3 Think PR not advertising

#4 Gather your evidence

#5 Keep refining it



So let’s start with that “10-minute rule.”

Most small business people say, “I want customers to find me in my city and the neighboring city, maybe the whole county.” They stretch themselves thin. It’s a recipe for ineffectiveness.

The 10-minute rule is a marketing concept from McDonald’s.

They do all of their marketing with in a 10-minute radius of their business. It’s hyper-local. But they absolutely dominate that 10-minute radius. And you should too.

Great businesses do less, and focus more. Think local.



Plans are useless, planning is essential.

Strategy is too large a subject for me to go into here. But small business strategy can be summed up nicely this way:

Be different. When you are different people talk about you. And when people are talking about you, some of those people will buy from you.

Be better organized. A reputation for orderliness advertises your business for you. Franchises – like Starbucks –  make up some of the greatest companies in the world. They are great because they are highly organized. A Starbucks in Michigan is run the same as a Starbucks in Mumbai. Run your business like a franchise.


Brands are built by publicity (PR) not advertising.

You have to talk about your business and get other people talking about your business.

How can you do that? Here’s how not to do that…

Many small business owners (and maybe you also) say “I want the most polished professional website possible so I look like a well established business.”

What you really are is boring. You’re boring.

“Polished” is too generic. It has no personality.

You need to have a big personality. You need to tell a story – your story.

You need to tell it to everyone – customers, partners, suppliers, competitors, the media.

And you need to tell it everywhere – on your website, in your physical location, in your emails/posts/etc., in your sleep.

You need to reach out. Reach out to news websites, bloggers, Youtube creators, etc. about your business and what makes it unique. Reach out to other local businesses, find ways to collaborate; market together. Reach out to the local news.



Whenever you or anyone else talks about you make sure you have a record of it as evidence.

Ask your clients for written feedback about your work for them, and then use it (with permission) for testimonials. Post these testimonials all over your website. Use them in your emails, postcards, everywhere.

Ask delighted customers to review you on google, yelp, and other places.

BONUS TIP. Let potential customers know that you have done work for others in their neighborhood. An easy way to do this is to show visitor passes for their gated neighborhood. It’s anonymous and still effective.

On your wesbite make a “As Seen On…” page. Then whenever bloggers, Youtubers, and websites talk about you post it onto your “As Seen On” page. Then show the page to potential clients, past clients, potential partners, everyone – to let them know you’re famous.


Keep refining.

Marketing is not a destination.

There are great books on marketing that can help you hone your strategy (#2).

Here are the best:

Purple Cow – (summary) – Be different/remarkable and people will talk about you.

Book Yourself Solid

22 Immutable Laws of Branding

Blue Ocean Strategy


That’s all. Now go out there and market your business. Happy hunting.