fan, it's good to see you here, and I know you posted in the reciprocal links forum, but if I can I'd like to digress a little bit (OK, a lot)
I've spoken to friends who are seasoned, high-priced, high-end designers (which I'm not - I do plain vanilla) and the consensus is that web design businesses are built to a great extent on local clientele. I'm not sure I fully accept that altogether, but I seriously doubt that any one avenue of marketing will bring enough results. I think it takes doing a busines plan, and in particular, a marketing plan.
From what I've read, in my particular case I wouldn't pay for banner ads - but I would do reasonably priced ezine or newsletter advertising.
I'm currently getting inquiries because of participation in an email newsletter in which I've given no-strings free advice with zero solicitation. (Why would I solicit business in a market where there are some who do unlimited size web sites with shopping cart and all for $50 LOL). The business coming my way is because of word-of- mouth referrals based on results I've gotten for a couple of sites that they're not getting.
I've read a number of times that advertising in the right newsletters or ezines brings decent returns - I hear it's an inexpensive way to market, too. It's probably a matter of finding the proper niche market to target.
If I wanted to look for clients, I would do so on a local level. Realistically, it wouldn't be worth my while to advertise in the yellow pages at this time - I've assessed the competition, evaluated the pros and cons, etc. I was invited to join a local networking group (a FABULOUS idea, but not practical to get to a breakfast meeting at 7 AM when you work a job online til midnight and then you stay up for hours after on the computer - LOL).
Also, an organization like Toastmasters is specifically geared to networking, and helps build public speaking skills - another avenue for local exposure of your services. You can locate local chapters at www.toastmasters.org
Chambers of Commerce often have monthly mixer meetings - you don't have to be a member to go..call your local chamber, they can also possibly direct you to local networking groups - mine does.
Some people do small pro bono sites for local churches or non-profit organizations to gain exposure and build a portfolio. I had an offer from a local ISP based on a site I did for a local congregation (not a good deal, tho) I recently realized that this is not a bad idea, given the fact that it's an additional inbound link, and that bonafide non-profits get a LookSmart listing for free, which can indirectly help in the linkage scheme of things.
My first area of attack with local marketing would be by cold calling on the phone - I've done phone sales, raising venture capital investments in a pre-IPO startup, so it's very comfortable for me. I did a "sample session" one day, calling out of the Yellow Pages, and the ratio of positive responses for interest or follow-up was 2 out of 12.
Personally, I wouldn't dream of trying to compete, at this point in time, with "web design" as a keyword phrase, as competitive as it is. I'm #3 on AV, plus a few other listings, for web designers my-local-area which doesn't mean a blessed thing, except to display a decent ranking - there are still plenty of sites in that category. If I wanted to compete for a very highly competitive term, like web design, for my site, and felt it would have enough of a ROI, I'd turn to someone with a lot more savvy than I currently have - and certainly someone who does cloaking, which would be highly dangerous in my hands. Meantime, I don't waste my energy or time trying for this area when it's best used elsewhere.
You mentioned planning to do a doorway page. A doorway page is to generate *additional* traffic, and has to be optimized, just as your site does. Why not work on optimizing your current site, and make pages within your site into doorways.
Getting inbound links has merits in raising rank, but the pages have to be properly optimized, or it's placing the cart before the horse. Now, an inbound link for a listing in a local category at Yahoo..that's a different story!
Sorry to get on a roll and off topic. I'm not currently into link exchanges - yes, for other sites, not my own. I will, but not now. It's definitely a good thing, just not for me right now.
I'm sure someone else will answer your specific question,
which I can't do, but I just wanted to pass on a few things I've picked up here and there.
Don't miss this article, if you haven't already read it: