Marketing A Service Business On A Budget

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From HVAC to plumbing companies, it’s safe to say that just about every service-based business can benefit from service company marketing. Marketing efforts not only help gain and maintain a strong customer base but also contribute to growing overall profits. Unfortunately, there’s a strong stigma (and for good reason) that marketing is an endless money pit that digs into your savings and simply can’t be done on a budget.

Well, we’re here to tell you that with the right information and strategy, low-cost advertising for small businesses is possible. With the leading marketing platforms developing a host of major advancements in recent years, it’s now easier than ever for service-based business owners to tackle fresh marketing campaigns on a tight budget. Let’s get started by taking a look at how service-based marketing differs from product-based marketing while exploring affordable ideas to kickstart your strategy.

Marketing a Service: How Service Business Marketing Differs

When figuring out how to market a service, it’s best to start by defining your marketing message. Plus, you have to determine how promoting your service differs depending on the type of marketing used. In general, most field service operations will use both product marketing and service marketing.

Product marketing typically involves promoting a tangible product with a message that is usually showcased with a physical demonstration or an online advertisement. This process is pretty straightforward and requires product marketers to highlight how your product can benefit a consumer.

On the other hand, marketing a service requires one to advertise an intangible product. The goal of service business marketing is to not only sell the services themselves, but also establish a trusting relationship between your trade company and its most sought-after target market.

While a service-based marketing approach may be a bit trickier than product marketing, the good news is that tradies can use a range of inexpensive service-based marketing ideas to outshine their biggest rivals.

8 Marketing Strategies for Service-Based Businesses

Stuck deciding how to promote your business? You’ll need to choose which service marketing strategies make sense for you and your primary goal—such as reaching your target audience, sourcing new prospects, or growing your mailing list. Check out these eight marketing strategies for small businesses to advertise for free (or cheap) that you can mix and match to fit your needs.

1. Google My Business (GMB)

Google My Business is listed today as number one because it’s simply essential for any service-based trade business’ online marketing. GMB is a free tool that helps trade businesses create and manage their online presence and allows customers to find, learn and connect with companies in the area. Signing up for a free GMB means all relevant company information can be displayed on the heavily trafficked Google platform, including location, hours of operation, and contact details.

Establishing a GMB listing also creates a platform for existing customers to leave service reviews. The more positive feedback your tradie operation generates, the more Google’s algorithm will boost discoverability when potential customers are on the Google hunt for a service provider like you. Likewise, the more information you gather on GMB helps create a targeted demographic to better understand where your marketing efforts should be directed.

Pro Tip: You can learn more about the perks of GMB for service business marketing in our Google My Business guide.

2. Referral Programs

As a service-based business owner, you already know that word-of-mouth referrals can help you secure new clients in a heartbeat. Another inexpensive marketing idea involves using this same concept to your advantage by creating a customer referral program. A referral program is used to reward existing customers when they introduce new customers to your company. Rewards can include product discounts, gift cards or free services like system cleaning and tune-ups.

A customer referral program is extremely valuable because it can work in multiple ways. Aside from securing new clients, a powerful referral program helps to foster customer relationships as your existing consumers are encouraged to use your services again in the future. To streamline your referral program efforts, incorporate the use of field service management software that generates referral codes and documents successful referrals.

Pro Tip: To simplify marketing that reaches your clients, download our entire collection of business templates, including one that will guide your referral requests.

3. Blog Content

Developing blog content for your company’s website or through guest posting is a reliable, inexpensive marketing idea that captures attention for your services and increases customer trust. Blog content is multifaceted, meaning it can leverage other digital marketing techniques (like search engine optimisation) to include relevant keywords that can boost your company’s discoverability on search engines like Google.

Other aspects of a content marketing strategy, such as incorporating backlinks and guest posting on respected industry-relevant websites, will further prompt the Google algorithm to recognise your company’s relevance. Similarly, these processes can help establish strong customer trust. Blog content is your chance to highlight your knowledge in the trade industry, display your experience and superior service to new clients, plus these articles can highlight problems that your service solves for your audience.

Even better, a blog post can be completely repurposed on social media and in email content to create multiple opportunities for cheap advertising for small businesses. If you’re not much of a writer yourself, there are numerous platforms like ClearVoice or Fiverr that can connect you with wordsmiths that understand the ins and outs of your industry.

Pro Tip: Search engine optimisation? Backlinks? If blog content creation has your head in a spin, check out our master content marketing guide to learn how to master local SEO.

4. Free Publicity Through HARO

As an industry professional, why not share your extensive knowledge with the public and benefit at the same time? Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is an online platform that connects journalists and bloggers with expert sources like you. If a blogger or journalist is on the hunt for an HVAC specialist or highly experienced sparkie, you can help answer questions they need for their project. This provides a chance for you and your company to be cited in an upcoming article, creating free publicity for your services and demonstrating your team’s extensive knowledge.

5. Host or Attend Webinars and Community Events

Much like with the benefits that accompany a platform like HARO, hosting and attending online webinars and community events is an excellent way to spread knowledge of your expertise and encourage word-of-mouth marketing. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer live features that can be used to host live webinars, as do video-conferencing platforms like Zoom.  

Use these events to teach customers about various maintenance and troubleshooting tips. You’ll highlight your talent and ensure your name comes to mind first when they need help. If you have an office where individuals can meet, consider hosting community events where you can provide perks to attendees such as discounts on your services. These events are perfect for educating local community members, forging strong customer relationships and showcasing why you’re the top choice for tradie services.

6. Service-Based Business Cards

One of the oldest and most cost-effective forms of direct marketing is the classic business card. This small, yet informative piece should always include critical company details like contact names, phone numbers and emails, as well as your specific trade licensing number to ensure you meet local regulations.

Modern business card producers can also help you develop a unique QR code that customers can quickly scan to access your website for more information about services. Likewise, online design companies such as VistaPrint and Canva provide simple-to-use business card templates that create a clean and appealing finished product that ensures your customers pay attention.

Pro Tip: On the hunt for new business cards? We’ve got you covered with this business card playbook. You’ll learn which companies sell business cards for the best value as well as what a small business needs to include on their business card in depth.

7. Social Media

Of all the numerous inexpensive marketing ideas, social media has to be one of the most powerful tools available to include in your service marketing strategy. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all home to millions of users who you can access for service business marketing. However, it’s best practice to update your social media accounts’ pages routinely – at least once a week to deliver top-notch results.

Updates can include engaging infographics or videos focused on topics relevant to your field and local customers, like how to prepare your heating system for winter. You can also use these platforms to advertise service specials and any community events you may be hosting. But don’t forget, a large portion of your social media strategy should also be engagement.

Ensure that you dedicate time to interacting with your audience. Likes and comments go a long way to demonstrate your eagerness to assist customers and push them to request your services. To help broaden your audience, Facebook also offers various free credit promotions that allow you to create Facebook ads that target a specific demographic in your area. Plus, you can pay to boost posts that are performing well to drive even more engagement.

Pro Tip: Unlock these proven social media templates to get started marketing business services.

8. Partner with Local Small Businesses

Networking with local businesses is a simple and cost-efficient marketing tactic to reach potential customers you may have never expected. Local businesses—including hardware stores, moving companies and real estate agencies—all have audiences that could potentially need your services.

As a form of cheap advertising for your marketing strategy, you can offer incentives like service discounts or co-branded promotions if you decide to partner with another local business. You’ll be able to return the favour by referring these various businesses to your customers, whether via a word-of-mouth referral or a social media post highlighting your partnership.

Don’t Let Budget Worries Slow Down Marketing Efforts

No one said learning how to market a service would be easy, but it sure is worth it. Even better, your marketing efforts don’t have to break the bank to be successful. If outdated company processes are taking time away from learning the ropes of service marketing, you may need business management software that can help streamline those tedious tasks.

With FieldPulse, day-to-day tasks like scheduling, invoicing and customer management are all simplified by our easy-to-navigate platform. This way, you can dedicate your resources towards bettering your marketing techniques. To understand which time-consuming processes are easily eliminated from your daily operations, contact FieldPulse and schedule a free demo today.

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