Lapro Blog

50+ Free and Low-Cost Ways to Promote Your Business


blog-image

This blog is updating. More and more tips and tricks will be shared to help you grow your business.

You are running a home service business, huh? Great! Here comes the questions:

  • What’s the best way to promote your business?
  • How can you advertise your business and get your name in front of potential prospects when money is tight or you’re just starting up?
  • How can you get the word out about your business in the most affordable way?

Providing home services to your local community is the foundation of your business, but your community needs to know about your business. When you’re competing with the big businesses getting the word out about your home services business can be difficult, whether you’re running a plumbing business or a handyman shop. Luckily, there are 50+ tried and true ways to market your home services business that will enable you to gain customers and build your reputation as the best in town.

Here are our list of the best ways to promote your home service business. You can’t go wrong with these (and most of them are free)!


Section 1. Market your business on Google (3 Free Ways)
Section 2. Use Facebook to Manage and Promote Your Business
Section 3. Grwoth Hacking: build and grow your loyal customers
Section 4. Local Marketing: local SEO, marketplace and media
Section 5. Telemarketing: Email Marketing, Postcard/Direct Mail, SMS and Telephone Marketing

Market your business on Google

Every second, there are 40,000 people searches on Google - that’s over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. As you may know, a lot of top home service brands as well as local shop rely on Google to grow their business. According to SimilarWeb, 84% of traffic to Roto-Rooter, the leadning plumbing franchises with revenue of $1.26 billion dollar, is from Google. 23 of Quick Key Locksmith’s, a local small mobile locksmith in Chicago. And 100% of NYC Carpet Cleaning Service’s, a carpet cleaning company in NYC. Therefore, you can’t ignore Google when you create your marketing strategy.

Let’s dig into it. I’ll give you an example to show you what marketing solutions Google provides and how you can promote your business.

First, let’s do a search “carpet cleaning near me”, what do you see? In general, there are 4 ways to promote your local service business on Google. We’ll mention Youtube as well since it’s Google’s.

  1. Google Maps Marketing (GMB)
  2. Google SEO
  3. Google Ads (Adwords)
  4. Google Local Service Ads
  5. Youtube marketing

Google search results screenshots:

google carpet cleaning screenshot -0
google carpet cleaning screenshot -1
google carpet cleaning screenshot -2

1. Google My Business (aks Google Maps Marketing)

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: Less than 1 hour
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Google My Business (GMB) is a free and easy-to-use tool for you to manage your online presence on Google. These are listings that are displayed on Google Maps, and can be featured in standard searches as well. If you’ve ever searched for a business near you, you’ve probably seen these.

If you verify and edit your business information, Google My Business listings help local business appear in an average of 1,009 local searches per month, making them a great way to get the word out to the community around you. Meanwhile, you can both help customers find your business and tell them your story.

Promote your home service business FREE

Become a Lapro Pro today and receive leads for free.

Become a pro

2. Google SEO

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: Ongoing
  • Expertise level: Expert

If you’d like to improve your visibility in Google without paying indefinitely, the other option is to work on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO is the process of optimizing the code, copy, and design of your site to be appealing to search engines such as Google. Whenever anyone performs a search, Google’s algorithm tries to show the best results, so if you have a high-quality site you have a better chance of being shown near the top of the results where customers can see you.

This process takes time, but if you can get to the first page of the Google search engine results, you stand a good chance of maintaining your position with little ongoing effort. And with Google taking up a whopping 75% of all online searches, the work is certainly worth it over the long run.

3. Google Ads (AdWords)

  • Cost: Pay per click
  • Time: Months
  • Expertise level: Expert

Google Ads (previously AdWords) are a great way to promote any home services business. When people need something, Google is the first place they go, and Google Ads are a great way to ensure that you stay visible. In fact, according to a survey by WebVisible and Nielsen, 86% of consumers say they look online to find local businesses.

To set up Google Ads, you just need a website, and a Google account. If you’re not sure how to set them up, Google has an entire free, online academy dedicated to teaching you, making it accessible for businesses of all sizes.

To make the Google Ads work for you is not an easy job. You will need know how much you can pay for advertising. If you can convert you customer really well, you probably can afford the main keywords. Otherwise, you will need find keywords with lower competition. Let’s say, if 10 people call you via Google Ads, you can convert 5 of them with average customer pay you $50. This translates to $25 revenue per call ($5x5/10). You can calculate your profit then decide how much you can afford to pay per call. Essentially this is pay by performance, which is affordable for you to test and scale your business.

You can also find a lot of tricks to optimize your strategy. If you directly buy for keywords “landscaping boston”, that probably will cost you $3.5 to $10 per call or per click. But you can also discover some other query people search with lower competition, especially when people search for information.

4. Google Local Service Ads (Google Guarantee)

  • Cost: Free and paid
  • Time: 1 hours to several days
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Another option beyond standard, text-only ads, are Local Services by Google. Instead of leading to a landing page you create, these ads lead to a Google page with your information on desktop, or buttons to call your business directly from mobile.

These ads only display in your local area, and you only pay when you get phone calls as a result of the ad. With 78% of local mobile searches resulting in a purchase, these ads create a win-win situation. Your customers get to find you quickly, and you get more business without paying an arm and a leg.

You are able to get Google Guarantee or Google Screened badge, which stands for trust for your customers. Even better, if you’re Google Guaranteed, you may also be listed as a local provider on the Google Assistant. You won’t pay for this service. When your potential customers ask “OK Google, find me a plumber.” on their Google Nest Home or Google Assistant on the iPhone, you’re there. You’re the choice, isn’t it great?

google guaranteed: locksmith nyc

5. YouTube Marketing

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: Ongoing
  • Expertise level: Entry level

If you’re good on camera, YouTube ads are a great way to advertise your business and get new customers. This medium has risen dramatically in popularity in the last few years, but there’s still a lot of opportunity. In fact, YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds on mobile alone than any TV channel.

Many business owners are intimidated by the prospect of going on video, so if you’re willing to do it, you can create a massive competitive advantage for yourself. Odell Complete Concrete, a concrete contractor in Fountain Valley, CA, leverages Youtube to drive business from their 171k subscribers. These videos give them millions of free branding.

If you’re on the fence, fear not. Google provides a list of service providers that can help you create a video ad campaign. YouTube is owned by Google, and so provides a wide variety of targeting options so you can make sure to reach your ideal customers.

Odell Complete Concrete youtube

Facebook Business Manager

1.6 billion people every day. 2.45 people every month. What does it mean? Yes, this is how powerful Facebook is - half of the population in the state open Facebook daily. You can almost reach most of your potential customers on Facebook. We will introduce you how to manage your business on Facebook today.

  1. Facebook Marketplace
  2. Facebook Pages
  3. Facebook Groups
  4. Facebook Advertising
  5. Instagram
  6. Facebook Messenger Marketing and Chatbot
  7. Whatsapp for Business

6. Facebook Marketplace

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: Several minutes per day
  • Expertise level: Entry level

One of the newer options for advertising your home services business on Facebook is the Marketplace. Initially created to let users list products for sale, in early Q1 of 2018, Marketplace expanded to allow a section for home service providers such as cleaning companies or contractors to list their services.

This makes perfect sense for businesses and users because it expands natural word of mouth advertising. Neighbors in a community naturally ask each other for recommendations, so Marketplace profiles are a great tool for sharing. As a business owner, you can list pictures, company info, and promotions, similar to a Google My Business profile. Then, users can reach out directly to you through Facebook Messenger, making communication simple and easy for everyone involved.

7. Facebook Pages

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: Less than 1 hour
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Another way of reaching Facebook’s platform is creating a business page on the platform. This is a profile where you can post information about your business, along with pictures and update posts about specials or promotions.

While the organic reach of these business pages has declined in recent years, they can still be a good way to get the word out about your business. Especially if you’re selling a high-priced service like home renovation or new water heater, people are likely to research your business as much as possible to make sure they’re making a good decision. This is just another opportunity to make a good impression.

8. Facebook Groups

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: Serveral minutes per day
  • Expertise level: Entry level

On the other end of the Facebook spectrum from Facebook Page are Groups. Unlike the former, Groups are gaining reach on the platform ever since 2019 when CEO Mark Zuckerburg announced they’d be as important to the platform and family and friends.

Groups are a place for like-minded people to come together and share ideas. For example, you could create a Facebook Group all about your area of expertise, such as house painting. Then, anyone with questions about house painting could join your group, and if you post regularly, you’ll position yourself as an expert who’s trustworthy and a great person to do business with.

9. Facebook Advertising

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: Ongoing
  • Expertise level: Entry level to expert

Facebook is one of the largest social platforms available today, with users of all ages and demographics. In fact, the platform has over 2.38 billion active monthly users, so your potential customers are definitely using the platform.

Fortunately, you can easily reach potential customers using Facebook Ads. Facebook provides a variety of advertising formats, so your ads can show up in the platform’s newsfeed with one picture or multiple, as a video, or even on Instagram (owned by Facebook).

10. Instagram

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: Serveral minutes per day
  • Expertise level: Entry level

The other method on this list is Instagram. While we touched on the paid advertising options available through the Facebook platform earlier, the organic reach of Instagram is still very good. This is especially a great tool for businesses that create visually impressive work like contractors or painters, who can post pictures of finished jobs to show off skills and results.

If your business is a little less photo-happy, don’t worry, as you can still find other ways to take advantage of this visual platform. Posting short videos explaining important concepts and educating your audience or showing happy customers and your community involvement are all great ways to get active. Make sure to intersperse case studies and education with calls to action or promotions every once in a while, and your audience is sure to bite if you’ve captured their interest and offered something valuable.

If you’re still on the fence, remember that 31% of individuals who make over $75k per year are active on Instagram. This is a great way to reach high-value customers in an engaging format that’s sure to draw attention.

11. Messenger or Chat Bots

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: Serveral minutes per day
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Nowadays, we all use digital chats and messaging apps. So, go to where your customers are–and send them an introduction message through Facebook Messenger or leverage a chat bot on your website! Research shows that 56% of people would prefer to send a message than call for customer service support. Pro tip: write your messages in a way that it appears as though you are reaching out personally and you’ll get more replies!

12. Whatsapp for Business

TBD


Growth Hacking: build and grow your customers

The typical growth hacker often focusses on finding smarter, low-cost alternatives to traditional marketing. You may hear about the Pirate Funnel, also called the AARRR framework, which is developed by Dave McClure, the founder of 500 Startups and well-known startup personality back in 2007. It helps startups think through the five most important metrics of their business: acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue.

AARRR framework

(source)

Can we apply this framework to the home service business? The answer is YES, and you should definitely consider your business and try to map the whole marketing process. Below are a few technique typically used in growth hacking and we believe you can apply it - you may check the AARRR stage below.

  • Acquisition: how your clients find you.
  • Activation: client’s first experience with your service, for example, response time, customer service, and quality of service.
  • Rentention: return clients.
  • Referral: clients recommend you to their friends.
  • Revenue: the profit you gain.

14. Sweepstakes, Giveaways or Contests.

  • Cost: Low
  • Expertise level: Entry level
  • AARRR Stage: Acquisition

We all love winning! Sweepstakes (or giveaways) are a great way to create a buzz about your business. Giveaways are when you give away a product or service in exchange for contact information of potential customers. You can promote your giveaway on your website and social channels. Don’t ignore the power of sweepstakes! Even Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping and HGTV run their sweepstakes, and daily giveaways!

Make sure you’re thoughtful about what you choose to give away. It’s best if the prize connects to your service. For example, if you’re a painter–give away one painted room for free, or if you mow lawns you could give away a free month of lawn care service! Don’t forget to be professional and have terms to your contest!

BHG sweepstakes

15. Offer Discounts

  • Cost: Free
  • Expertise level: Entry level
  • AARRR Stage: Acquisition

Let’s face it, people want to save money. They’ll even spend money they weren’t planning on spending just to save some money.

One could argue that giving a discount means you’ll make “less” money, but in reality, it brings in business you wouldn’t otherwise have had. And that’s always a win. Afterall, 83% of consumers report that coupons impact their purchase behavior.

Consider offering a coupon through these outlets:

  • Valpak mailers
  • Facebook ads
  • Postcard mailings
  • Email promotions
  • Community newspapers and magazines

16. Freebies

  • Cost: Low cost
  • Expertise level: Entry level
  • AARRR Stage: Acquisition

The only thing better than a contest? Getting something for free! Freebies can help your potential customers learn who you are and increase their trust in your brand. It’s simple–give them something for free in exchange for brand awareness. For example, if you’re a cleaning company maybe you give away free dusting wipes at a trade show or in your ideal customer’s neighborhood. Freebies can happen online too–you could create a free downloadable PDF that offers valuable information for your customers.

17. Ask for Reviews

  • Cost: Free
  • Expertise level: Entry level
  • AARRR Stage: Retention

Reviews are one of the most important aspects of good promotion for home services companies and everyone else. The reason for this is simple: reviews breed trust.

According to a suvery in 2019:

  • 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 52% of 18-54-year-olds saying they ‘always’ read reviews;
  • The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business;
  • Only 53% of people would consider using a business with less than 4 stars.
  • The average consumer spends 13 minutes and 45 seconds reading reviews before making a decision

If you don’t have many reviews for your company, spend some time generating them. You can ask for reviews on your social media sites, website (if you have a review functionality enabled), niche platforms and directories, and any other listings you partner with. When you get a good review, share it across your social media platforms to spread the good news.

18. Convert Customers into Subscribers

  • Cost: Free
  • Expertise level: Entry level
  • AARRR Stage: Retention

What’s better than new customers? Regular customers. Only a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25% increase in profit, so don’t take this one lightly. And when you can count on consistent business from your customers, you can schedule your work easier and you can spend less time chasing after new business.

Make it enticing for customers to convert into subscribers. Offer home-owners lower rates for subscribing to your service on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. Treat them like VIPs so that they continue your service for the long haul.

19. Get Recommendations

  • Cost: Free
  • Expertise level: Entry level
  • AARRR Stage: Referral

There’s no better form of advertisement than a personal recommendation. After all, we trust our friends and family way more than we trust an ad. The benefits of referral marketing are in the stats:

Seek recommendations from current and past customers by implementing a referral rewards program. Request referrals and don’t be shy about it. Make it a win-win-win by offering a discount to the referee and the referral when those referrals turn into customers.

20. Establish a Referral Program

  • Cost: Free
  • Expertise level: Entry level
  • AARRR Stage: Acquisition

Did you know that customers acquired through referrals have a 37% higher retention rate than customers not obtained through referrals? Additionally, 81% of consumers are more likely to engage with brands that have reward programs.

One of the best ways to grow your business is to develop a referral program. To incentivize people to participate, offer a referral discount (both for the new customer and the person who referred them). Advertise the referral program on your company website and at the bottom of your email newsletters. You can also share it on social media for added engagement.


Local Marketing: Local SEO, Marketplace and Media

As a home service provider, you have to attract prospects who are close enough for you to visit to provide service. In marketing, there is a special way to leverage local marketplace, directories and media to drive such traffic - Local marketing, also known as “location-based marketing” and “neighborhood marketing”.

21. Posting to Craigslist

  • Cost: $5 per post
  • Time: serveral minutes per day or outsourcing.
  • Expertise level: Entry level

It’s hard to imagine that good-ol’ Craigslist is still a viable option for marketing; it certainly seems like it would be too saturated now to be effective.

Believe it or not, many businesses are still finding success with Craigslist. It starts to make more sense when you look at the numbers: Craigslist has over 10 million unique visitors per day. Getting engagement from even a small piece of that can mean huge returns.

For home service providers, “services” section is the categoy you need choose. Posting fee is $5 per post nationwide, as of January 2020. It’s fairly easy to use Craigslist to post. However, to make your phone ring, you may need choose the type of services that works for you. And you should consider your sales points to make your post standout. Popular service types includes: household, labor/move and skill trades.

craigslsit sf bay area services

22. Yelp for Business

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Featuring your business on Yelp is vital for small businesses, especially those that provide services like plumbing, electrical work, roofing, lawn care and more. Homeowners need to trust your reputation and your clients and customers can leave reviews about their experience with your business.

Yelp also gives business owners the digital tools they need to help them connect with the community and grow their business through Yelp Ads.

23. Online Yellow Pages

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Remember those clunky books full of phone numbers and addresses that you used to receive in the mail? They were called The Yellow Pages and they’re a directory of contact information for individuals and businesses. You don’t receive them anymore because they’ve gone digital! Now you can go to YP.com to search and create listings. And a lot of people do–reports suggest that over 80 million people use their website each month! Create your account today, so people can start finding (and using) your services! Not sure how do that? Check out this video with step-by-step instructions.

24. Promote your services on NextDoor

  • Cost: Free
  • Time: Several minutes
  • Expertise level: Entry level

NextDoor has exploded this year as a social media platform for neighbors to share information with each other. Being recognized as a trustworthy and quality service provider on NextDoor can be the ultimate “word of mouth” promotional source. The key to ongoing promotional success within NextDoor is to create “Local Deals” that advertise your services to specific neighborhoods. This is a chance to highlight a specific service and market your business and entice homeowners with a discount or deal. Local Deals must run for a minimum of seven days (and a maximum of 30) and tailored to a specific audience and region. And there is an appeal from within the neighborhood NextDoor community by offering an opportunity to support local businesses.

25. Amazon Home Services

  • Cost: Pay per sales
  • Expertise level: Entry level

26. Become a HomeAdvisor Pro (and Angie’s List)

  • Cost: Pay per lead
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Online home service directories, such as Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are huge sources of business for local service providers. These directory services are very successful in capturing specific customer leads and matching them to a nearby service provider for projects ranging from kitchen remodels to basic lawn care. The best way to leverage the leads from these directories is to act fast. Customers that engage with HomeAdvisor or Angie’s List are often looking to start a project right away and attacking a lead with an immediate response can significantly increase the potential for growth. This is a great strategy for active promotion instead of sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.

27. Become a Thumbtack Pro

  • Cost: Pay per lead
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Thumbtack is a newer alternative to the traditional directory services that allows providers to list and advertise their businesses, and then openly compete for projects that homeowners seek professionals to do. Spend some extra time strengthening your online profile, and adding pictures and recommendations for completed projects, and Thumbtack can be an awesome way to highlight your services and catch the eye of a prospective customer. Before going all in with Thumbtack, do your own research and learn how popular it is in your specific region. Thumbtack is still growing, and it might take more time before it becomes a good tool in your region.

28. On-demand local marketplace: Handy.com, Taskrabbit, and Puls

  • Cost: Pay per sales
  • Expertise level: Entry level

29. Other local marketplace: Houzz, Porch etc.

  • Cost: Pay per lead
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Telemarketing

30. Email Marketing

  • Cost: Free
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Email marketing is critical for home services businesses and is extremely cost-effective. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing on average, sees a 4300 percent return on investment (ROI) for businesses in the United States. Targeted email drip campaigns and newsletters keep your clients up to date with what’s going on with your business and is a great way to offer them special promotions and discounts. If your business is lawn care, you can send out home yard maintenance tips or other valuable content to your clients. Some of the best email marketing tools available currently are Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber, and Campaign Monitor. You can use Drip to turn customer data into customer loyalty.

31. SMS Marketing

  • Cost: Free with your cell phone
  • Expertise level: Entry level

Text message marketing is becoming more popular with small business owners. Sending text message reminders of appointments, meetings, and service dates is super convenient for busy homeowners that might not check their email often but still need reminders of when their services are. Some home services providers such as HVAC companies, can also send out SMS reminders that it’s time to schedule duct cleaning. Roofing companies can send out reminders to schedule biannual inspections and maintenance. Your customers will appreciate the reminders and you’ll gain more business.

Check out these other top text marketing service providers for businesses.

32. Telemarketing

  • Cost: Medium to high
  • Expertise level: Expert

Outbound marketing, where you call your customers, is a great way to generate leads, upsell services, conduct customer satisfaction surveys, and set future appointments. After a tech completes a service for a homeowner, someone should call and follow up with that client who will appreciate the care shown by your business. An outbound telemarketing service is perfect for this task! Inbound telemarketing is also a helpful tool for home services companies because it allows you to offer after-hours answering services that can page your technicians in the event of emergencies. When you use inbound telemarketing, you can also upscale your customer service and support for your customers.

33. Direct Mail Marketing

  • Cost: Medium to high
  • Expertise level: Expert

In this digital world, snail mail is still a real thing. The Direct Marketing Association’s 2013 Response Rate Report found that direct mail marketing yields a far cheaper cost-per-lead than other marketing methods: postcards ($51.40 cost-per-lead) better than email ($55.24), print ads ($60.50) and telemarketing ($190.49). People check their mail for bills and letters from grandma–so don’t forget about direct mail marketing.

Here’s how it works:

You create professional and attention-grabbing flyers or letters that advertise your services and potential customers receive them in their mailboxes. And these work. In fact, marketing expert, Neil Patel says that direct mail converts at 29%.

Pro Tip: Use a service USPS has called Every Door Direct Mailing to select who will receive your direct mail marketing.

34. Postcard Marketing

  • Cost: Medium to high (USPS cost 19c per mail)
  • Expertise level: Expert

If you’re looking for a cost-effective method of paper advertising, postcards are an excellent way to go. 52.5 percent of consumers say they read postcards (only one-third say they read sales letters). The USPS states that postcards are the most likely marketing materials to be read or scanned

There are services available that can send bulk postcard mail using their lists or your own mailing list. Many home services providers choose to put coupons on their mailings, which drive customers in. When they bring the postcard in you, have a measurable return on investment. When customers get your postcard in the mail, they’ll save it somewhere visible like on their fridge, which means your business is always at the front of their minds.


Sources
1. GMB insights study
2. Google Search stats
3. Survey: Search Now Top Resource For Local Information
4. Study: 78 Percent Of Local-Mobile Searches Result In Offline Purchases
5. YouTube stats 2019
6. Facebook Quarterly Report Q3 2019
7. Growth hacking
8. Startup Metrics for Pirates: AARRR! - Dave McClure
9. AARRR images
10. Inmar: 2018 Shopper Behavior Study Infographic
11. Bain report: Prescription for cutting costs
12. Referral stats
13. The 2016 Bond Loyalty Report
14. Deloitte:Brand Advocacy and Social Media
15. Referral Marketing Stats
16. Cragislist data
17. Local review survey
18. Email Marketing stats
19. Neil Patel on Direct Mail

Join 1000+ Fellow Home Service Business Owners.

Lapro is the easiest way to promote your business. Get expert tips straight to your inbox, and become a better pro.