7 Smart Ways To Promote Your Service Business On A Shoestring Budget

Here are some ways that will help you promote your service business without breaking the bank.

Be it in the analog era or in today’s digital era, one business tenet remains unchanged. “You need to be where your customers are”. Or at least in near proximity. Trade conferences, events, expos, MICE, and all their endless varieties did a fine job of bringing prospects, leads, and customers together. 

Despite all these options, promoting a new service business has never been easy. Thankfully, the internet has created a level field for all businesses. It is not just those businesses with deep pockets who can now win swing good deals in their way. 

Here are some ways that will help you promote your service business without breaking the bank. Whether you are an attorney opening a private practice or a home baker starting your own cloud kitchen, these promotional activities can get your name on the radar of your target audience. 

Without further ado, let’s get started. 

1. Get listed in online directory listings

Online directories are the modern digital avatars of Yellow Pages. They offer all possible information about a product, service, or the business as a whole in a quickly consumable manner. 

From the website link to the founder information, one can find all possible information in one click. Some directories also include customer reviews in their website as a measure to help prospects decide whom to start a conversation with.

The most popular online directories are:

  • Google My Business.
  • Yelp.
  • Facebook.
  • G2
  • Clutch
  • Goodfirms 
  • Foursquare

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. But, it can help you get started with marketing your online presence across the internet. You should also look for directories in your niche and the local area. For example, an important part of every dental marketing strategy is to make sure that the practice is listed in every local healthcare directory. 

The benefit of getting yourself listed in these directories is that:

  1. It does not cost much and is often free
  2. It makes it easy for prospects to find you than the other way around
  3. Customers in the near vicinity can quickly spot you

Make sure your NAP — Name, Address, and Phone Number is always kept updated in these directories. It will help prospects reach you directly easier and faster.

2. Run social media contests

“What comes fast goes away fast.”, says the old proverb. However, when you want to promote your service in a cut-throat competitive space, you have to take some shortcuts that will bring quick results. Social media is one of them. 

There is no better tool than social media to create some buzz about anything. Depending on the type of service your business offers, you can choose between casual social channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, or even Snapchat to get some social attention. On the contrary, if you are offering professional services, you can choose LinkedIn which is the world’s biggest social network for professionals. 

Now social media can be used in hundreds of ways. However, to get faster results and to get your name noticed, contests are the best tactic. 

Contests help in business promotion because:

  • They make users curious
  • Most people want to win something
  • A novel contest idea is fun to be a part of
  • Most importantly, it doesn’t cost anything to participate in a cost other than time

Given these reasons, running social media contests are an amazing way to win some quick attention for your service business. 

3. Host online events

Webinars, online summits, virtual conferences — all these archetypes of online events that can bring in participants and guests of diverse nature. The biggest draw of an online event is that it promises new information or knowledge that the attendee is interested in. 

Say your business is offering professional accounting services for small businesses, then a good online event would be a webinar on business accounting for small business owners. The type of event, the duration, and also the topic can be identified based on your target audience, their pain points, and expectations. 

To cite an example, if your service is to coach C-suite for managing a digital workplace, a webinar on digital workplace management during the pandemic is an ideal topic. There are countless topics like these you can come up with brainstorming. 

As for organizing the event, there are plenty of tools like Meetfox that can take away the pain in organizing meetings and events. They help you create custom booking pages, schedule events easily, set up paywalls for entry fees, and also integrate with other tools to maximize event management productivity. 

4. Participate in communities and forums

At the onset, humans are social beings. We form communities out of common interests, passions, and objectives. Facebook Groups, Quora, Reddit, and several other social channels amplified the power of communities. They attract like-minded people who want to discuss ideas, ask questions, collect feedback, clarify doubts, and gain collective knowledge.

Not surprisingly, they are excellent destinations for promoting your service business as well. You can participate in communities and forums and offer expert knowledge related to your business. This helps in growing your identity as a subject-matter expert in the field. It also builds trust, which is the foundation of any customer’s choice. The good news is, this doesn’t cost a penny other than your time and effort. Of course, be mindful of community guidelines before inserting a direct promo of your business. Use it subtly and wisely to reap maximum dividends. 

Requesting feedback is another strong way to engage with communities. Assaf Cohen, who founded classic gaming site Solitaire Bliss, explains, “When I first built our platform for solitaire games, I would get feedback on design and gameplay in various Reddit communities. This ended up driving our initial base of users, and we just grew from there.”

5. Build partnerships

No professional service is a standalone offering. It often needs the support of a complimentary service or a product to grow at a fast pace. For example, a lawyer might need the help of an accountant. A marketer will need the help of a creative professional. An educator will need the help of a facilities manager. So on and so forth.

Building partnerships with allied business offerings will help you tap into a larger market. To reiterate an old saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go farther, go together.” partnerships and business allies will help you win more customers with minimal effort. Also, their partnerships will help sustain difficult times when market demand could swing.

Daniel Ndukwu of Signature Generator swears by partnerships: “For every brand, I’ve built, partnerships have been the core of our success. Whether that’s an affiliate relationship, marketing relationship, or just information sharing — it has helped us grow faster and more efficiently almost every time. 

6. Publish video content

Video marketing has been on the rise for the last five years. It is during the pandemic that it shifted gears and reached a new peak in user base and audience numbers. Anyone with a smartphone can now become a video creator. YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, Facebook Live — the options are endless for video creations and distribution.

Video has the power to capture the user's attention for a considerable amount of time. If used smartly, they can act as vehicles of brand promotion. Also, you no longer need a studio or video editor to create videos. There are tons of free apps in addition to native editing features provided by social media channels.

Here are some videos you can create to promote your business without spending a dime:

  • How-to videos — videos that help users solve minor problems on their own. You can add these videos to your self-service help center.
  • Knowledge-sharing — videos that break down a concept or idea in simple terms for the user
  • Entertaining videos — videos that adopt ongoing trends usually accompanying a trending hashtag

7. Join Online Conversations

Online conversations are high traffic streams that you can tap into.

It's a low effort, low-hanging fruit, but the number of weekly opportunities is limited and out of your control.

Relevant questions on Reddit, Hacker News, Indie Hackers and other forums pop up all the time, and if you can catch them early you can easily get a thousand or more views with just a few minutes of effort.

The sooner you respond, the more impressions you will get, as conversations on those sites usually die out after two days.

After around a month the conversations get locked, but the discussion is still visible to those who find it via Google later.

Reddit in particular has great SEO.

See this Reddit marketing case study for details on how to pull this off.

Final thoughts

In the past, promoting a business was perhaps the toughest feat that a business owner had to undertake. It required a lot of effort, timing, and most importantly, deep pockets to fund marketing campaigns.

Thanks to the internet, that is not the case anymore. With some creativity, technical expertise, and will to experiment, you can launch business promotional activities without dipping into your bank balance. Some such initiatives as discussed above will help you gain instant traction as well as prospects who can be nurtured into paying customers. 

Be informed that although these tactics do not always cost money, they do demand smart work. You must plan, prioritize and time the activities. Also, it is better not to undertake everything at once. Like traditional marketing, focus on one channel or initiative at a time. It is always recommended to start small and scale big. This tenet would help prevent unnecessary wasting of time and resources. 

About The Author

Mehdi Hussen is the Head of Marketing at Zoomshift, an employee schedule software. He is passionate about driving organic growth and customer acquisition for startups through data-driven content marketing. He spends his spare time musing about startup growth strategies, sales productivity, and remote work. Connect with him through Twitter or LinkedIn.

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