How To Grow Your Marketing Program
  Without Spending A Lot of Money

When a plumbing or HVAC problem comes up – or there’s a big contract up for grabs – is your company’s name the first one that pops into the minds of prospective customers in your market? There are many ways you can enhance your current marketing program to be sure the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!” And the good news is that you can do it without spending a lot of money. We provide several cost-effective marketing tips to get you started:

Increase Your Visibility in the Community

How can you get your company name “out there” in the community? Of course, lawn signs and well-marked company vehicles are two important ways. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Become active in your local Chamber of Commerce. It’s a great way to network with other business leaders in the community. Plus, most Chambers sponsor events and activities to help businesses reach out to the community.
  • Join service organizations including the Rotary Club, Lions, Masons and Kiwanis. This is another effective way to network. If there are several members in your management team, ask a different manager to represent the company in each of the major organizations in your community.
  • Become active in your local chapter of the National Associations of Home Builders. Get to know the builders in your area by joining the NAHB. It will likely prove to be is an outstanding source for future business referrals.
  • Participate in community days and local fairs. You can often set up a table at such events and pass out promotional give-away items.
  • Sponsor a local youth sports team, such as soccer, baseball or football. In return, you’ll get your company name on all team members’ sport shirts and lots of exposure throughout the playing season.
  • Contribute a give-away item to the Welcome Wagon. This could include a discount coupon and refrigerator magnet with company contact information for all new neighbors in your community.

Benefit from Co-Op Advertising Opportunities

Cooperative (co-op) advertising provides a great and affordable way to increase your company’s local newspaper advertising. It’s basically a deal between you and your manufacturers: They pay a portion of the costs for local advertising of their brands, while promoting your company as the place to go for their products. Typically based on how much product you sell, the amount of co-op funding you qualify for varies among manufacturers.

Every year an estimated $65 billion is available for co-op advertising in the U.S. 
Here are some ways to be sure you’re getting your full share of co-op advertising opportunities:

  • Visit the Web sites of the manufacturers you deal with. You’ll likely find information about their programs, the rules for reimbursement and, in some cases, ads to download.
  • Talk to your manufacturer’s representative. Even though they may not have a formal co-op plan, a manufacturer may be willing to negotiate an advertising deal with you to help move their products.
  • Call your local newspapers for information.  In many cases, newspapers have departments devoted to helping companies find and spend co-op advertising dollars.

Build an Email List & Market Via Email

Sending promotional emails is a great way to keep your company name in front of customers and prospects. And it’s much less costly compared to other forms of direct marketing. If you haven’t already, start to build an email list by collecting your customers’ email addresses. Be sure your service reps request email addresses from each of their customers. If you have a store, prominently display an email sign-up sheet. And if you have a Web site, make it easy for visitors to share their email addresses.

The following are a few ways you can reach out to customers regularly via email and let them know that you value their business:

  • Send discount coupons.  Perhaps you can offer 10% off their next service call.
  • Provide energy saving tips. Share your expertise by providing helpful advice to customers.
  • Send maintenance schedules and reminders. Take the opportunity to remind customers how important it is to get regular inspections and tune-ups.
  • Offer an incentive for a referral. For example, give a restaurant coupon to customers who provide a new referral.
  • Share client success stories. Giving specific examples of how your company has solved specific client challenges clearly demonstrates to prospects your capabilities.

Drum Up Some Good Public relations

Help create some really good “buzz” about your company by getting involved in local philanthropic causes. It’s a great way to do something good for the community, as well as generate free publicity along the way. Here are some ideas to do just that:

  • Donate services and/or products to local non-profit organizations.  Examples include:
      - Homeless shelters and soup kitchens
      - Local historic sites open to the public
      - Museums
      - Churches and synagogues
      - Habitat for Humanity
  • Start an annual scholarship for graduating seniors at local high schools. The scholarship amount doesn’t have to be huge. But just think about the number of graduating class family and friends you’ll reach, not to mention any local publicity such awards often generate.
  • Organize a contest. For example, your company could offer a new furnace or bathroom makeover for a family that needs it.

The bottom-line is that it doesn’t take a big advertising budget to grow your business. Keeping your company’s name top of mind – through networking, building relationships with local business leaders and getting involved in your community – is key to success.

The following provide additional resources for growing your business:

Web sites:

LeTip International
With more than 500 chapters located throughout the U.S. and Canada, this business leads organization is a great information source.

BNI International
This is another professional networking association that is a great source for business referrals.

Guerilla Marketing
A good source of tips and articles on marketing strategies that require minimum money.

Keith Ferrazzi
This site provides relationship-building resources for growing your business.


Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
Author: Keith Ferrazzi
Publisher: Doubleday Business, 2005

Getting Business to Come to You
Author: Paul Edwards
Publisher: Tarcher, 1998