1. Have your customers advertise for you
This one is absolutely the most valuable way to advertise your business. Ask your customers to refer new customers to you. People talk, take advantage of that. If you really want to get people talking, offer something to customers that do. Give a referral bonus or discount when someone refers a new customer to you.
Another easy thing to do is simply ask customers to like or review you on Facebook (you are on Facebook right). Facebook works really well because friends typically trust recommendations more than online reviews, and usually "Facebook friends" live in the same area too, so you get local advertising when you get likes and reviews. WorkWeek has an automatic job feedback system that will ask your customers to review and like you on Facebook if they're happy with the job.
2. Run an ad on Craigslist
Craigslist is all about community, and it's become the standard for local online classifieds. Most ads are free to publish, however it now costs service businesses $5 per ad to post and the ad lasts for 30 days. Craigslist can be a little tricky to figure out what works and doesn't work. And to do it right you'll need to try a few different approaches. Start off by researching if any competitors are offering services on Craigslist already, you'll want to stand out from them with your listing. We've written about some tips you can use to publish a good Craigslist listing here.
3. Advertise at local sports fields
If you've been to a local baseball, football, or soccer game you've probably seen local business advertisements hanging on the fences. This is a great option because they're usually priced pretty reasonably, they tend to be offered for extended periods of time, and depending on where the field is located they can also act as mini billboards for anyone traveling on the road. You're probably not going to get a ton of calls from these, but a job a year could let it pay for itself, and they help build awareness of your business.
4. Get creative with local restaurants
Everyone has to fuel up and restaurants can be a great way to get in front of a lot of eyeballs in your community. A lot of small (non-franchise) restaurants are realizing this and they're doing creative things to make a little extra cash for their own businesses. Some restaurants have advertising options on their menus. Others (like pizza spots) will throw a local business flyer on top of the box or in the bag. Restaurants that are more "formal" might have a TV display that rotates digital billboards. Either way, see what options you have out there and price some.
5. Facebook ads, Facebook ads, Facebook ads
Right now Facebook is a great way to advertise for small service businesses. The pricing is reasonable, the return on your investment is excellent, and you can target potential customers in all sorts of ways like location, age, annual income, interests, etc. This makes it really easy to tweak your ads to get the most out of them.
Facebook is great but you'll need a Facebook account to get it all set up, and it can be a little tricky. We're working on an easy to use guide for small service business advertising on Facebook, so subscribe to our newsletter to get notified when we get it out.
Most businesses have the best success with advertising and marketing by finding what works and sticking with it. The trick is always finding what works. Decide what customers you're targeting and try to think about where their eyes will be. Then try to get something in front of them while they're there.