Marketing a Service Business with No Marketing Budget

Marketing a service business will inquire an investment of your time and financial resources. What if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on marketing? Now what? Does that mean you simply cannot market your service business and your only hope is waiting on the sidelines for someone to hire you? Not at all! Today is the day you learn that marketing a service business with a minimal budget is not only possible, it’s easier than you think.

One of the first steps in marketing a service business is to get your branding in place. Make sure your business name, your tag line and your logo are all connected – that they send a consistent, positive and results focused message. Your brand is what prospective clients will remember you by. You’ve only got a few seconds to make a first impression, especially online, so make sure you have your ducks in a row — everything about your brand should be clear, concise and consistent.

Once you have these critical elements in place, it’s time to use them. The most important thing you need, once you have a brand, is a social proof. You need to be able to showcase how others have benefited from working with you. If you have a contact who will recommend you to their colleagues and friends, you have the beginnings of a client base. If you are just starting out your business and don’t have any success stories to share, you need to create some.

I’m not advocating that you do anything unethical here. Don’t make up a testimonial or pay your Mom to write one for you. Instead, offer a sample of your services free of charge to a friend or acquaintance in exchange for their positive feedback. (Obviously you have to over-deliver on what you promised!) Post the testimonial and their headshot on your website and you have just begun marketing your business! Repeat that action a few of times and your success stories will start shaping up.

OK, so you have a little branding set up and you have a testimonial or two. Now it’s time to get out there and make yourself known. Leveraging social media is a great way to do this! Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Get social- create a page on Facebook, a profile on LinkedIn and a bio on Twitter. Schedule 30 minutes each day to update your profiles, connect with ideal prospects and participate in conversations. Your goal is to share helpful information that relates to your services and positions you as an expert, but be careful to , not go into sales mode. Let folks know who you are and how you have the answers to their problems. Don’t just tell them you have the answers- give away a little bit of your expertise and show them you have the answers.
  • LinkedIn is another great site to use for marketing your service business. This site is excellent for connecting with people you know- former employers, colleagues, college connections- and they can set you up with other people they know.
  • Getting great results with social media marketing is all about being strategic in your efforts. This means you want to spend your time on sites where your target market hangs out, engage others in conversations and get to know then and then follow up with them to expand your network.
  • Don’t get caught in the trap of spending TOO much time on social media sites. It’s easy to lose hours posting and connecting to people. Set a timer if you need to. Accomplish your goal and then move on with the next part of your day.

Marketing your service business without a budget really is possible. It just takes time, effort and some creativity to show ideal prospects who you are and how you can help them solve their greatest challenges.


  1. Nice article but this is only the beginning of what’s possible. I’m a big believer in nom-budget marketing, have written several books on how (most recently, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green).

    Yes, social media and testimonials are part of the puzzle. And so are partnerships/JVs, traditional media publicity, speaking and writing and much more.

    Shel Horowitz,

    • Thanks for the note Shel! You’re right, there are certainly more strategies and techniques that one can take advantage of. What I have found to be critical to one’s success is to choose strategies based on one’s specific goals and then start taking action. You can always add additional ideas to the mix. 🙂

  2. Thanks this helps a great deal for small business owners with small Marketing budgets.