We notice that a lot of contractors—electricians, plumbers, HVAC contractors, window and door technicians, builders and renovators—often ask us about ways to promote their business for free.

Promoting a business locally is a very generic topic. However, there are a few things that can be done today, virtually for FREE.

1. Set up your free Google My Business (GMB) listing

google my business sign up

Creating a free GMB listing is a must for every business. Your listing will show up locally on the maps and it will enable the option to collect reviews and advertise your promotions.

If you have an office location that can be added to your GMB, wonderful! If your home address is your business address, that will work, too!

All you need to do is go to Google My Business and sign up using your Gmail account. If you do not have a Gmail account, create one. It’s free, too!

While going through the signup process, be sure to add all the relevant details you can and choose the best matching category for your business (you can add multiple categories once the listing is open).

NOTE: If you are using a home address for your business listing yet do not want to publish your home address, you may choose the option “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their locations”. For more details, visit this page about how to hide your address.

Once you’ve completed the signup process, Google will mail you a “secret code” by mail to verify your listing. In Canada, United States and Australia, it usually takes anywhere between 7-12 days to arrive.

When you receive the code, enter it in your Google My Business profile to verify the listing.

Be sure to complete all the recommendations GMB gives you for completing the profile. This way, you will have higher chances to be seen by potential customers.

Keep the listing up to date with related photos, acquiring customer reviews, and posting your local ads for your business.

All of the above is free local advertising! You can sign up for Bing, too, by following a similar process.

2. Start blogging about your business

Here you are, reading our blog. Chances are you found us because you were looking for how to promote your business locally. This shows that blogging about your services actually works!

Give blogging a shot on your business. If you have a website (and if you don’t, you can open a free website on WordPress), you could start blogging today about topics that your customers are looking for. How to find those topics? Well, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What would you type into Google or other search engines if you were looking for your products or services? Type it into Google and see what you get.

Now, you may have typed something very broad such as “home builders Toronto” or “electricians near me.” But how can blogging about it really help you get more customers? Well, the more content you can provide about a specific service, the higher the chances a search engine would pick on what you wrote about. The broader the topics, the longer it would take a search engine to rank your articles. The narrower your topic is, the easier and faster.

For example, if you’re a plumber, and a broad topic would be “plumbing Toronto”, you may want to ask yourself, “What kind of plumbing services do I provide that I can write about in detail?” Let’s say you operate a torpedo, in which you can repair a drain line without digging your lawn. Your search will be about something similar to “trenchless drain line repair,” and your content can further elaborate on the topic.

Here’s another example. Say you’re a home builder. A popular search topic about your business would be “custom home builder in Toronto.” But again, ask yourself what your customers ask you about most often. Create a blog along the lines of “FAQs about Building a Home in Toronto,” and list all the frequently asked questions about this topic.

Of course, you could always get more ideas by studying what your competitors and peers are blogging about. Then you can create content that’s more unique to you and your business.

If you can type, why not? Long-term blogging can be super effective for promoting your local business. Be sure to include most of the following into your blogs;

  • Quality content. Do your best to offer quality and useful information for your readers.
  • Photos related to the topic. Insert where appropriate.
  • Keywords (which can be found using free tools like Ubersuggest).
  • Service areas. For example; Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Newmarket, Markham etc…
  • Links to other pages. Insert links preferably to your own site but also to other sites and social media platforms.

3. Social Media Groups

Do you have a Facebook account? Awesome, and if not, you can create a free account on Facebook and start joining local groups.

Now, why would you join a local group? The answer is because there are many industry groups that allow you the option to place your advertisement there for FREE!

For example, there is a Facebook local group based in Toronto called “Renovation GTA – Home Improvement Q&A (Toronto & Area)” that has over 13,000 active group members. This group is fairly active, with members posting on a daily basis about work needed and asking for recommendations. Moreover, on the 1st and 15th of every month, you are allowed to post your ad in the group for FREE!

So, for home improvement contractors in the GTA, a group like this is great to promote your business because it gives you the exposure that’s accessible to your target demographic.

Now, there are many more groups available to join. Look for related or local groups by narrowing down your search by the cities and neighbourhoods you mainly work in.

4. Promote your business by posting on Instagram

So since you now have a Facebook account, you might as well register your business on Instagram.

Joining Instagram is fairly straight forward, so signing up shouldn’t really be that taxing. Furthermore, posting pictures of your work on social media platforms such as Instagram (and Facebook) can bring you customers! And once again, it’s FREE.

If you own a smartphone, it’s likely to have a great camera as a feature (hopefully you do). Using that camera to take photos of your work or to record video customer testimonials can greatly help you get your advertisement out there on social media.

For example, you can take a photo and publish it on Instagram and elaborate briefly in the caption on the service you provided or what your product does.

Moreover, Instagram offers the hashtagging feature through which you can label your photos. Hashtags function like keywords that help people find you on Instagram when they search for that hashtag. As a result, you become part of a community that shares this hashtag and your work reaches people who have similar interests or are browsing that hashtag.

For example, if you’re promoting a flooring company, you may want to hashtag #flooring #hardwoodfloors #porcalaintile #homeinterior #torontohomes, etc… When editing, as soon as you type a hashtag (#) into your Instagram caption, it will give you suggestions related to the topic you are tagging. It will also show you how many taggings related to the topic there are, which gives you a small idea of the topic’s search volume online.

So start using your Instagram! Show off your work and be proud of it!

There you have it! Three simple ways to promote your business online FOR FREE. Stay tuned for more blogs on growing your online presence and advertise your company.