20 Low-Budget Marketing Ideas that Create High Impact

You’d expect low-budget marketing ideas to generate low impact, but that’s not always the case.

Let’s take a step back from viewing a smaller budget as a setback, and see it as a creative challenge instead. This approach can open doors to more personalized, engaging marketing strategies that resonate deeply with your niche audience, ultimately driving sales without draining resources.

Bottom line: If you’ve got a small marketing budget, focus on creativity, target niche markets, build strong community relationships, and effectively utilize digital and social media platforms to increase sales.

We’ve scoured the industry and combined our expertise to bring you 20 budget-friendly marketing ideas tailored specifically for home service businesses

Here’s a quick overview of the ideas we cover:

1: Reward referrers and leads

2: Create flexible payment options

3: Offer points or bonuses for customer loyalty

4: Run coupon campaigns

5: Share business cards with coupons

6: Leave magnets and stickers

7: Place yard signs in exchange for discounts

8: Hang customized door hangers

9: Gift customized shut-off tags

10: Build an HVAC website optimized for local search

11: Share discounts and helpful HVAC content using Facebook ads

12: Run local service ads

13: Run PPC campaigns

14: Set up or claim your online local listing profiles

15: Manage your reputation online

16: Become a local sponsor

17: Get recommended by local group leaders

18: Form local business partnerships

19: Join your local Chamber of Commerce

20: Network with partners and homeowners in local trade shows

Reward referrers and leads

If you offer customers some money or a discount on their next service call in exchange for each new customer they bring, they just might remember to refer you the next time they see an opportunity. 

And since people trust recommendations by family and friends more, referral marketing converts leads to paying customers better than other marketing channels.

Consumers- Research to Purchase Ratio-Chart

But remember that referral rewards should cost less than your average customer acquisition cost (CAC).

For example, if your average CAC is $200 and you give $50 on every referral and a $25 gift card off the next service call to the new customer, you’ve spent $75 acquiring a new customer. 

That’s $125 savings on your CAC.

Action Steps:

  • Ask for customer referrals, especially when you get positive feedback after a project.
  • Create a flyer or website page that clearly states:
    • The rewards for different numbers or types of referrals
    • A CTA
    • An attention-grabbing headline
    • A referral link
  • Encourage social media referrals and reward customers who generate awareness for your brand on social profiles
  • Design a simple referral form to collect the names and emails of referrers and leads.
  • Advertise your referral program using emails, flyers, direct mail, and more.
  • Appreciate and reward customers for referrals.

Estimated Cost: It varies

Create flexible payment options

Consumer financing helps customers pay for HVAC products and services over time. With the recent inflation in the US, customers are drawn to brands that give flexible payment options.

Some financing options include:

  • Buy now pay later
  • Low Annual Percentage Rate
  • Lease to own
  • Point of Sale financing
  • Direct to customer loans
Flexible Payment Options

Recent rises in HVAC repair costs and the current price of new HVAC systems make flexible payment options necessary to attract and retain customers.

A new HVAC system costs between $5,000 to $12,000, an amount an average customer may not be willing to pay upfront.

An unexpected purchase in today’s economic world, like an air conditioner — not a lot of people have $8,000 sitting in a savings account that they can just write a check for. So financing is very important, especially for those with lower credit scores.”

  • Thomas Murphy (Managing Member and Dealer Concierges at IHCS Finance, LLC.)

Flexible payment options 

  • Attract customers who cannot purchase products or services upfront.
  • Give the customer a cost-effective monthly plan to purchase HVAC systems. 
  • Increase your business’ patronage and revenue over time.

Action Steps:

  • Find out the eligibility criteria for financing companies.
  • Choose whether to receive funds directly from lenders or from customers. In some cases, receiving directly from lenders attracts merchant fees.
  • Research the track record of merchants.
  •  Build financing fees into all your service costs to remain profitable — it’s illegal to charge customers for financing.

Estimated Cost: Merchant fees for financing options that pay businesses directly

Offer points or bonuses for customer loyalty 

Loyalty programs encourage repeat HVAC sales with incremental customer rewards for continuous patronage. 

For instance, Aire Serve offers additional yearly savings of $5 per year on multiple systems, even if customers change homes within a service area.

Loyalty Rewards

Seven out of ten people in the US considered loyalty programs a major factor in securing loyalty to their favorite brands. Well-executed loyalty programs boost customer retention so you don’t need to spend more on acquiring new customers to sustain cashflow.

Action Steps:

  • Invite customers to sign up and save an increasing amount on maintenance services for a unit.
  • Make reward points easy to redeem.
  • Offer generous rewards so customers feel appreciated. 
  • Offer % discounts for a specific number of the customer’s family and friends. Six out of ten US consumers expect discounts for joining loyalty programs

Estimated Cost: It varies depending on the size of the discount or bonus you offer

Run coupon campaigns

Quick Fix Hvac Coupon

A coupon campaign allows you to attract customers and increase sales by offering people special deals, promo codes, and discounts.

Around 88% of people in the US use coupons when they shop. In fact, it can influence where they shop since over 50% of adults under 40 consider coupons important.

Consumers Using Coupons Chart

Offering coupons positions your HVAC company to

  • Attract new customers and new markets
  • Increase sales
  • Upsell other services
  • Retain old customers

Action Steps:

  • Create special discounts for off seasons.
  • State the timeline and scope of discounts on coupons. This prevents customers from asking for rebates after the campaign or expecting discounts on premium services like HVAC system installations.
  • Ensure adequate manpower and products available to meet the increased demand for services during the campaign.
  • Use coupon marketing strategically to avoid building a customer base that only shops during discount offers.

Estimated Cost: It varies

Share business cards with coupons

Business cards contain key information about your business, including your:

  • Name 
  • Contact details
  • Services
  • Brand colors
  • Logo

A smart way to make your business card stand out, and win some sales is to add a text-based or scannable coupon code to your card.

HVAC Business Cards

While digital marketing channels are growing in popularity, it’s safe to still have business cards for audiences or business partners that are not open to digital marketing. 

It also comes in handy if, for some reason, there’s no digital device to collect or find your contact.

Action Steps:

  • Design your card with a coupon. It gives your prospects extra reasons to keep it and call you back later. Coupons offer a specific extra value or a percentage off the cost of an HVAC service or product. For example, you can give 5% off to any client that presents the business card during a service. 
  • Invite people to reach out to find out more

Estimated Cost: 

Starts at $10 for 50-100 pieces

Leave magnets and stickers behind to stay top of mind

HVAC sticker

Placing branded stickers with your contact details on HVAC systems you fix or install, encourages future calls and referrals. 

If friends visit, they can be conversation starters about HVAC troubles and a competent contractor (you).

If the customer sells the house or another tenant moves into the apartment, they’ll see your business info on the stickers and likely call you.

Do they work? Applewood Plumbing and Heating designed vinyl stickers to include information on emergency shutdown and equipment maintenance, contact details, and a savings offer for future service.

Josh Ward, the company’s vice president, confirmed that about 60% of their leads are repeat business from people who saw their stickers and tags.

Action Steps:

  • Place a phone number on stickers and a different one on magnets to measure the monthly leads you get from each. 
  • Consider using vinyl stickers since HVAC equipment last for years.
  • Include a discount offer on future service requests.

Estimated Cost: It varies based on price, quantity, and material. Starting at $27.50 for 25 sticker pieces (VistaPrint)

Place yard signs in exchange for discounts

Custom double-sided street-facing HVAC yard signs can boost local awareness of your HVAC company.

It’s also a subtle form of recommendation when a satisfied customer lets you leave your yard sign on their lawn for some time.

Branded on-the-job signages also help you advertise your business in corporate settings while serving as a safety precaution. They keep people or corporate client workers off the work area when setting up heavy air conditioning units or heating systems for office settings. 

Since yard signs are stationary ads, they can attract the attention of potential leads in service area neighborhoods. About 75% of people report buying products or services because a sign caught their attention.

Stat Signs Caught People Attention

Action Steps:

  • Choose homes on streets with a decent amount of traffic 
  • Offer homeowners discounts on your services, free service calls, or priority response to place a yard sign at their homes.
  • Include your phone number, e-mail, web address, and a Call To Action on the yard sign..

Estimated Cost: Depending on the quantity and size, yard signs cost about $1.50-$16.09 per unit

Hang customized door hangers in the neighborhood

Customized Door Hangers

Door hangers help you raise awareness in your customers’ neighborhoods and prompt referrals. 

Coolmasters brought in $15,000 in revenue in two months using $50 door hangers. They hung them on the doors of two adjacent houses and three opposite houses to their customers’ houses. 

Coolmasters Door Hanger

Afterward, they received calls for a Halo air purifier ($1200), full system replacement ($8,000 service), and other jobs. 

Action Steps:

  • The door hanger should include some text that shares why you were in the neighborhood by highlighting your top services and encouraging them to ask your customers about your service.
  • Include multiple contact details and a call to action.
  • Avoid placing door hangers on houses with ‘no soliciting’ signs.

Estimated Cost:: $225 per 500 copies (Footbridge)

Gift customized shut-off tags

Customized Shut Off Tags

Those plastic or aluminum labels that point to the location of shut-off valves on gas, water, or steam pipes, or carry emergency safety measures can be used for marketing too. 

They add extra value to your HVAC service without much expense, improving customer experience. And research shows that a positive customer experience increases the chances of customers making another purchase or service request. 

They also help your clients easily contact you in emergency situations.

Action Steps:

  • Design shut-off tags to carry emergency safety measures, CTAs, and your contact details.
  • Attach them to pipes as a value-added offer when installing or servicing HVAC units.

Estimated Cost: $270 for 1000 units with wire hangers (Apsos)

Need help building trust with potential customers online?

HVAC websites that are optimized for local search organically rank among the top results for local search. 

Your HVAC website shows up in search results when customers from your service areas search. 

Google Hvac Organic Website Search

Every month, over 27,000 people in the US search for ‘HVAC companies near me’ to find local businesses for their heating and cooling needs.

HVAC Companies Near Me

Google ranks local businesses based on how well their services match the search intent, how close it is to the person’s location, how well people know the business, and the quality of online reviews it has. 

Web optimization for local search increases your website’s likelihood of getting found by qualified leads.

Action Steps:

  • Optimize your homepage by stating your offer, location, and target audience. Use keyword-rich headings on your service pages and mention your target locations. 
  • Create separate pages for each service area and include the address and phone number for that location below the web page.
  • Optimize the site’s metadata. Customers read meta descriptions to choose pages to open.
  • Update name, address, and phone number (NAP citations) on all your web pages. It should be the same across your social media pages, review sites, and all local listings, including Google Business Profile.

Estimated Cost: SEO: $750/mo; Web design: $375/mo

Share discounts and helpful HVAC content using Facebook ads

Moncrief Heating Air Conditioning Facebook Ad

Advertising HVAC services on Facebook effectively markets your brand to local homeowners who need HVAC maintenance, installation or repair services.

You can also use geo-targeting to show ads to people within a radius of your location.

Facebook adverts have the highest ROI compared to other social media platforms — that’s why more marketers invest in them. 

Social Media Platform Marketers Plan to Invest

Action steps: 

  • Create a Facebook business suite account and connect it to your business’s Facebook page.
  • Create a Facebook ads manager account and set it to manage your business account.
  • Add meta pixel to your website to track performance and help you retarget website visitors.
  • Create your Facebook ad campaign. Choose your campaign objective, spending limits, and settings like A/B testing and budget optimization.
  • Create your Facebook ad set. Choose where traffic should go, your budgets, audience, ad schedule, and other settings.
  • Create your ad, design or upload your advert, write the copy, and choose your CTA.
  • Publish!

Estimated cost: Average Cost Per Click is $1.68 

Run local service ads

Local Service Ads are paid promotions that display local businesses at the top of Google’s search results. You pay only when someone from your service area calls or messages your team after clicking on the advert. It’s a far more targeted marketing strategy.

Google Local Service Ads Example

This differs from PPC, where you pay per click, and ads may appear above or below Google’s search results. 

Google ranks businesses in Local Service Ads based on

  • Google verification or guarantee status
  • Maximum bid
  • Number and quality of reviews
  • Response rate
  • Proximity to customer’s location and more

LSAs position your HVAC business on Google search when prospects are looking online. 98% of consumers use the internet to find information about local businesses. 

Action Steps:

  • Create your profile and confirm if your business is qualified
  • Pass Google’s verification to get a Google guaranteed badge. Reviews and licenses matter at this point.
  • Choose the bidding type
  • Choose budget 
  • Add your billing information
  • Wait for approval

Estimated Cost: It depends on your location, industry, and competitors

You can estimate the budget of your local service ads based on the Zip Code, industry, and number of leads per month. The price varies from one location to the other 

While the budget for 30 HVAC leads/month in Licking County, Buckeye Lake City, Ohio is $810-$1230 ($27-$41 per lead), it’s $720-$1080 ($24-$36 per lead) in Kirkwood Dekalb County.

Google Local Service Ads Pricing

Affordable LSA budgets lower your customer acquisition costs.

Run PPC campaigns

Google Ppc Campaigns

Pay-per-click campaigns are a type of digital marketing that let you pay for each click on your adverts. 

PPC adverts usually show among the top Google search results with ‘sponsored’ written beneath. They also show on websites, Google search, Apps,  YouTube adverts.  They can be search, display or video ads.

Some PPC ads Include

  • Google ads
  • Tiktok ads
  • Microsoft ads
  • Meta ads
  • LinkedIn ads

PPC marketing enables you to target specific sets of customers  when they are looking for keywords related to your services. You can also retarget website visitors so that they see your ads on different websites, commercial,  and social media platforms.

Google estimates that on average, businesses reap 100% return on every $1 spent on ads. PPC is affordable with measurable results and valuable business insights.

Action Steps: 

  • Set up an advertising account with Google Ads or other PPC platforms
  • Select target audience by keywords and relevant demographics
  • Set budget and cost per click
  • Create and copy and images 
  • Bid with other advertisers with similar target keywords
  • Wait for the auction to show which ads will display and where ads will show.
  • Pay when a user clicks on your ad

Estimated Cost: It varies. On average it $2.59 per click and $3.12 per thousand impressions. 

Set up or claim your online local listing profiles

Local listings are online directories that display important contact details of businesses including name, address, phone number, email and website.

Some directories include

  • Google Business Profile
  • Yelp
  • Craigslist
  • Nextdoor
  • Thumbtack
  • Angie’s List
  • Home Advisor

87% of consumers reported using Google Business Profile alone to assess local businesses before purchasing services and products.

Google Online Local Listing Profiles

Customers visit Google business profile, Home Advisor, Angie’s list, Yelp, and other local listings when searching for vendors or information about local businesses. 

So ensure your business details are updated and accurate.

Action Steps:

To open a Google Business Profile

  • Sign into your Google Account with your business email.
  • Go to ‘Create a Profile’
  • Add your business name and category.
  • Add your location. If you don’t have a storefront select ‘NO’.
  • Choose your service areas (up to 20)
  • Add your contact information.
  • Consider accepting recommendations to stay informed about Google’s best practices.
  • Verify your business listing.
  • Add your business description, business photos, services, open days and hours, etc.

To claim a Google Business Profile

  • Look for your business on Google Maps 
  • Search for the ‘Claim This Business’ button.
  • Click ‘Manage now’.
  • Verify your business.

The steps for other local listings are similar. Just go to the respective website and get started.

Estimated Cost: Free

Manage your reputation online

Online reputation management (ORM) manages the public perception of your HVAC business online. 

Online Reputation Management

70% of customers use rating filters to choose local businesses. It means getting more positive ratings improve your chances of customers choosing your brand. 

Customers Using Rating Filter Chart

It begins with offering exceptional service and building trust, authority, and goodwill online. 

81% of customers are likely or highly likely to leave a positive review online if the company went the extra mile to give them a great experience.

79% would be likely to leave a positive review if the business turned a negative experience into a positive one. So resolve problems physically to improve your virtual reputation.

Action Steps:

  • Find out how your customers perceive your company online by viewing
    • GBP reviews
    • Local review sites
    • Social media comments and mentions 
    • Your online platforms in incognito mode.
  • Respond to negative reviews of your brand
  • Create response templates, policy documents, and tone guidelines for your staff.
  • Monitor brand mentions with Google Alerts for your brand name.
  • Encourage customers to write reviews by sharing review links and offering incentives like discounts.
  • Encourage customers to discuss negative experiences with you directly and quickly resolve them when they do.

Estimated Cost: Free

Become a local sponsor

HVAC Company Supporting a Good Cause

Contribute resources to local organizations, teams, or events to gain recognition and new customers. 

It lets you build strong relationships with community members and boost your brand awareness.

Becoming a local sponsor can fetch your HVAC company community loyalty, model your brand’s values, and build a positive image among your target market.

Action Steps:

You can sponsor

  • Local sports teams
  • Walks for cancer
  • 10Ks
  • Golf tournaments
  • Veterans and their families
  • Local television or radio broadcasts of local teams and championships
  • Community events
  • Local charities
  • Local kids scholarships
  • Local trade shows

Estimated Cost: It varies depending on your budget.

Affinity marketing means you partner with other organizations to provide products, services, or value to build a broader consumer base.

Usually, there’s an agreement to donate a portion of your service fee to the organization when a member of the group pays for your services.

Affinity marketing grants you access to new markets at minimal cost with direct recommendations from people prospects know, respect, and trust, improving your chances of sales. 

Influencer Marketing is Effective

92% of marketers believe that influencer marketing is effective. Affinity marketing leverages decision-makers’ influence and people’s emotional connections to their organizations to drive sales.

Action Steps:

You can broker affinity marketing agreements with different organizations. These can include

  • Places of employment: Offer employee discounts for workers of your corporate clients. 
  • Homeowners associations (HOA):
    • Find HOAs in your service areas online. 
    • Attend meetings and share your services’ savings and health benefits with members. 
    • Announce specials, referral programs, coupon campaigns, or loyalty programs to the homeowners.
    • Donate to the organization when members purchase your services.
  • Houses of worship: Sign a sanctuary agreement that allows leaders to promote your services among members in exchange for donations to the organization
  • Service clubs: Give a fixed amount to the club for every maintenance service offered to club members.
  • Schools: As an HVAC company, you can partner with the management of a local school to let you share coupons with students for their parents. Parents buy your services in exchange for donations to the PTA, small student scholarships during graduation ceremonies, or sponsorship of the school’s sports team. 

Estimated Cost: It costs time to build relationships with the leaders of corporate groups. The amount varies depending on your agreement with the partnering organization.

Form local business partnerships with Real Estate Agents and Property Managers

Form Local Business Partnerships Graphic

Pool resources and relationships with adjacent industry professionals like property managers, real estate agents, and other home service brands to market your services. 

Local partnerships can bring exclusive and free leads or insider information on upcoming business opportunities. 

For example, a real estate agent might connect you with an estate owner seeking a reliable HVAC company to install Air Conditioning units across 200 housing units in your service area. Property managers may want to sign long-term HVAC maintenance agreements.

Action Steps:

  • Attend local networking events like industry conferences and trade shows to connect with potential customers, industry professionals, and homeowner association leaders.
  • Partner with local home service contractors, builders, hotel managers, and real estate agents. 
  • Consider including a commission fee you’ll pay to the partner who referred to encourage more referrals.

Estimated Cost: Time commitment to build local business networks and partnerships

Join your local Chamber of Commerce

Joining the Chamber of Commerce puts your brand in its online business directory, features it in its local newsletter, and connects you with other local businesses or potential business partners. This improves your brand’s visibility and credibility.

Action Steps:

The process for joining local chambers of commerce differs from one location to the other. Search online for the chamber’s website to fill out a membership form or call their phone number for specific details.

Estimated Cost: Membership fees vary. 

Network with partners and homeowners in local trade shows

Fox Family Heating Hvac Company Booth

Image Source Fox Family Heating & Air

Trade shows are organized to gather industry members to showcase, demonstrate, and discuss their latest services and products. 

Trade shows offer increased awareness and exposure to exhibitors. It also provides opportunities to meet and gather feedback on your products and services from prospects and ideal customers.

Action Steps:

To exhibit your business at trade shows for a budget-friendly cost, consider

  • Using a smaller booth
  • Renting your trade show booth instead of buying to reduce costs. Personalize them with banners or LCDs.
  • Attending local, more affordable events. Build relationships with homeowners who attend and follow up afterward.
  • Taking advantage of early bird discounts by registering early enough.
  • Partnering with a business that sells complimentary services and products and share a booth if the event organizer allows it.
  • Making retractable banners. These are flexible and more affordable.

Estimated Cost: It varies but local trade shows cost less

To choose the right low-budget marketing idea for your HVAC business, do this

Checklist research Graphics

Marketing ideas are a dime a dozen, and it can be overwhelming to have so many options.

Define your goals. Maybe you want to build customer trust, expand into new service areas, retain more customers, or get more leads.

Understanding your goals will let you spot the low-budget marketing ideas that are best for your HVAC business.

And don’t forget to measure results in intervals of three months ideally. Only then can you tell for sure that your ideas are working, or falling short.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency to help you cost-effectively nurture new and existing customer relationships, we’d love to work with you.

Lokal’s affordable and effective services cover web design, SEO, ORM, LSA, PPC, Social Media Marketing, and email marketing, local listing, and GBP management. Contact us for a FREE assessment!

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