10 Free Advertising Ideas


Jake Wolf started his landscape business after posting “Landscape design student needs your home for portfolio development” on a local yahoo group. Within a week of his post he received 30 calls and had lined up enough work to quit his job.

Jake’s plan for 2007 is to have 100 customers signed up for his monthly fertilizing and pesticide program. Here are his plans for signing that first 100:

My plan for signing up 100 new customers by the spring rush.

  1. Send out a thank you email to all existing customers and alert them to my plans for next year.
  2. Join as many local online groups as possible. Many allow new members to introduce themselves.
  3. Call up landscapers who don’t have pesticide licenses and work out an affiliate deal with them to take care of their fertilizing and pesticide applications.
  4. Start writing an email gardening newsletter and heavily focus on local needs and resources.
  5. Offer free gardening classes just like a Tupperware party with someone hosting and bringing several friends over. Trust me, this beats giving free estimates.
  6. Film educational gardening clips using local people and host them on youtube.com. Include links to the most recent one in every email signature.
  7. Forget the website, almost no one visits the current one. Get listed in free local directories instead.
  8. Say hi to every neighbor of existing and new clients. Pesticide laws require neighbor notification. Why not knock on their door and say hi?
  9. Offer a travel savings discount to your customers if they help you get more work on their block.
  10. Say something new and always include a call to action. Everyone already knows landscapers cut lawns, mulch, top soil, prune, snow removal, bored yet, insect control, fertilize, retaining walls, mickey mouse, landscape design, irrigation, ponds, pavers, oy this is too much and this is only half of it!

Jake will make his 100 new clients. How do I know? Look at the list. He’s actually ‘doing’ things to grow his business. He’s not just sitting by the phone.
More ideas soon. In the meantime, click on the “comments” link and leave your favorite way to advertise.

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  1. Your article provides one of those moments where I say to myself… “Wow – If I only knew back then, what I know now, I’d be a whole lot richer.”

    I worked with my dad back in the day mowing yards for our company “Lawnview” which was located in Longview Tx. Had we come to the realization that those advertising ideas could be used within our industry, we would’ve had every lawn in the city as a client.

    Everyone who reads this article should take a moment and brainstorm how those ideas could be implemented towards your own business.

    Brad Williamson

  2. Interesting posting Jeff,

    It is a good post just to get people thinking about creative ways to advertise your own business. Usually other business owners that have tried things like this should compare notes. I’ll definitely revisit this article. Off to check out his site


  3. Rich,
    I completely agree with you that credit should be given to the authors of the posts when using the content on your blog, but the Business Opportunities site is all about other people’s content. 9.5/10 of their posts are from other blogs or new sources.

    In a way, it bothers me that they rarely take the time to write their own content, but on the other hand, they do a good job of finding and posting interesting articles.

  4. Sam, you are correct that most of the content is not original. The Business Opportunities Weblog is more of an aggregator of business news, similar to other sites like Yahoo, MSN, and Digg.

    The key is that we credit both the original post link and even the photo/graphic that accompanies the post.

  5. The great thing about this list is that you can apply it to any business. Just replace “landscaping” with whatever it is that you do.

  6. Great info….thanks….we just posted top ten tips for small businesses for word of mouth marketing, especially for generating additional business for the holidays. i like your site.

  7. good luck with your landscaping biz, here is another top 10 list to use word of mouth marketing. this is being released by womma.org tomorrow.

  8. BadAss Shoemaker says

    Man I tried half of these things and they didn’t work. Classes! Come on.

  9. Thanks for the great article! I am going to implement these ideas right away. One more simple idea you might want to try is having a “thank you” business card. On one side of the card it states something like “Thank you for your professionalism and excellent service, it was a pleasure to have met you.” Then on the other side it has your business card information with, “If you are looking for the same professionalism and service that you provided I would love to have the chance to work with you in the future” This way you do not come off as pushy as if you were just to hand someone your business card out of the blue. Plus it makes an even better impact if you are leaving it with a tip!

  10. ECommerceNerd says

    Nice tips for a local small business.

  11. You have to realize that all of these ideas wont work for everyone. The main reason I believe this is because not everyone could be considered a “people” person. Some people have better social skills than others. In my company my primary role is PR. I’m good with people. I’m sure not everyone loves me, but 90% of customers ask to speak with me directly. I often hear “I really don’t like [that other guy] that that works there.” Work on your people skills! 🙂

  12. running a company is what works for that type of company when it comes to marketing it, its hard work doing this.but just because something works for a nother company does not mean it will work for yours
    i run a safety and customer service company , try to market that one.u must have a clear mind to be creative.knowlege is not what it takes , it takes imagination , with out that u have nothing. i have owned many companys , and it may sound weird but no matter what type of company u have , if u r not ready u will not have the imagination u need to build the power . from MAX

  13. here’s alittle something more for u , i do this with my companys ,, for safety i give out safety awards to people that are not my customers ,,, for customer service i give customer service awards to people that are not my customers,,, in stores , when eating out, at wal mart , and in the streets ,,, why ?????
    i have made some one happy ,, now what r they going to do with that award ,, think about it ,,,
    they are going to tell every one right?
    now u made some one happy and u r getting talked about to everyone,, now thats imagination baby
    oh by the way for the lawn guys out there well how about an award for the best lawn in town ,, YEP THEY WILL TALK TO EVERY ONE well i have to go hope i helped many of u with opening your imagination doors
    from max

  14. I tell you innitiative is the key. I worked for a sunroom company and they told us pretty much go to our neighbors and give them free estimates. Well that worked really well, especially since they seen how good our product was.Now i wonder to my self i have an online website called http://www.kinsonsurveillance.com so i dont know how much of this will be helpful to me any ideas ?

  15. Your comments were interesting and useful. However, I think you underestimate the power of internet advertising via a website. For example, look at how many people below have benefited from your comments above…this would have been impossible without posting your ideas on the internet. There are so many webdesign packages floating around that any business has a chance of getting hold of a decent one to suit their needs.

    It has been proved that a website is one of, if not the most, sucessful way of providing advertising solutions.

  16. I found the article, as well as many of the comment posts, helpful. Definitely a breath of fresh air as far as some of my advertising questions and quandaries are concerned. Ideas such as the award for “blah” going to non-“blah” person or group was great fun, implemented differently I like the idea of the thank-you business cards as well. And some are right in saying that these tactics will not work for every business or every situation but, as said above by others, if you add a little creativity and your own touch on some of these ideas they could prove fairly useful. Not to mention attract a bit of attention. Which is exactly what you want. Sometimes you have to take a little risk and travel a bit off the path to obtain the results you desire. Much luck to all,
    Houseplant Helpers, “Helping you help your plants”

  17. OMG; once in a while I find something that is so to-the-point, reasonable, and logical that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself ( biiggg grin ). Jeff Wolf’s story is exceptionally helpful and applicable to so many things that I personally want to accomplish. Whatta guy! Thanks for sharing this great experience.

  18. Thanks for this! It has helped me get advertising out to my custom made jewelry, of course it’s not lawn mowing but there are a lot of great tips here that can be applied to any trade.

  19. I especially like the idea of offering free training. Home improvement stores have been doing this for years and people love it.

  20. I just found your site and I like the ideas. I am only beginning to think about selling fresh foods and a few other things and there are many ways in which I can begin to find and retain customers and to also grow my business venture into what I want it to be within within five years. Being that I would be selling produce, seasonally, while at farmers markets, along roadsides or in other places, I will make sure to have a nice flyer with an attached business card with all of the things I sell and their prices that I can drop into each customer’s bag like stores and others conducting business do in order to ensure that even after the sale is over that (they) may contact me whenever they are looking to purchase more produce or other goods.

  21. Another idea is putting your company name on your vehicle. If your vehicle is constantly driving around your area of business, you can get calls directly off it but what is more is that people see your name in combination with other methods of advertising. There is more on my website How to Start A Lawn Care Business

  22. I am a website designer working for a company called Altec Design. One thing we do to ensure customer satisfaction is call one random customer a day. These customers are always glad to hear from us and think it’s great we are checking in on them. This is a useful tip for any business with an ongoing client base!

  23. I have tried many advertising programs for my restaurant. Some were great and some were not. I have to brag about one that I really love. http://www.cheaplocaldeals.com lets us (and other restaurants, spas etc) advertise on their website totally free. The deal is we agreed to let them sell a coupon that we deeply discounted. In our case we let them sell a $25 coupon for $9. The $9 went to them but they set it up so the user agreed to spend at least $35 to redeem it. It turned out the guest usually ended up spending $40 or $50 anyway. The discount I honored was well worth it and I get about 200 customers a month from it. My ad is free but they make their money when they sell a coupon which is fine by me and safer than the $3,000 I spend in the newspaper and only got a few responses. Anyway, had to share it.

  24. I like going to grocery stores and posting a bright poster of my business..It actually works great!

  25. Home Income Kit says

    How much time should it take me?