Is lead generation a problem for your business? Get better results with these 14 ways to acquire quality leads for your small business.
Generating new leads for your business can be tough. Sometimes it seems like you’ve tried everything and it’s not enough. Sure, you’re doing OK. Yet, you would be doing a whole lot better- and feel less stressed – if only you knew how to get more leads without wasting your time, effort and money.
But, how can you do that?
Even though you think you’re doing everything possible to find new customers, chances are there are lead generation strategies you aren’t using or aren’t using on a consistent basis. Here are 14 tactics that work. Put them to work consistently in your business and watch your customer list and sales grow:
Focus on likely prospects. To generate sales leads, you have to identify your target market and focus your marketing activities on those ideal customers. If you don’t take that step first, you’ll waste a lot of time and money marketing to a broad range of people who don’t need or want what you sell.
Make a list your targets. For most small businesses, the best list is the one you develop yourself by capturing contact information for customers, people who visit your website, and networking contacts. If you sell to other businesses, get active on LinkedIn, and use that as a tool to develop a list of prospects.
Leverage the power of email. Email is another great lead-gen channel. According to SalesForce.com and Experian a $1 investment in email marketing yields roughly a $44.25 return. Here are some tips on how to build your own email list. Mailing regularly to your list will nurture relationships with customers and prospects, help build trust, and increase sales. In addition, you can leverage the lead-generating power of your list by including social media like buttons and forward to a friend links in all the emails you send out. Extend your reach even further by co-marketing with one or more local business owners. If you each come up with some kind of giveaway, and promote the giveaway in the other person’s mailing list, you can each then add the people who respond to your own list without violating can spam laws.
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- Develop lead magnets to encourage email signups. A lead magnet is any type of offering that your audience will want and be willing to give up some or all of their contact information to get. The offering can be coupons, checklists, guides, or anything that is seen as valuable to your audience. Once you develop a lead magnet, you can promote it with sign up forms on your website and social media pages. You can set up automated systems to deliver the lead magnet and to send follow-up marketing.
- Ask current customers for referrals. Who better to spread the word about what a great job your business does than a satisfied customer? You can ask customers to give you the names of people they know who could use your services or ask them to reach out to their contacts and give them your name. Another version of this tactic is tapping your existing network (family, friends, former coworkers, etc.) and making sure everyone knows what you do and who you do it for. If you want to kick this strategy up a notch, invite them to meet for lunch or coffee.
- Have a contest. Contests and giveaways are a great technique to drum up new leads. After all, we all like to have a chance to win a prize. If the prize is desirable the people you promote your contest to will mention it to their friends. (And be sure you remind them to do so!) Be sure you have a procedure in place to reconnect with the contestants and promote your products after the contest has ended.
- Guest blogging. Guest blogging has gotten a bad rap lately with marketers hanging on Google’s every word seeking backlinks. If you have clear objectives and provide great content guest blogging can still be a great way to drive qualified leads to your business. Just make sure to blog in places where your efforts will be rewarded.
- Attend an in-person event. Lately, there has been so much talk about digital marketing that many business owners forget about the personal touch. Get out and meet some people. If you’re not sure where to network, contact your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) office or SCORE branch. The people in those organizations generally are familiar with all the small business networking groups in their communities. If you can’t find the right event, start your own. It’s simple using websites like .
- Be useful. If clients aren’t beating a path to your door, you likely have some free time on your hands. Go wherever your ideal clients “hang out” and make yourself useful. Participate in relevant forums and share your expertise. Don’t pitch, just help. You can also do the same on LinkedIn, Quora, Yahoo Answers, American Express OPEN Forum, and other similar niche sites.
- Mix up your media. Whatever you’re doing now that’s not working isn’t the only way to find leads. Shake things up and try a different marketing channel. Do a webinar. If you’re shy, can’t get a lot of folks on the webinar, or consider yourself “technically-challenged” you can do a webinar with another complementary business provider with whom you share a common audience. Consider starting a podcast or sharing your expertise as a guest on someone else’s.
- Use a holiday as a tie-in. The weeks between Christmas and the New Year are what most businesses think about when they are thinking about holiday marketing ideas. But there are plenty of other holidays and seasons that lend themselves to holiday-style marketing tactics. One easy way to drive leads is to develop lead-gen tactics that take advantage of holiday promotions and seasons. An example we’re all familiar with is the ubiquitous “Back to School” sales retailers have. If you prepare income tax returns, you’ll probably be able to come up with a great idea to get lots of leads at year-end and in January so you can February, March, and April servicing clients.
- Borrow from other industries. Don’t feel constrained by the “usual” lead-gen tactics your industry uses. Mix it up. If you sell to other businesses, adopt some tactics from the B2C world. If you always do digital marketing, experiment with direct mail. I recently saw a design studio use the age-old “Open House” lead-gen tactic so favored by real estate agents. They simply emailed invitations to potential customers to visit their office for a “meet and greet” event.
- Use publicity to get leads. Some business owners have seen great success using press releases, PR, and other methods to promote their business. Just because your business story may not be “breaking news” doesn’t mean it’s not newsworthy. Stephen Bruce, owner of New York City Eatery Serendipity 3, has a collection of Guinness Records for his menu items. I’d never heard of his restaurant until he appeared on a talk show to discuss the “Most Expensive Sandwich in the World.” Bruce’s Quintessential Grilled Cheese Sandwich–a $214, 24 kt gold gilded indulgence you have to order 48 hours in advance–landed him plenty of free press.
- Mix online and offline tactics. Who says you have to choose between online and offline tactics? Try using 1 or 2 of each. Some lead-gen tactics have online and offline equivalents. For example, classified ads are an age-old marketing tactic. If they’re not effective for your business offline, consider using an online equivalent like Craigslist.
Now that you’re armed with a few new ideas, it’s time to get started.
Grab a pen and paper and spend 15 minutes writing down everything you know about your ideal customer. Next, jot down the websites they visit, the magazines they read, and the forums and trade shows they visit.
Now you’re ready to try some of the lead-gen tactics above. Once you know what works for your business you’ll be able to put together a lead generation system that keeps new customers coming your way.