Ok so you’ve printed up flyers, blasted out posts to your Facebook fans and Twitter followers and you just paid a guy to do SEO and Google AdWords ( but you’re not sure if he’s doing SEO or SEM or both). You haven’t really seen a noticeable uptick in sales inquiries or new appointments that you need to generate leads grow your business.
Don’t worry you are not alone.
There are hundreds of ways to generate leads and the truth is that it can be head-spinning to try to understand all of them.
Successful small business owners are always trying to increase their customer base and grow their business – having access to a steady stream of leads is critical.
No leads, no luck.
While it will vary by business, a lead is basically a consumer (B2C) or business (B2B) that has ab interest in what you are offering.
Today, we are going to share with you 7 free things that you can do to generate leads for your business and we’ll even throw in a bonus at the end.
I know – you’ve already heard this. But for good reason – it works and it helps generate leads for your business.
But in spite of this, many companies do not have a consistent content calendar. You’ve really got to have a business blog to be successful at streaming traffic through your website and leads through your funnels. Posting once a month is better then never!
Commit to writing 250 words per day.
OK, if you can’t do that just do 100 words bare minimum and by the end of a week you can have a 500+ word blog post. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be your voice helping your customers or commenting on one pertinent and relevant topic.
Schedule 15 minutes per day to write 100-250 words. Just let it out!
For a quickstart guide to starting a blog, read this post.
(Many give up when no results come in the first month or two – don’t let that be you!)
2. Lead Magnet: Give First – Get Later (When They are Ready)
Ok so I know you want to get the leads, but think about it like this…think about some people that have tried to sell you stuff.
There’s the guy who know you for all of five minutes and he’s obviously trying to sell you something. You remember – the guy who tried to sell you life insurance. He lays on the heavy stories about the kids with no parents and you walk away just feeling like crap. “Better to try and avoid him in the future I think”. You want to take care of your family, but there’s a way to do it without feeling like dirt.
Now think about someone who you actually enjoy buying from. You may not even think that they have tried to sell stuff to you, because you probably like them so much. They took the time to get to know you, learn about that is important to you and when the time was right you actually asked them to sell you something.
My wife and I have been married since 2007 (wow, almost 10 years! You can click here to see a picture of us on our wedding day. Tuxes were in!) Even before then, people were trying to sell us houses. Seemed like everyone we met in 2006-2008 was a realtor. As soon as I’d say hello, I’d have a business card in my hand.
In late 2014 we bought our first home. Our realtor’s name is Luke and he has the patience of a nun! He drove us around to tons of houses when we were figuring the whole thing out. But it was what he’d done before we were ready. He took the time to get to know us, he remembered things like Birthdays and anniversaries. He spoke to me about my passion for soccer. Luke always had great resources for us and answers to questions we had along the way. He cared, he provided. We bought.
Now I am not saying wait 10 years to sell! Just get to know your audience a little first.
Give your audience or target customers some up front value. This could be a short ‘insiders guide’ to help them with any decision making they need to do in your industry, or a ‘checklist to increase success in their desired outcome of using your product or service’. To make sure they get it, they need to give you their contact information.
And voila! You have generated a lead. Here’s a practical example:
There’s an online marketer called Bryan Harris – a really great guy who helps entrepreneurs grow their email lists. He provides an incredible amount of upfront free content that help his audience- he has 20+ free resources that people can use and do use to achieve impressive results. You just give him your email address and he sends it to you.
Here’s how it works:
Give them a free resource (aka lead magnet) to help them + they give you their contact information = generated a lead.
You can now communicate with them and (depending on your business model) nurture them on an email campaign, social media relationship or in-person meetings.
Give first. Get later.
(check out Bryan’s website at VideoFruit, featuring tons of resources).
What have you given your customers lately?
3.Use Email Marketing
There are many reasons to use email marketing including lead generation but my favorite is one thing:
Wouldn’t you like to be able to engage your customers and prospects in meaningful dialogue?
Email is such an effective tool to communicate with the people who matter most to your business. It gives you the ability to stay top-of-mind and keep people engaged with your business at every all year-round and you can set up automations to speak to them with relevancy at specific times for your business e.g before the holidays with a sales message, or send them a birthday note.
Here’s 10 more good reasons to use email as part of your marketing strategy:
- Strengthen relationships
- Improve communication
- Build your brand and stay top of mind with consistent emails
- Track engagements such as open rates, clicks on links.
- Get feedback on specific products or services
- Increase traffic to your website
- Provide a personal touch to your marketing
- Build excitement and give your audience something to look forward to
- Generate leads!
- Increase sales by sending a promotional message
4. Attract Leads Using Twitter
Twitter is a short and snappy communication tool that allows you to send out messages (tweets) up to 140 characters long.
Use your tweets to link to specific content (blog entry, site page, PDF, and so on) or a photo or video.
As we have become an incredibly visual society, images help. Adding a picture or video to a tweet extends what you can share past the 140-character limit for tweets.
Again, twitter comes back to conversation and because of the quick cuts of information we can share and comments we can make twitter can be a true form of digital conversation.
Twitter users can also choose to share your content by retweeting. Get a twitter power user with a big following to retweet your stuff and you can reach thousands of people.
On Twitter, you can also generate leads by gathering email addresses from potential customers by using a free twitter card.
Audience members, or leads that have communicated an interest in your business, are what drive your business forward.Once you’ve caught these new email addresses, you can add these potential clients to your email campaigns and continue the conversation on your terms within your platform.
There was a time when I thought of networking as an awkward business-card-swapping interaction at a hotel over an expensive breakfast. Well let’s face it, some organizations still do that.
But if you pick the right event, with the right people and the right conversation, then networking can be one of the most tried-and-tested methods of generating leads.
And, if you do a little homework then networking can be both productive and fun.
Here’s a few tips:
- Do your research: If you can, find out who will be attending and identify a list of priority introductions.
- Be confident: Don’t be the guy in the corner on his phone.
- Grab attention: Just like every lead generation tactic needs to grab attention in the first few seconds, at a networking event you too have a limited amount of time to get on other person’s radar and show that you have a compelling solution. Refine your “elevator pitch”.
- Engage: So you don’t want to sound like you actually practiced a pitch, you want to be natural and engage with the other person in conversation.
- Listen more than you talk: Listen to what they are saying so that you can understand their needs and nail your follow up.
- Build a relationship: You’re not selling on the spot here. Get to know who you are speaking with so that you can develop a relationship.
- Follow up: Send a personal note or an email referring to where you met. The fortune is in the follow up.
- Systemize: Once you have done this a couple of times it becomes second nature. To take it a step further you could setup an automated email sequence (see #3) to activate after each new meeting.
Also, networking doesn’t necessary have to be the super formal type. It could be based around something fun that you like to do.
I network every week while playing soccer.
Just make sure that you engage in those conversations that you want to engage in. All of the steps above still apply!
6. Answer a question on Quora
Quora is a room full of questions and answers on specific topics.
The online question and answer community is a place where people can post questions and get advice from others in their industry.
Start by picking relevant discussions where you can chip in with advice and increase the value of the conversation.
When you start to install yourself in a trusted group, you have the chance to benefit in a number of ways:
- Build your personal and business brand
- Become an authority
- Help people in your industry-space
- Track and analyze results
- Drive traffic to your website, where you can talk to them
Since most consumers today look for reviews and peer to peer information, a discussion is a high quality forum like Quora can boost your company’s visibility within relevant groups of individuals.
Concentrate on giving honest feedback and advice help and you’ll rapidly observe that you’re building up a qualified audience pool.
One word of caution: Quora is a community-driven site, which means its users are looking for answers, NOT marketing messages. When posting links, make sure you’re providing value for the people using the site.
Don’t be the snake oil salesman.
Be the guy who is known as an expert and authority at what you do.
7. Don’t Forget to Ask – Have a Strong Call to Action
As a young media sales rep, I remember sitting in the car with my manager after a sales call and asking him for feedback. I had done pretty well I thought…great presentation and the client seemed eager to buy. “Don’t forget to ask for the sale” was his friendly response.
I had done everything I thought. A thoughtful, well presented solution to a problem they were having, I had created a good relationship and they said they were interested – we just had to come back next week.
But he was ready then, and I didn’t ask. I remembered from then on to ask for the sale and went on to generate millions of dollars for that company.
When someone visits your website, are you asking them to take action?
When it comes to generating leads for your business online you have to clearly point the prospect in the direction of what you want them to do. They are reading your content or on your website for a reason.
They need direction so let them know. Include a strong call to action.
Do you want a social share of your content? A site visit? Their contact information in return for a lead magnet? A subscription to your page or channel? Maybe you want them to buy now?
Be clear – spell it out and let them take action which will generate leads for you.
Bonus: Quick-Start Checklist for Lead Generation