Lead Generation: How to Flood Your Small Business With Hot Qualified Prospects

by David Frey

Learn how to generate new leads.

NEWSFLASH! The number one issue facing small business owners today is not having enough qualified prospects.

Okay, so that's not such a big newsflash.

Every small business owner would like to have more high quality prospects but most either don't have the time or just don't know how. There are a myriad of ways to generate leads and each has its own merits.

In this article I will share with you what I have found (after years of experience) to be the most powerful lead generation system in existence. I call it the "Ultimate Lead Generation System" or "The System" for short.

Benefits of "The System"

The reason I call this the "Ultimate Lead Generation System" is because it contains all the qualities that the "ultimate" lead generation system should have? It is one that . . .

1. Requires little manual effort to effectively run it with the ability to be put almost entirely on autopilot.

2. Generates names, addresses, and even email addresses (80% of the time) of people who are interested in knowing more about your specific product or service.

3. Has given permission to you to contact them and give your best sales presentation about your specific product or service.

4. Creates a positive relationship of trust and generates a perception that you are "the" authority in your industry about your product or service.



5. Generates predictable results. The system works like a radio volume control that increases your business when turned up and maintains your business when turned down.

"The System" does all this and more, which is why I call it the ultimate lead generation system.

Using Psychological Triggers to Make People Respond

Generating hot qualified prospects is, in fact, a simple system based on human psychology. People are motivated to action by simple psychological triggers:

Trigger # 1 - People are naturally curious and will go to great lengths to know information that other people don't know.

Trigger # 2 - People are naturally skeptical. If you take the risk away from taking action, people will be more apt to respond to your offer.

Trigger # 3 - People are turned off by traditional sales-based advertisements. They don't want another sales pitch. People want good useful information that will benefit them as consumers (and in their quest to get a great deal). In fact, people are seven times more likely to read a traditional news oriented editorial style article that they are an advertisement.

Trigger # 4 - People will sit up and pay attention to things that directly affect them. For example, people suffering from arthritis will find information about arthritis interesting (and will read everything they can get their hands on about arthritis), while those who don't suffer from arthritis will not be interested in the least.

Trigger # 5 - People can't resist a free offer. It's the oldest, most worn out offer in the books; however, there is no risk in responding to something for free. The highest response rates are from free offers, always have been and always will be.

Each of these psychological triggers compels the average person to take action. Using these triggers in a powerful small business "advertorial" (cross between an advertisement and editorial article) advertisement will bring in high quality leads.

The Five-Step Lead Generation System

Follow these five steps closely to develop your business' "Ultimate Lead Generation System." Each step is significant, so take the time necessary to do it right.

STEP 1: Find Out Why People Buy From You
List the three most compelling reasons why your customers buy your product or service. Take the time to ask your salespeople and even your customers to find out the true problems they are trying to solve when customers buy from you.

STEP 2: Create a Special Report
Your special report should provide "insider" information that the average prospect would not know. It should be highly educational and should NOT contain "sales" information. Your special report could be a written report, an audiocassette, a video, or a CD-ROM.

Create an exciting title for your report. The best pulling titles (from my personal experience) start with "How To," use numbers, and are framed to avoid the fear of loss. For instance, "How To Avoid Six Common Income Tax Mistakes that are Costing You Thousands of Dollars."

STEP 3 - Develop a Direct Response Advertisement
Create a small ad that looks just like a newspaper article that includes the following elements:

Element # 1. A strong compelling headline. Hint: Use the same headline as your special report.

Element # 2. Identify the problem in the first sentence. For instance, "85% of Chicago's small business owners are losing thousands of dollars every year by making dumb income tax mistakes..."

Element # 3. Announce the solution to their problems by offering your special report. You might say, "Recently a new special report was released that identifies what these income tax mistakes are and gives a simple step-by-step explanation about how to avoid them.

Element # 4. Tell people how to get your report and what benefits they'll receive by acting immediately. For example, "Stop making these mistakes and save yourself thousands of unnecessary tax payments right now by calling 000-000-0000 and requesting your special report right now."

You can elect to offer your report for free, which will increase the number of leads you receive. Some of those leads may just be "tire kickers."

The only way to avoid this is to make it a little difficult for your prospect to respond. Charging a small fee for your special report will ward off some freebie seekers but I'd rather deal with a few tire kickers then lose some potential customers.

STEP 4 - Set Up Your Response Mechanism
Prepare to receive a lot of leads by developing a response mechanism that logs all leads and tracks where they came from. The worst mistake you can make is writing a hot report, running a great ad, and then losing your precious leads.

Use a toll-free, direct response phone system to capture names and addresses. The telephone makes it easy for your prospect to respond and using a toll-free number lowers the risk of loss for the prospect. It also allows you to handle many incoming calls simultaneously without any effort on your part.

I recommend using Automate Marketing Solutions http://www.automatedmarketingsolutions.com/hotlines for your toll-free line. Their system was developed specifically for managing lead generation programs.

You'll need to create a phone script to welcome the caller, repeat the offer, and invite them to respond by leaving their name and address. I always make a second offer for an extra free gift that I can email to them to get their email address.

Include the words "free recorded message." This lets the caller know that they won't be getting a sales job when they call, which again, decreases the risk of responding.

STEP 5 - Set Up a Follow-Up Fulfillment System
Suppose you've run your lead generation advertisement and calls are coming in requesting your free report. How do you manage all your new prospects? Imagine if you are going to send them three to five follow-up marketing pieces? It will soon become a nightmare if you're not careful.

I highly recommend using ACT Contact Management System to manage your leads. It is not the only software that can manage your leads but it is the simplest. And it also has a feature called, "Activity Series" that is extremely powerful and keep your entire marketing program organized and simple to manage.

The Activity Series allows you to set up a series of marketing activities performed at specific times. For instance, after you have received a lead you will send out your special report immediately. You might call the prospect in two days. You then might send a follow-up postcard in five days and finally send a sales letter with a spectacular offer in ten days.

Once you've set up your Activity Series you simply attach it to your new lead and the software does the rest. The next morning you arrive and select the task list and it will tell you all the marketing activities you have to do that day for all the prospects you're managing. It's poetry in motion!

A High School Kid Can Do It!

If you've set up your system using AMS and ACT your system will nearly run itself. In fact, I have clients that have high school kids running it. Once it's set up and running, anyone can manage it.

Here's a typical scenario...

The direct response ad is run in the local community newspaper. Prospects respond and leave their name and address on the AMS system. The next morning AMS sends you an email containing all your fresh, hot leads.

You import them to ACT and attach the appropriate Activity Series to them. The operator then selects the "Task List" in ACT and prints out all the marketing tasks to be completed that day.

That's it! That's all there is to it. After the ads are developed and you know which ones pull best and you've developed your follow-up marketing materials you can hand the system over to your lowest level assistant for them to manage.

The Magic Is In the Follow-Up

In the system that I have just presented to you, generating leads is the easy part. Converting the leads to cash-paying customers is the tricky part.

You must follow up immediately, persistently, consistently, and persuasively. DON'T setup and kick off your lead generation system without first putting some real thought into your follow-up marketing system.

Use telemarketing, postcards, sales letters, email, and voice broadcasting couple with powerful, juicy, irresistible offers in order to persuade your prospect to become your customer.

"The System" Can Be Used With Any Advertising Medium

Let me clarify a common misperception that many people have. You can use any type of marketing medium to generate leads including Radio, Cable TV, Voice Broadcasting, Signs, and the Internet etc.

In fact, one of the best lead generating efforts using "The System" that I have every implemented was for a company that participated in a lot of trade shows.

We created a large sign that said, FREE SPECIAL REPORT! "Six Deadly Mistakes and How To Avoid Them." We posted the sign in the booth and had a sign-up sheet for people to leave their name and address, which we would use to send them the report.

The booth was half the size of its competitors. We ended up getting three to four times the amount of leads as the "big guys" and converting 20% of those leads!

Some of the most effective radio spots ever done were ones that offered a free audiocassette to the first 50 callers. It generates amazing results!

Today, I will never create a radio, television, or print ad without offering a free special report. It's my opinion that if you have not gotten the name and address of your prospect from an ad, it’s a colossal waste of advertising dollars.

Spend Your Precious Marketing Dollars On Qualified Prospects...Not Everyone and Their Cousin!

Not long ago I watched a Disney commercial that gave away a free video. The commercial showed all the Disney characters in the background but the picture of the video and the toll-free number never left the screen.

The narrator of the commercial told the viewing audience all the interesting information that the video contained and that it would answer all our questions about a Disney vacation.

It was a spectacular commercial and, most likely, experienced spectacular results. You see, Disney allocates some of its marketing dollars to airing their "lead generation" commercial in the vacation decision-making months of January through March.

After collecting hundreds of thousands of leads, they then spend most of their marketing dollars trying to convert their leads into customers.

Compare this to some big companies that just "spray" their commercial over the airwaves and "pray" that someone comes into or calls their business.

I refer to this method of advertising as "spraying and praying." Big companies have the marketing budgets to do this but small businesses don't!

Invest the majority of your precious marketing dollars in converting qualified prospects, not blasting your marketing message to the masses.

Any Business Can Use This System

One of the most frequent comments I hear from business owners is, "This probably works great for your business but we're different. This won't work for us."

Ridiculous!

"The System" will work in most any business that sells a product or service. If your business doors are still open it's because you are solving a problem. People exchange their money for your solution. Every viable business solves a problem.

Take a moment and think about the problem that you are solving in your business. It may be helping someone look or feel better, helping people to save money, or making something easier for someone to do.

The key to The System is offering special information that helps people to avoid pain or to achieve gain. If you can do that, The System will work for your business. Just take your blinders off and think about what problems you solve and the rest will fall into place just how it's been outlined in this article.

Improve and Expand The System!

If your lead generation system is now running on autopilot, start analyzing your results to see how you can improve. Can you tweak your headline for a higher response rate? Will a different follow-up marketing piece provide more impact?

Can you provide a special offer to capture email addresses so that that allows you to setup a follow-up email autoresponder series?

Continue to improve your results by looking at what others are doing, implementing slight changes, and tracking the results for improvement.

Now once you've found what works, expand it. Widen your advertising to other mediums and markets. Step on the gas and flood your business with more hot, qualified prospects than you've ever had before.

About the Author:
David Frey is President of Marketing Best Practices Inc., a small business marketing consulting firm and the editor of the Marketing Best Practices Newsletter. 

 
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