12 Ways to Get Leads
by Anthony Sills
Small business owners who feel stuck when it comes to lead generation can use these 12 ideas to find new ways to get more clients.
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How can you get your business in front of more potential customers?
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 where to get more customers 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 12 tactics that work. Put them to work consistently in your business and watch your customer list and sales grow:
- Make a list--Whether by email, telephone, or mail, we’ve all been solicited by marketers who got our names from a mysterious “list.” Some of these lists are available from companies that sell contact lists for direct marketing. But 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.
- 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 asks 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.
RELATED: 7 Steps to More Customer Referrals
- 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. 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 comarketing 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.
- 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 Meetup.com.
- 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 complimentary 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.
© 2014 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.
Anthony Sills is a direct-response copywriter and content strategist on a mission to eliminate boring marketing. He's written copy for eBay, SEMrush, IBM, American Express, InfusionSoft and many exciting startups. You can always reach Anthony via social media or email.