Now it’s time for the fun stuff: lead generation! How do you attract, on an ongoing basis, potential clients to your business?
This is a key piece of the marketing puzzle, since businesses that do not have a regular flow of leads, or prospective customers, will always struggle with their profits and savings accounts. That’s why I’ve put together this handy list of 10 tips you can use as today’s action plan.
1. Think strategy, not tactics. A tactic is a single action or activity, like running an ad, sending out an email or hosting an event for past clients. A strategy is a series of actions or activities intended to deliver a particular result over time. Those tactics we just named could belong to a consistently-executed advertising strategy, or an email marketing strategy or a special events strategy.
You want to discover, hone and perfect a few key strategies that reliably and consistently deliver leads.
2. Replicate your own success. One of my favorite ways to help clients zoom in on successful lead generation strategies is to look at what has brought leads to you in the past. I have a long list of my clients going several years back with a notation about how each one found me. You might be surprised what you learn.
3. Know who you’re looking for. You can’t find and attract ’em if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Make a clear profile of your ideal client and research where to find them.
4. Use the appropriate “birdseed.” Finches like finch food and …well, I don’t know much more about birds, but you get the idea. If your birdfeeder is empty, you don’t attract many birds. And if it’s covered with squirrels, you might not be targeting effectively enough.
For enlightened marketers the business equivalent of birdseed is information — something offered to your clients to spark interest and attract them to learn more. You can deliver that information in any number of ways, whether it’s a free report on your web site or a postcard inviting chamber members to a teleseminar.
But, the important thing is to deliver information that attracts finches, discourages squirrels and generates curiosity about your business. (Hurray for mixed metaphors!)
5. Speak! One of the best ways of marketing “one to many” is giving a speech to a group of your intended audience. The same attention-getting information we discussed earlier is even more effective when delivered in person. I can attribute a dollar amount to speaking opportunities, including the unpaid ones, as I invariably get new clients after they’ve attended my presentations.
6. Write! The written word carries a lot of weight and goes where you can’t. (After all, you’re reading this article I wrote months ago!) A writing or publishing strategy can be an ongoing source of lead generation for your business. Consider writing articles for trade journals in your industry, adding a blog to your web site or sending out a regular ezine.
If you’re already writing a lot, think about ways to repurpose that content to get more mileage out of the same work. For example, you could compile several of your most popular articles into an ebook to provide as a giveaway or as an information product for sale on your website.
7. Develop a referral strategy. My favorite one is strategic alliances; these are other businesses that serve the same target audience but don’t compete with you. I consistently and predictably get several referrals a year from my strategic alliances.
You can also seek referrals from past or current clients, vendors or even family members. Just be sure everyone is clear on who your target audience is and what makes a good referral for you. [Get more help with Referrals.]
8. Design a web site that generates leads. The last two words there are the kicker. You should expect your web site to deliver prospects to you. Almost every web site I see is missing this piece, and that’s a wasted investment.
The first, best way to make this happen is to know what your “most wanted response” (MWR) is on each page of your web site. Your home page’s purpose is to capture your visitor’s contact info so you can follow up with them proactively. The typical way to do this is by offering a gift of some kind (special report, downloadable audio) and your ezine in exchange.
The second way to increase leads will seem deceptively simple. Put a form on your contact page. I can’t tell you how many more inquiries I have gotten since putting up that form! It gives prospects a place to begin, with an invitation, and it gets more complete information to you before your conversation with them.
9. Test, refine, repeat. We’d all love to try something, nail it and be able to use that strategy to attract clients forever. I wish it worked that way, but what usually happens is this: you try an idea and get middling results. Then, you think of some ways to improve it and do a better job next time. And, over time, it becomes a fundamental client-attracting strategy for your business.
You just need to let go of the idea that it has to be perfect the first time. I call it being a marketing test-pilot. It’s a dangerous job and sometimes you crash. But if you stick with it, you can discover amazing vehicles and truly soar. It only takes a few proven strategies to draw a steady stream of clients.
10. Be mindful of your mindset. It can take a lot of work to stay positive when you’re running a small business. You owe it to yourself and your customers to make a conscious effort to avoid negative thoughts, seek out positive people and nurture a belief in your own success.
11. Bonus Tip: Build a client-attracting brand. There’s no better workhorse in your business than a solid brand. It tells people who you’re for and why they should choose you. It’s attention-getting and memorable.
You know how when people ask you what you do, or what’s a good referral for you, you have to pause a minute and think of something good to say? Or how every time you write some materials for your business, you’ve got to start from scratch and invent things? Well, when you articulate your brand in a positioning statement, you never have to make things up again. Your answers flow, and they’re so clear that they captivate the attention of your listener.