Small Business Lead Generation 101

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Lead Generation 101

Generating more qualified leads — we imagine it’s one of the top three goals for most businesses. The thing to keep in mind is this: there isn’t one formula for lead-generation success. Different industries, location, business size, and many other factors will influence the strategy you end up using.

That said, there are some best practices that all businesses should consider, which we’ll outline below.

1. Optimize your website. HubSpot coined the phrase “inbound marketing,” which simply means it’s much easier to sell to people who are looking for what you’re selling. One way to attract these people is through an optimized website, one that’s also well designed with clear navigation and plenty of useful information. (Wondering if your website needs a makeover? Here are 5 signs.)

2. Create compelling offers. So many of us are connected to our computers, tablets, and phones that when we need info, we can find it with a quick search, click, or finger swipe. So how do you get these info-seekers to linger a few minutes more on your site, your landing page, your social media platform? How do you get them to surrender their contact information and remember your company? Through compelling offers that provide value. Think white papers, checklists, downloadable templates, webinars, podcasts, and videos. You get the idea. Put these items behind a form so that you can gather info, continue staying in front of these leads, and push them further down the sales and marketing funnel until they turn into a customer. Here’s an article we wrote on the secret sauce to creating compelling offers.

3. Consider online advertising. Pay-per-click (PPC) can be effective if you carefully target your keywords, you have compelling ads, and you’re leading people to a solid landing page. PPC is often synonymous with Google AdWords. While Google is certainly a big player, don’t ignore other places to run PPC ads, such as Bing, Facebook, and even LinkedIn. Consider other forms of online advertising as well, such as banner ads (one of Mashable’s marketing predictions for this year is this: brands and publishers re-think banner ads).

4. Don’t forget about your friends and family. What’s the adage about every person having 200+ contacts of their own? Asking your friends and family to promote your business could yield some leads (and it’s even easier for your friends and family to do it, thanks to social media).

5. Stay in front of present/past customers. It’s easier to sell to existing customers than it is to prospects. Your customer database is, essentially, a “hot lead” database. Make sure you stay on their radar by “touching” them throughout the year using things like email marketing, referral programs (see below), and social media.

6. Implement a referral program. A referral program can be a great way to drum up new business with past customers/clients and a great way to get them to act as “evangelists” on your behalf. (Nothing beats the power of word-of-mouth marketing.) Read a post we wrote about how to set up a referral program.

7. Get involved in your local community. This is especially important if your business focus is local, such as a restaurant, hair salon, landscaper, home builder etc. Through sponsorships of sports teams, volunteer efforts, customer appreciation days, or sponsoring a highway, you increase your visibility and name recognition for your company. Here’s more info on building awareness for your business in your local community.

How do you get quality leads for your organization? Share your tips and experiences in the comments.

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