Generating and converting leads is mostly what marketing is about. And to be straight-forward with you, there’s no one magic technique or way to generate a ton of leads.
I often get asked by business owners, mid size organizations, franchise owners and associations which one or two or three marketing tactics have been the most successful for other or similar businesses, or have the greatest results.
The answer depends on each specific business and their associated marketing strategy. But in a nut shell, long-term effective lead generation comes down to finding the right balance between communicating, sharing information, and solving problems, all through an educational approach that blends the use of:
- positive public relations,
- strategic networking,
- formalized referrals, and
- direct response advertising.
Over time, I’ve noticed our most successful clients employ a number PR, advertising, networking and referral tactics simultaneously to generate leads. You need to employ a combination all working together to generate the right kinds of leads — the kinds that are ideal for your business and that over time trust you enough to buy.
Your ideal prospects benefit from experiencing and engaging your message repeatedly and in different forms.
1. Public Relations
There are two kinds of PR: publicity (which is going to fade away) and there’s public relations which is story telling. Storytelling is going to get more and more important. A core principle of marketing is getting the word out about your business to your target market. In marketing there are many ways to do this. PR just happens to be the one that is powerful, credible and a low-cost (or no-cost) tool, but often underutilized by start-ups and organizations.
Public Relations Lead Generation Tip: For obtaining positive mentions, earning authority and the attention of ideal clients there’s only one place to go: Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO connects reporters to sources, and sources to audiences (ideal clients + new wallets). HARO is entirely free to sources so go gain that valuable media coverage you deserve.
This is the only marketing tool you can count on in any economy. Networking with colleagues, strategic partners, vendors, suppliers, reporters, customers, and local communities is a high quality way to increase revenues and share information, referrals, endorsements, and assist other people. The two cornerstones of networking you must master is the follow-up and differentiation.
Networking Lead Generation Tip: The networking that matters is helping people achieve their goals, doing it reliably and repeatedly, so that over time people have an interest in helping you achieve your goals. On that note, it’s important to have a goal when networking. Plan to meet a handful people, find a reason to meet outside the networking event and discover how you can help them and how they can help you.
PS. Leverage goes to the person who gives first.
Generating referral can and do happen, by luck, but the more you can formalize the process or put a process in place to make them happen, the quicker you’ll realize increased sales through referrals. Generating referrals today can be easy, viral, organized, automatic and profitable.
Referral Lead Generation Tip: It’s been noted that, “you get more referrals by asking.” While I believe this is true, most dismiss the approach of what to ask for. Asking for referrals can get you plenty but the real point is to turn them into a new client.
The mistake most people make in the business of referrals is to ask for leads or referrals when they should be asking for referral introductions. If you want to make referrals a significant part of your lead generation you need to start asking for introductions and not just a list of names.
Most small businesses and midsize organizations have developed a bad relationship toward advertising because of awful past results. Advertising works, it’s just that most of the creatives that produce or sales professionals that sell advertising don’t have a clue how to make it work. Your advertising must be highly targeted (focused on a target market), done at the right time (when ideal customers are looking for help) and in the right place (where they’ll find you). Successful advertising is goal-directed, focused on audience and message and sells not a product or service but action. Before you can begin working, you need a clear idea of the needs and attitudes of your audience and the action you want them to take.
Advertising Lead Generation Tip: If you want your advertising to be more effective and to generate leads don’t sell your products or services, advertise your educational information or offer (brochure, kit, webinar, blog post, coupon, guarantee, etc.).
Use your social media and other offline advertising to direct traffic to your valuable free report or upcoming special offer and past archive seminar. Turn your advertising into a permission-trust building tool rather than a one shot sell.