Almost every business owner wants more leads for their business. In fact, for many owners the need for a constant inflow of qualified leads often dominates their thinking. There are, however, many challenges to ensuring and maintaining that supply. And, in addition to the needs of today, growth objectives and profit goals will require increased revenue which must come from increased sales—which means more leads. So are there really “sure-fire” methods of lead generation? And, if so, what are they?
Start With Your Plan
Truly successful lead generation must always be an integrated part of your marketing strategy. And this rests on having a comprehensive plan that takes into account the demographics and psychographics of your target market, as well as your positioning—the perception of your business and your product/services held by that target market. In other words, your lead generation efforts must be guided by who it is you are ideally trying to attract to your business and what it is you’re promising them.
A mistake many business owners make with lead generation activities is to simply try different things with no real thought about who their ideal customers are, where they are, and how to best reach them. Random acts of lead generation produce random results—and a very questionable ROI.
Assuming you have effectively put together a strategic marketing plan and you know your ideal target market customer, what can you do right now to generate some solid, qualified leads?
5 Ways to Get Them to Bite
Here are some tried-and-true methods for getting good leads quickly:
• Team up: Many businesses can find ways to share resources with other non-competing businesses that targets similar customers. One of our clients who specialize in dent removal teamed up with an auto detailing facility to exchange customer lists and trade discount coupons to promote each other’s services. Clients who had a dent removed from their car received a coupon for detailing and the detailer did the same for our client. Not only did each of them enlarge their potential customer database by sharing information, they also opened the doors for co-branding opportunities, to boot!
• Referrals: Time, experience and much research has concluded that nothing brings a qualified lead to your door better than the recommendation of a friend or colleague. Having a structured and intentional system, or program, in place to elicit referrals is not only a sure-fire way to generate qualified leads, but it is highly cost-effective as well.
• Word-of-Mouth: According to Wikipedia, word-of-mouth marketing “encompasses a variety of subcategories, including buzz, blog, viral, grassroots, cause influencers and social media marketing.” People tend to act on what they hear in this way because of the added layer of integrity perceived in it. In other words, getting people to talk about your company, your products or services, who you are and what you do, is an effective means of moving people to come to your business. We often say that your best salespeople are satisfied customers.
• Give it away: Give your product or service for free on a limited or one-time basis. This is especially effective if you’re a restaurant, a spa, or any service-oriented business. Make it a random weekday for just one hour, for example. The restaurant chain Macaroni Grill did this when they first opened with the idea of building mid-week traffic and it was incredibly effective. The old saying that “samples sell” holds a great deal of truth. And lead potential!
• Surprise them: Never underestimate the power of surprise, of the unexpected. Reach out and “touch base” with your pool of past or current customers, but do something spontaneous or out of the ordinary when contacting them. If you can find ways to surprise and delight current or past customers you can then leverage the power of that moment to generate a new sale. Although you may not always think of them as potential leads, these folks are almost always a great source of qualified leads and can be a far more cost-effective source. The added bonus is that your lead conversion, or sales process is often shorter and easier with repeat business.
Where There’s a Way There’s a Lead
The real key to generating more leads is how well you know your most probable customers—your target market. This is why making lead generation a systemic part of your marketing is so important. However, even though continual research and quantification of data on your target market is essential, it’s also critical to avoid getting stalled by too much analysis and not enough action! It was the American General and military strategist George S. Patton, who said: “A good plan, violently executed today, is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” A good strategy supported by some effective tactics will result in the leads you need.