Grow or Perish - the top 5 ways to generate more leads in your business

Written on the 9 May 2011 by Altitude Communications

Grow or perish… as you well know, in business there are only two options. And while we are constantly being bombarded with the latest marketing options, gimmicks, trends and opportunities, it seems that in the current market the simplest things are often the best.

The key to generating more leads, in the current economic climate is community. Your prospects want to feel as if there is a face behind the corporation. Gone are the days of big brands and monolithic empires – community is in, and it’s the perfect time for SME’s to prosper.

A few years ago, if we were giving this kind of advice, we would have said to grow your brand – “It’s your brand that gets you business”. But times have changed. The Internet, email, SMS and overblown marketing budgets have depersonalized the message, and your consumers are rebelling.

Our suggestion: get personal, get ego-centric and build your own personal brands. It’s time to revel in your SME status – as someone famous once said (on a totally unrelated topic), “Say it loud and say it proud.” Become the public face of your business, give information away, be generous, and position yourself as an expert. Then the leads will come.

Here’s 5 of our favourite ways to generate leads…

1. Email Marketing

This has to be the best marketing invention for small business ever. Email marketing, opt-in marketing and eNewsletters are an instantaneous and effective way to grow your business. It is virtually low cost and (depending on the system you use) often times it is simple enough for you to do yourself.

There are three vitally important aspects of email marketing. The first is your database – these people (whether you’ve met them or not) are your bread and butter. Look after them, your database is your most important business asset and should be treated that way. People who have subscribed to your database are giving you permission to market to them infinitum (or until they choose to unsubscribe). You are creating a lifetime relationship with these people and they deserve your respect, attention and care. Guard your database like you would guard your wallet.

The second is content – the people on your database have willingly given you their contact details, they have willingly agreed to accept (and most times read) your emails, in return for this they deserve good quality content that is pertinent, up-to-date, regular and interesting. Remember, content is king, and your database will reward you if you if you shower them with the kind of information that they want to read.

Not sure what to include? Then ASK your database. Surveys are a great way for you to find out exactly what your database wants, thinks and feels. Ask them their opinions and then reward them with your findings.

The third aspect is purpose – the flexibility and range of email marketing can mean it’s placed in the box as an all-rounder – rather than the specialist tool that it is. Before you start writing your campaign, think about the end result – why are you sending this campaign, what do you want people to do/act/feel, and who is your target market. Once you have answers to these questions, you can start to write – but not before.

Here’s a few ideas that you can use email marketing in your business:

  • Regular communication with your existing database – keep you and your brand top of mind 
  • Positioning – for new clients and prospects 
  • Sales email – communicate your special offers or new products 
  • Within your production process – keep your customers informed with prescheduled communication that lets them know where you’re up to and what’s going on. 
  • Within the sales process – used to position yourself and your company from the outset 
  • Communicate with cold prospects – to warm them up again, pre-call. 
  • As a response to advertisements or a web enquiry. 
  • And the list goes on and on.

These are just a few of the ways you could use this flexible tool within your business. Just make sure that you use a combination of these strategies, otherwise you might find your communication skewed.

2. Partner referrals/Affiliate Programs

Another low cost, but brilliant way of instantly multiplying your customer database is through an affiliate program. Start by searching through your contacts and selecting businesses that complement yours (who are not in direct competition) and who you have a good relationship with.

From there you can set up a partner referral arrangement or a more formal affiliate program – please note: software products are available to make the management of affiliate programs automatic and easy, contact us if you’d like to know more.

The end result of an affiliate program is a three-way benefit - you get new clients, your affiliate gets a commission, and your new customers do too – because you have provided them with excellent customer service that goes above and beyond their expectations to meet their needs. And what’s more, you can set up reciprocal affiliate programs so the benefits can go in reverse too!

3. Search engine optimization

In today’s world, we rely heavily upon our websites to promote our businesses and to communicate with our prospects – both on a local and global level. Now before you think that you’re too small or too geographically based to need search engine optimization think about two things...

  • Do you plan on (at anytime in the future) expanding your business ventures outside your local area? 
  • Do your prospects own a computer and are they likely to look for you (for a phone number, address, or other information) online.

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you need an optimized website.

With all the billions of websites out there, you need to do something clever to attract visitors to site. The best way is to ensure that your clients can find you via a search engine, such as Google. There are many Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques that you can use to improve your rankings and get more traffic from search engines. How far you take your optimization depends on your business and your budget.

A couple of the most important (and easiest) SEO techniques to start you off are:

  • Getting other popular and important websites to link their site to yours. 
  • Choosing the most important words (metatags and keywords) that describe your business and the phrases (metaphrases) that you think people will use when they search for your site on Google and then making sure they are in important places such as headings and the title page, in bold, within your metatags and in your page and site descriptions; 
  • and finally by creating a text link to every page on your site, or an XML sitemap of your website’s page structure. This will help ensure Google’s web-crawlers are be able to easily read the content of your site, and rank it accordingly.

However, the most basic key to building repeat traffic is to create a website that is useful, unique and full of good content, and employing tools that will encourage your visitors to come back again and again.

4. Event marketing

One of the most popular ways of sales lead marketing these days is by event marketing. Effectively, this works by hosting a seminar, webinar or teleseminar on a topic of interest to your customers. Those that attend will find it useful and be further exposed to your business, its products and services.

Event marketing gives you the opportunity to cross and upsell your other products, whilst introducing your clients to your main product/service range.

5. Traditional advertising

Whilst not one of our favourites because of its high cost and low average response rate, traditional advertising mediums must be included in this list because of their link to mass media.

Large companies advertise for a number of different reasons: 

  • to attract new customers, 
  • keep existing ones, 
  • and to confirm to recent customers they did the right thing.

They advertise to create quick awareness of a new brand or a product change, and create, explain, and reinforce a brand's positioning. They advertise to tell shareholders they are doing something active to keep the company growing. They advertise to tell government they are there. And sometimes they advertise to win awards. But most of all, they advertise because they've grown large enough to expect they need to.

The benefits of traditional advertising mediums are numerous if done correctly and via the right medium for the product/service. In order to determine the right medium, market research may need to be carried out. Be warned though, traditional advertising is not necessarily the most effective form of sales lead generation (people are well used to being bombarded with various advertising messages and are getting very good at “switching off” to it) and is certainly not the most cost effective method of sales lead marketing. Look instead at new twists on traditional media - such as advertising on websites, eNewsletters and blogs.

Remember, whilst marketing for leads is one of the most important tasks that you will undertake in the promotion of your business, it is vital that you test the waters first. A strategy or medium that works gang-busters for another business may fail miserably for you. Always test and measure the effectiveness of any chosen media, as well as the creative that you’re using to entice your prospects. Also, don’t be limited by the “herd-mentality” just because your industry traditionally doesn’t do email marketing, for example, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. As long as there is no legislative or ethical objections to the use of a particular media – then test it. You never know, you may uncover a goldmine.

Copyright Altitude Communications 2011. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be used without the prior written consent from the author. See below for more details...

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Marketing Mentors Bill Doyle and Sandra Hammond from Altitude Communications publish the popular 'My Marketing Mentor'weekly eZine with over 4,200 subscribers including solo-preneurs, entrepreneurs and business owners.

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Author:Altitude Communications
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