Lead Generation Strategies for Business Owners

by | Aug 23, 2022 | Business Growth | 0 comments

from the desk of Elisa Planellas

from the desk of Elisa Planellas

Digital Marketing Consultant

If you’re in business, then you need to know about lead generation. No customers means no sales. The measure of the success your business has may be rooted in how ‘talented’ you are in this one skill. 

Those who are considered top sales experts are usually masters at getting more customers. When they work for themselves, they can be dangerous competitors who dominate with ease and a near unshakable reign. They can get the revenue flowing for just about any business, regardless of industry or product offering. Become one of them or be ever at their mercy.

Becoming one of the greats can come as a side effect of over-learning the fundamentals. Know how to identify your ideal customer and get the right attention. Refine your skills through constant practice, assessment, and adjustment. 

The art of lead generation has been around since antiquity. Through lead generation, many entrepreneurs have achieved great feats of profitability and literally changed the world. 

Whether you are B2B or B2C, there are countless approaches you can follow to generate business leads. Becoming great at even one method that you’re not using right now can have a big positive influence on your sales. 

But what if you already put in a lot of work at getting leads and haven’t been getting a great response? What if you’ve tried every method you found applicable and came up empty? Effective lead generation isn’t a stand-alone tactic. It has numerous elements. Finding the formula for success is what the process is all about. The fact that you’re reading this now means you’re still on the right path.

Social media marketing for lead generation

Although its reach as a lead generation method is widespread, social media marketing remains a highly under-utilized method of lead generation. Many business owners still have never tried it. 

And of those who have tried it, many have yet to make it productive for them. Some, seeing the struggles of those who’ve tried it to seemingly no end, dismiss the approach from the start, suspecting success with it to be just another ineffective rumor. The positive results wait for those who understand the potential of social media to generate sales leads and act on that vision. To these, the results have proven to be jaw-dropping in countless cases. 

So why is it that many struggle to reap the promise the social media marketing opportunity presents to those who want more business leads? Following the narrow path to success that exists in this arena may require a bit more focus than some are willing to muster for the task. 

See, social platforms are a communications medium. Getting the desired attention and response can demand a precise voice and content that strikes the perfect balance between serving and asking. For success with social media marketing, you serve valuable content in a strategic way and you ask your audience to convert only in the right rhythm and style. 

Some of those who attempt using social media for lead generation promote their offer repeatedly, hoping that the volume of posts will guarantee a conversion. These people are relying on the mathematics of conversion science, believing in that 0.5 percent minimal statistic. 

If they have any tendency towards mathematics, their approach is to estimate the number of views their set of posts will get and count on at least 0.5 percent of those views to convert into a lead. But it doesn’t work that way – posting more often does not always equate to more views or engagement.

To generate leads with social media, know your ideal customer and seek out a relationship with that persona through communications that interest them. 

Search engine optimization for lead generation

SEO remains a controversial topic, especially when it comes to its power to generate leads. The question isn’t the value of being prominent in the search results, but rather whether or not it’s possible without grand expense and dedication. 

There’s also a major worry over how long it takes to rank a web page. Many of the ranking factors are beyond control. For these and many other reasons, some entrepreneurs actively resist using search optimization as a lead generation method, fearing that a different approach would be a better expenditure of time and money. 

Despite the risks and challenges, many have found SEO to be an irreplaceable part of their lead generation strategy. Their landing pages get targeted traffic that flows in for free. The benefits can compound over time as some rankings remain steady while new ones are achieved. 

Over time, the cost reduces and the return on investment climbs, leading to a seemingly endless influx of leads that pour forth without additional effort. SEO might be more of a long-term game, but what it can do to get you a generous and steady supply of leads can make it worth considering. 

But what of the challenges? What about those who try SEO and never get good results? SEO is like a chess game. Winning requires the right strategy. You want to optimize web pages so that they can rank high, but you also want to design those pages so that they’re engaging, compelling, and inspire action.

Paid ads for lead generation

If you’re after fast results, paid online advertising could be the right route. This is the first approach some entrepreneurs use to fill their sales funnels. Simply identify the best platform, place your ad, and monitor the results. 

Of course, paid advertising isn’t always as simple as it seems. You want to maximize the power of your ad spend. That can take a lot of know-how and an even greater amount of trial and error. But once you find the right balance, it works. 

There are many types of paid online advertising for you to choose from, including display ads, pay-per-click (PPC), pay-per-action (PPA), and more. There are countless service providers offering online advertising services. It’s also something you can learn to do for yourself. 

Some forms, such as banner advertising, require you to have a certain style of graphic. With PPC, such as Google Adwords, all you need is a text ad, which can be easier to come by, assuming you already have a landing page or a website. 

Paid online advertising is faster than many other methods of lead generation because it is possible to start getting responses almost as soon as your ad goes live. Just about all the top social media platforms have paid advertising programs. 

With Google you can have your ad displayed right at the top of the search results, instantly outdoing competitors who focus on SEO. Google also can display your ad on countless third party websites, giving you a lot of reach. If you can spare the budget, you can give this method a try to see what kind of results you get. 

Cold calling for lead generation

Is cold calling dead? In a way, it never will be. There will always be a place for calling someone you don’t know on behalf of your business. 

If you’re an entrepreneur whose focus is business-to-business, this could be the right approach for you, your offer, and your potential customers. Sure, a lot of people aren’t receptive to cold calls in the traditional sense, seeing it as a major interruption. But the days when you just pick up a phone to call someone who’s never heard of you and make a sales pitch are long gone. Today is all about building relationships with your prospects. It’s a door you can open with a phone call. 

So, how can you approach cold calling without getting hit with some of the backlash from the negative reputation some have brought to it? Throw out the sales playbook and ask for the introduction. Change your focus from getting the immediate sale or appointment to getting to know your prospects better. Leave the product pitch for a little later. 

See, many people don’t like to be ‘sold’ but a lot of business owners appreciate valuable insight that helps move their businesses forward. Use the conversation to demonstrate and expound on your passion for helping others improve. 

When you call someone, have your marketing materials ready to send. In fact, you may want to make your getting permission to send information the purpose of the call. 

After the person accepts and the information is sent, follow up with them. It’s in that second call that you want to make your presentation, but be sure to be a sincere listener and ask plenty of questions. 

Cold calling is one of the oldest lead generation techniques there is. It’s still around because it still works. 

Cold emailing for lead generation

Did you know that business-to-business cold emailing isn’t spam according to the CAN-SPAM Act? There are some rules that must be followed and those rules all depend on the conditions by which the email is sent, but cold emailing remains a legitimate approach to lead generation. 

Some entrepreneurs won’t try cold calling because they worry that the amount of response they’ll get will be lacking. As with any method, however, it’s not the method itself that’s successful or not. It’s your approach that succeeds or fails. 

Some find cold emailing a much easier approach than cold calling. With emailing, everything can be automated and it’s possible to never even speak to the prospect before he or she converts into a customer. 

One of the biggest challenges, however, is getting people to open your email. If they don’t open, they won’t read your message and thus won’t convert. You get more opens by having a great subject line. What qualifies as ‘great’ depends on your audience and your offer. 

In fact, email generally can be an excellent and efficient way to generate more sales leads. You can use cold emailing or you can warm the leads by having them opt in to receive messages from you. The latter usually comes with a higher conversion rate. 

The challenge of getting people to subscribe to your list is much about getting enough of the right traffic to the web page where they can sign up. In this case, email marketing, even if it’s cold, can be stacked with other lead generation methods to enhance results. 

Using lead generation services

Many entrepreneurs get into their line of work because of a passion for their product, industry, or customers. The bulk of their talents is in things other than getting leads. The good news is that there are a lot of services out there that offer lead generation services. 

These service providers can handle the entire process for you so that your focus can remain on doing what you love. You can, for example, outsource cold calling to a telemarketing firm or hire a marketing agency to get inbound leads flowing for your business. 

Let’s face it – lead generation takes character no matter which approach you use. A lot of it is about knowing your potential customer well, including where to find them and what engages them. This means that research usually makes up for the bulk of the work.

Once you master the formula for getting leads, you can just repeat the process and watch your funnel fill.  Getting a lead generation expert on your side has to be the easiest method of all, although it can come at a high cost. 

Doing the preliminary research yourself by creating an in-depth buyer persona might help you save money on outsourcing. Then you won’t have to count on a third party to do this part, as it is often the service that comes with the highest price tag. 

Plus, doing the research yourself can help to boost the effectiveness of your outsourced campaign; you’ll be able to ensure that all deliverables have the right focus. From there, you can use social marketing, SEO, list building, and telemarketing services to get you the results that you seek. 

PR for lead generation

As many entrepreneurs know, sometimes the best way to generate leads is to get the word about your business or service ‘out there’. When you get down to the bare bones of it, lead generation is really all about reaching people and communicating your message. 

There’s many ways to reach out to your leads. If you want to reach a large audience all at once, one of the best methods is to get media exposure from television, radio, and the like. 

Shark Tank has been a very popular television show for some time now. On it, entrepreneurs go in front of a panel of famous, big-time investors such as Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, and several others. The entrepreneurs make their pitch and hope to get an offer from one of the investors. Many do end up with a generous investment, but many don’t. Yet even for those entrepreneurs who go on Shark Tank and get no offers there is great benefit to being on the show. For many, the media exposure alone is enough to see sales climb, as viewers fall in love with the product and actively search it out to buy. 

It might not be so easy to get on Shark Tank, but the show is just one example of how any type of media exposure can help you generate leads as long as there is a big enough audience. For this reason, commercials and  being featured on the radio are worth considering. And, even if you don’t have the funds to do radio or television advertising, you can find someone’s show to be on and enjoy nearly the same benefit. 

Direct mail for lead generation

Email marketing is one of the leading methods used in modern lead generation, but email has yet to make traditional mail (snail mail) obsolete. Running postal mail campaigns is a lead generation strategy that has been around for hundreds of years. And, while many of the modern entrepreneurs overlook this method, it may prove to be an effective option for your business. 

In fact, the popularity of digital marketing can benefit those who run a traditional mail campaign. Now there’s less competition to get the attention of the recipients. 

Fewer businesses are using this method to generate leads, and that can make you and you’re mailing stand out from your competitors. In many cases, your prospect may have never been approached in this way by anyone in your industry. Snail mail is quickly becoming the novelty it once was, creating a lot of promise for those who don’t overlook it. 

As with any marketing message the more personalized it is to your prospect the better. Personalization can be tricky if you’re in the B2C space and must send out in bulk, but if you’re in B2B, seeking high value prospects, and thus have a smaller list, it’s easier. 

You may find it worthwhile to personally write letters to each of your potential customers, depending on the size of your list. You can use a template to make the job easier. You could even outsource the work. Direct mail marketing is a time-tested and proven practice that could be a great way to bring more leads into your business. 

Joint ventures for lead generation

If you make the right connection, marketing through a joint venture can be a fast way to generate leads. You find someone whose products or services compliment your own and you co-market with them, benefiting from their efforts as well as your own. 

Joint marketing can be especially beneficial for those who don’t have their own list of prospects and find themselves limited in the resources necessary to generate leads, such as time, money, connections, and tools. There are opportunities to do this type of marketing both online and offline. 

Online, it can take the form of marketing to someone else’s email subscriber list. Offline it can be as simple as sponsoring tabletop tents at a local restaurant. And this type of marketing goes both ways; you must be willing to help the other person achieve their goals.

Offering the benefit of enhanced lead generation to a third party doesn’t have to be costly or taxing. You can establish an agreement wherein you will refer any of your prospects to the other person if the prospect expresses interest in what that person offers – this is the reason you want your marketing partner’s offering to complement, but not compete with your own. 

Generating leads through in-person networking

Networking is something that has been around since forever. It’s natural and it works. If you want to find more leads, just go to where your prospects are likely to be hanging out and make as many connections as you can. 

The business to customer relationship is a real relationship indeed. Your approach to networking should be centered on building real relationships. 

Focus on getting the introduction, making a positive impression and getting the contact information. With networking it’s important to keep in mind that the focus is on filling your sales pipeline, not generating sales in the moment. 

There are a lot of places you can go to network. You don’t always have to wait for an industry conference or similar event. You can check out the events happening in your local area and, if you suspect that some of your prospects might be there, then participate. 

You can also visit places where your leads may be likely to frequent whether or not a special event is going on. While it’s true that a lot of people don’t like to be approached about business outside of the office when they’re trying to have a good time, remember that you can lead with genuine interest and let them know about what you do in a ‘matter-of-fact’ way. Who knows? They might contact you. 

Entrepreneurs and Lead Generation

Lead generation can be a thrilling experience. When your efforts turn out more successful than you hoped – or even just successful in spite of your doubts – it can really be inspiring. 

Just know that there are many new people out there who would be eager to buy from you. The key is finding the right balance of strategy and message. It’s more about how you communicate with your prospects once you get their addition. 

Lead generation is an art that you can get better at with time and experience. If you stay focused on your strategy you’ll gain traction, experience and new business. 

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