After graduating college, I worked for a direct-response marketing company in Chicago, Illinois. The co-founder of the company was legendary copywriter Dan Kennedy, and he said something during one of our company’s product launches that I’ve never forgotten:
“Lead generation is the lifeblood of every organization.”
Just as your body needs consistent blood flow in order to keep going, so too does your business need consistent “lead flow” in order to keep growing.
In this article, I’m going to share with you four proven ways to consistently generate qualified leads for your business – even if you don’t have a lot of time to spend on marketing. I know these lead generation strategies work, because we use them in our own business, and many of our clients, partners, and friends use them as well.
But first, let’s talk for a moment about your sales funnel.
First, Understand Your Sales Funnel
What is the process that prospects go through when purchasing from your business? This process is called your sales funnel, and understanding your company’s sales funnel is critical to understanding what areas need improvement in order to grow revenue and profit.
For example, here is our company’s sales funnel:
Another company’s sales funnel might look something like this:
When you understand your sales funnel and identify each of the steps, you can track specific metrics and know which steps need to be improved. For example, your conversion rate may be strong, but you’re not generating enough leads because your traffic is low. If you already have a strong conversion rate, you would want to work first on driving more traffic to your business.
Think about the path your customers went through when they purchased from your business. Was there an appointment? If so, how many? Did the customer(s) buy right away, or did they request some more information first? Do your customers buy repeatedly from your business, or just once? Could they buy again if you offered a product/service they wanted or needed?
Ask yourself these kinds of questions, answer them, and understand your sales funnel. Write out your sales funnel on a whiteboard, piece of paper, or use an online tool like LucidChart.
Think of your sales funnel as the “blueprint” for your marketing campaigns. Just as a house has a blueprint to guide the construction crew as they build, so too you need a blueprint to guide you as you build out different marketing campaigns. By knowing your sales funnel, you’ll focus all of your activity towards accomplishing a specific goal – instead of just doing a bunch of random tactics, hoping to generate results.
Action step: Write out your sales funnel step-by-step, and identify the key metrics for your business. This will be your blueprint for your marketing campaigns moving forward.
Now that you’ve got your sales funnel written down, let’s talk about how to drive traffic into your sales funnel, and generate more leads and revenue.
1. Showcase your work online.
I have a friend who has a custom woodworking business. He isn’t real serious about marketing, except for publishing photos of his work on Facebook after he’s built something.
After building a few tables for my wife and I, and a few neighbors, things started to take off. Now almost every time he publishes a photo on Facebook he generates leads, many of which convert into paying customers. (He’s even started selling and shipping to different states.)
In his own words, “Every time I publish something to Facebook, I get more inquires.”
And he’s not the only type of business profiting from Facebook.
While at my best friend’s wedding a few years ago, I struck up a conversation with his wedding photographer. I asked her how she got most of her business, and she told me, “Honestly, mainly Facebook. Every time I share photos from a previous wedding or photo shoot, I end up getting more inquiries that usually end up turning into customers.”
Facebook is just one way to showcase your work online, Two of our clients generate a lot of their business through Yelp and Google Maps – both of which are free to setup and use, as well.
The bottom line is that your business needs to be online, and you need to showcase your work to people who could benefit from your product/service.
Here are several ways to showcase your work online:
- Website (most recommended – since you own this digital real estate.)
- Facebook page
- Google Business Listing
- YouTube Channel
Now the question is, once you are online, what should you showcase? Here are three key things:
- Photos, videos, and/or case studies of your work.
- Logos of companies you’ve worked with.
- Client testimonials and endorsements.
It’s the 21st century, and the Internet is a powerful force that is here to stay. If you’re not online, you don’t exist to most people. Make sure you are online and showcasing your work.
2. Be intentional about building relationships (new and existing ones) both online and offline.
In his book Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money, Rabbi Daniel Lapin makes this insightful statement:
“Befriend many people who are a rung or two above and below your financial level, then find ways to help them achieve their desires. You will have discovered the secret of partnership power.”
If you ask most business owners and freelancers where the majority of their customers come from, most of them will tell you “referrals” – which is another way of saying relationships. A family member or friend of theirs connected them with someone else who needed the product/service they provide.
In life and in business, opportunities come through relationships. The more relationships you have, and the stronger your relationships are, the more opportunities will flow your way.
I have family members, friends, and mentors who have helped generate tens of thousands of dollars for our business, simply because we have good relationships with each other. They know how our business can help, and they pass our name along to people they know when someone mentions they need digital marketing help.
What are some ways you can be intentional about building relationships? Here are three specific things you can do each week:
- Try to meet at least one new person each each week: Online, you can do this in a Facebook Group, a forum site like Quora, on social media, or in the comments section of a popular blog. Offline, you can do this at church, when you go to the store, in your neighborhood, or any other places you frequently visit.
- Connect with a family member, friend, or mentor: Call them on the phone, send them an email, and/or take them out and buy them coffee (or dinner).
- Help someone reach one of their goals/desires: What goals do family members, friends, mentors, influencers, or other people you know have, that you could help with?
Be intentional about building new and existing relationships with others, both online and offline. Make sure you’re prepared to share what you do and how you can help when people you meet ask you, “So what do you do for work?”
Each week, aim to meet at least one new person, help one person, and connect with one person. You never know who your next business opportunity will come through.
3. Google AdWords.
After relationships and referrals, the channel that has generated the second most amount of new leads and customers for our business is search engine marketing.
Search engine marketing involves two things: Search engine optimization (SEO), and pay per click advertising (PPC). Both are extremely effective – and worth learning more about – but SEO generally takes longer for most businesses to see results from, while PPC (such as Google AdWords) can start generating leads and customers for businesses this week.
With Google Adwords, we’ve acquired new clients from other cities, states, and even other countries, such as China. And we’ve done so while only spending a few hundred dollars on ad spend each month.
There are over five billion searches happening each day on Google, and the number of total annual searches on Google continues to increase year-over-year. The amount of people using Google to find solutions, answers, and products is not decreasing at all, which is why Google AdWords continues to be one of the most effective ways to get found online, generate new leads, and acquire customers online.
One thing to remember: Google AdWords is extremely effective for lead generation, but it is also easy to rack up a lot of ad spend if you are not careful.
To help minimize the chances of wasting money on ad spend, we created this free AdWords management checklist that will show you how to avoid (and fix) the seven most common, costly, and overlooked Google AdWords mistakes that secretly sabotage revenue and profit.
One quick tip: Don’t sign up for AdWords Express. You’re essentially letting Google spend your money however they want. Sign up for AdWords and manage your ad campaigns yourself.
4. Sell new products or services to your existing customers.
What’s one of the best source of new business? Your existing customers. Why? Because they’ve already done business with you, know and trust you, and are more likely to purchase again compared to someone who doesn’t know you yet.
Starting collecting names, email addresses, and phone numbers of your customers now, so that you can keep in contact with them and offer new products/services to them down the road. (You may also want to collect mailing addresses, as well.)
To recap, here are four things you can do this month to consistently generate qualified leads.
- Showcase your work online.
- Be intentional about building relationships (new and existing ones) both online and offline.
- Google AdWords.
- Sell new products or services to your existing customers.
Remember, start with fully understanding your sales funnel, and then work on the strategies above. If you start with understanding your sales funnel, your marketing efforts will be focused and effective, and you won’t feel like you’re doing just a bunch of random disconnected activities.
What have you found to be effective in generating new leads and customers for your business? Share with us what’s worked for you in the comments below.
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