Running a small business means you wear a lot of hats. Perhaps there is no more complex stage of hat-wearing than when getting a new small business off the ground. At this point, there are a lot of setup tasks that need to be accomplished–from basic logistical things such as buying inventory and flushing out services, to creating a website, getting a physical location and planning out your initial marketing campaign. As a small business owner, it is important to balance wearing these different hats so you aren’t overtasked. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done. For individuals who have a lot to do and very little time or manpower to do it, mistakes will be made.
One area that is often neglected for new small businesses is lead generation. Marketing campaigns are only so effective when they are targeted to the right people. This is where good lead generation comes in. By doing some research ahead of time to find and identify the right leads, you can optimize your marketing efforts so you aren’t wasting time and money.
If you find yourself in a position of looking at how to generate new leads for your young and budding small business, here are different tactics you should check out today.
The Importance of Good Lead Generation
Most entrepreneurs recognize the importance of smart marketing for a new small business. The old adage of “build it and they will come” doesn’t hold much water in today’s competitive entrepreneurial environment. It is a hard fact that there’s so much competition both online and locally that it is easy for potential customers to ignore a new small business if there isn’t enough awareness generated ahead of time. For most small business owners, marketing takes one of two forms: targeted or blanketed. For those wanting to get as much awareness out as possible, their marketing campaigns tend to be large and indiscriminating with its target audience. In other words, they try to market to whomever they can reach.
Unfortunately, this approach is difficult to make successful with limited resources and budgets. If you can only afford so many ads, for example, you have to be more selective in whom you’re trying to target. This is where targeted advertising comes into play. By reducing the scope of your marketing campaign with a well-defined target audience, you not only manage your limited resources but you also increase your chance of success. A well-crafted target audience means you reach people who are more likely to respond to the marketing in the first place.
The trick is to know who to target. This is where good lead generation comes in.
Good leads are like a gateway into the right target market. They can open doors to further potential opportunities and give you a greater insight into what your target audience is really looking for or expecting out of your business. When done correctly, good lead generation helps to narrow down a greater target audience while increasing your advertising and business avenues to explore. Thankfully, the tactics for great lead generation can be easy to understand and implement with a little bit of planning ahead of time.
Research and Strategy
You may be tempted to dive off the marketing deep end with your lead generation efforts. Unfortunately, this approach often ends up as a bust more than anything else. The reason is simple: If you don’t know what kinds of leads you were searching for, you are more likely to hit a wall.
You have to do some research ahead of time before beginning your lead generation efforts. No strategy or tactic is going to work if you don’t know who to actually pursue. In particular, this means identifying the types of leads (most often individual people) who are more likely to open doors for you and your new small business. Think about the types of individuals who can do just this. Make a list of the types of people who either represent the ideal customers for your small business or who may lead to more business in markets you want to access. This list will be your foundation as you start to research and pursue different types of leads.
As you create this list, you also have to start qualifying them to make sure they are the best fit for your marketing efforts. At this step, you will want to do as much research as possible to learn the most about each potential lead. The information you find will help you to decide if it is a potentially good or bad lead. A good lead is one that will likely increase your access to the ideal target market or open up new avenues of business you hadn’t thought about before. The process of qualifying leads means you do enough research to determine if a potential lead is good or bad. Qualifying your leads will allow you to optimize your efforts to increase your chance of success in a more direct manner.
Tactics for Lead Generation
When it comes to generating leads, it is important to take a broad, comprehensive approach to your generation tactics. Relying on just one tactic can work out in the beginning stages, but for most small businesses, you will need to cast a wider net. This is because you may not have a great feel for where your potential leads may be. With multiple generation tactics, you can get better coverage of unfamiliar markets and audiences.
One of the best, most effective tactics for lead generation is email marketing. Sending targeted messages out to groups of people allows you to take a proactive approach to your lead generation process. In other words, you don’t have to simply sit and wait for people to come once you have a website or social media platform. Instead, you are actively creating a list of potential leads, preferably qualifying them and pursuing them through your communication.
Another major benefit to email marketing is the simplicity and low resource requirements. In theory, a single email account is all you need to use this tactic. More advanced software and marketing capabilities are available if you want to automate the process or add unique monitoring features to see how your email marketing campaign does. Regardless of the complexity, the point of email marketing for lead generation is to spread the message about your new small business. This is the same as general, comprehensive marketing but is done on a smaller scale. This makes it more manageable, more targeted and more cost-effective as you begin to find the leads you need to expand your business.
It should go without saying that any new small business needs to have some kind of digital presence online. Most often, this takes the form of a dedicated website that presents the basic information of the business and its offerings. Unless you have a plan to establish a local small business, where your efforts are better spent on local advertising like newspapers and magazines, this is likely to be a potential lead’s first introduction to your small business.
Beyond the general requirement of having a website, there are steps you can take to optimize it for lead generation. Making sure all the important information is communicated clearly is the first major step. Reduce the number of required clicks to access this information. Ideally, present the information on a single page layout that serves as a landing page for potential leads. Another way to optimize your website is through effective calls to action. These are parts of the website that persuade visitors to take a specific action. For lead generation, desired actions include things like signing up for a mailing list, visiting the business’s social media pages or further taking a step to learn more about the business.
In recent years, content marketing has become a major presence in overall digital advertising. The idea is simple: Bring people in with good content instead of just selling the products and services. Visitors are more likely to stick around and return to the small business if they have interesting, useful or engaging content.
The real advantage of content marketing is how well it fits with other forms of advertising. For example, if you are using your website to generate leads, you can enhance this process with content marketing. Having a blog is a great way to target specific individuals who may be looking for some particular type of information.
Content marketing can also be used outside of your own website or blog. Guest blogging is a popular form of content marketing that pushes information to places where your target audience and potential leads are more likely to be. In this case, it can be more difficult to execute since you need to find other websites and publishing platforms that will allow you to guest blog and advertise your business. Doing this will require extra research and communication to establish the necessary relationships.
In general, most small business owners and dedicated advertisers consider paid advertising to be more effective for large scale communication. Targeting specific leads can be more difficult to do with paid advertising platforms like Google AdWords, but it’s not impossible. More importantly, you will get access to certain filter and targeting features that other forms of lead generation do not inherently have.
One of the key requirements of good lead generation is filtering. When you have a large group of potential people reach out to you, it is helpful to reduce this number to individuals you have a greater chance of reaching. Qualifying leads is a step you can take on your own regardless of the tactic, but if you want more power in the space, paid advertising can be helpful.
Using the built-in filtering tools of most major, popular advertising platforms will help you to reduce your target audience. You can use a lot of different demographic information such as age, sex, ethnicity and more if you think this information is helpful for generation purposes.
It can be easy to forget that one of the most effective ways to generate new leads is in person. While digital marketing tactics have become mainstream for small businesses to generate new leads, nothing beats the intimate effects face-to-face communication can have when generating new business. This is because face-to-face lead generation was once the dominant form of generating this business. Back when most small businesses were local, homegrown operations, face-to-face communication was often the most direct and effective way to increase your network.
The same benefits hold true today. Even though you can reach a larger audience through email, social media and paid advertising online, the effective intimacy for lead generation is often lost. This is due to the fact that mass communication is created for just that: the masses. The messaging has to be as broad as possible to engage with as many people as possible. This can make the content feel generic and inauthentic, which all can be a turn off to potential leads.
Face-to-face communication, however, is different.
Quite often, this form of lead generation revolves around conversations. Having a genuine conversation with someone is the best way to get to know them and share the important information about your business in a more natural way. It is also easier to read the potential lead during the discussion to gauge their interest or hesitation. In order to make face-to-face communication work, you need to really hone in on your target leads. Do your homework by qualifying the leads ahead of time whenever possible.