Many small businesses have difficulty finding clients, no matter their field or whether they sell directly to individuals or to other companies. One of the things that keeps new businesses -- even those with innovative services or great ideas -- from getting off the ground is their inability to find their market niche and to make themselves visible to potential clients.
Not being able to generate leads is problematic, and not just for your marketing department. New businesses often have less room for error and smaller margins, so failing with lead generation at square one often means they won't succeed without more robust, possibly unaffordable marketing strategies.
Here's a beginner's guide to lead generation that will bring in customers for your business, no matter its size or structure.
Initial Discovery and Exploration
When you establish a new business in a new market, it's almost impossible to know which actions to take first, unless you've already completed extensive market research. There are, however, a few things you can do.
Local Social Media Connections
While most businesses know the value of creating a LinkedIn page so their business shows up in local searches, and of using Facebook to engage the community, few marketers know how to use Twitter and similar networks to find new customers.
One thing you can do is start following people in your area who have strong followings of their own, in the hopes that they'll follow you back. If you sell your products or services to other businesses, seek out the profiles of decision makers to learn about keywords that your customers use, and which are relevant to your business and the problems that it can solve for them.
Operate an Effective Ground Game
If your company is a local or regional brick and mortar business, don't underestimate the impact of word-of-mouth leads. Advertise in local papers and websites, create content with the aim of dominating local search results, and attend trade shows and marketing conventions in your region to get as many people as possible talking about your business.
Content Marketing to Drive Lead Generation
Content marketing is a great way to position your business as an authority in your field. Great content and social media presence build trust and loyalty among customers, increasing not only your ability to generate leads and convert those leads into sales, but also the likelihood that your customers will recommend your business to their friends and family.
Find the problems that your customers frequently experience that you can solve with your content and your services. By offering actionable solutions to common problems in your field, your business will be seen as a trusted authority.
Social Media Influencers and Email Marketing
By this point, you know your audience pretty well. You know what they want to see and hear, and whom they look up to on social media. Now you have to target your marketing to specific audiences to generate even more leads.
One way to do this is to employ influencer marketing techniques. This describes the strategy of using popular public figures to promote your product so that their wide base of followers considers trying your product or service. By using someone whom many people look up to, you’ll have a chance to use his or her status to create trust in your brand.
Another strategy of direct marketing is using email campaigns to generate more leads, either to draw previous customers into returning, or to find new ones. Sending newsletters, blog content and campaign updates is a good way to keep prospective customers engaged with your business so that when they’re ready to make a choice, you're the first name that comes to mind.
The Final Step: Paid Ad Campaigns
We don't recommend campaigns like Google AdWords to marketing novices; a lack of understanding of how keywords relate to SEO can make your return on marketing investment for a paid campaign practically nonexistent. When you've gotten the lay of land, however, promoted content campaigns and paid ads are a great way to generate leads in multiple channels as your business grows.
During your business's growth period, you're going to have to research your markets and do a lot of legwork because initial lead generation isn’t easy. As you become more experienced, however, multi-channel marketing strategies for lead generation can definitely pay off. If you make the right calls initially, there's a good chance you'll become a trusted name within your market.