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Grow Your Business Sales & Marketing

What Small Businesses Need to Know About Lead Generation

image for shironosov / Getty Images
shironosov / Getty Images
  • Lead generation is a key part of the marketing process. It increases revenue by capturing interest in your product or service.
  • Lead generation involves identifying your target audience and finding strategies to reach that audience.
  • Develop a plan on how to make the most out of your marketing efforts by researching your audience and creating offers that are more likely to generate a response.

A business that offers services to consumers or other businesses must find its customer base somewhere. The best way to do this is through lead generation.

"Lead generation is the process of creating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of increasing your client base and revenue," said Ari S. Goldberg, founder of investment firm RNMKR. "Lead generation often uses digital and social channels, and has been innovating rapidly the last few years with the rise of new online and social techniques."

Without active lead generation efforts, it will be very difficult to grow and scale your current business.

"You cannot serve clients until you get them, and you cannot get them without generating the initial lead to convert them from an unknown person to someone interested in your product or service to an actual paying client," said Goldberg.

Rune Hauge, co-founder of Mentorcam, said that people today are so bombarded with advertising that they tune it out.

"Traditional advertising is like shouting through a megaphone at a passing crowd, which is interruptive, expensive and ineffective," he said. "Lead generation is more like meeting someone for coffee or going to a book club: It's a way to start meaningful conversations with people. This is how businesses can build strong relationships and lasting loyalty, which will power their long-term success."

Strong customer relationships are at the heart of a successful small business, but acquiring new customers can be a challenge.

"Small businesses [can] … earn new customers by engaging leads through relevant content offerings, which establishes trust and the opportunity to form a relationship," said Hauge. "Customers [who] have chosen to engage with your business and have initiated contact are likely your most loyal ones."

Goldberg put it very simply: Lead generation "can make a small business a big business."

Before you can start generating leads, Hauge suggests starting with your strategy and business goals, and asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who are your potential customers?
  • What do they care about?
  • How will you measure success?

"Understand your audience and how your company can make their lives easier," Hauge added. "Start meaningful dialogue. Focus on building a relationship, not making a sale."

Goldberg said there are hundreds of ways to be successful in lead generation – and you need to do as many of them as you can effectively. Give yourself as many lines in the water as possible, he said, and allow the compounding to help create exponential growth.

"Any successful business owner, entrepreneur or executive is succeeding at lead generation. In fact, this is what is helping them create a pipeline of clients," Goldberg told Business News Daily. "The best are the ones who are curious, who experiment, who use trial and error, who A/B test, who don't get down on themselves, and who are persistent."

Hauge also said the key to generating good leads is understanding the needs and interests of your customers, and providing them with content that's relevant to them without coming across as "salesy."

If you are looking for tactics for lead generation, Goldberg says social media is a great way to go. Consistently posting on Instagram and Facebook and utilizing other content marketing methods such as email, drip campaigns, weekly newsletters, and SEO are the best ways to drive traffic to your site.

Hauge recommends offering something for nothing. The offering can vary depending on your business. For example, if you are a home-improvement contractor, offer a free design consultation. During the consultation, listen to your client's needs and respond accordingly. Hauge noted that good listeners are often the most successful at lead generation.

"Listening to a potential customer's needs and understanding them fully is the first step to having a real conversation and is a critical component of successful lead generation," he said.

These are a few strategies you can use for successful lead generation:

  • Educate your audience. Find ways to communicate to your client base about your products and services. Blogs and social media posts are two strategies to use for lead generation. Include inbound and outbound links for improved SEO.

  • Include a call to action. Remember to include a CTA in all promotional materials. Use sales language to encourage people to take the next step, like, "Call now for a special exclusive offer for you."

  • Collect audience insights. Every marketing material should be targeted to your audience. Lead generation is fluid, and you need to create material that reaches your targets in a timely manner. Tools like Google Analytics are essential for tracking insights.

  • Simplify the process. Lead generation is most successful when your marketing efforts all aim to reach the same point. For instance, your blog posts, social media posts and emails should all lead to the same form landing page.
Business News Daily Editor

Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.