Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, primarily because their innovative ideas lead to increased competition and economic growth. While industry giants may occupy market leader positions, small businesses are the fast and adjustable players that can outrun the slow and rigid large corporations especially in times of change or crisis.
But, how do they attract customers in such a fiercely competitive environment? How do they keep the sales pipeline filled with leads? Lead generation has been one of the hottest topics in Sales and Marketing for a while now, and lead generation for small businesses can be quite a challenge considering limited resources at hand.
What is lead generation?
Lead generation includes a set of marketing activities that aim to acquire and generate a list of contacts who are likely to be interested in the products/services of the business. A lead is any person (in B2C industries) or a member of an organization (in B2B industries) who indicates an interest in the company’s product/service in some way, share, or form.
Just a few years ago, lead generation techniques were pretty straightforward. Organizations would typically run a TV commercial, run an ad in a magazine, and buy an email list and spam the list with promotional offers. Today, lead generation is different.
With the growth of the Internet, the world moved from information scarcity to information abundance and overload. This means that you need to invest significant efforts to cut through the noise in order to have your voice heard by potential customers. That is how we came to have the sales funnel that starts with awareness, continues with leads, prospects, and finally sales, with the hope that the customer will be satisfied and repeat the purchase.
Lead generation ideas for small businesses
Lead generation is a top priority for organizations of all sizes, but for small businesses, it is particularly important, because they do not have the luxury to sit and wait for clients to come knocking on their door. Small business lead generation begins with creating a strong online presence and giving the customers a reason to visit their website. Here are some ideas that can help small businesses generate leads more effectively.
1. SEO, SEO, and SEO
- For a small business, SEO is crucial! Start with your website. If you need help, check out these simple tips on how to optimize your website.
- Create a free Google My Business directory listing. Make sure you optimize it so that customers can easily find you.
- If you are a local business, claim your listing on online business directories, especially local ones.
- Encourage your clients to post reviews about your business. This has a major impact on future prospects.
- In case you haven’t heard: blogging is not dead, it’s simply reincarnated. The material you put out there should educate your target audience and demonstrate your expertise in the matter.
- Combine articles, videos, podcasts, infographics, photos, and all other media to create interesting and engaging content that separates you from the competition.
- Apply SEO tactics to improve your search rankings.
3. Free stuff
- Sometimes the catchiest word you can use is “free”. Offer your expertise for free to promote your business, get referrals, and boost your visibility.
- If possible, offer free trials of your products/services.
4. Increase your social media activity
- You need to be SUPER active on social media: post at least once a day on all networks where you are present, comment, like, share content, and most importantly, interact with prospects.
- Build a strong network with influential figures in your area of business.
- Promote your social media channels wherever and whenever possible.
5. Run ads (but for carefully selected target audience)
- Google Ads can be effective, but make sure that you analyze your strategy and content carefully before investing the money.
- Social media ads on Facebook. Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube often offer a very low cost for entry, but that does not mean they are effective. Picking your target audience, in this case, is of utmost importance.
6. Speak up
- There is a reason why you keep seeing so many invitations for webinars. Host webinars, even if they are for only a handful of people.
- Speak at conferences and local events.
7. LinkedIn connections
- LinkedIn is the single best thing that has happened to Sales and Marketing professionals in the last decade – use it!
- Connect with people from your industry and build a referral network. Connect with prospects and open up a line of communication. Join relevant discussion groups. Follow your current clients and prospects and build a deeper relationship with their brand.
That’s all fine, but it seems like too much work… Shouldn’t I just buy leads?
Many entrepreneurs are tempted to skip the hard work and just buy leads. This is a quick way to easily obtain a list of contacts according to the selected criteria of your target audience. However, this solution can be expensive and at the same time, the leads generated are generic, and the competitors are also out there obtaining them. Finally, these contacts did not yet show interest in their business, so they are considered as unqualified leads.
Lead generation today is so much more than just a list of names and phone numbers for your Junior Sales representatives to dial. It is a mix of the so called ‘smarketing’ activities and it generates good results only when approached holistically.
If you need help with generating leads, check out what our team at Zenos did in this Case Study: Zenos performs lead generation for a computer software company
Get in touch with us today to understand how we can help your business generate leads!