A business is meant to be an intricate machine, with each department working to support the other. One of the most vital interdepartmental relationships in a business is the one between marketing and sales. It is the marketing department that ultimately generates leads, and the sales team that helps to turn those leads into current clients. But not every business has this structure.
For some small-business owners, they are the one and only member of the marketing team, and they must learn how to generate leads on their own. If you find yourself in this boat, here are a few ways that you can generate your own leads without marketing support.
Find Leads on Social Media
At all times, you should be cultivating your professional social media network. But that network isn’t meant to be there just for exposure. You should use it to generate leads as well. LinkedIn, for example, is a great way to connect with people on a business level, and yet too few people actually use it to generate leads. One great way to use this social media platform is to share with your connections a specific kind of client that you’re looking for. Here are a few tips:
- First, make sure your profile picture is recent and professional.
- Broaden your connections. Remember, this isn’t Facebook; you don’t actually have to know the people you connect with. Add people to your network that you share connections with, and that might be able to provide you with helpful leads.
- Next, post in the “Share an Update” section that you are looking for a specific kind of prospect to help with a specific kind of problem. For example, you might say, “I am looking to work with three construction companies who are struggling to keep their business’s books organized.” You might want to narrow it down by geographical area, depending on your business, and even put a deadline on it to create a sense of urgency.
- Gather at least three recommendations from current clients who are impressed with your work and can vouch for your skills and professionalism.
While LinkedIn is the most effective social media platform for this type of lead generation, you can expand this to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites as well. Just make sure to adjust your messaging to fit the social media network you are using.
Offer a Consultation
Sometimes, all you need to do to generate your own leads is to get those prospects in the door. One of the best ways to do this is to offer a 15-minute consultation. There are many ways that you can bring up this offer:
- Put the offer on social media
- Send an email out to current clients, and ask them to share the offer with connections
- Write a blog, whitepaper, or e-book on a topic you know well, and put the offer at the end of the content.
- Place an ad for a consultation on your website, with an easily clickable button to encourage them to sign up.
If you can get people to acknowledge that they need your services, and entice them with a free consultation, these people can often become loyal customers.
Ask Current Clients for References
Your current clients are clients for a reason, and their continuing patronage is probably a good sign that they like you. So why not ask them for references? Even if you have no clue about how to generate leads for your business, this is one step that even the least experienced sales professional can do. Here are a few tips for getting those referrals:
- Reach out to the client via phone or email, asking for a 10-minute conversation. Don’t expect it to happen right then and there. Let them schedule it for a time that is convenient.
- Always start by thanking your current clients for their business, and let them know that you value them. Ask how you can improve their experience.
- Ask if they can think of any business connections or anyone in their personal network who might be interested in the services you provide.
- Get the name, phone number, and email of the prospect. Ask your client why you think this person or company would be a good fit.
- Ask your client if they would mind connecting you to the prospect with a quick introduction email.
- If you can, always send your current clients a handwritten note or a small gift to thank them for the referral.
If you have to generate your own leads, referrals are one of the best ways to do it. They help to create an immediate rapport, and that can go a long way in the business world.
Tap into Your Personal Network
Too many business professional shy away from using their personal network to generate leads. While it’s understandable to an extent—nobody wants to be that guy who blows up everyone’s newsfeed with promotional nonsense—if you ignore this valuable lead generation tool altogether, you’re missing out on some important opportunities.
Your personal network includes a huge range of individuals, who you interact with in widely varied contexts. This means that your personal connections exist in very different circles from one another—circles that can all include valuable leads.
Of course, mixing your personal network with your business life should be done at the right time and in the right way. Make sure you’re close enough to the person to talk business, and always bring it up in a respectful, non-pushy way. Nobody wants to be pressured into helping you generate your own leads.
Go to a Networking Event
There are a huge number of networking events out there for professionals in all kinds of industries. If you don’t know the first thing about how to generate leads, just show up at a conference or join a networking group. These gatherings are generally extremely supportive, and you’ll connect with other professionals who will help you build your network and learn more drumming up business.
Attending these events shouldn’t be a once-a-year thing either. Make them a part of your regular routine, because they’re a great way to grow your network—an essential part of finding new clients when you have no marketing support. Here are a few basic tips about attending these kinds of events:
- Though these are professional gatherings, they’re also usually very laid back. The people there want to connect with you on a personal level. So just mingle, be human, and have fun.
- Always have business cards on you to pass out to your new connections, but don’t force them on anyone.
- Practice talking about your business. Explaining what you do face to face is usually quite different from writing about it, so put in a little practice to make sure you can do it in a way that is professional and relatable.
- Connect with everyone on LinkedIn. Often, the best way to do this is to ask the person (after a conversation, of course) if they would like to connect. If they say yes, just hand them your phone with the LinkedIn app open, and have them find themselves and send themselves an invitation to connect.
As great as marketing support is, it can never take the place of real, personal business connections. Even owners of booming corporations, who have huge marketing teams, still attend events like this—that’s how valuable connecting with other business professionals can be.
Revisit Closed and Lost Opportunities
Obviously, not every lead you have is going to become a client. But that doesn’t mean that opportunity has to be lost forever. Perhaps they didn’t sign on because it wasn’t in their budget at that time. Maybe they just didn’t have a need for your services yet. But those circumstances can change.
So, if you’re in a situation where you have to generate your own leads, you can always start with people you’ve already connected with before. The great thing about these prospects is that they already know what your company does, because you’ve talked to them before. In fact, they’re even more qualified than most new, warm leads are.
Reach out to these closed and lost opportunities every six months. It doesn’t have to be a direct sales effort either. Send them an email sharing a blog post that you think they might be interested in, for example. If you keep your company at the forefront of their minds, when circumstances change and they require your services, you will be the first person they call.
Implement an Email Sequence
Email marketing can be a highly effective way to generate leads, and you don’t need marketing support to do. While having such a team is invaluable for major email campaigns—a service we offer here at PPM—you can implement an email sequence to prospects on your own, with a little time. Typically, you want to have six email in your sequence, with a clear purpose for each one:
- Email #1: Address the prospect’s pain points
- Email #2: Explain your value message
- Email #3: Drop the name of a major client (this is a great place to share a case study)
- Email #4: Qualify your message
- Email #5: Include a product message
- Email #6: Make one last effort at contact
If you want to learn how to generate leads through emails, implement an email sequence following the structure above, and tweak your messaging based on your results. Generally, this structure will prove quite effective at helping businesses generate leads.
Write a Blog
Remember how we mentioned writing a blog earlier? Well, we’re going to talk about it again. Why? Because blogs are an incredible way to show your expertise, build trust, and generate leads. Plus, they provide valuable content for your website that can help improve your SEO ranking, and give you something to share across your social media platforms.
It’s important that you position yourself as an expert in your field. If you’re not sure where to start, do a little research and see what your competitors are blogging about. Reach out to current clients or put out a call on social media, and ask people what they would want to read about. Then, write about it. Give solutions to common problems, talk about current trends in your industry, and provide helpful advice.
Remember, blogging is just a conversation. So, talk to your current clients and prospects about the things they want to know, and you’ll generate your own leads in no time—no marketing support required.
While all of these strategies are, in their simplest forms, manageable in-house, they’re usually much more effective when outsourced to experienced professionals. Platinum Passports Marketing can create a comprehensive marketing campaign for your company, from social media marketing and email marketing, to creation of visual and written content. Contact us today for a consultation, and learn how our support can generate far more leads than you could ever round up on your own.