When you’re a service-based small business, you don’t have to play it small for lead generation. Lead generation is all about the art of building relationships, and with the right infrastructure, you can create a network of qualified leads that give back to your company in droves. You just have to know your options and how to implement them. So keep reading for the building blocks of small business lead generation.
Disqualify your leads.
Did I get your attention? Hear me out. It can be tempting to qualify all leads in the name of growing your business, but the more effective approach is actually to disqualify leads. Let’s talk about that.
When you approach lead generation for your service-based business, it helps to clarify who you want to attract—and who you don’t—to set yourself up for the best chance at success. I approach it from three angles:
- Audience Fit. Before you seek out leads, you have to get clear on your target audience. This comes down to identifying the unique solution you offer to a specific audience’s problem. What do you offer that nobody else offers? That’s your target audience in a nutshell. The people who benefit from your solutions. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a successful business, small or large, that doesn’t have a defined target audience. With this information in hand, you can seek leads that resonate with what your business offers.
- Budget fit. Your budget has to be a consideration with lead generation. If you know your services cost X amount of dollars, stop yourself from seeking leads that can’t afford your offerings. Do you want crumbs that might add up to a whole pie over a long period of time? No, you want the whole sticky sweet slice. Your efforts will be lost on people who can’t afford you. Instead, identify the right audience for your budget and qualify them through the methods I’ll walk through below.
- Culture fit. Define your company culture and seek like-minded leads. Values alignment yields far more fruitful relationships over time. Identify what your values are, and seek out people who care about the same things. Values fuel meaningful conversations and connections, and interactions based on that meaningful connections yield leads that are far more receptive to your messaging. When you weave values-based content into your overall content strategy, you will have a recipe for success.
But you can’t qualify leads without a solid understanding of your target audience.
Know your audience.
I often say don't waste your time on marketing your business if you don't know:
- Who you're marketing it to.
- The problems they're trying to solve.
- How you can uniquely solve them.
- The circumstances for conversion.
Before moving forward here, you should take the time to understand your target audience and know the answers to those statements to ensure you're being most efficient and effective with your precious time and resources.
Show your worth.
Consumers today are a savvy group of people, especially the younger generations who grew up around social media. They are less likely to trust overt advertising and marketing practices and seek values-driven content and communication. They want you to bring them into your world. Generating leads is often about building trust to compel action. You can build trust by showing your worth to your target audience. You can show your worth by:
- Sharing testimonials. Many consumers look for peer-vetted businesses to put their faith in.
- Posting user-generated content. Let your current customers do the speaking for you, telling others how different life is after they started using your services.
- Seeking and rewarding referrals. Word of mouth is powerful.
- Posting awards or industry seals on your website to build credibility.
It’s not enough to say you’re an expert and expect a customer to place their trust in you. Their time and money are valuable; show them what they get when they opt into a relationship with your business.
Share value in everything you do.
The transition from anonymous audience member to qualified lead is paved with value-added incentives. Think about the solutions your small business offers, and create a trail of sweets leading to that conversion. Your trail of sweets depends on your unique offerings, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- Exchange a coupon code for email addresses on your website.
- Post an excerpt from an infographic on your social channels and ask for an email for the full (free) download.
- Launch a social campaign that outlines your unique offerings in a real-world context with current customer user-generated content.
- Create blogs that get at the heart of their pain points and show you understand.
- Leverage your in-house experts to create a video series about service offerings.
You have a lot of options, but the goal is to embrace variety. Create a content strategy that adds value to your audience’s life and adopts a multi-dimensional approach with a mixture of short-form, long-form, and different content types, like videos, blogs, and podcasts.
Craft a stellar content strategy.
When you first meet somebody, you gradually get to know each other. You don’t just invite strangers over for your baby’s baptism, right? So your content strategy should incorporate a tone and voice that acknowledges the early stages of a business relationship. Don’t come on too hard and let your audience’s wants, needs, fears, behaviors, and preferences serve as your guiding light.
Content execution needs to be in formats that are easily accessible, downloadable, and quickly digestible. Like a quick cup of coffee vs. a girl’s weekend at the beach. Consider the following as options to start nurturing your leads:
- Social media posts discussing the impact of your services
- Blogs that get to the heart of the problem-solution continuum
- Email drip campaigns that lead to a free download or resource
Your initial marketing communication should have a low barrier to entry. Remember, you want to get people in the door, then you can sit them down at the table. So start by creating content that gets your audience in the door. To pique their interest, you may have to prove you’re worth their time.
If you haven’t set up a CRM for your small business yet, now is the time. A CRM, or customer relations management software, logs, categorizes, and keeps your customer information organized. It’s gold for mining valuable customer information.
Inside your CRM, you should be collecting information like audience birthdays and anniversaries. Use this information to reach out and make connections with your customers. For example, send a discount code on their birthday. Reach out with a personalized message on their anniversary. Show them you’re paying attention and that they’re on your mind.
An easy way to do this is to set up automated email campaigns. Step one is to segment your email lists to ensure you distribute relevant information to relevant parties. Step two is to schedule touch-base emails at regular intervals. Focus on providing value. Send information about new services, how-tos for your services, and offer to set up a call with a handy Calendly link.
With some intentionality behind your lead generation efforts, you can watch relationships take off over time. Prospects become customers become advocates.
Generate leads like you’ve been doing it forever.
If you’re new to the lead generation game, I’ve created two valuable resources to provide all the details you need to get started in just a few hours.
Start with my Work From Home Playbook to learn about content strategy, lead generation, and even how to set up your CRM. You can watch all relevant videos in less than 30 minutes. Click the link to start watching videos today.
Next steps: becoming a content marketing pro with my Marketing Masterclass for the Professional Advisor. Click the link to sign up and start with the “Develop New Business” module to explore multiple templates for lead-generating content strategy.
Kiley Executive Coach & Consultant
Kiley Peters is a serial entrepreneur, national speaker, executive coach, and small business consultant. Having personally counseled over 100 small and medium-sized businesses on operations, business development, digital marketing, and consumer behavior analysis over the last 17 years Kiley is incredibly passionate about serving small business owners. She is the Founder and CEO of Brainchild Studios, a research and business strategy partner for small businesses and mid-market executives, and also created the Work From Home Playbook, a series of online courses guiding aspiring entrepreneurs through the steps of starting a virtual business. With these experiences in her back pocket, she understands the challenges and struggles small business owners encounter.more posts by Kiley →