Five Steps for Effective Lead Generation

If you’re running a business, you already know sales are the lifeblood of your business. So learning how to consistently generate leads for your business is pretty critical.

The keystone of making sales is attracting people that need what you’re offering.  And the only way to ensure that people know what you’re offering and how it can help them is to get them an effective marketing message about it.  So how do you do that?

Here are five steps I would take:

1. First Identify Your Target Audience.

Your ideal prospects might be a 40 year old man who is divorced and looking to regain his sense of “machismo” by working out and looking good.  Or it could be exactly the thing that’s needed by 17 year old cheerleaders who are into state competitions.  The point is, you need to figure out exactly who your idea customer is because you are not going to appeal to everyone.

2. Choose Several Outlets for Reaching Your Ideal Candidates.

Once you’ve determined who your audience is, you’ll need to know where to find them.  So ask yourself where do your idea prospects hang-out and what’s the best way to reach out to them.  Usually you’ll need multiple methods of approach.  Given today’s consumer expectations and technology, you should generally be prepared to use on and offline outreach methods.

3. Offer Them Something of Value.

Once you’ve found them and gotten their attention, show them how you can help them.  One way to do this is to offer them something of value. It should be something that gives them a  free or low risk way to get to try your product/service or learn more about it. To make this really effective you’ll need to treat it with the same focus and dedication that you would give one of your top paying products.  Free audios, videos and downloadable e-books or reports all can become great lead generators when given away to prospects in return for their name and e-mail address or  perhaps for answering a simple survey. The real key is to make sure it’s something your ideal prospect would see as valuable, otherwise it will be a waste of time.

4. Develop online credibility.

What are people saying about you on the internet? If a potential client “Googles” your name or the company name as the search term, would they be able to find you?  More importantly; would they be likely to use your product or service based on what other people have said about you?  You should have a platform that allows you to communicate with your target audience.  Start a blog and steadily populate it with expert solutions for potential clients and prospects. You can also use various forms of social media to help develop a solid online presence and establish your creditability.

Whether your business is in the real world or online, now-a-days it always pays to maintain a good online reputation with customers and prospects.  Promote yourself or business as the experts in your field. You can even link your best offers and specials within your blog posts, just don’t be “spammy” and make sure your posts are also content rich.

Another excellent use for your blog is as an ongoing communication system to connect with your customers and potential customers too.  Your blog can showcase articles, videos and examples or case studies  for solving specific problems. Your customers can even send relevant links from your blog to others they think might benefit from the information.

If you do this right your best customers can also be your most effective messengers, often referring your blog to family and friends that you might not have reached otherwise.

Stay in touch with your leads and customers.

Stay in touch with customers on a regular basis. This is really important because people don’t always need what you have to offer when they first see the offer, in fact 95-97% of people won’t. But through regular followups you can make sure you do get the sale when the time is right.  This type of followup doesn’t need to be hard either. An auto-responder system like the one I use at Aweber, together with an e-mail marketing campaign can literally double your sales in a short period.  Plus, you’ll be building a valuable list of prospects and customers for continuous sale conversions.

It is definitely worthwhile to take the time to learn how to generate leads and systemically cultivate them into customers.  Many business owners have been able to successfully automate much of their lead generation efforts using the Internet and have it running 24 hours a day.  But do be patient with your efforts, learning how to effectively generate leads and convert them into customers is an ongoing process.