If you’re a local business, coach or someone else whose bottom line depends on local dollars, leads are the first step to your success. Without a dependable stream of leads, you won’t have any customers or clients, plain and simple.
But when it comes to generating leads, business owners are often at a loss.
Lead possibilities are actually literally everywhere. You simply have to know how and where to look.
What follows are five (out of thousands of) ways of generating leads for your local business. Each one will take effort on the part of you, your staff, or those to whom you outsource the work (and yes, we recommend outsourcing as much as you can afford, but that’s a topic for another post, another time). However, you’ll find the return is well worth the investment.
Lead Gen Tip #1: Put on Local & Regional Events
I actually love producing events. It’s a chance to get out of the office and away from the computer, press the flesh, and get to know your clients and customers in a semi-casual setting. This changes the dynamic from an office environment, which can be sterile and formal, to cocktails and fun interactions.
For example, I worked with a financial adviser client for whom I would produce a monthly lead gen event around Austin, Texas. We would send out a target direct mail campaign a number of weeks in advance, have attendees call the office to RSVP, then host them at a local, high-end restaurant for dinner and a presentation.
Each presentation, although it would run a few thousand bucks between the mailing costs and dinner bill, would almost always turn up a few clients. If you figure each client had a CLV (customer lifetime value) of 5 figures or more, the ROI on such an event was always well worth the outlay of cash.
Now, if you don’t have thousands to blow on dinner events and direct mail, how can you still achieve this effect on a smaller scale? Simply finding low-cost or free venues is a good way to start. Think local parks where you can reserve a covered picnic area or libraries and community centers with private rooms. Can you come up with some other inexpensive venues?
Lead Gen Tip #2: Ethical Bribes
If you aren’t currently cultivating an customer list with emails, SMS, addresses, etc., you are leaving way too much money and opportunity on the table. I can’t stress that enough.
Start simple…open a free account with MailChimp or another email broadcast program and start collecting emails anywhere you can; your website, events and trade shows, one-on-one meetings, etc. Make sure you have explicit permission, and then enter those emails manually or automatically through your email broadcast provider.
Virtually every provider, be it MailChimp, Constant Contact, ActiveCampaign (our favorite of this list, btw), etc. allows you to also send what’s called an “Ethical Bribe”. This is some kind of freebie that the user receives in exchange for providing their information. You’ll notice we do that too — on various pages of our site, within individual blog posts, etc.
This can be an ebook, a short video series, a Cheat Sheet, a discount coupon, etc. to be delivered at some point — either immediately or shortly after — the contact signs up for your email list.
An Ethical Bribe has 2 purposes.
- To show the contact just how much value and service you provide, even when you’re giving it away for free.
- To activate something in their brain called reciprocity. It’s an influence strategy designed to get the contact to want to give something back because they got something for free. And guess what…it works!
Lead Gen Tip #3: Media Interviews
Media interviews are great, as you’re leveraging the credibility and reach of a media outlet and their established audience. And believe it or not, they’re not as tough to land as you might think.
Now if you’re going after a primetime spot on your local NBC affiliate, keep shopping.
However, the term “media” has become splintered and varied over the last couple decades. Instead of “mass” media, you now have specific media outlets focusing on specific topics.
Blogs, podcasts, local radio, and newsletters are just a few examples of local media outlets. If you do a search for “[your town] blogs” or “small business radio”, you’d be surprised what might come up. Once you find suitable media outlets, reach out to them and pitch them on why you and your business would make a good story in their publication.
Also, check out aggregators like SourceBottle — they allow media outlets to post interview requests on specific topics and those looking for coverage to respond. Sign up for free and look through it on a regular basis for great opportunities (again…for free!).
Lead Gen Tip #4: Speaking Events
Speaking events are in a different category than LGT #1 because they involve speaking at someone else’s event. You have little-to-nothing to do with producing the event itself; you’re simply a featured guest.
For example, let’s say you offer hard-money loans to local real estate investors. Well, the local REIA (Real Estate Investing Association) has a featured speaker at every meeting. You could offer to give a 20-minute presentation on the “3 Mistakes That Every Rookie Investor Makes And Later Regrets”. At the end, you would offer your Ethical Bribe (see LGT #2) in exchange for business cards or emails (which if you’re REALLY savvy, you’ll do using a tablet and your email broadcast company’s app so that it’s all paperless and immediate).
Find ways to add value to local events and meetings. Contact the Chamber of Commerce and offer your speaking services. Connect with groups and events where your offerings complement what it is they’re doing. Another fantastic source of meetings is Meetup.com. It’s nothing BUT local meetings!
Lead Gen Tip #5: Direct Mail
People think Direct Mail is dead.
DM is alive and thriving, thanks to the fact that, well…it works. And it has evolved quite a bit in the last few years. A vast and varied industry, you can segment consumers in all kinds of ways, and send them all kinds of mail pieces.
One of these is called a PURL mailing. “PURL” stands for “personalized URL”, and is essentially a piece of mail that has a unique web address, specific to each and every person who receives it.
Let’s say you run an accounting firm and you want to reach people in your area. You gain access to/purchase a list of people who you think would make good clients (thanks to a particular level of income or family structure), and you send that list a PURL mailing.
On the mailing is a personalized URL, such as www.YourWebsite.com/BeverlySmith. When Beverly then goes to that webpage, she sees her name in a statement like “Hi Beverly…are you interested in a HUGE rebate this year on your taxes?”, etc.
This strategy works because of the personalization factor…both the Direct Mail piece AND the webpage had Beverly’s name on them, so they caught her eye long enough for you to get your message across. Beverly’s impressed, and voila…new client.
There you have it…five Lead Generation strategies that work wonders to fill the top of your sales funnel. However, keep in mind that if you do these the WRONG way (which can and does happen) you run the risk of burning through cash.
Find out how Mouthpiece Media can help implement these and other Lead Generation strategies for your own business. Contact us for a FREE, no-obligation consultation and start generating quality leads today.