Regardless of your product or service, you can’t run a business without leads for new clients. And to scale and grow your business, you’ll need an effective method to generate and attract new leads on an ongoing basis.
Below, I’ve listed some of the most cost-effective methods for lead generation. We’ve used all of these tactics at one point or another, and they can be implemented for virtually any business.
Whether you’re a retailer that’s targeting new wholesale customers, or a mortgage broker seeking new homebuyers, these strategies can aid with sourcing new customers.
Be Active on Social Media
Social media and online advertising are excellent ways to drive brand awareness and gain visibility, but some of the most qualified and willing clients will come from your personal network of contacts.
If have a large personal network on social media, it’s time to leverage that into business. And if you’re new to social media, I strongly encourage you to get active in your industry.
1. Facebook Groups
Facebook groups are a hidden gem that most marketers dismiss. Facebook allows any user to create private and public groups, which are used as a thread to discuss certain interest or topics. They cover a variety of demographics and interests from local mom groups to celebrity fan clubs.
You’ll need to search through Facebook in order to find active groups that align well with your brand and product. As well, you may have to convince an admin for an invitation if the group you’re trying to access happens to be private.
Actively participating in relevant Facebook groups can establish your brand as a thought leader. As well, interacting with other participants can help you find avid brand ambassadors that will become a valuable source for referrals.
Facebook groups exists for nearly any niche. For instance, if I’m selling vegan products, I may join and contribute to several Facebook groups relating to clean-eating or veganism. If I was promoting mechanic or auto-shop, I would probably look to join some local car/racing enthusiast groups
Creating your own dedicated Facebook group can also stimulate dialogue around the issues your company tackles, while addressing potential questions about your product/service.
2. Local Trade Shows
You can find a trade show for almost any industry or professional field. A quick search on Google or Eventbrite is the first step in finding local events. If you’re in a some-what popular niche, I can guarantee you’ll find a trade show directed towards your target audience.
According to a report by Exhibitor, 84 percent of trade show attendees are decision makers with the intent to make a purchase at the show. It’s true, many of the attendees are ‘window shoppers’, but that’ll also depend on your niche.
You Don’t Need a Booth to Market at Trade Shows
If you’re not investing in booth or space, there’s still huge value in networking with the exhibitors. Regardless of how you’re building leads, nothing beats a face-to-face conversation.
Dedicating your full day to canvas trade show exhibitors might seem grueling, but it’ll get your foot in the door with clients you would have never reached otherwise. Plus, it allows you to gather information that should set the stage for a killer follow-up.
LinkedIn is a must-have if your goal is to close large deals, especially in the corporate world. It allows potential clients to verify your experience and background, as well as offering direct marketing opportunities in your industry.
You can find a company’s decision makers and contact them individually via LinkedIn. Simply visit the company’s LinkedIn page, and click See all employees on LinkedIn.
With a premium account, you can even send messages to people outside of your connections and view anyone who happened to browse your account. Best of all, they offer a free one-month trial that lets you evaluate the premium version for yourself.
Direct marketing on LinkedIn is an art of it’s own. Finding the right contacts, writing an engaging introduction, and following up appropriately are all key components.
You don’t need to add every employee from a company if you’re trying to gain their business. But you do need to target a decision maker, and offer a value proposition that catches their attention.
In addition to messaging your LinkedIn connections, you can obtain contact info to follow up via email or with a phone call. Not all of your leads will check their LinkedIn as frequently, but with an email address you can reach their inbox or target social media ads.
How to Export LinkedIn Contacts
Visit your member settings page to archive and save any data from your LinkedIn account. To export all of your connections, select the connections checkbox and click archive
4. Facebook Contacts
Chances are most of your Facebook contacts are family, friends and old acquaintances. It’s naive to think that these aren’t strong leads. If you know someone who’s actively seeking a product or service you’re offering, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to them. And if you don’t want to outright pitch your friends and relatives, you can open the conversation by asking for ‘feedback’ on your product.
How to Export Facebook Contacts
Facebook contact info can also be exported although it has to be done through Yahoo. You’ll need to open a Yahoo mail account if you don’t already have one.
From the Yahoo website visit the contacts page and click the import button beside the Facebook logo.
If you’re seeking new B2B clients, online directories offer a variety of prospects that can be targeted by industry. Scraping leads from directory sites is one of the oldest marketing tactics, but it’s still highly effective for business development.
Depending on your business, you should be able to find a directory that fits your niche. Since many online directories include business details such as reviews, company size and address, you can also use this info to qualify and rank your leads.
Popular Directories for Generating New Leads
Yelp – Primarily for restaurants, but Yelp also offers categories for other business types. I’m a fan of their filters, which let you narrow businesses by price range, location and popularity.
Yellowpages/411 – The Yellowpages website hosts a massive directory of local businesses. The information is relatively accurate since businesses on Yellowpages are required to pay a monthly free for listings.
Homestars – Directory for renovation and trades company’s. Homestars also includes the social handles for their business listings, which is useful for gathering additional information on a company.
Houzz – Houzz is an online community for interior decor professionals and renovators. Their platform has a variety of features to connect and view content from local design businesses and entrepreneurs. As a marketer, I’m personally a fan of their user forum, which allows you to build threads and create an actual dialogue with your potential clients.
Classified Ads (Kijiji/Craigslist) – Whether you’re generating leads locally, or across the country, classified ads websites offers a plethora of qualified clients that are actively checking their emails.