If you’re a small business owner, you know that generating new customer leads is a continual process. You always need new potential customers coming into your pipeline. So how do you find these folks? Here are five strategies to consider.
- Focus and prioritize lead capture. This may sound obvious, but if you don’t have a system for doing this (and if you’re not working the system you might have), then it won’t happen. You need a standard process to capture lead information during any interaction that you or your staff have with any potential customer. If you’re interested in direct responses then use coupons or other discounts that bring a customer to you. You can capture customer information on your website with forms (which a customer would fill out in order to get something of benefit from you). However you do it, get that information so you can communicate regularly from then on.
- Amp up your online presence. Review your SEO (search engine optimization) practices. Use tools like Google Places. Pay attention to Google key word protocols. Engage with influential (preferably local) bloggers who have the ears of your potential customers and offer to write a guest blog post on those sites. Make it easier and faster for leads to come across you online.
- Divide your contact database into segments and tailor your marketing messages. A well-aimed message will get forwarded and passed along (because the folks you target associate with people similar to themselves). This is a way to have your current customers become a referral source for you.
- Create alliances and partnerships. What businesses around you offer complementary products and services? How can you collaborate with them in a way that benefits both partners, and gives access to the other one’s customer base? The key here is creating added value for both of your customers.
- Develop and implement a referral strategy. Besides complementary businesses, who else in your sphere of influence could benefit their customers and clients by referring them to you? Reach out to those people, make an intentional effort to know them and have them know you. Be willing to refer your customers to them as warranted (remember, you are providing a solution for your customer when you do this, and that’s good for everyone involved).
Remember that these strategies are not one-time solutions. Marketing is a continual process of doing the same things repeatedly (sorry!) and there are no easy fixes. You may not see much progress at first, but stick with it and the results will start coming in.