This shit’s chess, it ain’t checkers! – Alonzo in Training Day
I love that quote. What I mean to say with it is “this is marketing – it’s always hard and confusing. It’s a lot harder than, say, washing laundry. That’s just how it goes.”
Too many small business owners dip their toe into just one marketing channel. If that works, great. If not they forget it and move onto the next channel. In my experience, most start with blogging. They’ve been told to blog so they do even if they have no idea how and nothing to say. This usually becomes boring as they repeat the same material over & over.
By the time they’re bored of blogging, Google sends them a $100 credit to try Adwords. This is a disaster as they have no Adwords experience. The budding entrepreneur fails to know what a negative keyword is, nevermind adding a list to their campaign. Once this bombs, they feel like “nothing” is working.
At that point many go onto a forum or Facebook group, ask about marketing and inevitably they are either told to “do social” or read the Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz.
Within 6 months the now-struggling business owner has a choice: really dive into marketing and learn it or hire someone to do their marketing. (This scenario isn’t all that uncommon. It’s how I started doing marketing myself and plenty of my photo friends did the exact same thing.)
Generating your first leads – Discovery & Awareness
Every business owner has a few ideas where they will generate leads. Maybe you are well-networked. Maybe you ran Adwords campaigns for a different business. Or maybe you have a huge social media following and get an exceptional response.
Without diving too much into the basics of business, all it takes to generate a lead is one person to have interest in solving the problem you can solve for them. If you open a dental office and someone in your town needs a dentist, you have a potential lead.
The first hurdle is then discovery. How do you get discovered? The first step is to go where your leads already are. Some questions are naturally made for Google. “local dentist Melbourne” is definitely one of that type. So maybe you choose SEO or Adwords for this business.
Most people won’t follow their dentist on a Facebook page for two years before they come in for a first appointment. However, don’t entirely discount Facebook for local business as referrals in local groups are an excellent way of gaining new business. Natural participation in these groups as a result of living in that area is an easy way to network in your community.
Generating more leads – Social Media & Blogging
So you are grabbing the low hanging fruit. You’re generating local leads, referrals, some word of mouth from your immediate friends & family. You are growing this fledgling business through a small local Facebook group but it’s time to take it national.
Let’s say as an example that you sell podcasting microphones. You are not going to sell thousands of those to your local community so you need a much wider audience.
One way to generate leads is to tap into your raison d’etre (reason for living.) In this case, maybe you sell podcasting mics because you are a podcaster yourself and you remember how hard it was to find a great mic for the right price. How did you do your own research? Google, most likely. So you can generate leads by setting up a blog, reviewing mics you’ve used and adding links to them in your store. Add great content about each mic with detailed information. If you solve the problem, you will get a new lead/sale.
Also, if you grow your social media following by participating in relevant conversations on Facebook groups, Twitter, or by posting podcasting photos to Instagram or Pinterest, you can post links to your new blog post and generate even more interest in the mics in your store.
Similarly, if you’re a musician selling guitars, use your passion. Use your reason for opening a music store as a selling point. You are the expert so write, create and socialise your way to new leads.
Even More Lead Generation – Email Marketing
Now people are coming to your website through Google, social media, referrals & word of mouth, Facebook groups, your blog & podcast, and even your Instagram of last week’s gig.
Start building a mailing list in a very simple way. Sign up to a service like Mailchimp. Create one list, get the embed code for a simple form and put your code on every blog post and every page of your website at the bottom.
Building your list is the most valuable long-term action you can take if you don’t run a seasonal, new-customer business. Wedding photographers and DJs can skip the email list building. Next year’s brides won’t be on the list. That musician example we used? Definitely needs a list. Why? Your store has mics right? You probably also have pop filters, amps and pre-amps, right? What happens when they need those accessories and oh look, you just dropped a relevant email in their inbox this morning? #leads #sales #allthemoney
Most marketers will tell you the “money’s in the list.” Once you build a solid foundation of people who trust, know and like you then selling more over time becomes much easier.
A final lead generation technique
We’ve hit the big guns: SEO, content & blogging, social media, email lists, referrals/word of mouth. What could possibly be left?
That $100 Adwords credit you get from Google. At some point in your entrepreneurial life you are going to want to hire an agency to do Adwords for you or you are going to want to slowly learn it yourself with some testing. We will go through many of those steps together. We will cover as much as possible so you can jump in and feel comfortable. But I left this until last because unless you know what you are doing, this is the fastest way to lose money in marketing.
I am planning a long run-through of how you could use that first $100 Adwords spend so for now hold onto it!
The secret to truly generating more leads than your business can handle is optimising all of these tactics and then moving onto even more. Test three new ideas and keep the one that works best. Test another three and do the same. The more you are constantly testing new ideas, the more successful you will be.
When I owned my photo studio I tried everything I could imagine. We left “free engagement session” business cards with jewelers. They gave them out because it looks good to give away something of value for free. We gave them out because 75% booked their wedding packages with us after their photoshoot. We ran one of the largest studios in New York and that one unusual tactic alone could’ve kept most of our team busy for the year.
So don’t sleep on unusual and interesting ideas. Give away 1000 business cards. Do tradeshows and networking nights. Leave interesting, relevant comments on your potential customer’s blog. Write guest blogs. Post content on LinkedIn and promote it to your social circles. Do live shows and give away prizes in exchange for a mailing list. Keep experimenting & keep inventing.
Finally, subscribe to our list below. You’re obviously interested in marketing if you read this whole post. We’re interested in helping you learn more and understand this dance.