Let’s be honest most people, including me, don’t like cold calling which I covered in the article ‘Is cold calling dead and what are the alternatives?‘. I can think of much better things to do than calling people I don’t know, trying to get through to a decision maker and be told your call is not welcome, you know what I’m talking about.
In fact, many companies won’t even accept a call unless you have a named contact, so let’s look at some better or if you prefer alternative methods for attracting high-quality prospects to your business.
The following are 15 highly effective ways to generate high quality leads both on and offline. I’ll expand on each of these methods and how they can help your business grow later in this article.
I believe all of these methods have their place and one isn’t necessarily better than the other.
Ultimately it depends on what your goals are, what your business does, if you are working locally or if you are working internationally for instance would make a difference. Not all of these will apply to you, so it really is down to you and your business as to what you feel is the best approach for your situation?
Before I expand on these for you I just want to bring up the dreaded GDPR, it won’t be the first or the last mention of it so be warned and try not to yawn.
If you are based in Europe or deal with any European based business then no matter where you are physically based in the world then the rules DO apply to you and your business. Now I’m not going to present to you yet another GDPR article, but there are some points you should be aware of.
1.You need permission to contact someone
2.You need permission to hold their data
3.You need to be able to prove you have the above
Clearly, this isn’t the GDPR rule book, but you get the point. This applies both offline as well as online.
If you’re doing any of the following ‘Offline’ activities, it is advisable to have some disclaimer forms so that anybody who is interested in talking to you further can sign before they hand over their details.
As they say, better to be safe than sorry.
Yes, it’s a pain and may even feel a little awkward, but the truth is everyone should be doing it, so why not start now and be ahead of the curve.
Now let’s dive into the different strategies in more detail starting with offline methods…
These methods still very much have there place in generating awareness and ultimately attracting potential new clients to your business.
These are often put together by various local groups, a simple way to start would be to sign up to meetup.com they are a dedicated platform for bringing people together who share common interests including business.
They have around 24 categories the last time I looked, so there should be something for everyone.
My advice would be to join a few Meetups in your area and see whether or not the format works for you and whether or not you can network and gain any interest in what you do.
The next step would be to host your own Meetup event.
One of my clients did this very successfully, and it really helped to boost their brand image and what they stood for as much as what they offered.
It’s something that is often overlooked when trying to establish new relationships, we can be over keen to present ourselves rather than start with creating awareness around your topic and letting the rest follow.
You can also find similar types of events being promoted via Facebook or Linkedin, so I encourage you to look there for events to participate in.
Quite similar to mixers in a lot of respects; however, they tend to be run a little more formally, often with guest speakers covering different aspects of a topic or current issue and how it affects your business.
I’ve met some excellent contacts over the years through these types of events; however, in my experience, the networking has always felt a little stifled depending on how the event has been structured.
Where it can really shine is if you’re one of the speakers.
This is an excellent opportunity to present your solution and approach to the problem being covered and to demonstrate that you are an authority on the topic. You will be creating great awareness for your brand and people will naturally seek you out to help them.
Your own events
This is a great way to establish your credibility and knowledge on your chosen topic. These can be held at your own premises, if suitable, or hire a function room at a Hotel for instance.
You can then showcase solutions to potential customers, increase awareness to your existing customers and even ask them to bring a friend if your business has broad enough appeal.
You may need to promote your event and, as you’ll see, this can be done both on and offline.
Referrals can be one of your most powerful and successful sources of new contacts.
Being referred to is often the pinnacle of trust as no one is going to recommend someone they don’t trust or believe in, as it’s their own reputation on the line.
Always ask for a referral if it’s appropriate especially at the time of doing new business as the enthusiasm that someone brings having just made a decision to use you can’t be bought.
Depending on your objectives and budget there is still plenty of opportunities to engage in more traditional marketing methods.
Yes, they can be more expensive to get your message out there, but it can also help you to stand out. Unless your a major brand then TV probably is the least effective and a return on investment will be very hard to justify.
However local radio for an event or promotion, depending on your type of business can be a great option and highly effective.
Direct mail should still play a role in your marketing efforts:
1. It goes straight to your customer
2. Not everyone is doing it anymore
3. This can really help you stand out from the crowd
Newspaper and magazine advertising can be used too. It would be foolish of me to say which to use and when and if it would give you a good return on your marketing budget.
The truth, as with all marketing methods, is to try a test and measure the results as ultimately what works for one organisation may not work for the next.
The digital approach certainly has its advantages in attracting new customers.
It is cost-effective, easily measurable and usually fairly quick to see results at least for specific methods. However, it can also be a minefield to navigate as the technology used is continually changing. Now don’t let that put you off though as there is a sea of opportunity to be explored.
I’ll start with paid advertising as it’s the quickest way to start seeing results.
The two most prominent companies in this space are Google and Facebook. Which one you would use is often determined by the type of business you operate and where you believe the prospect is within the ‘buyer’s journey’.
Now I don’t want to go full marketing Ninja on you so I’ll layout the two fundamental differences between Google and Facebook.
Google is highly effective when used to target people who are already aware of a problem or the need for a service.
To give you an example: if my car didn’t start I would do a simple search on Google, and I would see a selection of results. Now, as I’m sure you’re aware, the first results are usually paid ads, and the rest are organic or unpaid listings.
Now my car won’t start, I’m highly motivated to take action, Google knows this and the price for the ‘click’ is reflected in this too.
The advertiser wants me to come to their sales page and take action, which I will do if I like what I see, as I’m motivated to use a service to help start my car.
Facebook, on the other hand, works in a very different way.
I highly doubt most people, including myself, would go to Facebook to try and find a mechanic, it’s not set up for that, at least not yet.
Facebook is full of people looking at what our friends and family have been up to. Any ads on Facebook are basically interruption marketing. In other words, I’m not actively looking to buy something or solve an immediate problem.
However here’s the kicker, if you show an ad to me that’s on a topic that interests me, I may very well respond.
For example, I’m a keen Mountain biker and cyclist, so if someone shows me a new gadget or bike related kit, I ’m highly likely to read the ad, and if it piques my interest, I’ll click through to the sales page.
I know, I’m weak what can I say.
This is great because you can present solutions, ideas and products to people before they even actively set out to find them. This is creating awareness, not just of your offering but you as a company and that is incredibly powerful.
As you can see, depending on your business and what you’re selling you can determine which platform you choose to use, with many companies using both for their marketing strategy.
This is the online version of setting up your own hosted event. It can produce compelling results; however, it’s not the easiest to set up and often the number of people who confirm Vs the number of people who actually show for the webinar can vary greatly.
This type of event really needs to be promoted via a digital paid marketing campaign, as it’s usually time sensitive and a series of permission-based emails and/or SMS messages will generally be sent to keep the event front and center in the prospect’s mind.
Many organisations use this method very successfully, and with a little practice, it could work very well for you.
This probably wouldn’t be the recommended way to start, but it would certainly be something to consider once you are comfortable with running online marketing campaigns.
This is a little different in that you really need to be able to provide a regular schedule with unique and interesting content.
There are various formats, and the ones that tend to attract me are the Q&A format along with 2 or 3 speakers.
This method can definitely work though I personally feel this is more of a long-term strategy, so that is something to consider if you’re looking to launch your own show.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
I’ve noticed a lot of companies ignoring SEO these days as it doesn’t provide fast results.Long gone are the days where every SEO company could fool Google and get clients fast results, we all know what happened there.
Yes, there is a lot of competition, and many people don’t feel that it’s worth the time investment to get results. I believe this is a big mistake for many businesses who choose to ignore it because it doesn’t give instant results.
However, smart organisations realize that if they are patient and play the long game, then it’s an essential part of their overall strategy. It’s pretty simple actually, provide good quality, high-value content and Google will be your friend.
I highly recommend using a paid advertising strategy while building up your authority and rankings in Google.
Is SEO free? No, as producing quality content takes time and effort to research and create, whether you do it yourself or outsource to a specialist firm.
Is it worth the time,investment and effort? Absolutely. I’ve not met anyone who would turn away free organic traffic and ironically most companies would agree that organic traffic converts really well, so I highly recommend that you invest in this valuable traffic source and check out ‘What Is SEO Lead Generation & Does It Still Work?‘ for further information…
I’ll keep this one short as it’s the same principles as SEO, you may not have a full blown product website but there nothing stopping you from creating a smaller focused site and providing useful content as above.
Your niche determines how often you blog, a lot of people are put off as they feel they have to be posting every day.
Some companies do and if your niche warrants it then why not, as it can be a successful strategy, just bear in mind that it takes time and the results will come over an extended period, so be prepared for that.
If you’re in more of an evergreen niche then there really is no need to keep writing similar content on the same topic, I don’t think that helps anyone.
This was a popular strategy a few years ago to get backlinks to your site. Google discounted this, and many people stopped doing it, which is a real shame as they are missing out on some great benefits.
Imagine having an article posted on a popular blog within your niche, forget Google and backlinks. What you do get is exposure, a way to demonstrate your authority and knowledge on a given subject.
You’ll also get people coming and ‘checking’ out your website and business.
This is great for you and many people forget it helps out the blogger who is looking for interesting content to post on their own site.
It’s a win-win situation, so take advantage of it.
I’ve a confession to make, I’d never heard of this term until very recently, but I feel it’s one to put into the lead generation ‘how to’ book.
What is it? If you type into Google a local search term, e.g. ‘best accountants London’ then a list of sites will appear with things like the ‘best 10 accountants in London’, ‘top 15 best accounting firms in London, UK’ and so on.
That’s great if you’re on one of the lists, if you’re not you are missing out on some great leads.
This is one where you can approach the site owner and give a compelling reason why you feel you should be included on their list.
Forums & Groups
This method can be beneficial, however, there are a few rules to follow.
A mistake many people make is joining a group or a forum with the sole purpose of putting their website link or details in hoping to make contact that way. This is a massive mistake as it looks like your just spamming the forum or group, which in truth you are.
These groups work really well, but as in many things online you have to earn the trust and respect of the forum members.
There generally isn’t a quick way of doing this, it takes time to build up a reputation as a knowledgeable and trustworthy person, and the only way to do this is to give lot’s of value to the forum or group that you are a member of.
Once you’ve established a reputation people will generally seek you out, but as mentioned, it’s not a quick fix for generating leads for your business, but it is highly effective given time.
A few places to start would be Reddit, be careful here as you really need to prove yourself; otherwise, it could work against you.
Facebook groups can be an excellent place to start along with Linkedin.
Finally, Quora, which isn’t really a forum or a group but more of a question and answer venue where people ask a question and members who have indicated that they are knowledgeable on the subject are invited to answer.
The general etiquette here is to answer the question and ONLY put a link back to your site if you have some relevant content for the issue.
We’ve looked at 15 different ways in which you can generate leads without the need to cold call. Both on and offline methods and we’ve only scraped the surface.
Start with one or two simple ones and focus on them to see what works for your business and your personality.
If using an online approach then you can also create a lead generation funnel that can pretty much automate the entire process, even down to scheduling call times and following up with automated marketing. Smart technology can be extremely powerful in not just attracting new clients but retaining them too.