1. Finding Leads

How Do You Find Great Customers?

How do you find that perfect someone? The one who really gets you. Who completes you. The one you would like to spend the rest of your life with. The one also known as a very happy customer. They aren’t as easy to find as you would think. Maybe the first one or two, but how about the next hundred? Or thousand? Or million? Are there really that many special someones out there for your business? Yep. Yep, there are. And this guide will help you find them and keep them for a lifetime of business bliss.

What Is This?

This is the marketing phase of the sales process. This is where you decide who it is that will benefit from your product, how you can best communicate what your product does and where you should go to start spreading this message. There are as many ways to find leads as there are flavors of ice cream, so the trick to effective marketing is continually trying new things and quickly determining what is working and what isn’t.

Why Should You Do It?

How else will anyone know that you exist? Yes, a great product is a requirement, but sharing the news of this great product is equally important. And while you could wait around for friends to tell friends about your greatness, you’ll have better control of your growth and your ability to support it if you take an organized approach to finding leads and selling your product.

Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories that you tell.

— Seth Godin
    SethGodin

How Do You Do It?

In this section we cover a few popular ways to find leads. These include what types of businesses are well suited to this method, how to implement the strategy, what tools you can use to measure success, and where you can get more information about each.

 

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Determining Your Message

This should be easy, right? Just write down in a paragraph or two what it is you’ve built and why it’s so great. And perhaps add a bit about why you decided to build it so that people will understand your motivations. And explain the benefits that people will get from using it. And go ahead and add in a list of the features, especially the new one that everyone has been asking for. Put that on top since it will obviously build the most excitement. Except you also want the great quote from O Magazine at the top so people will see that important people like it, too. And don’t forget the price. And the super cute kid and puppy picture that one of your customers sent in.

You see where this is going? Putting the right message together can be quite complex and often times involves more editing than brainstorming. But it’s an essential part of the sales process and should be a continual focus of your sales efforts.

Things to Consider:
  • Your company name, product name and labels you use to describe different features all say something about your product.
  • Your logo doesn’t need to communicate the entire business story in 50 X 50 pixels, but you do need to create something that’ll be easily recognizable the next time an interested customer comes across it.
  • Your voice, the one people hear when they read your newsletters, blog posts or product descriptions. The tone you take with your customers is powerful. Just ask a teenager.
  • Your copyright notice.  Well, no, this is not by itself so crucial, but it is one of the thousands of details in your messages that together can have a big impact.  A copyright notice at the bottom of every webpage that expired 4 years ago says something about your attention to detail.  So do misspellings, broken links, and so many other details in your message.  Pay close attention to everything you are sending out.

Getting Your Message Out

Once you know what it is you want to say you need to find someone to say it to. There are many different ways to reach out to a new audience to let them know about your service. You should experiment with a few different outreach methods, measure the reaction you are getting from the different approaches, and adjust your strategy as you see where you receive the warmest welcome.

  • Friends and Family list:  If you’re just starting out with a new business this is a very good place to start. Go to your own personal network through Linked In, your e-mail address book or your holiday card list. Choose those people who might be interested in what you are selling or would be willing to reach out to their own network to help spread the message.
  • Inbound Marketing / SEO: Getting people to come to you without having to pay for each click can be a challenge. This is what inbound marketing is all about. By providing high-quality information on your website and optimizing it so search engines can help people find it, you’ll start seeing leads knocking on your website door.
  • Online Ads: Paying for online ads can be a good way to bring in leads, but it takes research and planning so you don’t just throw away your hard earned cash. When you think online ads, you probably think Google. But there are many different options, including social network ads, re-targeting ads to your site visitors, and buying ads on specific blogs.
  • Email Lists: Ah, the holy grail of online marketing. Everyone in the email marketing business agrees email marketing is the most effective sales tool out there, and in this case the numbers seem to back the claim up. A well loved list can bring you a lot of repeat and referral business. We’ve got more tips for you to Nurture (and Grow!) Your Email List in our resource section.
  • Word-of-Mouth / Referrals: Can we get a word up for word-of-mouth? This is many a small business’s favorite method of generating leads. And why not? It’s cheap and it’s gratifying to know that your customers are recommending you to their friends. Give the same effort here that you would to any other marketing strategy if you really want to see it pay off.
  • Social Networks: Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are now as important to business as they are to culture. They’re a great way to both reach out to your community of happy customers and supporters and to generate sales via referrals, promotions, and messaging.
  • Trade Shows / Events: For some businesses, trade shows and events are a perfect place to find leads. Make a good first impression at the event, but plan to follow up. Remember, your competitors are probably following up as well. Keeping all of the lead information you collect organized and getting right on follow up will help you succeed.
  • Other Creative Channels: From traditional media such as TV or radio, to non-traditional media such as blimps, tattooed foreheads, or even the Green Monster at Fenway Park, there are limitless ways to get information about your business in front of the people who might be interested in buying something from you. Don’t be afraid to research and try new things. Hey, you may even be on the cutting edge!

sky-writing

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What Not to Do

While it is exciting to think about all of the millions and millions of people out there that could benefit from your product, you want to make sure you are approaching these potential lifelong cheerleaders in a kind and respectful way. Here’s a few things to avoid crossing over into the overly aggressive approach:

  • No Cold Calling – A cold call is when you dial a complete stranger and interrupt their day with your over the top sales pitch. This used to work, before people had the internet. These days, the returns have diminished so much on cold calling that we should just leave this to big corporations to waste their money on.
  • Don’t Buy Lists – As tempting as it might be to buy a list of all of your competitor’s customers or everyone who has self-identified as your perfect target customer, stay away from this temptation. This is not the way to start a trusting relationship with your new customer. Instead, add real leads to your customer database and nurture that list.

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Creative Idea

Jim Minkey at Absolutely Foster City Blog has run his Funky Foto Contest each week on his blog for the past five years. He posts pictures from all over his city and has readers guess the location. The winner gets a gift certificate from a local business. It’s a great way to show off the community, build relationships with local businesses, and attract people to his site.