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How are you getting new customers?
Lead generation strategies for your business
Have you ever entered a contest to win a trip to Hawaii or a pair of concert tickets? Of course you have. You weren’t surprised to receive a follow-up email or phone call from a business about exciting travel opportunities because you shared your contact information – you like to travel and you entered a contest. What you probably weren’t thinking about at the time is that this process is called lead generation. When that company took your contact information, they were executing a marketing strategy that is critical to a business’ growth model. You, too, can find the best way to get new customers flowing into a sales funnel for your business through strategic lead generation.
Lead generation is all about building your customer base, which is absolutely vital if you want to grow – and as you know, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Here’s why: Customers are not inherently loyal – there are simply too many other options in today’s highly competitive market. So you have to work to keep your existing customers, while constantly striving to create new streams of customers.
You’ve got to “fall in love with your customers.” Remember what it is that your business supplies that your customers absolutely need, and focus on making this experience as simple and seamless as possible for the customers you already have. Improving the experience for your current customers will keep them coming back – and it will also have big appeal for potential new clients.
Whatever you do to make the customer experience better for your current clients will fold into improving the experience for potential new customers and new clients. Customers view positive changes as growth, and a culture of growth goes hand in hand with lead generation. This allows your business to keep evolving, and, ideally, to keep expanding.
But how do you go about developing a lead generation strategy for your business? And what type of lead generation is the best avenue to pursue? Here is what you need to know in order to establish a top-notch lead generation system:
DISTINGUISH YOUR LEADS
The first thing you need to understand is that every lead is different. Someone at the top of your sales funnel, for example, will require an entirely different marketing approach than someone closer to the bottom. The goal is to distinguish where each customer is on their unique journey and the best way to reach them.
Too often, sales and marketing teams decide to cast a wide net and hope for the best. In fact, most businesses fail to recognize that only 5-15% of leads are sales-ready initially. Also, as business owners and entrepreneurs know, marketing isn’t free. If you’re a small business owner, or just a savvy businessperson who wants the best return on investment (ROI), it’s imperative to approach your marketing strategy with your eyes open. You don’t want to waste time, money and your own energy targeting someone who has very little potential of converting to a high-value client – or even a client at all.
Reference your user personas to figure out exactly who your ideal client is, then allow your marketing and sales teams to come up with strategic ways that you can target them. You also need to recognize that current customers may not be your ideal clients. Make an ideal client profile. A client profile helps you decide who is truly a viable client worthy of further investment and who is not.
Remember, someone who fills out a form once may not necessarily be someone who has any intention on further engagement with your company. Take the time to implement a level of focus and strategy that will allow you to run more efficiently and also allow you to fine-tune your approach toward growing your customer base. A little time spent on strategy is key to getting new customers for your business.
Once you have determined who your leads are, it’s time to narrow it down and distinguish which leads can be classified as Marketing Qualified Leads, or MQLs.
An MQL is someone who has expressed some interest in your company. Perhaps they signed up for your newsletter or mailing list. Perhaps they commented on or shared some of your content. Or maybe they took a quiz and filled out a form in order to get the answers. They essentially have met some benchmark that warrants them attention from your marketing team. And while they likely aren’t ready to buy, these leads deserve some attention from your team. A well-crafted email campaign that isn’t intrusive could be the key to keeping this group engaged until they’re ready for more.
As a smart business owner, you know to limit how much marketing capital you spend on this group, especially if your resources are finite. Save your best resources for the leads that are most likely to become new customers.
YOUR BREAD AND BUTTER
Now let’s move further down the sales funnel to the prospects that have not only shown interest in your product or service, but have shown interest in purchasing. These are your Sales Qualified Leads, or SQLs.
An SQL is someone who is inquiring about a product, or who has taken that extra step that lets you know they are “ready to buy.” If you are an online retailer, for example, this isn’t just a person who browses your website and perhaps signs up for your newsletter. This is the person who has placed items in the cart. But perhaps they need an extra little push to become a real customer. That’s why it’s on you and your team to create an optimal customer experience. Because if they are a first-time buyer, they will want to know that they are in good hands.
SQLs want to know that you and your business can be trusted, so make them feel secure, especially where money is involved. Take the time to deepen your relationship with the SQL, because the quality of their experience at this point could make or break their decision of whether to become a customer. Give them the customer experience of a lifetime. While that may mean something different for each individual company, the idea is the same – to not just meet expectations, but to exceed them. Remember, your brand identity begins the moment someone hears of your business.
GENERATING MORE LEADS
Now that you see why “not all leads are created equal,” you can use that information to reverse-engineer your lead generation strategy.
Think about your customer and who they are. Then, based on where they are in your sales funnel, design the most strategic and powerful ways of reaching them:
SEO –Did you know that Google gets over 100 billion searches a month? That’s why 61% of marketers say that improving SEO and growing their organic presences is a top priority. Whether they implement relevant content or simply focus on SEO keywords, this is an important component of bringing in new potential leads (and potential new clients for your business).
Paid Advertising – Paid media allows you to create relevant and actionable ads that target potential new customers through digital marketing campaigns. And with the advent of geolocation, you can create a more customized approach that feels less intrusive and more enticing to your audience. Simply direct them to a dedicated landing page and then start to nurture these MQLs.
Social Media Marketing – Did you know that revenue increased for 24% of businesses when they utilized social media for lead generation? Leverage traditional social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to reach your target audience and bring them into your ecosystem. Depending on your ideal client, you may also want to consider newer platforms like Snapchat or more business-focused platforms like LinkedIn. Each channel must have a unique strategy, and content should be geared toward the specific audience you are connecting with. For example, you wouldn’t share the same content on Pinterest that you would on Snapchat, even though both are considered to be photosharing platforms. Know the demographic of potential new customers you’re trying to reach on each platform – the time investment is worth the effort. If you can actively engage users on social media, you can generate more leads that could become MQLs and potentially SQLs.
Content Marketing – From webinars and podcasts to ebooks, white papers, videos, blogs and guides, there are a number of ways you can use content to generate more leads. How does content generate leads? As Tony says, when you provide more value to your client than anyone else, that’s when they’ll become raving fans. High quality content is one excellent way of adding value, because you’re giving your customer relevant information, what they need to succeed or to make the best decisions. With the right techniques and strategies in this area, you’ll build an enduring customer base that you can nurture and then move further down the sales funnel.
Email Marketing – Easy to customize and relatively inexpensive to implement, email marketing is one of the best ways to directly connect with your customer. This is one of the most efficient and effective means of turning leads into MQLs because it is a personal, one-to-one communication with a client that you know is already interested in you. That’s why it is so critical to build your client database early and always continue to grow it – and to be strategic in how and when you communicate with this audience. Even if the content you are sharing is on point, sending too many emails can turn a potential new client into a dead end. Provide your leads with value-add content that they can’t get anywhere else. When you do communicate, include “best offers” that will drive them to action, and be sure to test your CTAs to discover which are the most effective.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing – Your existing customers are a tremendous asset that you are probably not using to their fullest potential. When it comes to marketing, there’s no such thing as an accidental network. Before you can tap into this resource in a meaningful way, you need to think about what it is you do for your clients. What stories do you want your clients to tell new customers about your business? Once you understand what it is you want to be known for, you can integrate that message into marketing materials and into interactions with clients. The simpler your message is, the better, and the more likely it is that clients will share that message with their friends and family (and consequently generate leads for your business).
Referral Programs – Now that you’ve begun to think more critically about your existing customers, you’re ready to take additional steps. By leveraging the power of your current customer base, you can not only increase your numbers of sales leads, but also improve the quality of your sales leads. Think about it: every single customer you have has a built-in network of trusted friends and colleagues. So by implementing a referral program, you motivate your existing customer to make the introduction and you make it easy for your sales team to approach new customers.
While there are many ways to generate leads, the best method for your business depends on your unique business model. That’s why it’s imperative for your sales and marketing teams to come together and determine just who your customer base is, what you define as an MQL and an SQL, what the best methods of reaching those customers are and your strategies for moving leads down the sales funnel. The goal is to find the highest potential ROI, and to constantly be focused on innovating. So get smart, get strategic and start generating leads.
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