Direct Response and Web Sites-Small Business Lead Generation

One of the most important elements to small business success is lead generation because without leads you can’t increase sales. So where do you concentrate your lead generation efforts?

Get Qualified Leads One at a Time with Direct Response

I’m going to make a bold statement: Direct response is the most effective and affordable ways to generate leads on a one-on-one basis. Let me qualify that statement. Direct response is the most effective and affordable way to reach clients one-to-one if you:

  • know your target market
  • attach benefits to your features
  • understand your competition
  • identify your competitive advantage
  • can write your direct response package in a clear and convincing way

Understanding all that means you can have an effective direct response campaign. No doubt, knowing a few tips about direct response copywriting will help by boosting your response rate. For instance, your heading makes or breaks your campaign. It’s the biggest predictor on whether your prospect ill read it or toss it in the garbage.

Forget about where you’re located or how many year’s you’ve been in business, or describing every detail about your product. Yes, your potential consumer clients want to know a little about the features, but for every feature your product or service has, they want to know far more about the benefit. They consistently and continuously ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?”

A specific call to action, and creating a sense of urgency helps too. It seems most of us are basic procrastinators. If you don’t tell us what to do, and you don’t make us believe we need to do it today (with specials, limited-time or quantity discounts, etc.) we probably won’t do anything at all.

And by the way, a P.S. increases response rates too. It’s the second most-read line in your direct response copy. It should restate your main benefits, call to action and special offer.

Generate Masses of Leads with a Small Business Web Site

But direct response isn’t the only effective way to reach clients affordably. It may be the best way to reach potential clients on a one-on-one basis, but did you know a small business web site is one of the best ways to reach masses of potential clients?

Affordable? That depends. Some small business owners I know personally have paid lots of $$ for their web site. It may be a mistake to pay big bucks for a small business web site when a simple 5 page static site will do. After all, it’s not the design that produces results but rather the copywriting.

Copy for your web site follows the same basic rules as direct response copywriting, but with a few important differences:

  • web site copy is shorter because internet readers are generally impatient
  • include lots of free information because readers are searching for information
  • avoid the hard sell–it doesn’t work online
  • write with your readers in mind, but take search engines into account as well
  • include a way to capture email addresses as lead generation

Effective? That depends too. A web site is only effective if it can be found. And to make sure it’s found you need to know a little about search engine marketing (SEM). A good discussion about SEM is beyond the scope of this short article. But, here’s a few tips:

  • write web site copy around keywords, including headings and titles
  • promote your web site online by publishing articles, joining forums, and listing in business directories
  • try Google AdWords
  • promote your web site offline
  • content, content and even more content
  • update content often

Increase Their Interest Level with Direct Response Pointing to Your Web Site

So, direct response generates leads one-to-one, and a web site reaches the masses. What if you combine them?

Direct response and web sites work very well together to generate leads and close sales. You could create your direct response with a call to action to visit your web site rather than asking directly for a purchase. Your web site includes copy that is different from, but related to your direct response package.

Your web site call to action could be any of a number of things. You could use it simply to generate more leads through capturing email addresses. Or you could be the “information guru” on some subject your direct mail recipients would be interested in. Or your web site call to action could be directly asking for sales.

The point is that the purpose of both is to generate leads and to have some way to convert those leads to sales. There are many different ways to close sales. Follow up brochures can be very effective for instance. But possibly using both direct response and your web site solely to generate leads is less effective than using one to supplement the other as a sales tool.

Lead Generation for Small Business Made (REALLY) Easy

Lead generation for small business is the best business-generating tool, method or strategy I know of, bar none. Properly executed it can lead to an increase in sales-conversions of 1,134% – and that’s a real number from the trenches.

So here are 3 reasons…

Lead generation for Small Business

Is so powerful and here’s how YOU can easily put it to work for you in your business.

First, it completely differentiates you from your competitors. Almost without exception, your competitors are focused on sales. Their ads, their websites, their whole attitude is based on the idea they must make the sale. As a consequence their only marketing strategy is to try to sell “off the page”, and so they get (if they’re lucky) a 1% conversion rate and an appalling ROI on their marketing and advertising efforts.

Secondly, it changes the whole dynamic you have with your prospective customers and clients. See, they have the advantage in that they have money in their pockets you want in yours… and you have to get them to give it to you instead of to your competitors. By doing lead generation the right way, small businesses can get that valuable “foot in the door“.

And thirdly, it means you have several bites of the cherry, so to speak, and get the chance to form a relationship with your prospective buyer… meaning you’ll not only sell more but also, generally, be able to sell at a higher price.

So, how do you put it to work for you?

The first thing you need is a way of collecting names and contact details — and these days the easiest and most convenient details to collect are email addresses. The explosion of the Internet’s popularity has been a real windfall for small business marketing, even if most small business owners don’t realise this yet.

Why?

Because the low cost and simplicity of getting local people online to visit their website and exchange their contact details for some small but valuable item of information (e.g. a special report or guide to choosing, say, the best electrician, house painter and decorator, butcher, baker, and candlestick maker) represents a remarkable opportunity. Imagine… how many electricians in YOUR local area are giving away a free report about how to choose an electrician, or plumber or car mechanic without being ripped off?

None, I bet.

So the ones who do it will be perceived very differently from (and better than) their competitors.

The key to this can be summed up as “begin your relationship by giving“, which is the exact opposite of the traditional method of doing business. And once you have their details, you can market to them by email and other means at your leisure, taking the softly-softly approach to things rather than the hard-sell.

Fact is, though, almost no small business has the courage to do this – but those who do… well, they reap the benefits.

And they reap them to the tune of an increase in conversions of 1134% or more — that’s more than TEN TIMES as many sales just by switching from an immediate-sale model of marketing to a lead-generation model.

And that’s got to be worth it, hasn’t it?

Merchant Cash Advance Steps in During Recession to Save Small Businesses

The global credit crisis has seen banks struggling with cash deficit, barely managing to stay afloat. Small businesses have obviously been badly hit with the drastic drop in consumer disposable income. With no money coming in from consumers, and banks not approving loans, small businesses have been shutting down or on the verge of it.

The Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) industry has saved many small businesses from closing down during the economic downturn. MCA providers focus on the future performance of the business rather than its current financial situation. If the business has an acceptable credit history and shows good credit card sales, business owners can get a merchant advance within 2 weeks to support their business.

The survival of small businesses is integral to the economy

Small businesses contribute to the U.S. economy in a big way. According to the 2004 census, there were at least 25 million small businesses in the United States, with 600,000 new businesses adding to the count every year. These businesses account for at least 50% of the employments in the private sector.

Closure of small businesses leads to the loss of wealth and employment in the economy. Lack of funds is forces small businesses to lay off employees or shutdown service. It is vital that small businesses have the necessary funds to survive this lean time and continue to generate revenue and employment.

With this end in mind, the U.S. government in 2008 and 2009 facilitating funding of banks to prop them up and encourage business loans. However, getting loans from banks is still very tough, even with good credit scores. The approval process is stringent and time-consuming. A failing business cannot afford the time lost in waiting for a loan when it needs funds urgently.

MCA providers have an efficient system that allows businesses to get the business advance fairly quickly. The funds can be utilized immediately to keep the business going while it adapts to the new economic environment. MCA providers have played a key role in keeping many businesses on their feet.

MCA industry – a successful player in the new lending market

The new lending market is seeing the rise of the MCA industry. Traditional bank loans are still an option for business financing but need to rethink their loaning strategy to be useful to struggling businesses. The MCA falls more costly than a bank loan, but it places trust in the business’ capability to perform. The MCA provider gets a percentage of the credit card sales and is with the business in good times and slow times. As MCA does not require posting of collateral, the business owner is saved the worry of losing personal assets.

The MCA industry is regulating itself to shakeout disreputable providers looking to rip-off desperate small business owners. Top MCA providers are setting a benchmark for other providers to ensure the MCA industry stays in business.

Small business funding is a lucrative industry. With the change in the lending market, more players can be expected to enter the arena to fulfill this need. Small business owners will have the option to choose from various financing sources. In today’s unpredictable environment, the MCA industry stands out for its convenient, fast and flexible financing options.

Lead Generation For Small Businesses In Slow Times

Lead generation is a key activity for virtually every business, no matter the size. And in times such as these, when the economy is on a downturn, it is even more important that companies apply time and attention to new business lead generation.

Here are some tips which small businesses could find useful in driving those revenues up:

1. Get creative and effective in generating more from your existing customer base. I know this has nothing to do with new business lead generation, but it is far easier to accomplish and quicker to earn payback. Current customers will be far more inclined to buy from you than brand new, un-developed contacts. You could ring up customers who’ve stopped doing business with you.

Based on their past buying profile, you could create a special offer package for them. You could invite them in for a special event. You don’t have one planned? Plan one. Reward them with a bundle of specially priced items, perhaps available only to selected customers to celebrate your xyz anniversary. (Replace the xyz with something appropriate like, years in business, since opening of new store, birth of first child, launch of major product etc.)

Think about how you can approach those old friends, and you could earn instant additional income for your business.

2. Make it a habit to ask your latest customer if they know of anyone else who would benefit from the product or service that you offer. Most business or geographic markets are small worlds’ unto themselves. Now some of your customers won’t want to give you any names, particularly if your product or service has provided them with a competitive advantage. But you will be surprised how many customers will be happy to furnish you with names of their contacts who could be in the market for what you offer. While we’re talking about this technique, don’t forget to apply it to point 1 too.

3. Review you. What do I mean by that? Well, you could start by refining your positioning. Take a close look at your company, your product, your competition and your customers. Identify and define your ideal potential customer. What problems are they experiencing which you have the means to help them solve? Why should they go for your solution instead of your competitors’. Now, communicate this competitive value message to your prospects.

4. Manufacture yourself some media coverage. How do you do this? It’s all in the story. Create a Press Release and have a story with human interest at the centre. At least some of the media will be interested in covering it, giving you free publicity along the way leading, we hope, to new business. So where’s the human interest if you sell product x, or service y?

Well, do you have anyone in your business who is well known and successful in another field, like sport or the arts? Has anyone in your business won any awards? Has your business, product or service won any awards? Have you received some great testimonials from existing customers following the special event you organised for them during point 1. If they haven’t given you their testimonial, it’s probably because you forgot to ask for them. Right?

Survival could soon be the name of the game for many small businesses. Lead generation is essential, and can be tackled in many ways. In today’s economic climate, it’s down to you to be as creative as you can.