Small Business Lead Generation Made Easy Online

With people giving Yellow Pages and directory inquiries a miss and going straight to the internet to search for local businesses, it is essential for small businesses to both have an online presence and a small business lead generation system in place. There are two roads to go down to get more business prospects – SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (Pay Per Click).

SEO is more of a long term goal, as it can take months to get high up on the search engines for the keywords people are typing in to find your type of small business. Of course, if you do know some tricks of the trade you can get more exposure faster and your small business marketing will pay off a lot quicker than that. The major search engines do cater for the local small business.

Google offers a free local listing, which all small businesses should take advantage of. Google ‘Google Local Business Center’ and you will find where to sign up. You will need a free Google account to set up this listing, and then you can enter in your business details and your business classification. Google will then mail you a postcard with a confirmation pin number on, which you will need to enter to activate the local listing. Once you are live, people performing searches in your local area for your type of business are likely to see your business listing and a map at the top of the Google search page. It’s a great start to online lead generation, as people find your business quickly and easily.

Yahoo offers a similar service. Do a search for ‘Yahoo Local Listing’ and take a look at what they have to offer. They do have a free basic listing, but the monthly paid “enhanced listing” option is worth considering, as you can enter in a detailed business description, more photos and offer online coupons to encourage your visitors to pick you over your competitors. These online coupons are great for both B2B and B2C lead generation.

Having these listings in place give you a good head start in getting your website found when people search online for your business type. They are just a small fraction of the many ways that SEO can get your website noticed by your business prospects. Other ways include finding sites with high PR (page ranking) and getting backlinks from them, as well as entering your business details on online directories. Your customers need to be able to find you for small business lead generation to be successful.

Now, if you are looking for a quick and worthwhile use of your business resources to generate leads, then the way forward is to use PPC. Unlike using SEO, you can often see results and traffic on your first day using this method of B2C and B2B lead generation. Google AdWords is the most popular and most effective PPC program used.

As small business marketing using PPC is fairly new and local keywords still relatively cheap, it is an ideal method for small business lead generation. You sign up for an AdWords account, enter the local keywords that you would like to bid on, and depending on the competition and how much you bid, you are on the first page of Google straight away and people can find you. You only get charged when people click on your ad, and you can track and test what keywords are most effective.

In conclusion, you can see that SEO is important in the long term for getting your site ranked high in the organic listings, but in the meantime, while you are achieving those high rankings you should use PPC for your small business lead generation.

Small Business Lead Generation – Why Spamming and Cold Calling Does Not Work

Every small business is the proverbial Needle in the Haystack, so small business lead generation is critical to an entrepreneur’s survival and the growth of his/her small business. The thing that most entrepreneurs forget, though, is that it is a lot easier to turn a prospect or lead into a customer if the lead calls you versus when you call them. It cracks me up when I hear titles of articles, seminars, or books about how to “Make Effective Cold Calls” or how to “Warm Up Cold Calls”. In the past decade (through two recessions, mind you,) I’ve built a total of four multi-million dollar businesses from scratch, and none of that revenue was ever generated from any “cold call”. In fact, I’ve had over 405 of the Fortune 500 companies become clients, and they have all called or emailed my companies. They searched my companies out when they had a problem instead of us trying to find people within these companies that were facing the specific problems that we could solve. These are a few of the secrets that we have uncovered to help small businesses generate more leads (and more quality leads).

Cold Calls do not Work at All in a Digital Age

Cold calls, email spam, blast faxes, pop-up windows, forced “opt-in” subscribers and the like just don’t work in this digital age (I’m not sure any of them ever worked very well for very long). The ones that crack me up the most are the companies that send out blast email spam guaranteeing us that they can get our website to the top of Google in 48 hours. Seriously? Do you think that if they could actually do this that they would be wasting their time spamming millions of people trying to beg someone to buy their service? Last month, there were 165,000 people who went to Google and searched for the term “Google search optimization”. If they could get to the top of Google with just that one term, they would have about two million people potential leads coming to them every year. So why would they need to spam people? If you are so good at what you do, why are you spamming me? Why are you cold calling me? Why are you trying to force me to subscribe to your newsletter? The truth is that cold calling and spamming people shows desperation, not success.

Get Potential Leads to Call You to Turn more Leads into Customers

The internet is the great equalizer for small businesses. Big businesses have websites, but their bureaucracy forces them to move very slowly in implementing new technology and captivating on new opportunities. However, nimble small businesses can capitalize on these opportunities immediately. It is actually very easy to get to the top of a Google search result. It is very difficult, however, to stay there. In fact, it is a fulltime job. But it is a very lucrative fulltime job. Logically, this is why this is your most important goal for your small business. When someone has a question, where do they go for an answer now? In decades past, if you had a challenge or a question, you might ask a friend or coworker or if it was a really big problem, you might go to the library and search for an answer. Today, though, people go immediately to Google. The listings at the top of the first page have a lot more credibility than the ones on the second, third, or four-hundredth.

If your small business is listed at the top of the results when they enter their question, and then they click through to your website and get the answer to that question, your small business is now at the top of their short-list for solution providers. If they call you or email you, you automatically have about a 25% chance or so of turning that lead into a client. In contrast, if your small business is listed at the top of page two on Google, in order to have someone contact you, they will have already looked at listings from at least 10 other competitors. Most potential customers will not be that thorough, so you will generate fewer leads, and now, since you are competing with at least ten other competitors, your percentage of closing drops to below 10%.

Get Leads to Call You by Giving Away Something that They Need or Want

What is common knowledge to you is uncommon to most people. Remember that your expertise and knowledge is extremely valuable to people who are searching on Google for answers as in the previous example. So if you can help them answer the question – and really help them in the process – they are more likely to share with you their contact information. Once they do, you now know two things about them. First, you know that they have (or had) a specific problem that you can help them solve. Second, you know that they already know who you are and trust has started to develop from them that you are an expert in your industry.

What you give away doesn’t have to be costly, but it must be valuable. Costly means that it doesn’t have to cost you anything to give it away. For instance, if you have a lot of informational content on your blog, then you might ask people to register in order to conduct a search of your blog for specific topics. Or, you might give away a special report or access to a video or audio file with information that a prospect might need. For example, if you are a dentist, you might offer a video about how to teach a three-year-old to brush properly. Anyone who requests the free information will likely have a young child and be concerned about the child’s oral health. Whatever the gift, just make sure that your costs are low and the value of the item is high from the customer’s perspective.

So forget the cold calls and spam, use your website to get more leads to call you, and then use a high-valued free gift to encourage prospects to contact you, and you will generate great success through small business lead generation.

Prospecting Tips For Your Small Business

Are you in the dark about how to start small business? The very first item on your to do list should be prospecting leads.

With the dozens of details to consider-finding a location, appealing to investors, choosing the right suppliers, and hunting for employees-it can be easy to lose sight of what should be your most important focus: the customer.

After all, without customers, you haven’t any business.

You might have the best product or service anywhere, but if you have not drawn up a marketing plan outline for prospecting leads that can benefit from your new business idea, you’ll be struggling with how to start your small business.

The good news is, lead generation doesn’t have to be rocket science. With the right combination of research, planning, and execution, you can increase your market presence and make yourself known to your target demographic.

Top 8 Prospecting Tips

1. Create a concrete plan. Before you start prospecting leads, spend some time formulating a realistic, workable plan of attack.

For example, if you’re marketing a product or service to businesses, create a list of target companies along with the name of the department and person you need to reach. Determine how you’ll attempt to contact them (phone, email, or a face-to-face visit at their office or at a networking function).

2. Become an event junkie. Conferences, trade shows, and seminars can be gold mines for prospective customers. Look in newspapers and online for event calendars.

If you run a wedding planning business, invest in booth space at a bridal show. If you sell landscaping services, contact the coordinator of an upcoming home and garden show and offer to give away a free lawn treatment in exchange for prime advertising placement. Attending industry events is also a great way to build a network of professional associates in the industry.

3. Peruse the papers. Take a few minutes each day to scan the local headlines. Be on the lookout for new businesses opening up, awards or promotions that have been bestowed, and any developments related to your product or service. Drop an email to the people mentioned in the articles letting them know you saw the piece and subtly upselling your offering.

4. Watch your competitors. While you’ll want to develop your own unique approach, studying the competition can help you stay up to speed on the latest industry trends and developments. If your biggest rival is offering free shipping during the holidays, you may want to follow suit to remain competitive. It’s also a good idea to place advertisements in the same publications and venues as your competitors.

5. Don’t be afraid to follow up. One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is pay a single visit to a prospect and then sit back and wait for them to come knocking. After the initial contact, it’s essential to follow up to gauge their level of interest, answer any remaining questions, and attempt to close the deal. If they aren’t ready to buy, ask if they know anyone who may have a need for your product or service.

6. Use the power of referral marketing. One delighted customer can lead to dozens more. Why wait for word-of-mouth advertising to happen on its own? Don’t be afraid to ask satisfied customers to spread the word to their friends and colleagues. Chances are they’ll be delighted to see their associates reaping the same benefits they’ve enjoyed.

7. Sample your way to success. Who doesn’t love a freebie? Giving away a complimentary sample of your product or service is a great way to demonstrate its benefits and encourage future sales. If you sell bath and body products, include a small packet of lotion with your marketing postcards. If you’re an IT consultant, offer businesses a free technology assessment.

8. Partner with other businesses. Nearly every industry has parallel providers that cater to the same group but offer different products or services. Forming an alliance with people in the same market can be mutually beneficial. If you sell custom stationery, contact a local bridal gown boutique and ask if you can drop off some business cards. If you provide consulting services for small businesses, ask a local office furniture seller if you can post a flier. Offer reciprocal exposure in exchange.

Remember, prospecting leads isn’t a one-time excursion. To sustain the profitability and branding identity of your business, you’ll need to devote time and resources to ongoing prospecting campaigns.

Small Business Lead Generation – Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Small business lead generation using pay-per-click ads can be very challenging. In fact, paying for leads can either make you really rich or drive you out of business. Google makes a ton of money every year from pay-per-click ads. Most of the money that they make from these ads did not generate a single bit of additional revenue to the companies or entrepreneurs who purchased them. However, there are a few people out in the business world who pay a little bit of money to Google and generate millions of dollars in return. They don’t generate this type of income by accident. These entrepreneurs just have a better strategy than the ones who end up losing money on pay-per-click ads.

How to Lose Money in Pay-Per-Click Ads

The Uninformed Entrepreneur says, “I am not making money from my website because no one is coming to my website, so I will invest in pay-per-click ads and that will make me money.” No, that will cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars every week with very little, if any, return on your investment. Effective advertising leverages or magnifies the return that you are already getting from your current sales channels. If your website is not generating leads or business for you before you invest in advertising, then you will be magnifying a zero return. 300% of zero is still zero.

Most people use pay-per-click ads as the starting point, and when they do, they will almost always lose money. They are betting their business capital on an untested experiment. It would be like buying a thoroughbred and running down to the racetrack and betting a bunch of money on your horse’s first race. Yes, you would know your horse, but your horse is untested against other horses. However, if your horse wins his first three races, you might want to invest a little in his fourth one.

Your website is the same way. Develop your website to where you are generating leads and sales from those leads. Then, one you have a track record of success, invest in pay-per-click ads. Then you are betting on a sure thing.

How to Generate Lots of Revenue from Pay-Per-Click Advertising

The Informed Entrepreneur says, “I have finally got my business generating new leads from the internet, and now I want to leverage the success that I am currently getting.” Now you can make an informed budget for your pay-per-click advertising.

Here is a highly simplified example. If you are generating 10 leads per week from your website, and you are averaging closing one of those leads for $100 in revenue and $25 in profit, then you could only afford to pay $2.50 per lead to break even. Remember that just because someone clicks your pay-per-click link, does not mean that they will contact you and become a lead. If you have a fantastic website, you might be able to turn one out of every ten clicks into leads, so you could pay no more than $.25 per click to just break even. So pay-per-click won’t yet work for you yet. You would need to increase the revenue per customer, or the profit margin, or the closing ratio (or all three) to make pay-per-click more cost effective for you.

If you invest in an email follow up system and generate the same 10 leads per week, this time you might turn three of those leads into customers. Since you are now able to build a longer term relationship with your leads, you might be able to bundle a few of your products together and generate a higher revenue per sale and increase your average sale to $300. By doing all of this, your cost per lead goes down dramatically. Now for every sale you are generating $100 in profit. With three sales out of ten leads, you generate a total of $300 in profit. You can now afford to pay $30 per lead, so with the same ten clicks turning into one lead, you could afford to pay up to $3 for each click. If you can get quality clicks for just $1 each, you will triple your pay-per-click investment.

So forget the cold calls and spam, use your website to get more leads to call you, and then use pay-per-click to leverage your success, and you will generate great success through small business lead generation.

Writing Pay-Per-Click Ads that Lead to Sales

Once you have a great site and follow up system set up, now you can in some ads. Remember that the goal is NOT to get people to click your ad. The goal is to get people who will buy something from you to click your ad. For instance, if I put “One out of every 100 who click this link will get $1000,” I’d get a LOT of clicks. However, none of them would buy anything from me, so I’d just lose a lot of money. Or, if I am a local dentist in Frisco, Texas, and I place an ad that says, “Free Teeth Whitening Tips,” I’ll also get a lot of clicks, but very few sales. Most of the people who click will just want the free tips, and very few of them will be in my local neighborhood. A better ad would say something like, “Frisco, TX Dentist – Free teeth cleaning with your first whitening treatment.” If you don’t want to go to a dentist in Frisco, TX, you are less likely to click that link. People who do click the link are probably pretty good prospects for you.

You will always have numb-skulls who click your links even though they don’t need or want anything that you are promoting, but you’ll have fewer people click your paid-for links who are looking for something different than what you are offering.

So if you want to generate small business leads using pay-per-click, make your website and follow up system solid first, then use effective ads to target the specific market who will buy your services.