How to generate leads

In a recent blog entry, worchyld asks about how to generate leads. This has been covered extensively in this blog, in my articles on Sitepoint, and in my books, but it’s always good to have a primer:

1. Before you start generating leads, be sure that you have a great strategic foundation in place. This means:

- Choose a target market on which to focus your marketing. That way, you spend less to get more clients.

- Develop a marketing message that communicates the problems you solve, the benefits you provide, how you get results, what sets you apart, and proof of your success. All of these must be in terms that your market finds significant and meaningful to them (not to you).

2. Get visible:

- Start with some low-cost, high-impact ways to get visible: join associations where your target market hangs out; speak; write; do community service in a leadership role; get proactive at developing referral sources; do some research about your target market’s issues; issue newsworthy rpess releases; provide some information products about your area of expertise (i.e., audio, video, white papers).

- Target 25 – 100 prospects. Send each a series of informational letters. Follow up after each one to introduce yourself and talk more about how your message in the letter applies to them. Customize your letters by doing some research about the prospect’s web site, and provide personalized ideas and suggestions about how you can help. Get a clear “yes” or “no” after 4 months. Replace the “yes” and “no” prospects with a new list.

- Get better at asking for referrals from clients. There is a specific way to ask for referrals. Don’t just hope for positive word of mouth.

- Drive prospects to your website by having information and educational content about design and development that they (not you) care about. Capture their contact info via your web site.

- Set up networks of complementary professionals and colleagues who want to help each other succeed. Meet for lunch to exchange leads and ideas, for instance.

3. Follow up with the people on your contact list religiously. Keep adding people to you list — with their permission. Update them with a series of informative articles and information.

There’s more, but I’m sure that readers will add anything I’ve missed.

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  • dev_cw

    Here is a question; Lets say that you have a one person business, how much of your time should you devote to getting leads? What I mean is since it is a one person operation and hopefully you are doing some work for some established clients (need to pay those bills) what percentage of your time should you alocate to generating new leads? Should you only spend your time between jobs to generate leads? Or should you set some time schedule to work on leads once a week or once a month? Or is it an ongoing process that needs to be worked daily?

  • http://www.cre8media.com egockel

    yes, ongoing. If you wait until between gigs, it may be awhile before you get another one. The idea is to keep the hopper full.

    The worst that can happen is that you get more work than you can handle. Then you need to decide whether to grow your business to take on the add’l workload.

  • http://www.dewebtimes.com dewebtimes

    This will take a long times for someone who has started their work. But yes it will definately help in a long run.

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  • http://www.visualdevelopments.com maartenvr

    When following up by phone, who do you ask for? The manager? The president? The “person in charge of the website?”

    I usually have something different to say each time, but just wonder who you ask for :)

  • Office Field

    Outsourcing has become a “charged’ word. It is an important concept to understand because of its business applications (both for corporations and for small businesses) and because of its political implications. The following is intended as a primer on the main topics related to outsourcing. We have included a (hopefully) balanced summary of the “offshoring debate” without a definitive conclusion as we do not intend to take a political stance on this issue.

    Definition of Outsourcing
    Outsourcing is the act of obtaining services from an external firm.

    Business Process Outsourcing
    In the corporate environment, the term “outsourcing” often refers to a particular type of outsourcing, business process outsourcing (BPO). BPO occurs when an organization turns over the management of a particular business process (such as accounting or payroll) to a third party that specializes in that process. The underlying theory is that the BPO firm can complete the process more efficiently, leaving the original firm free to concentrate on its core competency.

    Roots of Outsourcing
    The concept of outsourcing was first made popular by Ross Perot when we founded Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 1962. EDS would say to a potential client, “You are good at designing and manufacturing widgets, but we are skilled with managing information technology. We will sell you the IT services that you require, and you can pay us periodically with a minimum commitment of two years.” Today, EDS is a multi-billion dollar company with over 70,000 employees and is only one of many global BPO firms.

    Offshore Outsourcing
    Offshore outsourcing, or “offshoring”, refers to outsourcing to firms in foreign countries, often to take advantage of labor arbitrage. In the past 10 years, business process outsourcing contracts have increasingly been given to firms in developing countries. Typically educated workers in developing countries, such as India or China, work for a much lower wage than do similarly educated workers in developed countries, such as Japan. Savings from the lower wage rate must exceed the increased costs of management and risk associated with offshore outsourcing for it to be economically viable.

    The Politics of “Offshoring”
    Offshore outsourcing has recently become a hotly-debated issue in the national media. When the American economy began to pull out of recession in 2001, unemployment did not decrease as expected. Offshore outsourcing was blamed as a contributing factor to this “jobless recovery”. Information Technology was a particularly soft sector, and many American programmers lost their jobs to lower-paid foreign counterparts. Many economists however have recently conjectured that the higher-than-expected unemployment numbers were not the result of offshore outsourcing, and that offshore outsourcing has actually had a positive impact on the American economy. Undoubtedly the debate will continue into the presidential campaign.

    By Kamal Uddin Faridi
    CEO
    Office Field
    http://www.officefield.com

  • pc4media

    Great article, Andrew.

    I like to advise my clients to combine two of your points above: publishing unique content on their websites and forming groups of complementary business professionals.

    But, instead of telling them to meet for lunch, I encourage them to launch blogs, start reading each others blogs, leave comments for each other, link to each other when they can and promote each other by sending each other’s articles to other people.

    I also encourage them to use social media sites together such as linked and yahoo answers, so that they are building links to each other’s sites and otherwise working the internet like they’d work a networking event together.

    I’ve written extensively about this and other lead generation strategies at my how to generate leads blog.