How to set up a lead generator

Lead generationIn an ideal world business owners would have an effective lead-generator that delivered hot prospects daily.  Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as it sounds and it takes serious effort to get the attention of prospective customers and then convert them to sales.  However, having a means of identifying interested people is a great first step.

Time is usually a scarce resource so a system that can be semi-automated is a big plus.  You’ll need to put a bit of effort in at the front end, but once it’s up and running it can be kept going with minimum input.

The system is based on a four step process:

Step 1:  A great ethical bribe

If you haven’t heard this phrase before, it’s a knowledge document that shares information that your target audience will find of value.  To get this right you’ll need to know what their biggest challenges, problems, worries are and address them in this document.  It doesn’t have to be long, a couple of pages is enough.

The title is critical – it has to grab the attention and encourage people to click the download button.  Typical attention grabbers are:

27 ways to … (fix your reader’s biggest problems) e.g. 27 ways to get new clients in less than 30 days

3 mistakes that (type of people) make when (situation) e.g. 3 mistakes that web designers make when creating a home page

How to … (solve a problem) e.g.  How to slash your marketing costs and get phenomenal results

Your (subject) Checklist e.g. Your ultimate small business compliance checklist

To make this work you’ll need a data capture system, whether that’s a bespoke CRM system, such as Infusionsoft, or an online tool like MailChimp, AWeber, GetResponse or Constant Contact.  This means that people will only get the free download if they give you their name and email address.  This will build your marketing list of people who have shown an interest in your area of expertise.  They may not be ready to buy yet, but you’re now able to start building a relationship with them.

Step 2:  A blog on your website

Having a blog on your website gives you lots of opportunities to explore.  Every time you add content it updates your website making it more attractive to the search engines.  It provides you with a platform for:

  1. Sharing your expertise
  2. News about your business or industry
  3. Case studies
  4. Building a bank of answers to the questions people ask

For the purposes of the marketing plan let’s focus on sharing your expertise.  Your blog is where you show off what you know.  Some people tell me I’m mad to tell people how to do things as they think that they’ll do it themselves and won’t need me.  I disagree.  If people are going to do things themselves they’re probably not willing or able to pay me to apply my expertise so I’m losing nothing and helping people who need it.

Most people CAN do things that aren’t their core skills, but often don’t WANT to do them.  For instance, I can manage a spreadsheet and keep basic accounting records, but my interest in it is very low, although I know it’s important for my business.  I’d rather do something I like doing and pay someone else to look after the figures.  They can do it better, in less time and I can earn more during the time I WOULD have spent doing what I’m good at and enjoy!

So creating a blog post two or three times a month is important.  Focus on sharing what you know and helping people to learn how to do stuff that you may find easy, but others struggle with.

Step 3: Spreading the word on social media

I’m not talking about just posting to tell people you’ve just posted a blog with the link.  I’m talking about taking interesting soundbites from your blog to intrigue and get people curious to know more.  Four or five soundbites taken from each blog will build into a bank of posts that can be shared on Twitter, Facebook (your Page), LinkedIn (your profile’s status update and/or your company page), your Google+ page and more, if you wish.

To do this effectively (both time and cost-wise) you will need to sign up to a tool like Hootsuite that allows you to post scheduled messages in bulk.

If you repost the links to your previous blogs entries you’ll find they have a much longer life and keep bringing people back to your website for months and years after you posted them.  This means the value they hold keeps on delivering to more people and gradually spreads the word about your expertise.

Step 4: Delivering a newsletter with value

I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel so use your great value blogs to lead your newsletter.  Most people are not interested in what you’re doing, new clients you’ve got, the latest member of staff or even – dare I say it – your new product launch.  Newsletters should give the reader something they really want – and good value content that educates and enlightens means they’ll be much more likely to keep opening your newsletters when they delete or unsubscribe from the ones that are boring or irrelevant (to them).

By all means add to your latest offer, promotion or product information – but value first and people will be more willing to take a look at what you’re promoting.

The time investment

You’ll need to spend time developing your ethical bribe – but just once, then it’s done.

You’ll need to schedule time to blog each month, whether you write yourself or work with a professional writer, the ideas still need to come out of your head!  To write yourself, maybe a couple of hours; to work with a writer probably more like 30 minutes.

Extracting social media posts will get easier and easier as you get the knack of it and, using a scheduling tool, it should only take a few minutes each week (less than 3) to post the weeks updates.

The newsletter structure needs to be set up – maybe 30-45 minutes – and then the content updating monthly should not take more than 30 minutes.

This means that your initial time requirement is likely to be about 2-3 hours, then 2-3 hours a month.  Not bad for a system that keeps bringing more interested people into your marketing machine.


Would you accept a bribe?

BribeI can almost hear the outraged cries!  However, we all accept bribes from time to time – I’m talking about those tempting ‘How to’ or Tips documents that are offered on many websites.  The bribe is ‘get this tasty, hot knowledge in exchange for your email address and name.’  Most of us are happy to do the swap and know that we can always unsubscribe later if we want to.  This is why these free documents are often referred to as an ‘ethical bribe’.

Of course, it only remains ethical if it delivers real value and if it does most people are delighted and you’ve started a relationship in a really positive way.  I find it a great way to introduce people to my knowledge and expertise and most of the people who sign up to one of my lists are happy to be on them.  They know I only send out information when I have something worth sharing and don’t spam them with loads of electronic flotsam.

Over the years I’ve offered a series of free reports, a checklist, a 27 tips document and, currently, a one hour free video tutorial.  I’ve had loads of positive feedback so I know it works.

How do you create an ethical bribe?

There a number of boxes you need to tick:

  • It must add value for the reader so must offer them information they can use to help themselves in some way.
  • It needs a title that engages the reader to persuade them that it’s worth parting with their contact details.
  • It needs to be presented professionally i.e. smartly laid out, professional biography with your contact information at the end, ideally some interesting (and relevant) images included to give it life and energy and delivered as a pdf.

Putting it together

Start with a subject that you can offer expertise around.

Decide whether you want to create a list of short tips, a step-by-step How to process, a checklist or a few major errors people generally make around this subject.

Start jotting down the things you want to include around your chosen subject.  TIP:  I usually use a mindmap to do this, it’s easy to gather information that starts off randomly into logical groups.

Create your document and develop these into a short document.  It doesn’t need to be long, a checklist can be a single page.  If you want to offer substantial value a meaty report would be about 10 pages.  As long as the information is of value it doesn’t matter how many pages it is.  Generally I aim at between 2-5 pages.

Give it a smart cover page and publish it as a pdf.


You’ll need a system to manage this – if 1500 people sign up you don’t want to be sending out these one at a time!  If you have an in-house CRM system such as Infusionsoft you’ll be able to do it through that.  If you don’t have this there are a number of online systems that you can use AWeber, Get Response, Constant Contact, MailChimp.  There is a monthly subscription, but if you’re building a marketing list it should be well within your budget.  These systems give you a piece of code that creates a smart sign up box on your website and automatically deliver the report.

If nobody knows it’s there you’ll need to promote this on social media, on your email signature, on your marketing flyers, even on your business card to encourage people to go and sign up for your ethical bribe.

Why don’t people just get it and then unsubscribe?

Some will, but, if they’re interested enough in the report content to download it they will see you as a source of potentially useful information.  As long as you don’t abuse that trust you’ll win a loyal list of potential customers.  They may not buy anything today or even next week, sometimes it takes a year or more before they’re ready and some won’t ever buy, but might recommend you to their friends and associates who will.  Think of it as starting to build a relationship.  Everything that you send them adds a brick to the bridge between you.

So – are you ready to offer a bribe?


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