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.

 

Are you a gossip?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I was working on our book, The Reputation Gamewith my co-author, Peter Roper, we came to a conclusion – reputation is based on gossip!

If nobody is talking about you, you don’t have a reputation.  Of course, it is important that the gossip is positive if you want to have a good reputation.  If people are saying negative things then your good reputation is going to vanish in a puff of smoke.  So, if your reputation depends on people talking about you does that mean it’s out of your control?

Quite a few people have suggested that you can’t tell people what to say, so you can’t do anything about your reputation.  I don’t agree.

You can not only create the reputation you want, but you can take steps to protect your reputation and actively plan how it develops.

Your PLAN should include an outline of what you’d like people to know, think and say about you.

  • What do you want to be known for?  Your core skills and abilities?  Your USP?
  • Where do you want to be known?  Locally, nationally or internationally?
  • What kind of businesses do you want to be talking about you?
  • What kind of comments would you like to hear them making?

Like any other business plan, without a clear vision of what success looks like you’ll struggle to achieve anything you can measure.

The next step is to PROTECT your reputation.  This can include a number of activities:

  • Checking your privacy settings on the various online platforms where you are active are appropriate.  This is particularly important on your personal Facebook account; don’t forget that anyone you have befriended can post information that may appear in your timeline.
  • Googling your own name and that of your business to see what is already out there and making sure that anything negative is dealt with.
  • Taking control of any ‘blips’ in your business history that might come back to bite you.  If you are in control you don’t get into the situation where something has been hidden and then someone reveals it when you’re least expecting it, leaving you in a weak position if you have to respond rather than making the opening statement.

Step three is to PROMOTE your reputation, in other words, tell people what to gossip about!  Post plenty of information to get people talking:

  • Educational blogs
  • Testimonials telling people how happy your clients are
  • Free downloads that give people valuable information
  • Regular posts on your chosen platforms to keep your visibility high
  • Interaction in forums where your audience are found to demonstrate your expertise and help people

The more positive information that is out in the public domain, the more people will think and talk about you.

So ARE you a gossip?

Do you talk about other people and businesses that you know?

How often to you rave about people you rate to your network online and offline?

What gets your attention and makes you want to share information?

Don’t hold back, if your suppliers are doing a great job, tell people.  If someone wants a recommendation for a particular skill or type of business and you have that contact in your network make the connection.

One rule to follow:  If you hear something negative about someone, don’t gossip about it – go to the person it’s about and tell them what you’ve heard and ask them for their comments.  You’d rather someone told you if there is negative gossip about – it’s wise to give people the opportunity to defend their position, there are some poisonous tongues around.

If you gossip positively you’ll find the people you gossip about start to send you new connections.  Who says gossip is pointless?

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If you’d like to find out more about reputation marketing please look on www.insidenews.co.uk.

 

 

See things from your customer’s viewpoint

Magic lightI have banged on incessantly about the importance of knowing who your ideal client is; what industry they come from, what size of company they run (by turnover, number of staff or sites) and so on now we’re on to the next step; what are their problems?

If you don’t know what your perfect client is suffering from you won’t be able to let them know how you can help them.  So, what;

  • Irritates them?
  • Wastes their time?
  • Keeps them awake at night?
  • Diverts their attention from what they really want to be doing?

Everything that takes their attention off developing their business is an annoyance and in order to present them with a compelling proposition you have to get inside their skin.  That takes a bit of effort.

Most business owners are excited about what they do – or they wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be in that particular business, but how does an outsider see things?  Let’s look at an example:  You might be excited about your latest line in storage boxes, but how does your potential customer see them?  A box is just a box, isn’t it?  The details of the design, the refinements of the way the boxes interlock, the state-of-the-art materials that make them lighter are amazing to you – but your customer isn’t likely to see it in the same light.  What will that box do that they don’t get from other storage systems?  Why is the interlocking system important?  What difference do the new materials make?  When you put it all together – SO WHAT?

It’s not about what the box is; it’s not even about what the box does; it’s about the problem it solves.  The thing that causes your potential customer grief – that you are going to take away.  That might be a facility to store more in less floor space SO THAT they don’t need to pay for additional storage to get everything in.  It might be that there is a scanning system that makes it easy to track down critical paperwork quickly SO THAT their staff don’t disappear into the storage area for hours trying to find one piece of paper.  Are you beginning to see how it works?

Ah, you knew all that, didn’t you?  But are you actively doing anything about it?  Have you actively researched the biggest challenges your clients face – that you can solve?  Are you using that information in your marketing material, on your website in your sales conversations?  Having the information and taking action are two different things – so it’s not enough to understand your customer’s viewpoint – you have help them to see what you can do to make those problems disappear.

Time to get your magic wand out and start making those frustrasting problems vanish!

 

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