The first step towards ongoing business
Customers are to business what oxygen is to the human body. Without it, you won’t survive. And if you have been in business for any length of time, you will probably know just how important it is to attract new potential customers.
Companies like Nike or Coca Cola have used brand recognition over decades and have such a pervasive distribution network that you will see billboards and can buy their products in even some of the world’s most remote towns. Most of us don’t have the budget of Nike or Coca Cola, but we all need new customers! So just how does a small business cost effectively attract and promote their product to potential new customers?
Step into the marketing time machine
In the 1970s and 1980s, some successful businesses grew as a result of building giant lists of potential clients through newspaper, magazine, radio and television promotions of free offers, surveys, trials and information packs. These lists were in turn were used to sell all sorts of products via the mail and the phone. In some cases the list itself became a product when more and more companies decided they wanted to buy leads from data providers.
And for companies without a broad retail imprint, their list building efforts more than made up for a physical presence. Some of these businesses are still successfully operating today.
One of the biggest success stories from this era is the credit card company, American Express, who despite no physical stores, has successfully generated billions of dollars of profit and one of the world’s most recognisable brands. Even though the marketing landscape has shifted over time, American Express is still the biggest player in the US direct mail field.
What’s old is now new
While the American Express style approach to selling was developed in the pre-Internet era, many new businesses are being built by adapting the principles of list building to the Internet.The process of developing your own ‘hot list’ of potential customers online is now known as lead generation. Like many things online, technology now allows ‘the small guy’ to get in on the action.
That’s right, building your very own list of potential customers is now possible with even a limited marketing budget.
What’s in it for you?
The benefits of lead generation are many, but the most compelling ones are:
You are only speaking to those who are really interested – Rather than spending your marketing budget on advertising to a large audience that are probably not interested in your product, with the internet you can get access incredibly niche market segments. For example, if your solution is popular in Asia then you can just focus on online lead generation in Singaporeand other areas of Asia.
Geographic limitations no longer apply – Again, if your solution is popular in Asia then you don't need to travel there to incorporate a company in Singapore and then start meeting prospects. These days you can develop new contacts anywhere you like, and that includes at home in your pyjamas!
Repeated contact opportunities – Many forms of promotion and advertising require to spend money every time you want to tell potential customers about a product. Once you have generated leads, you have the opportunity to repeatedly promote your products to those prospective buyers.
Cost effective – Online advertising could potentially cost 30 cents per click, or more. Whereas the cost of sending an email to a potential client is next to nothing. Once you have generated leads, you could send an unlimited number of emails to customers for next to almost nothing.
How do you attract new leads?
So you’re sold on the benefits of lead generation and are keen to give it a try. How do you get potential customers interested? Well, there are many ways to successfully generate leads and the best approach will be largely dependent upon your product and characteristics of your potential customers.
Here are a few of the most common techniques:
Past customers – Many of your best potential customers might actually be right under your nose. You may well have the names and email addresses of lapsed customers that you can start adding to your database and start sending promotional campaigns to immediately.
Webinars – Webinars carry many potential benefits. They give your company the chance to showcase your product or service and build a reputation. They’re also a great way to generate leads, as potential customers usually need to supply a email address as part of the webinar registration process.
White papers – Like webinars, whitepapers give you the opportunity to build your reputations and offer potential customers a unique piece of research or tips that are related to your product or service. In order to receive the whitepaper, potential customers need to enter their email address and details into a form. A compelling whitepaper will help you to quickly generate leads.
Free offer or samples – One of the oldest ‘tricks in the book’ – a free sample or product generates lots of interest. Leads can be generated by requiring potential customers to supply their details to redeem their sample or product.
The bottom line?
Building a list of sales leads isn't new. It's been around in one form or another for many, many years. Building a‘hot list’ of potential customers works forany size businessand can be an incredibly cost effective way to drive future sales.
Check out Notable for more tips and tricks on lead generation!