Getting new customer leads is a common problem that many new and existing businesses face. They may have a great product or service, but not the right marketing plan and process in place. There are many different ways to generate leads. The most notable ways include word of mouth referrals, advertising, forming alliances, networking, public relations, social media to some extent and then good old direct sales (i.e. cold calling). The method that’s most appropriate for your business will depend on the size of your company, your industry, budget and specific goals.
Online PPC Advertising Campaigns
The quickest method by far will be advertising through Google in a pay per click (PPC) campaign. With the Google Adwords platform, advertisers are able to market to customers through sponsored text listings that are triggered by targeted keywords. For instance, a mobile application development company may target a phrase such as, “find a mobile application development company in Los Angeles.” When searches for that keyword phrase are entered, the web development company’s ad may appear below the search box or to the right of the organic listings (non-paid). The searcher may then click on the developer’s ad which will result in a new visitor to the website, but the developer will also be charged for each click. The longtail keyword phrases and the less searched words are typically the cheapest as there are less advertisers competing for that term. The downside to PPC campaigns is that it’s very difficult to be profitable in the beginning. Most advertisers need to learn and optimize their campaigns based on customer behaviors, which will in turn improve their return on investment. Therefore, this method while easy to implement, can be costly in the beginning.
Don’t underestimate networking and thought leadership
Most businesses can enhance their online and offline reputations through networking and thought leadership work. What does that mean? In essence, it’s speaking at a conference, conducting a webinar, or even publishing written work. Whether you know it or not, you’re likely an expert in your profession even if you’re not a doctor, lawyer or accountant. In addition, you can certainly differentiate yourself from the crowd by joining and leading the conversation. The return on investment for thought leadership may not be measurable at first, but over time it will be, if done effectively.
Don’t forget about free public relations
Many companies are familiar with compensating a PR firm thousands of dollars a month and not necessarily being able to measure the return, which is frustrating and expensive. Have you subscribed to one of the email distribution lists that connect writers and publishers to experts and companies for sources to use in their articles? Help a Reporter Out (HARO), launched by the PR guru Peter Shankman is one example. A successful pitch will take some trial and error, but it’s certainly cheaper than hiring a PR firm. This is also free, but takes time.
What’s the best method for your business?
You should work on a mixture of the above, but start with online advertising as that’s easiest method to generate leads quickly.