Small Business Marketing | Get Customers versus Get Leads

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Getting “Leads” does not mean money in the bank. Having paying “Customers” is what makes the cash register roar.

This article will cover two things;

First, the top mistakes small business owners make that end with inquiries leading you to the exit door before making a sale.

Second, how to get leads.

An entrepreneur having low self worth is the number one deterrent for a potential customer not buying into what you are selling.  (That is, of course, as long as what you are selling is the absolute best in your market.) Typically entrepreneurs doubt themselves because they undervalue their offerings, but it isn’t about creating a product, setting a price and hoping people will buy. Rather than how much you charge, it’s about how the purchase will impact your buyer’s life. Using your service or owning your product isn’t why a person buys, it’s the experience your customer will have.

Think of it like this.  Do you buy that $4 coffee every morning because you want to spend 4 bucks.  No – you buy it because it’s your morning experience.

When you walk through the coffee house doors you are part of a community, the barista Mindy greets you with a daily smile, your mental state becomes more alert just smelling the aroma of the beverages and your body is transformed with new found caffeinated energy taking that first sip.  Maybe you sit and read Inc magazine for a while in the outside patio enjoying the sunny weather before you have to lock yourself in your white walled box chained to the computer working into the late night hours. It’s the early morning moments when you have no one to respond to, time for yourself to just breathe and be at leisure. That $4 dollar cup of coffee isn’t about the coffee or else you’d be cost effective, buy your favorite brand beans from the store and brew it at home.

Value and Experience versus Price and Product. With this philosophy in mind it is easy to understand how one buyer would never dream of spending a grand on one thing and then rush into credit card debt to spend a $1,000 dollars on something else. One word that makes my head screech like nails on a chalkboard is “convincing”. I heard it yet again this morning on a video interview conducted by Entreprenuer.com. A viewer asked, “How can I convince people to buy from me and not my competitors?” The word “convince” shouldn’t exist in sales.  The most basic definition of business is a solution to a problem. So if you are selling me a solution to a core problem I have then that means I have been actively seeking you out and I’m relieved to find out you exist.

business card scanner

Perfect example; ShoeBoxed.com. It’s a Netflix for business cards and receipts.  When I stumbled upon Shoeboxed I kissed the ground, danced around with joy like a drunken Pirate finding his treasure then shared the wealth with everyone in my crew… That’s social schmeedia right? Broadcasting what excites us….

Let me explain why this company had such an impact on my life. I meet A LOT of people.  Some have called me a “super connector”.  Being in business since I was 18 years old has led to a lot of conferences, meetings, mixers, classes, tradeshows and after parties. On all these occasions I meet people and get a card.  On the card I usually write the date, where I met the person, how I met them and what value I can bring to the table.

Early on I filed the cards in classic plastic sheets from Staples inside a slender black binder. But as the digital age became dominant I’d enter my contacts into my preferred contact management program aka CRM, Highrise. That was way too timely to keep up with so I purchased the best and most expensive scanner at the time, Neat Desk, and had my assistant scan each business card. Problem was, that the scans, which were supposed to automatically input the data from the cards into a Neat Desk custom CRM program, had errors, so this method was costing me too much. Also it was taking my assistant away from important tasks that would grow my business rather than maintain it.  As a last resort I outsourced and actually hired someone in India to remotely log into my computer during the night and correct all the errors from the scanned cards, which my in house team had processed earlier in the day.  CRAZY.

Then like the holy grail of business cards and receipts I discovered Shoeboxed.  It was at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in the media room when I overheard the founders being interviewed. For $9 bucks a month I send in all my business cards and receipts in a prepaid blue envelope, they promptly scan and accurately enter in all the info from each card for me to easily view on their web based dashboard.   I have the option to upload that data into my CRM. AMAZING “Value” and “Experience”. It changed the way my business operated, cured my entrepreneurial headache and continues to save me an insane amount of time and money.

Now that we know how to create customers, how do people find us in the first place?

The Top 10 Ways To Get Leads

1. Get Speaking Engagements

In order to get speaking gigs you need to be an expert on a very specific topic.  Ask yourself, ‘what does my company solve’? Then create a mock presentation based on sharing insights for that solution. .

Research.  Find events, conferences, mixers, networking groups, meet up groups who would find value in hearing your insights. In an excel sheet put the name of the event, link to the event, event organizer and event theme. Now study the event organizer. What are their interests? What have they written about?  How can you relate to them? Once you’ve answered these questions go ahead and contact them in a short email. You can even create them a custom video page using Say Hello There. Share with them RESULTS people have gained from your expertise.  Remember your testimonials don’t need to be paying customers.  You’ll have to speak for free in the beginning, but remember you are being paid with publicity. A great example of a website displaying amazing social proof with client results is Killian’s Workshop for how to book commercials.

2. Help a Reporter Out (HARO)

Over 50,000 journalists use HARO to find experts to interview for TV, newspapers, books, magazines and blogs. Sign up for HARO so that these journalists can connect with you and in turn your company can gain more exposure.

3. Joint Venture Partnership

Partner with companies who relate to what you are selling, but aren’t direct competitors. This is great cross promotion for both your brands. If these companies have email lists even better!  Being able to vouch for your product or service in your potential customer’s inbox is powerful. Contact company owners and propose a way you can add value to one another’s business.  Follow suggestions in Tip One in order to build rapport.

4. Buy Online Lead Generation

Pay Per Click advertising. To learn how to advertise on Google to get traffic to your website or offline business read “Advanced Google Adwords” by Brad Geddes.

5. Friends and Family

Billionaire Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines says that you should be so proud of what you offer you want to scream about it from the mountain tops. That means you’d have no problem telling your friends and family about it and asking them to share your company’s offering with just one person.

Go ahead. Right now make a list of 10 people who you know would be thrilled to hear about the solution you are providing and make a plan to contact each one of them in the next 7 days. CALL THEM, not a tweet, or facebook wall post, or email and especially not a text.  Share with them how excited you are, ask them what they think and find out if there is one person they can share the good news with.

6. Flyers

Flyers are Traditional and Old School, but why not.  In the “Four Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss he writes about how he passed flyers around a college campus to get people to attend his event and made a few thousand dollars in a weeks worth of work.

7. Blogs and Forums

Spend time in Blogs and Forums to get to know your potential customer.  Read their thoughts and feelings.  Communicate with them.

In forums have a signature like this example below.

For blogs go to Gravatar so that your photo and bio will appear in blog comments.

The best place to find a directory of blogs is AllTop.

The best place to find forums is Google. See the example below.

8. Be the expert on LinkedIn and Twitter

Both on LinkedIn and on Twitter people ask questions seeking solutions.  Find their questions and be the expert who answers. Use LinkedIn Answers for

become an expertLinkedIn and InboxQ for Twitter.  In a seminar, with author of “Linked WorkingLewis Howes, he shared one of his clients spent an hour a day answering questions on LinkedIn and got a few new clients each month creating thousands of dollars in additional revenue.

9. Facebook

Reach out to your network on Facebook. Now don’t spam puke on them.  Just share your excitement and your progress in launching your product. Or post different results you’ve helped people achieve.

10. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Hands down, the absolute gold mine of how to be found when someone types words into the google search bar is “The Art of SEO” by Stephan Spencer, Eric Enge, Rand Fishkin and Jessie Stricchiola.

The best blogs to follow for search engine optimization are SEO Moz, SEO Book and Search Engine Land

stephan spencer art of seo at blog world

Remember, The most optimal pathway to success is consistency.  Don’t try to do everything at once.  Pick 1, tops 2 marketing strategies that seem enjoyable for you and become a master in just those.

Good luck in your journey!

Espree Devora

*the Girl who Gets it Done* Hosts the first LA Tech podcast "WeAreLATech" featuring LA Startups fueling this city to become a top destination for tech and innovation. On WeAreLATech.com she maintains a calendar of all the Los Angeles tech events (updated weekly). In addition to being a contributing journalist and panel moderator for TechZulu she has provided seminars in entrepreneurship and technology to many corporations and universities including CBS, SXSW, Disney and USC Executive MBA. On her blog SaveBusinessTime.com, she enjoys curating and reviewing the best Productivity Tools for Startups

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