Generating Leads for Your Business


Generating leads for your small business is getting more difficult by the day.  Gone are the days of offering a free consultation or a newsletter – your audience isn’t giving away their contact information that easily anymore.

So what can you do?

Here are a few lead magnets that will do the trick.

A lead magnet is a marketing term for a free item or service that is given away for the purpose of gathering contact details; for example, lead magnets can be trial subscriptions, samples, white papers, e-newsletters, and free consultations. Marketers use lead magnets to create sales leads. The marketers attempt to convert the leads into paying customers of a product or service, or they may market unrelated offerings to the sales leads.

Option 1: Free Consultation or Discovery Session

This isn’t your father’s free consultation – no more hanging up the “Free Consultation” sign and accepting all who come.

Today’s version is available only to qualified leads and the best way to qualify them is through an automated application process.

That’s right – you create an application form that includes your primary qualification questions.  For me, that would include:

  • Job Title
  • Annual Content Marketing Budget
  • Size of Marketing Staff
  • Description of what the applicant wants to discuss and why

In some instances, I ask about the budget for the project and the desired start/end dates.

I also use a content marketing self-assessment which is 16 questions (5 minutes).

To help with scheduling the session, I use Acuity Scheduling.

This gives me the information needed to decide if a session is the best course of action.

Remember that this is a consultation or discovery session – not free work you are handing out.  The goal is for you to learn if this someone you want to work with and for the prospective client to decide if they want to move forward with you.  There is no sales pitch in the session – but the session should provide both sides with the information they need to decide what’s next if anything.

Ah, and that brings me to the meat of the meeting.  You should have questions you want to ask, so come prepared to run the session versus letting the session go wherever it may go.

For me, I want to know about their experience with freelancers.  I want to know about the corporate culture.  What the process is for working with remote freelancers, and what their expectations are.  For a little more detail, check out this article.




Option 2: Interactive Content

Interactive content entices your audience to engage with the content, to participate in an activity.  And since humans are, by nature, competitive, interactive content can be very effective at generating leads.

Here’s an example – a strategic planning self-assessment that I designed for prospective clients.  Short, and sweet – but it also asks questions that I would ask if you were to speak with me.  

And because I am asking the questions, those that take the self-assessment are more likely to speak with me when they find value in the tool.

As you can see, I use SurveyMonkey for this – but there are other options such as involve, Outgrow, Zembula and  Qzzr.

How can interactive content help you attract leads?  Post them on social media and find out.

Option 3: Webinars & Online Courses

Webinars are effective for several different objectives but for this article, I will focus on presenting information to a large number of prospective customers or clients. 

The first step is to identify what information your audience wants, then determine the most effective and interesting way to deliver that information.

For example, with one client that was involved in the ed-tech sector, we had a series of webinars that were hosted by a well-known industry expert that worked for the business.  Each month, she would be joined by a guest or two for a 40-minute discussion on topics that ranged from the future of online education in K-12 to the decision-making process and first-year results of a large school district that shifted from in-person to online course delivery for students who were unable to come to their school.

The audience was district superintendents, private school principals and other key positions in the K-12 public and private school sector – and these topics helped them better understand the changes going on around them regarding online learning and technology.

Now, once you know the audience and their interests, and you start to map out a plan for how the presentation of information will take place, you need to start searching for webinar platforms.

Some key questions you need to get answered before making a decision on a platform include:

  • What’s your budget?
  • What’s your level of comfort with technology – do you want all the bells and whistles or something simple and easy for you and the attendees?
  • Do you need a platform that handles everything from emailing reminders to those that register? Provide a registration system?  Allows you to poll the audience? Allows you to shift from presentation slides to screenshots to whiteboard and more?  Do you need on-demand capabilities or is archiving acceptable?

Regarding that last question about archiving versus on-demand – on-demand or evergreen webinars refers to the continued promotion of the recording of the live webinar.  Think of it as a re-run that your audience can watch whenever they want to watch it.

In the past, businesses would run the live webinar and stick the recording of that event somewhere on their site.  Promotion for that webinar either ended once the live event started or after the “Sorry you missed the webinar, you can watch the archive here” emails went out.

Since your webinars are aimed at prospective customers or clients, the topics covered in your webinars should have a longer life than a single event so on-demand is a wise move.  And the best part is that you don’t have to repeat the performance over and over – you just let the one event work longer for you.

Now, that said, you might want to look into editing the original broadcast if there were some parts of the live webinar that are not necessary. Or, if your live webinar had distinct sections, you could turn each section into its own on-demand mini-webinar to appeal to those prospective customers and clients that are more interested in one topic over another.

Option 4: eBooks, Workbooks, Templates, Checklists and More

The most common of the lead magnets, the written word that shares knowledge is a highly-effective way for you to present yourself as a subject matter expert that can be a trusted source of information.

I strongly recommend finding a designer to help with presentation – a well-designed checklist, workbook, and eBook means you make a positive impression based on both style and substance.  However, if the budget is tight, check out Canva –  a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, and other visual content. It is available on web and mobile and integrates millions of images, fonts, templates, and illustrations.

Option 5: Contests or Challenges

In case you are unfamiliar with the term, a challenge is an exercise that puts your audience to a test.  For example, a personal trainer or health coach could create a 7-day Kick-Start to Healthier Habits Challenge.  And each day, the participants instructed to do something that will bring them closer to their goal for healthy habits.

Now, you probably noticed in that example, the challenge gets qualified buyers of your products and services to identify themselves to you and start down a path that is much longer than seven days.  That’s why Challenges typically have an offer for them to continue on the path with your business for a price.

Great challenges build community, so a key component is a gathering place for you and your participants.  Facebook Groups is a popular tool for this because it would be open 24/7.

This Challenge, created by Nathalie Lussier, reportedly brought in more than 55,000 subscribers over a 4-year period.  (And notice how she has turned this FREE 30-day challenge into a revenue generator with a $27 fast-track option.)

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this information got you thinking about trying something new. Maybe it just reminded you to write that case study or create a short quiz. 

But look for opportunities to use this information as part of your lead generation efforts – and share any questions or success stories below in the comments section.

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