One of the biggest challenges small-business owners face is finding new leads to grow their businesses. They worry about the cost of acquiring leads, where to look for them and how to convert them into paying customers. They also have to continue to serve their current customers. The good news is that it's easier than ever before to get leads—and it won't break your budget either. If you're overwhelmed by the prospect of finding new leads, try these four simple tips.
1. Use traditional media to get your message out there. By becoming an expert in a topic or skill that relates to your business, you can better position yourself and your company for media attention. The media is constantly looking for new sources, and if you can become a resource for them as an expert, your company can get attention and leads. The media can be a powerful vehicle for your business because people trust third party endorsements over press releases and traditional advertising. The more you network with the media, the more they will rely on you for information, which will benefit your company.
2. Attend industry events to meet the right people. Use various websites including ConferenceHound.com, Eventbrite.com and Meetup.com to locate local events and large conferences in your area. By going to these events, you can meet prospects and establish a stronger relationship with them than you could by tweeting with them. When you're at the events, don't just pass out business cards or people won't be interested in you. Instead, spend the most time with the fewest people and try to learn about their business first. When you listen before you talk, you cause the other party to be more interested in you. Also, people love to talk about themselves and their companies, so it's easy to get a conversation going if you ask a question to kick it off.
3. Leverage social networking tools to your advantage. Aside from Google, most websites get the majority of their traffic from social networks like Facebook and Twitter these days. People are finding new blog posts on social networks before finding the actual blog too. Make sure that your website has social network icons so people can follow you and share your company with others. On the networks, share information that relates to your business. If you're a financial company, share market trends, and if you're a real estate company, share community news features. This way, you're serving the community by becoming a trusted resource for them.
4. Advertise your business in the right places. You can use Google AdSense, Facebook Social Ads and even advertise on specific blogs to get your brand name in front of the right people. The key is to concentrate on advertising to your target audience and no one else. Too many small businesses waste money and time getting their message to the wrong people. Your target market is the group that has the highest chance of turning into customers, so invest your time in them.
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Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen-Y research and management-consulting firm. Subscribe to his updates at Facebook.com/DanSchawbel.
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