It's the cold, hard truth: It doesn’t matter how good you are at your job if you can’t attract qualified prospects. No leads equals no business. The reason many small businesses fail isn't lack of capital or experience. And it's certainly not a lack of hard work. Most businesses fail because they don’t have a systematic and reliable way of attracting a steady stream of qualified leads.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, avoid the five most critical and costly lead-generation mistakes entrepreneurs make:
1. Not speaking directly to your core customers
So many ads never identify the prospect. People seem to expect qualified prospects to just show up. If you want to attract a specific kind of customer, you have to flag them down. A simple headline like this works wonders:
“Attention, Executives Earning More Than $500,000 A Year: Here Are 7 Things You MUST Know About Protecting Your Assets In 2011!”
Just like you can’t attract trophy-sized bass baiting your hook with a ball of bread, you can’t attract great customers with vague messages.
2. Trying to do too many things at once
When speaking to prospects, you should be trying to generate a lead OR make a sale, but not both. With rare exception, no one’s going to buy from you the first time they meet you. If you try to introduce yourself AND make a sale all at once, nothing happens.
You’re far better off generating a lead and then, over time, creating a relationship. The best way to do this is to consistently educate them and make them a better consumer of whatever it is you’re selling.
Since most entrepreneurs aren’t interested in working with customers who are only going to buy one time, there really is no upside to the quick hit. You’ll make much more money and your life will be much easier working with a loyal fan base who will buy from you repeatedly.
3. No call to action
Grab any newspaper or magazine and look at the ads. They say things like “Investments, Retirement, Annuities" or “Microdermabrasion, Facials, Skin Peels.” Then they give you a phone number and a photo of the smiling owner in the corner. Who cares? The answer is: No One!
To generate qualified leads, you have to let your prospects know what you want them to do. Do you want them to go to your website to get a free report? Do you want them to “Come in between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. this Thursday to sample wines from Australia”?
You MUST have a call to action. Otherwise, you will get the same response most people get when they run ads or try and generate qualified leads: zero.
4. Not putting out a strong offer
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling: the sweeter the offer, the better the response. Your job here is to make your value proposition appear to be heavily one-sided, in favor of your prospects, of course.
So don’t say things like “Come in for your free consultation.” There isn’t a person in the world who doesn’t see that as anything other than what it is: an opportunity for you to try to convince them to hire you.
If you instead offer a “Free Thorough Physical Fitness Evaluation: Find out how old you really are!” then this is a tangible offer that has a perceived value and offers benefits.
"Selling” the freebie is even more important in many ways, because people think free means worthless or that there must be some kind of a catch. So you really have to work on building up your value proposition enough so a qualified prospect will at least say, “Sure, I’ll bite.”
5. Talking about features instead of benefits
If you’re speaking about the features of what you’re selling instead of the benefits, you're alienating your prospects. Features are what something is, but benefits are what something does for you.
Here's an example, using the hot topic of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you look up SEO on Google, you'll see roughly 473 million results. Look at the first few paid advertisements for this search, and here are some of the words these websites are using to sell their services:
- “… the largest, most experienced SEO centric search engine marketing company in the World”
- “…employs a team of highly trained SEO specialists”
- “analyze your competition's SEO efforts…”
Forget that this sounds like it was written for robots, by robots. Where are the benefits? Simple things like: “get more qualified leads”or “outsmart your competition, instead of outspending them”or “raise your net profits and your net cash-flow.” Buyers do NOT care about your features. All they care about is what’s in it for them.
OPEN Cardmember Craig Garber is the author of “How To Make Maximum Money With Minimum Customers: 21 Proven Direct-Marketing Strategies ANYONE Can Use!” Get Craig’s Free Report, “The 3 Most Critical & Costly Marketing Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make: Which one of them are YOU making right now?”.