Lead generation. The ever elusive unicorn for small businesses. How do I get my name out there? How do I let people know what amazing product/service I have? Oh boy, in order to do this, I need a big budget. What about grass-roots? How long will that take?
So many questions, and let’s be honest, there are so many answers out there on the web. Search under one method (take digital advertising as an example) and you can read a plethora of articles and statics on how to do it, why it works, and how to do it on a budget. Not everything is the latest greatest things since individually sliced and packaged cheese.
I’m a firm believer in bringing it back to basics. Ever wonder why retro is so “in”? Because people and businesses are figuring out that the latest is not always the greatest.
Take lead generation for example. Businesses have done everything from networking, to cold calling, to advertising, to door-to-door sales, and more! Companies have put so much time and effort into understanding the consumer and how to target them that so much of the basics have gotten lost. Think about it. When you are looking for a product or service, what do you do? You ask someone. You look around, then ultimately buy based on a recommendation or reputation.
It’s all about relationships.
The tried and true “good ol’ boys club”. But now-a-days, that club looks a lot different. It’s more social and opened up to more than just the boys.
Consumers want to connect and do business with companies they trust. If they don’t know you, they are going to find out about you by asking their friends (people they trust), Googling you, or reading online reviews.
Meeting the “Wizard”
Now, there is another way to get to know you. They can pull back the curtain, interact with you and meet the “wizard”. How cool is that? We were all shocked when we first watched the Wizard of Oz and found out the wizard wasn’t this big scary thing, he was a person. A relatable and lovable person. Why not offer that to consumers? Don’t let your company be a big scary thing. Connect and relate!
So, how do you do that you might ask? The answer is social media! This is how consumers are interacting with big brands, so why not yours?
The BIG and SCARY Social Media
Social media can be a scary thing. We’ve all heard the horror stories and I’m sure if you’ve dabbled in it you’ve been up at night a time or two thinking the what ifs or trying to figure out how to put out a social media flame. But don’t let that scare you. Social media has so much to offer. It’s not the big scary thing you’re envisioning, so let’s pull back the curtain and dive deeper into how to harness this powerful lead generation beast.
Peeking behind the curtain – THE BLOG
For purposes of our discussion, let’s focus on THE Blog. There are a ton of different mediums to touch on with social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) the list goes on and on enough to make your head spin, but since we’re talking about relationships and lead generation let’s focus on blogs.
I’m sure most people are not aware that the majority of what they read online is a blog. Think about it. What were the last 5 articles you read online? I bet you $1,000 at least 2 of them were blogs. Ok, I obviously am not going to actually bet you, but you get the point.
Blogs have grown tremendously over the years. Don’t believe me? Just check out this New York Magazine article chronically the history of blog growth.
What is a blog then? It’s an opportunity for you as a business owner to pull back the curtains and offer consumers valuable information and resources. Corey Wainwright said it best in his HubSpot article, Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business and Marketing.
What a blog is not. A platform for you to sell your product or service. No one wants to feel like they’re being sold to. We want to feel like we came to the decision to buy that product or service on our own.
The Lead Generation side of Blogs
Ok, let’s imagine you own a washer and dryer servicing company. You begin blogging about tips to extend the life of your washer and dryer. Here are some of the things you blog about.
- Tricks to make your washer more energy efficient.
- The best units on the market.
- DIY Guide – How to change out the power cord on the back of your dryer
Now imagine at the bottom of each of your blogs is a form for people to fill out their name and email address to receive monthly tips and coupons. Since your blogs have been so helpful to people, they fill in the form. These are called Smart CTA (Call-to-action) and are referenced in Pamela Vaughan’s article, 11 Clever Ways to Nurture Leads With Your Business Blog.
BOOM – LEAD GEN!!!
Now they see you as an expert, have subscribed to your monthly communications and you stay front and center. Who do you think they will call if they need their washer or dryer serviced? If they have a friend that needs this service they’ll say, “Hey you know what, there is a company I know that can help. Let me send you their info.”
BOOM – ANOTHER LEAD!!
Oh, and did I forget to mention that search engines love blogs? It’s fresh content on your website or links back to your website and they just eat that up. There is a whole strategy behind optimizing your blog for SEO. Kelly Thomas Mango has a great list here of 6 Ways to Optimize Your Blog Post for SEO.
Again, this is just one way social media can help you build relationships with consumers and generate leads. Now that wasn’t that scary was it? Consider the curtain pulled back, at least partially.
This is just a taste of the good stuff. Obviously there a bit more to it, but hopefully this will wet your whistle enough to get started. For a step-by-step guide on initiating your business blog, check out our ebook 2016 Guide to Blogging for Business.