10 Under-used But Highly Effective Ways To Generate Leads For Your Online Business

Perhaps the biggest weakness, especially for new internet marketers, is being limited or one-dimensional in their thinking when it comes to finding customers, that is – getting leads or new people to sell your products to.  Just about everybody relies on the basics – the search engines and some ads networks.  A few others will add social media into the mix, and maybe one or two other lead generating tools, but then they quit, and expect the masses to beat a path to their door.

Well, guess what?  Search engines and social media are only the beginning!  They are important and vital, yes, but not everything – far from it! What if I was to tell you there are dozens of ways to generate leads that go well beyond the search engines, social media and a few ads networks.

Note that not all lead-generating techniques are created equal and some techniques will work well for a certain business, but not another.  Much is dependent on your type of business, your location, timing, how well you apply the technique, and a host of other variables that tend to make marketing an inexact science.

Inexact or not, it’s your task to find out what works, and make it work. Work hard, work smart, roll with the punches, and you’ll succeed – and with these 10 lead generating ideas, your chances of success have just gotten a whole lot better.

1. MAGAZINE ADVERTISING

Magazines are an excellent way to find just the right market. For example, if you’re selling hunting gear, a fish and wildlife magazine gives you a perfect fit. Magazine ads have a very long shelf life. When you buy a series of ads that run for three to four months in a row in the same magazine, you get tremendous reach and enhance the cumulative effect of your ad. A tightly focused target market is far more important than a magazine’s circulation numbers. Ads in major magazine can be very expensive. Test smaller ads before you buy bigger ones. Magazines give you easy access to a nationwide or even worldwide audience.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Don’t scatter your effort by buying one ad in several different magazines. It’s better to buy a series of ads to run repeatedly in a single magazine.

2) Classified ads in magazines tend to work better than classifieds in newspapers.
Make strong use of attention grabbing headlines.  Consider running an advertorial.

2. TRADE JOURNALS

Advertising paradise! Why do we say that? The reasons are many. First and best, you find a highly focused and very tight target market. You can bet the readers of Dairyman’s Digest are dairy farmers or somehow involved in the dairy industry. If you’re selling drugs for cattle, you’ve found your market. Another good thing: there’s a trade journal for practically every segment of business! No matter what you sell, you can find a hot market in the right trade journal. Trade Journal ads also tend to be less expensive than more general magazines, they have a high and loyal readership and a very long shelf life. For an advertiser, a Trade Journal is the best of all worlds, with the possible exception of high circulation numbers. Most Trade Journals have small to modest circulation figures, though some are quite large.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Go to Trade Journals first with your advertising if you have a highly specific market.

2) Trade Journals are not for items with mass appeal.

3) Run your ad for several issues in a row.

4) Submit press releases to Trade Journals to get free ink.

5) Haggle for the best advertising rates. Ask for a per enquiry deal.

3. BUYING CUSTOMER LISTS

The importance of getting a hot, current and tightly targeted mailing list cannot be underestimated. A bad list can make your spectacular offer and sales pitch a complete waste of time. A good list is that important. Professional list brokers are plentiful, but not all are created equal. Ask around for a good recommendation and get references. You can also buy lists from magazine subscribers databases and other companies.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Consider trading your customer list with another, non-competing but related company.

2) Test a small number of names perhaps 200 to 500 before you plunge in with large mailings.

3) Remember, your best mailing list is your own – your “House List.” Guard it well, and work it!

4. HOST BENEFICIARY

Choose a company with a lot of employees and seek an arrangement to promote or sell to them with the okay of the host company. Offer incentives for others to become your host – cut them in on profits, or show how employees will benefit. Offer to reciprocate. You can also get your host to write a recommendation letter for you. A terrific way to make a big chunk of sales fast.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Look for several hosts, not just one. Hosts must have an “affinity” for what you do or sell.

2) Be innovative. Make it clear to your host exactly how his or her company will benefit, and how their employees will benefit.

3) Don’t go into your pitch unprepared. Spell out your joint venture on paper and in detail.

5. JOINT VENTURING (STRATEGIC ALLIANCE)

This goes by many names, from strategic alliancing to fusion marketing. The idea is to team up with a complementary business and look for ways to help each other sell more, cross promote, find new markets, share advertising costs, trade mailing lists, and much, much more. This can be as simple as endorsing each other in the media or advertising, to full-blown arrangements that involve many aspect of business, from production to selling, from shipping to promotional campaigns.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Choose a company you would be proud to own yourself, and truly want to be associated with.

2) Remember the worst another business can say is no.

3) You don’t have to limit it to one other business – you can form alliances with a dozen or more.

6. SEMINARS AND WEBINARS

Conducting a seminar promising valuable, needed or timely information is an excellent way to find customers, build a mailing list, make sales and promote yourself (as an expert in your field) all at the same time. Many fantastically successful businessmen and women have used the seminar as their sole marketing tool – it can work that well, if you do it right.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Be the speaker, or invite others to speak while you host.

2) ALWAYS have something to sell to your seminar participants.

3) Charge a fee, or offer it free. You can sell a back-end product at the event and recover your costs, and even make a profit.

4) Capture every name! Have everyone sign a guest book, and get as much other info as you can about each person.

5) Invite the media or issue a press release. If your seminar is free, your press release is almost guaranteed to be used.

6) Send everyone home with your business card, brochure and more.

7) Offer yourself to speak at someone else’s seminar.

7. REFERRALS

For most businesses, referrals account for up to 80 percent of all business. That’s how important referrals are. Cultivating a strong referral system means you spend less on other expensive marketing tools while you get other people to send business your way. Ask each customer you contact for a referral. Reward people for every person they send your way.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Seek a celebrity or respected local figures to become an active referral agent for you.

2) Get other businesses or other professionals to refer their clients to you in exchange for you doing the same for them.

3) A one-on-one sale is never complete until you ask the person you just sold for a lead – a referral to a new client.

8. GIFT CERTIFICATES

When you sell a gift certificate, the buyer pays now and gets the product later. That’s a strong cash flow advantage for you. Many businesses use gift certificates, but few of them use them as creatively as they might. Most companies are too passive in offering gift certificates. Rather than simply letting customers know you have gift certificates available, use a proactive approach. One way to do that is to design a direct mail piece dedicated to pushing gift certificates. Send your mailer two months before Christmas, for example, and tell prospects they can get their shopping done early and effortlessly buy purchasing a gift certificate now.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Inform your customers that your gift certificates will get them a 15 percent discount over a regular purchase for increased motivation.

2) Bribe the customer into buying a gift certificate. Offer a free gift certificate with the purchase of another gift certificate.

3) Gift certificates are a good marketing tool that should be modified for maximum potential, and not used in the “same old way.”

9. FLYERS

These work well for deep marketing – hitting every possible home or dwelling within an area you have set your marketing sights upon. Your flyer needs to have a strong headline, a compelling offer, and perhaps not too much sales copy or fine print. It may work better as a lead generator than a direct sales tool, although they can do both. Also works well to warm up territory before you cold call in person or by phone.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Get volunteers or civic groups to be your distribution foot soldiers.

2) Check the local laws before you plan drop.

3) Place them on cars and on doors.

4) Have people hand them out in person to other people.

5) Print a coupon on them that people can bring in for a discount or free sample.

10. ASSOCIATE E-MARKETING

Joining ranks and teaming up with other Web entrepreneurs is a win-win strategy that can do wonders for your business. Gain fast access to thousands of new customers instantly by exchanging your Web-based customer list with another’s Web seller’s customer list.

If your businesses are complimentary, the results can be swift and profitable. Make an agreement to let a friend sell to your customers if you can sell to theirs. Use each others captured e-mail lists to piggyback your marketing messages on each others. Combining efforts in this way can cost almost nothing, but has the potential to generate amazing income.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Start searching for a Web partner today and explore the possibilities.

2) Make sure you link up with an entity you can be proud to be associated with, and also do your best to represent your partner well.

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