To grow your business, you have to have customers or clients. That much is obvious. But word of mouth only gets you so far and you need to have a way to go out and find the people or businesses that are the right fit for what you have to offer. In short, you need to generate leads.
In case you’re totally new to the marketing world, leads are the people or businesses that could be a really good fit for your services or products — essentially making contact with a potential buyer. Those leads don’t just come to you, though, especially in such a noisy online world. So… how do you drum up leads? With a strong lead generation strategy.
What’s lead generation… really?
If you come from a corporate background, lead generation might have looked like cold calling, buying email lists, sending physical mailers, you name it. In the online business world, though, lead generation looks a little different (and a helluva lot better, in my opinion).
Lead gen strategies usually entail giving something of value to your audience in exchange for their email address or contact information. You’ve probably seen some of the more common lead gen strategies, like a freebie or a webinar. But if you really want to stand out and generate the right leads, you might wonder if there’s anything else out there.
I’m going to dig into the different types of lead gen strategies that have been successful for past clients, as well as a few that might fit your unique business model. Because I’ll be the first to tell you: Lead generation is NOT one-size-fits-all. There are more options out there than you have been sold before.
Lead Gen Strategy #1: The free opt-in.
This is usually a PDF download, typically under 10 pages, that quickly solves a specific problem or provides a preview of heftier content.
Examples: My top 10 tools for course creators; How to write your Instagram bio; an e-book excerpt.
Pros: A freebie is simple to create and can be used for nearly any audience or topic.
Cons: It can be hard to stand out and harder to promote organically. If you’ve ever thought, “Everyone has a freebie lately,” it’s true. They do.
Is a freebie right for you? If you don't have a list at all, a freebie may be the best for you to start with to build your list from zero.
Lead Gen Strategy #2: A challenge or mini-program
A challenge is (usually) a time-bound program that helps people achieve a very specific result. This can be delivered via email, through course software, or in a Facebook group.
Examples: Build your website in 5 days; Launch your email list in 10 days; 5 days of self-reflection prompts.
Pros: Challenges are time-based, offer clear outcomes for folks who join, and allow a lot of “face time” for your audience to get to know you. This can lead to much stronger conversions.
Cons: Even with a challenge, it can be hard to promote organically. Plus, people may not want to attend live and you'll need a bit more tech — Zoom or WebinarJam, a Facebook Group, etc. You'll also need engagement emails to ensure people come to the live calls or watch replays to get the most out of it and also hear your pitch at the end (if you have one).
Is a challenge right for you? If you have time-based launches (meaning specific dates where the doors open and doors close), a challenge is a great way to kick that off. This lead gen strategy is great for businesses that launch courses, products, discounts, or new offers.
Lead Gen Strategy #3: Webinars
A webinar is a 60- to 90-minute online workshop that teaches a skill or solves a problem. It is usually held live, although “evergreen” or pre-recorded webinars are definitely becoming more common.
Examples: Plan a month's worth of Instagram posts in 1 hour; 5 Mistakes All New Entrepreneurs Make (And How To Avoid Them); Are you ready to create an online course?
Pros: Webinars are time-based, offering clear outcomes for folks who join in a very specific timeframe.
Cons: People expect a pitch now and may not sign up or attend live. We’ve all been those webinars that end that way, so put yourself in your audience’s shoes. You'll also need a bit more tech with a tool like Zoom or WebinarJam. You'll also need engagement emails to ensure people come to the live calls or watch replays to get the most out of your pitch at the end (if you have one). You'll also need more of a follow-up strategy for non-live attendees and live attendees.
Is a webinar right for you? If you have time-based launches (meaning specific dates where the doors open and doors close), a webinar is a great way to kick that off. This lead gen strategy is great for businesses that launch courses, products, discounts, or new offers.
Lead Gen Strategy #4: The free preview
A free preview is an awesome way to let people take a sneak peek inside your membership or course, look at your e-book or published book, get a taste of your coaching style, etc. Be sure to make this only available for a limited time and make sure that you really show up in that free excerpt or “taste” so they’re encouraged to pay to get the rest. You can also do this as a landing page that requires an opt-in!
Pros: The content is likely already created and offering them a “peek behind the curtain” builds trust. You can also “gate” this content to require an opt-in, which can be less challenging logistically.
Cons: It can require a bit more tech on your course or membership hosting tool, or even require special upgrades to allow "locked" modules or areas.
Is a free preview right for you? If you have courses with multiple modules or a membership where you can do "hot seats” or guest calls so they can get a feel for how things work, this is a great option. It’s also great if you have a meatier offer, like an e-book or intensive, that you want to really sell people on before they buy.
So… which lead gen strategy is right for you?
Let’s be real: In the marketing world, the best lead gen strategy is usually the newest, shiniest one. And while that strategy might work for you, it also might not. I always recommend that you align with your resources, your energy, and your business model. If you’re a total introvert who offers done-for-you services, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to host a super extroverted, drawn-out challenge about how to do… your services?
Of course, that’s an extreme example but you get the idea. Make sure that your lead generation strategy really focuses on the type of people or businesses you want to attract and that you think about how you can deliver on the promise you’re offering people who sign up. You don’t have to pitch at the end of every opt-in or webinar, and you can simply offer value to people who may purchase from you down the road.
Don’t think in terms of what “everyone else is doing,” like your mom would say. You do you.