I was taking a walk the other day, thinking about lead generation and how to express the concept and essential processes required to attract new leads for your business.
What came to mind is fishing. It’s not an original metaphor and I don’t even like fishing, but I do understand what it takes to catch a fish and it’s a pretty good way to illustrate lead generation.
When I was a kid, our family went camping a lot during the summer. Cheap vacations! And, living in California, there are lots of state and national parks that are perfect for family adventures.
One year we camped at Mineral King in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. We were with my grandparents, aunt and uncle and cousins. I have no recollection how old I was – maybe 7 or 8, but this was the year I learned how to fish. Paw, my grandfather loved to fish.
I was not crazy about fishing. And, when I caught a fish, I immediately threw it back in the water much to the dismay of my parents who were anticipating a fish dinner. I digress.
The thing about fishing, for a kid, is that it’s not that complicated. You need a fishing rod, bait, and a fishing hole to throw in your line. [If you are an avid fisherman/woman, please cut me some slack on oversimplifying the art of fishing. I was a kid. 😀 ]
Like fishing, lead generation requires a tool to “catch” the lead (a fishing rod), a call to action for an enticing offer (bait), and the perfect spot to place your call to action (a fishing hole).
OK, enough of the fishing metaphor. Let’s look at how to put together a lead generation system that will grow your prospect list for your business.
Before getting into the mechanics of your system, here’s how Hubspot defines “lead generation”:
Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into those leads…
A lead is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form.
Your goal, then, is to attract a lead through the process of lead generation so you have an opportunity to educate them about why and how your service or product can help their business.
Begin with the end in mind
Stephen R. Covey had it right when he introduced his second habit in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:
Begin with the end in mind.
Before you build your lead gen system, answer these questions:
- What’s the outcome you want for your business?
- Who do you want to work with?
- What outcome do you want your client to get from your lead gen process?
That’s where it starts so you can create an effective lead gen system and offer that attracts the right people to your business.Begin with the end in mind so you can create an effective lead generation offer.
Creating any old offer a.k.a. a lead magnet doesn’t help if it doesn’t take your ideal client down the right path where the obvious next step is to raise their hand to say “I want to know more” or “I want to know how I can work with you.” Don’t waste your time. Not thinking it through at the outset is like throwing spaghetti and the wall to see what sticks.
Here’s an example of how I answer the questions for my primary source of new leads, the 7-Day Visibility Challenge.
1. I want new clients to sign up for my mastermind group, the Visibility Mastery Lab.
2. I want to work with solo or small business owners, authors or consultants with deep expertise in their niche, but limited knowledge of how to leverage the Web to get found by their audience.
They may be frustrated and want to know more, and really want to learn how to make it all work for their business. They absolutely do not want to be invisible even though they may be an introvert (like me!).
They’re curious and committed to trying and learning what it takes to attract the right people to their business, even if they don’t know exactly what to do right now.
They know that if they’re invisible and don’t step out into the virtual spotlight, then the struggle will continue. They’re ready, willing and able to do what it takes to connect with more of the right people because they KNOW they can transform lives with their expertise.
3. I want my lead (ideal client) to get a taste of one of the problems I can help them solve: how to get more leverage from their content in a few simple steps. By going through the on-demand steps and participating in the private support group on Facebook, they’ll get to experience me and my expertise and how that can help them build their business by getting more visibility.
The next logical step for the lead is to join a free live challenge where they’ll get more training and mentoring from me. Finally, when I offer the Visibility Mastery Lab, they’ll be in a position to make an informed choice about whether or not I’m the right person to invest with for their professional and business development.
Whew. Can you see how my system can lead a new prospect to make a well-informed decision about working with me?
I don’t toss out a free ebook on list-building, with no followup and then make a pitch for my mastermind group. You want to lead a prospect on a path that helps them get to know you better before you make an offer for your product. This post goes into a bit of detail about how I created the lead gen offer.
It’s your turn now. Copy these questions into a doc or write them on a piece of paper and fill in the blanks:
- What’s the outcome you want for your business? The outcome I want is ________________
- Who do you want to work with? I want to work with ___________________
- What outcome do you want your prospective client to get from your lead gen process? I want my lead to experience ____________________
Now for the nuts and bolts of creating your lead gen system…
The Mechanics of Lead Generation
In addition to the exercise above, there are four primary parts to creating a lead gen system.
The offer that a visitor to your site asks for by giving you their email address.
There are so many options for what you can offer your website visitor. I found a great list via Hubspot that will give you a few ideas to get started.
The landing page describes your offer and why your ideal client should hand over their email address to get it.
Unless you’re a web designer, the simplest way to create a landing page is to use a ready-made template, designed by a pro. There’s a cost involved, and it will be less time-consuming and cheaper than you trying to design one yourself. There are dozens of landing page services like LeadPages, for example. Here’s a list of the best services via Crazy Egg:
The opt-in form on the landing page captures the lead’s name and email address and adds them to your list.
You’ll need an email service provider (ESP) for this bit. Every ESP I know of walks you through the steps to create a list in your database and a form to capture information. I recommend you ask for no more than name and email address. The fewer barriers you have, the more likely your visitor is to sign up for your offer.
CoSchedule, my favorite social media scheduling tool, has a good article on opt-in forms:
The call to action entices the visitor to click a button or link and takes them to the landing page.
There’s a lot of science that goes into crafting the “perfect” call to action. To get you started with some important tips, check out this article by Neil Patel:
You now have expert advice on how to decide on your lead gen offer (begin with the end in mind) and sources for creating the system to collect leads (email addresses) and design your opt-in page and forms.4 steps and resources for creating an effective lead generation system.
Circling back to my lead gen offer for the free 7-Day Visibility Challenge, here’s how it works:
1. A website visitor sees an invitation – call to action – to join the free challenge in a blog post or in the sidebar.
2. The visitor clicks on the call to action which redirects them to a landing page, built with LeadPages.
3. The visitor decides they want to join the Challenge and enters their name and email address in the form – created with InfusionSoft, my email service provider.
4. This triggers a thank you page and behind the scenes, the lead’s email address is added to the list for the free Challenge.
5. The Challenge emails are dripped to my new lead over 7 days with invitations to join the private Facebook group. Eventually, they’ll get an invitation to join a live challenge. And finally, they’ll get an offer to join the Visibility Mastery Lab.
This is a standard lead gen system. The flow is much the same for every lead gen offer you have. What differs are the tools you use. As you see in the recommended articles, there are many tools for creating lead gen pages. There are many tools for email service providers. Your offers can take many forms. Those are decisions only you can make based on your business and your resources.
[Click here if you would like to book a quick “ask me anything” consult about your lead gen system.]
What’s not addressed in this article is traffic. How the heck do you get people over to your website so they see your lead gen offer?
That, my friend, falls into content promotion and I wrote specifically about how to promote lead gen offers in this post:
When your lead gen offer is integrated with your content, then it comes down to how you share and promote your blog posts over and over again. That process is addressed here.
I asked members of my Adventures in Visibility community what questions they had about lead generation. A few recurring questions that came up are answered below.
1) What type of content and length do folks prefer?
This is an “it depends” question. You’ve got to know what your audience wants. I do find that the more specific the content is, the better. And, with short attention spans, shorter tends to be better. This article at DigitalMarketer.com has a really good list of tips for creating lead magnets.
2) I have several lead gen products. How often can I promote them on the different platforms?
Again, there’s no definitive answer and you’ll need to experiment with what your audience will tolerate. That being said, I recommend you rotate promotion of your offers so you’re promoting at least one of them a minimum of once a week. On Twitter, you can mix promotional tweets in between every fourth or fifth tweet.
Refer to my article above about how to promote your lead gen offer for ideas on how to mix up different types of promotions.
3) What could I do to improve conversions? That’s probably my biggest challenge.
Improving conversions has a lot of variables. First, you need to evaluate your success to date.
- What are your current conversion percentages?
- Are you getting enough traffic to the opt-in page?
- Is your offer something your clients have indicated to you that they want?
- What is your call to action? Could it be stronger?
- Is the copy on your landing page compelling?
- How is the offer delivered? Is it the type of content your audience wants?
- Do you have testimonials explaining the benefits of your offer?
These are the starting points to assess where you can tweak and test your offer to achieve higher conversions.
4) What has been your most successful type of opt-in?
Over the years, what works best for my audience has changed. At the time of writing this post, my best lead gen offers are the 7-Day Visibility Challenge and my recent 5-Day Biz Story Challenge. Both of these offers deliver a lot of content with clear steps for taking action. I get new leads every day from these offers.
Over to you now. What type of lead generation offer works best for you?
Got questions about lead gen? Post them in the comments and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
P.S. After re-reading this article, I think catching a fish is a lot less complex than catching a lead for your business!
[Click here if you would like to book a quick “ask me anything” consult about your lead gen system.]
Blog feature image: Andrey Trusov