Successful lead generation for SME’s, all used in our business, or our client’s businesses with proven results.
Selling your product or service online is an exciting process. Sometimes overwhelming, but always challenging. The gap between the seller and the buyer is ever increasing as they buyer has more choice, and more information available to make that choice.
Consumers are moving away from traditional advertising. They are paying for services that exclude adverts, television is being replaced by streaming (a whole series uninterrupted), internet ads are being blocked by browser plugins, and leaflet drops are being diverted straight into the recycle bin.
You now need to be clever about attracting new customers. You have to be the trusted brand, the familiar brand, or the most useful. Attention is a battle ground, and it’s not just the biggest guns that win any more.
Any market leader has the potential to be knocked flat on the ground by an upstart disrupter that is innovating, creating and solving a problem faster or cheaper than the incumbent top brand. They know this, and are hiring creatives across all platforms, especially social media.
So what can the smaller businesses do to shoehorn their way into the battlefield?
If you’ve been a regular at Ninja central, you’ll be aware of the drum that we’ve been banging called ‘The Customer journey’. We’re going to keep banging it until every business that we come into contact with has an understanding of their customer journey, and has built an ideal one that they are proud of, and is bringing in new customers and keeping them.
So… Creating a way of attracting new leads into your business should always be a step within a wider journey that is planned out to move your customer from stage to stage, providing value and building trust, ending with a happy customer that is willing to keep buying from you and ideally refer new business to you with great testimonials, reviews and social shares.
Quick tip: Draw out your current customer journey, using sticky notes, or a flowchart program like Lucid Chart, or Draw.io. Start with how you attract new customers, then how you engage with them, how you make the sale, and what you do to deliver your product and wow them with the whole experience. Then, map out the ideal journey that they would take - what you could and should be doing along the way using the fabulous range of methods at your disposal.
The Avatar, The Persona, The Ideal Customer: Understand your audience and what they need right now.
You can’t sell anything to anyone if it’s not what they want or need.
Ok, a great salesperson can do this, but if it’s not what the customer actually wants or needs, it’ll be returned, or even worse, slated on social media or will be subjected to that bad review that ruins your day, and any creativity you had going on.
If you have a good solid understanding of who the ideal person is for your product or service, you are able to attract their attention by using the right language.
The foundation of your avatar is built on two things: Demographics and psychographics.
Demographics refers to specific characteristics of a group of people.It’s all the rather dry statistical data relating to your desired prospects—facts like age, gender, ethnicity, income, and geographic location, as well as other types of information about who they are, where they live, and what they do.
Psychographics - What makes us human - Lifestyle, hobbies, interests, beliefs, attitudes, whether they are cat, dog or pigeon people.
At Ninja Central, we’ve developed a unique way of building a really in-depth avatar for businesses. Your finished avatar can be made up of many different personas as there will be a range of people that will benefit from your product. This is fine, and don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of creating lots of personas. Start with your ideal customer - Who are they?
It’s actually a nice process to go through, and can be fun. Especially if you give your personas ridiculous names.
Every person that could be considered a lead or prospective customer will be at slightly different stages in the buying cycle.
Jane is a financial adviser. She may know that she should be doing more in marketing, but doesn’t know what. She hasn’t got time to research all the different marketing advice out there. She has a great product, has a website and a lead magnet on her area of expertise, but is not following up when people download the lead magnet.
She just knew that a lead magnet was a good thing, so created one. People are downloading it, but it hasn’t turned into sales.
Jane needs to work out exactly what personas she is targeting, then decide what they will be feeling about the financial decisions they need to make, map out her customer journey, and work out where she can provide valuable content that builds trust and puts her in the back of the mind of the prospect as an expert.
She could be blogging, producing more lead magnets, creating a welcome series for anyone that downloads her lead magnet, creating a social media plan to address financial problems, building a referral partner network, and so many other things that marketing automation can do. However, in this case, Jane needs to build on what she already has.
Jane is currently at the ‘Problem Aware’ stage. She knows there is something wrong, but don’t know anything about the solution. (Hack the Buyer Brain - Page 80)
Our job is to move her to the next stage in the awareness ladder, that of ‘Solution Aware’
If we succeed in catching her attention, and educate her on the subject, building trust in our knowledge, she will walk away knowing that there is an outcome that she desires, and there is a solution out there to get her to that outcome. And it may just be our solution. We’re not going to just throw a sales page at her yet though...
As we’ve created our persona for Jane, we know that she has some marketing in place, but is not capitalising on the tools that she may already have, and doesn’t know what to do next.
To help educate her, we will create a short video series called ‘How to turn your website lead magnet into sales’
It will be three videos. The first video will be free, and then two and three will require an email address and first name to view. In the series, we’ll show Jane that once a website is built, it needs to be optimal for value and conversions, we’ll suggest that the website has a lead magnet (she has one of these, but that will help her feel like she’s on the right track), and we’ll suggest that she create a short email series to go further into the subject of the lead magnet, proving her expertise, and finishing with a link to book a call with her to discuss the topics within the emails.
We’ll research the keywords that Jane will be putting into Google, and make sure that we talk about those. We can do this by throwing ‘Website Lead Magnet’ into Mangools or similar tool, and see what people are asking.
Then we decide where to place that content.
Looking at our avatar for Jane again, we expect her to be on Linked in, on Instagram, and in local business Facebook groups. So that’s where we’ll post it. If you don’t have much organic reach on these platforms, that’s a sign that you need to be joining groups, adding value, and being a regular contributor.
We will also take that keyword research and create a blog about it. The blog will have a strong call to action - providing a promise of great value. The first video does not even require an email. Just pure value. If they like it, they can sign up for the second and third.
Getting more leads into your business with specific methods
Your lead magnet, in whatever form needs to be, in a nutshell, a high value, quick win to a real problem that your prospect has.
You can provide value anywhere. If your audience are likely to consume a magazine subscription, then be there with an article. If you are an expert in your field, magazines will let you know how to be a guest writer. Some will charge you for the pleasure, some will be glad of expert content that will educate and inspire their readers. Using marketing automation can help you here, instead of just having a website on your editorial, or advert, get yourself an SMS shortcode, so that people can do things like ‘Text NINJA to [5 digit number]’ They can receive a text from you with a link to any page you want - It can be a survey, a free gift, a PDF etc. We advise that you don’t use a normal page on your website for this, to avoid them getting distracted. A standalone landing page is best here, asking for name and email. You can send them anywhere after they sign up.
We are now regularly getting offers from these to provide guest content. Sure some of them are asking for sponsorship, but we’re trying it out this month. We’ll let you know how that goes! Again - Use a standalone landing page, not just your website home page as the place you send them to.
Now there’s a buzzword that’s been kicking around awhile now. These are people that are looked up to in their field of knowledge, and have, well, influence due to their large following. Be aware that they get a lot of requests for help with promoting a product, so they may not respond positively to a cold request. Stalk them for a while, see where they like to hang out, and be there with valuable content, they may notice you and comment, then you’re in.
This can be a tough one to crack for the first time. Instead of putting on your own events to capture leads, look local and find other event organisers that you can team up with. Businesses that offer complementary services or products to yours. Don’t go for your competitors! You can build a great free training day with just three businesses, sharing the cost, and putting on a masterclass in your chosen subject. Use your marketing automation to capture the leads, and make sure that anyone registering gets reminder emails, SMS messages and post-event follow up emails.
We still attend webinars that are free. we know there’s going to be a pitch at the end, but if the content is going to be really useful, or absolutely vital to our business, we’ll to risk an hour of our time to watch an expert in their field teach us.
If the webinar is obviously live and there is a webinar-only offer, we do occasionally go ahead and purchase the product.
Be honest though. If you are going to follow up on that ‘webinar only’ offer, with emails that offer exactly the same price, people will trust you just that little bit less.
Some marketing automation software (like Infusionsoft) can be connected to your webinar software, and can deliver different post webinar messaging to those that attended, didn’t attend, watched until the offer, or only watched 10 minutes. This is where your customer journey planning gets fun - Looking for all the different ways to interact with your prospects, and what your can provide them with to help them toward the sale.
These are truly great at the moment for proving expertise and warming your audience. We are big fans of podcasts at Ninja Central. From bitesize 15 minute ones to 90 minute ones. This range of audio length means that people can listen when they are doing something banale like cleaning, driving, mowing the lawn, or lying on the beach (yeah, cos so many business owners do that).
Calls to action within your podcasts should be to subscribe, like and share first. If they are to find you, make it as easy as possible. Put links in your show notes, give them something nice to download, but don’t just send them to your home page again, or they will just click around and not take action. Have a dedicated landing page for your great free thing.
If you can find the regular time to hole up in a hotel, or at a family member’s house for a week while they are away, and get writing that book that you know is in you, that is one of the best ways of proving that you know your stuff.
Our CEO Kenda has spent 4 years writing her book ‘Hack the Buyer Brain’ and it’s not intended to be just a free lead magnet that we hand out at shows, it’s a big ole marketing powerhouse filled with all her knowledge and experience from working with over 200 businesses, building and automating customer journeys.
However, that should absolutely not put you off creating a compendium of your most popular or important blog posts and releasing it as a free book. It will go miles toward establishing you as the expert. Just get a decent editor to look it over. We can recommend our favourite editors and self-publishing experts if this is what you need.
You can hand it out to your best prospects, give it away on your website as a lead magnet in return for a survey completion, or give it away as competition prizes. So many uses.
Create a community
People love to be amongst their peers. If your company can stretch it’s resources to enable a staff member to be the community admin, you can build an area for discussion amongst your target audience.
Creating a membership site is getting easier to do, but a great starting point is a Facebook group, or a Linked in Group.
Be clear on what your goal is for creating a group. Your prospects will all be at different stages, so decide who you’re going to invite, how you can help them, how they can help each other, and what they need to know to become good prospects.
Create a content plan for the group, and you’ll need to regularly show up and be the leader of the group. Later on you may identify members that can take some of this work, but you or your team need to be there being the experts.
Remember - You always need to give before you take. Earn that prospect by helping them.
Love thy neighbour
There is much to be gained by partnering up with complementary businesses.
For example, we are not website developers. However, many of our customers need front and back end development. When we identify that a customer’s website would benefit from a sign up form to deliver a lead magnet, someone needs to create that. We have trusted providers for all parts of the customer journey, videographers, developers, social media experts, FOMO experts…They let us know if they have a customer that needs to automate, and we then do our bit and their customer is even happier.
If you sell shoes, partner up with someone that sells socks. Simple but effective. Once someone has bought shoes, they don’t want to use their old smelly socks in their brand new sneakers. Send some business to the sock guy, and he’ll do likewise.
This is a biggie. So big that we’ve created a blog about blogging.
Blogging creates 50% of our leads. We know this as we use Google Analytics to see where traffic originates, and then Infusionsoft tells us which page people first hit before they give us their all-valuable contact details.
You really need to get your customer profile/avatar/persona sorted to get the most from a blog. Too many blogs are interesting but not useful, and not targeted toward solving a problem or educating and nurturing a prospect. A great blog should teach, educate, add value, and be what someone is looking for. This blog post is called ‘How to get more leads’ The title is planned using keywords that we know that our audience is searching for, and we hope it is providing value to you.
Quick tip: Make sure that your blog contains keywords that people will be searching for. This doesn’t mean loading the blog with those keywords, Google will know if you are just stuffing them in without actually providing real information about the subject. It’s clever like that.
The white paper, or the PDF, or the ebook, or the slides from a show or webinar
This still works.
We use it in our business to great effect.
One of our recent blogs was on email deliverability, and that came with a free download. It’s a great way of getting the next stage of information and education into your prospects’ hands.
The PDF is still a fairly easy way to distinguish your product from a competitor that is not offering one. It’s a neat little package, that you can brand and make pretty, and your prospect can read on their phone, tablet, PC, Mac or whatever they like to use.
Of course, as mentioned above, any downloadable thing should be followed up with further nurture emails to add value. Don’t just assume that people will read it and buy your stuff.
Experiment with a high value PDF on different social platforms. We’ve all seen those Facebook sponsored ‘Free Ebook’ that only has two likes, and 3 shares. However, that doesn’t mean that the advert is a failure. We don’t know how many people have actually downloaded from the advert, and you can bet they have one on Linked In, Instagram, and other platforms.
It’s also a great way to re-engage people that have been on your mailing list for some time, but have not been opening your emails. Try segmenting your list into groups and use different email subject lines. [Free Download], or [PDF attached] can shine out from your normal newsletter titles.
How to get more leads (in a nutshell)
And.. Our call to action?
It’s a… PDF!
Our CEO has created a playbook for you. It’s the ‘Attract’ Playbook. It goes into more detail about all of the above and more, and gives you detailed plays to use in the mystical art of getting more leads.
These are all plays that we have successfully used within our clients’ customer journeys.
Get it below, read it, decide if it would work in your business, and get it implemented. Either by yourself, by your amazing team, or by Team Ninja.
Remember, this is what we do, and we can do it with your business too.
Michael Macdonald is an Automation Ninja. Mike is the bearded ninja, second half of the ninja chiefs and the money man. Mike is dedicated to all things process and works tirelessly to improve how Ninjas operates. When Mike isn’t at his laptop you can find him in the garden, out walking/mushroom hunting or relaxing with a brew.