Creating leads for your start-up can be tough. With often limited resources, little brand reputation, and high competition, you need to use a well-balanced lead generation strategy for building a solid pipeline of high-quality prospects and potential buyers.
Finding the right lead generation strategy isn’t always easy. And before you can even think about starting a specific strategy, you need to know who you are targeting and the value you can provide them.
Lead Generation 101: Targeting and Messaging
To effectively move prospects down the funnel, you need to define two primary variables.
Targeting: “Who are we selling to?”
Messaging: “What are we saying to provide value?”
You can have the best product or service ever, but if you aren’t targeting the right people, or providing them with the right value – you won’t find much success. This is especially crucial for startups. If you don’t have a clear target audience in mind, your marketing campaigns are going to cost more and you’ll waste a lot of time talking with the wrong people.
What else can you assume about the people who may be interested in your products? What is your differentiating feature in the market? Are you the only one providing this?
Study your competition and analyze your position in the market. This will help you test and determine the messaging that most effectively speaks to your target market. (At this point, everything is a test.) You should be constantly refining and making improvements based on the data you do have.
It is important to be consistent with tracking your goals and key performance indicators so that you have the most accurate data possible. This will help align your marketing efforts as you grow from your lead generation strategies.
What is a Lead Generation Strategy?
Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting potential prospects into someone who has expressed an interest in your company’s product or service.
Any method of lead generation typically involves three main steps:
- Attracting: Focuses on bringing people to our website and social channels.
- Engaging: Refers to building awareness around your product or service. keeping them on your platform as long as possible while introducing your business, what you do, and what you sell.
- Converting: Focuses on offering value through attractive information and solutions for free in exchange for their contact information.
There are two main routes for generating leads: outbound and inbound. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, your business will employ a little bit of both, but when you’re just starting out, you might have to prioritize one over the other.
Inbound lead generation is the process of creating content, campaigns, or strategies that target and draw in groups of customers. The customer comes to you in this scenario through channels like social media and other content, or through referrals.
Outbound lead generation refers to any cold contact you directly initiate with a potential prospect. This can be done through cold calling, cold emailing, TV commercials, or other paid advertising.
While there are many differences between these inbound and outbound methods, they share a few common denominators. Both create demand and require a deep understanding of your brand positioning and segmentation in the market.
Grow Your Start-Up in 2021
In our experience, the highest performing lead generation strategies have clear and consistent messaging and focus on providing the best customer experience. Your goal is not just to sell, but to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.
1. Email Marketing – Email marketing is one of the most productive, cost-effective communication channels that allows you to consistently build and shape stronger relationships with your customers.
Email is one of the most reliable methods for lead generation with around 87% of B2B marketers reporting they use it as a main distribution channel for their marketing efforts.
This is mainly because it can be used at any stage in your funnel, whether you are creating awareness, nurturing leads, onboarding users, or supporting new clients. Email marketing campaigns can also further qualify leads so your sales team isn’t wasting time on the “bad” ones.
Since the success of email marketing is measurable, knowing how to grow a list is a necessity. This is especially true for startups needing larger-scale traffic on a budget. One of the easiest ways to build your email list is to make it super simple for people to subscribe through your website and social media channels.
Try segmenting your audiences into smaller segments:
- Prospects & Leads
- Current Customers
- Potential Investors & Shareholders
- Your Network of Supporters
(Smaller segments can help you get more specific with your messaging, but it is important to rank quality over quantity.)
2. Lead Magnets – A lead magnet is a valuable resource or service that’s offered in exchange for opt-in contact information, like an email address.
The best lead magnets are detailed and targeted towards a specific solution. This can be done through resources like:
- White Papers / Guides
- Webinars / Training courses
- Free Trials / Discounts
- eBooks &
If you’re offering a report, guide, or eBook, make it easy to read, with short sentences, short paragraphs, and bullet points. The same can apply to all messaging- keep it simple. There is no need for data or feature dumping here. Just focus on a singular pain point and provide a solution to your audience.
Your potential lead should be able to take action immediately based on the information in your lead magnet.
3. Content Marketing – This involves the creation and sharing of online materials, such as videos, blogs, social media posts, etc. that are intended to stimulate interest in a companies products or services.
Creating compelling content is your key to establishing yourself as that go-to, domain authority in your industry. According to Hubspot, B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t.
Content is often the foundation for your brand and lead nurturing efforts, so make sure it inspires, educates, and is engaging for your ideal target market. The use of video, audio spaces, podcasts, and webinars will continue to rise, especially as in-person events remain limited and people are working from home.
Content marketing can help you build your brand reputation and credibility by helping your prospects solve their problems and achieve their goals. If you are able to create a solid content strategy, the leads will naturally gain more traction. The goal here is to gain trust and never lose it. Trust is ultimately what creates customers out of leads.
4. Cold Calling – cold calling means making an unsolicited call on a business or consumer, by telephone or in-person, in an attempt to sell their goods or services.
Cold Calling can help your company increase sales through more efficient and effective lead generation and appointment setting. It may not be the easiest strategy, but it is definitely one of the most effective. According to the Rain Group, 82% of buyers say they have accepted meetings with salespeople after a series of contacts beginning with cold calls. If you’re not cold calling, you’re missing out on a key audience.
Unlike SEO or Pay-Per-Click, cold calling allows for immediate and timely feedback, often at a lower cost. After all, people can’t search Google for your product if they don’t even know it exists.
It is important to remember the overall goal of a cold call is to build trust and move the prospect to the next step. Make sure you are building trust in:
- Trust in efficacy of the product or service being offered
- Trust in the salesperson and/or brand
- Trust in tactics and process
Following a specific methodology or script framework can help you move freely along the conversation while working as a guardrail for using specific language that will resonate the most with your prospect. The script keeps all of your valuable information close by and ready for action in an easy-to-follow conversation format. It’s the perfect little cheat sheet for everything you need to know!
Need more help on script writing? Check out the H2H Sales Script Methodology.
5. Networking & Referrals – One of the best ways to gain leads is through networking and referrals. We think of a referral as a pre-qualified sales opportunity where two parties are introduced to each other and both have consented to be introduced. Referrals and recommendations come with approval and trust, which is key to gaining traction and building a strong reputation.
How do you obtain referrals? JUST ASK!
Ask your friends, advisors, colleagues –
Do they know of any businesses or organizations that need what you provide?
Ask your clients!
After every successful project, ask your client if they know anyone who may benefit from your products or services. You can also ask for online testimonials or endorsements to help build your organic presence on a review page or social media.
Looking to network? Expert Ashley Owens suggests making sure you are building and connecting with these three groups for maximum success:
- Strategic Partners/ Power Partners
- Subject Matter Experts – Industry Specific
- Your Current Network
She recommends reaching out to them on LinkedIn, sharing their posts, following their businesses, and however else you can keep in front of them to show that you genuinely care.
6. Re-Targeting – Turn website traffic into leads and customers even after they’ve clicked away. This strategy can work across different channels, including social media, display, and email.
According to retargeter.com, retargeting can help you stay in front of leads during longer than average buying cycles. It can also help if you have strong website traffic but aren’t seeing as high conversion rates as you would like.
Visitors to your website are your most valuable audience, but too often, businesses do not nurture these visitors along a specific journey. More often than not, people don’t fill out a lead form on their first visit. But that doesn’t mean they’re not interested, it just means they’re not ready. Retargeting allows you to stay in contact, nurturing them until they are ready.
To retarget, you will need to set up tracking pixels and audiences before you need to use them. Building a retargeting audience usually takes at least 30 days but that can be shorter or longer depending on your website traffic volume.