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The inception and growth of a small business is much akin to a new relationship – dreaming and planning is fun and easy – building a foundation and consistently growing takes effort and consistency.

So what are the traps that all too many SMEs fall into? The natural human tendency to avoid pain and seek out the path of least resistance often means that we tap our personal networks, build a certain level of revenue and then neglect to move beyond these networks. Such companies seem to be doing well and are understandably but mistakenly resistant to structuring a lead generation process – there is no impetus, things are ticking over just fine. So money and time is invested in improving ‘internal processes’ and operational efficiency…

It should not take a global pandemic or economic shockwaves to wake such entrepreneurs up – but often that is exactly what happens: the handful of ‘lifetime’ clients dwindle or reduce their spend in times of economic hardship or fear and your profitable business becomes client-less overnight.

Rather than waiting until our backs are against the proverbial wall, lead generation should be a constant and consistent piece of the operational puzzle. But how to start? Combine expansion of your sales team with a well-thought out lead generation strategy – simply adding to the ranks of your sales team without creating a consistent flow inbound quality leads is a recipe for disasters as relying purely on outbound cold-calling is a risky bet.

One effective lead generation tactic is to create a content driven plan – commit time and resources to creating content that is useful, insightful and, above all, relevant to your target audience(s). Create multiple lead funnels to drive people to this content – be it in the form of an ebook, webinar, whitepaper etc., and collect contact details. This builds of solid database of, more or less, qualified leads for your sales team to follow up on.

What should the subject matter of the content be? Either research the places where your target clients communicate online – forums, groups, channels etc., and note the most common issues and questions they pose. Or connect with potential buyers directly and conduct surveys and questionnaires. Either way, ensure that your content is relevant and timely.

Once you have devised your plan of attack – who to target, where to reach them, and which content to use – put in place ways of tracking how successful your content campaign is performing. If the end goal is for the audience to take a specific action – such as sign up for an event, download gated content, or visit a landing page – ensure that you use UTM codes so track the campaign parameters and consider using retargeting advertising to follow up on the those that visit your landing page or sign-up form but don’t take any action. Google both for instructions on how to set-up.

So, while most SMEs bury their heads in the sand, never develop a solid lead generation plan, fail to grow and ultimately die by relying too heavily on building their business on an existing network and not expanding it through a robust marketing campaigns to generate leads and sales processes to close new business, you can take the initiative today by creating content-driven lead magnets to capture a pipeline of qualified leads, nurture them and have your sales people directly engage and close them.

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