Every business owner has two primary objectives: to generate business leads and convert those leads into sales. Conventional marketing wisdom encourages business owners to create a pipeline of potential customers and to keep that pipeline full. But for many owners, customer acquisition is easier said than done.

As the market becomes crowded and competition more fierce, it may seem that business leads are becoming few and far between. So how can busy business owners remain competitive and attract leads to their business?

Here’s what you need to know about acquiring customers so you can hit your business goals.

Understanding Lead Generation

So what is lead generation? Lead generation is the process of transforming strangers (cold traffic) into known prospects (warming them up). Lead generation can be done online and off—networking, direct mail, cold-calling, and door-to-door may still work for your business to help you add potential customers to your sales pipeline.

For instance, say you own a financial planning company, and you’re looking to drive more people into your office. You might instruct your sales team to start calling people who meet certain criteria in your target area. While it’s still valid for your salespeople to use tactics such as cold-calling to qualify leads, there is one issue—your team is spending a lot of time (and therefore money) qualifying or disqualifying these leads.

This is why you must diversify the source of your leads and add different ways to qualify your prospects for your salespeople.

Gathering Leads Online

As technology grows, so does our ability as business owners to capture, qualify, and sometimes even convert leads into sales. There are several ways to use the World Wide Web for your marketing efforts—content marketing and social media are two of the most readily accessible tools for use.

By leveraging the power of SEO (that’s Search Engine Optimization) you can drive leads to your website and warm them up for the sale. For instance, say your website is consistently putting out good content that search engines and your customers (potential and existing) love to read. Assuming that you’re exercising SEO best practices such as using keywords, linking to other sites, and having other quality sites link to yours, traffic will beget more traffic.

Add in lead generation tools such as lead forms and dynamic pages, and you will have turned your website into a lean lead-generating machine. The bottom line: Good content marketing strategies will help you gather more qualified leads.

Additionally, social media is a powerful tool for attracting your ideal clients and building your online reputation. Most customers nowadays start their research about a company on social media. So having complete, visually-appealing social profiles with easy ways for people to contact you is critical for capturing interested potential customers. By consistently engaging with customers and using advertising tools such as Facebook Pixel on your sites and lead pages, you’ll position your sites to do the work for you when it comes to targeting and retargeting warm traffic.

Offline Marketing Matters

As powerful as online marketing is, there’s no substitute for tried and true offline marketing tactics. Door-to-door, cold-calling, and in-person networking are still viable and important ways for businesses to generate qualified leads. Especially when it comes to networking for local businesses.

Why? Because people want to do business with other people. By being able to see the person you’re qualifying, to get a clear understanding directly from them about what problems they’re facing and how your business can solve them, you’ll be in a better position to handle any objections and turn them into a sale (and a fan of your brand).

When marketing your business and gathering leads, whether online or off, it’s important to think about how you can leverage your brand as a whole—not just marketing specific services. That means creating a brand that’s worth talking about and worth remembering. (We call it Remarkable Marketing in this article.) When approaching prospective clients, remember you’re the ambassador for your brand. Think beyond the services you offer and focus on providing a brand experience.

Managing Your Leads and Measuring Success

Whether you choose online marketing, offline marketing, or a combination of both, it’s crucial that you measure the success of your client acquisition (and conversion) and you keep a close eye on customers throughout their movement through the sales pipeline.

Marketers talk about the “Rule of 7,” which talks about the fact that customers need to see your name and hear your message a minimum of seven times before they make a buying decision. If you’re having to reach out to customers at least seven times, it’s critical that you have a CRM to keep track of your sales acquisition process.

What’s a CRM? CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and generally relates to software that helps you track, note, and follow up with your leads so you have a better chance of converting them to sales. A good CRM system will also empower you to know how your customers are moving through your pipeline and if your lead program is effective.

Measuring and testing your lead generation methods is a sure way to determine if your methods of acquiring customers is a good one—and allows you to shift your business tactics as your market changes.

Generating leads for your business is the lifeblood of your sales and marketing pipeline. Without a source of generating steady (and preferably qualified) leads for your business, you will quickly find your organization in a dire situation. By leveraging online and offline tactics to attract your target client base, and tracking the efficacy of your sales and marketing methods, you will be able to ensure the health of your business in the immediate and in years to come.

Harvest Media specializes in helping businesses attract and retain customers through comprehensive marketing and branding support. Interested in learning how we can help your business gather qualified business leads? Contact us today to find out more information.