Building streams of leads from multiple marketing channels can help you explode your small business profits. Too many business owners stick with one or two lead generation techniques, and only experience limited success.
Lead generation is a numbers game, so the more leads you can bring into your sales funnel, the more likely you will be to close more business. Here are 23 offline lead generation ideas you might consider using.
- Send mailings – Sending mailings to targeted lists can be extremely cost-effective. Use the principles of direct-response advertising by including an attention-grabbing headline, attractive offer, and call to action. Always use your recipient’s name and personalize the mailing as much as you can. If you purchase a mailing list, test small batches rigorously before spending a lot to mail to everyone. The wrong message to a poor, unresponsive list can translate into a lot of wasted money.
- Send personal letters – Personal letters work well for introducing yourself to business executives, as a cover letter for your marketing materials or special report, or as a “thank you” for products and services recently purchased. Personalized letters work better than standard mass mailings. If you introduce yourself, include a paragraph about your recipient’s business and how you’ve helped companies like theirs. If you send a thank you note, mention what they bought and offer tips for how they can use their product or service better. Always hand sign the note.
- Give out brochures – If you sell high-end services, your prospects may expect a brochure. The best brochures focus on prospects’ problems and are designed to sell, not brag about your company. Use a persuasive headline, copy that walks prospects through key questions they have in their buying process, and a call to action that prompts them to take the next step. Your design (the high-quality paper, nice graphics and full-color printing) should be the finishing touch, not your selling point. Your words, not your design, will make or break the piece.
- Add an invoice stuffer – If you send paper invoices to clients, add a second sheet that announces an upcoming sale, upsells a product or service, or offers a coupon or special discount. These act like free advertising because you will still be paying for postage to mail the invoice.
- Send a postcard – Postcards offer a number of advantages over mailings and letters. They are cheaper to produce, cost less to mail and don’t need to be opened. They can be great follow ups to send after sales letters or as part of a sequence to show off your portfolio.
- Write a special report – People are skeptical of advertising copy, but are intrigued by editorial content promising valuable information. Create a free report that provides straight-forward information on how to solve a problem or achieve a goal. Then, give it away for free. Keep in mind, although it’s free, people still expect value, so don’t use this as a blatant sales tool. You can include details about yourself, your company and your services at the back, but make sure the main information delivers what the title promises.
- Deliver a workshop – Offer a training seminar to show people how to do something. Your workshop can range from 60-minutes to full day training, depending on your purpose. Consider charging an attendee fee or sell a home study course to recoup some of your costs. Outline your talk and practice for the greatest impact.
- Record an audio sales pitch – Radio and TV commercials can be expensive, but you can easily make your own 2-5 minute audio recordings. Advertise a toll-free number and record a voice mail with your sales pitch. People can then call and listen at their leisure. Use a compelling script that prompts callers to take further action for the best results.
- Start a newsletter – Your in-house mailing list is your most valuable asset. Keep in touch with prospects, clients, referral partners and journalists by publishing a monthly hard copy newsletter (or more regularly if sending via email). Include incentives, insider information, and interesting tidbits your target audience may find fun or helpful. Consider offering ways to get clients interacting, such as with photo or tip submissions, stories, or contests.
- Publish a book – A great way to position yourself as an expert is to write a book. It’s not as challenging as it sounds if you break down the process into smaller steps. A book may have 10-20 chapters. And each chapter is comprised of 5-10 articles, that make up maybe 2-3 pages each. If you can write a few 2 page articles, you can put together a book. Having your own book can position you as an expert, land you publicity, and perhaps even help you make some residual income. Services like Amazon’s Createspace make it easy for anyone to self-publish and sell online cheaply.
- Use both sides of business cards – Include your normal business information on one side and on the back, advertise your free special report, your social media accounts or make a special offer. Then, give our your cards to anyone who will take one. These should be your primary networking tool, so make sure they stand out.
- Give to get – Recognize that every contact you make is a potential link to new business. While most people don’t want to sit through a sales pitch on your latest business opportunity, they do care about what you can do for them, so always be giving. Be lively, engaging, and consider what you can do to help them solve their problem. Don’t ask for anything in return. Don’t talk about yourself, what you do, or your products and services much (unless they ask). Rather, seek to genuinely help. The worst you can do here is brighten someone’s day and spread some good will.
- Meet your community centers of influence – In any community, there are early adopters and community leaders who seemingly know everyone and seek to connect others. If you over-deliver to these people and do your best to take care of them, they will take care of you, often by becoming a great referral source.
- Gift baskets create strong impressions – Whenever you want to express your appreciation but a small thank you gift card doesn’t seem personal enough, send a gift basket. Fill them with smaller items, and you can create the perception of quantity, without spending a fortune. Or search online for the perfect themed gift basket to purchase.
- Encourage word-of-mouth marketing – Influence who is talking about you by giving people a great story to tell. People love to talk about how they got a great deal, had a positive experience, or made a smart decision, so do what you can to create experiences that get people talking.
- Build strategic alliances – What other businesses in your area serve a similar target market to yours but don’t directly compete with you? Consider partnering with one or several complementary businesses. Your alliance can be as simple as having the other company write an endorsement letter for you, cross promoting each other’s services, or working more closely together to offer more complete services (e.g. a designer working with a printer).
- Look for newsletter contribution opportunities – Many local businesses who publish a newsletter may accept contributions from others. Look for companies that don’t directly compete with you but share similar client profiles. Then, pitch topics their readers may find valuable.
- Start or contribute to a fund raiser – Is there a local cause you are passionate about? How can you pitch in to market your business and improve your community at the same time? Try connecting with charities that match your key business demographic. Then, you can either hold a fund drive, volunteer your time, or donate a percentage of sales. Let people (and the press) know what this cause means to you and why you support it.
- Sponsor a community event – Get involved with your local community by sponsoring a local 5K race, a public play, a community project or a sports event. Make sure the event’s key demographics match your target audience, then start building your reputation as a community supporter.
- Offer services pro-bono – While this option isn’t for everyone, it can be great for people just getting started and looking to build their portfolio. When working pro-bono, set expectations up-front about what you will and won’t do for free. The most successful projects will be those with a small scope and shorter time frame – get the quick win.
- Send press releases – Get to know the reporters who cover your local business beat. Then, pitch them a story. Journalists want real news, not advertising hype, so give them an angle. Why should they cover you? How does your business help or impact the local community? Can you comment on a current event or give another side of the story?
- Be an interview source – Get the local media (and local bloggers) to interview you. Pitch an angle, offer sample questions, and practice your talking points. After the interview, promote it! Send copies to prospects and clients, add it to your marketing kit, mention it in your newsletter, and use it in your online promotions.
- Distribute press articles – If the press does write about you, request copies to distribute with your marketing materials. Use attributed quotes from the article in your newsletter. This is a fantastic third-party endorsement so milk it for all it’s worth.
Building a profitable business means always being on the lookout for ways to get people into your sales funnel.
Have I missed any? If you have additional ways to market your business offline, please add them in the comments.