If you are an independent professional or small business owner, building the list of prospects you market to should be one of your core marketing activities. The more people who are interested in your products and services, the better your chances of growing your sales.

Wouldn’t you like to have the contact information for another thousand or ten thousand prospects for your products and services?

Obviously you want to choose promotional strategies that pay for themselves. If an ad costs a thousand dollars and brings in fifteen hundred dollars of business, you’ve made money. On the other hand, if you pay a hundred dollars for a mi1lion e*mail addresses, and they don’t generate any business you’ve lost money. In addition, you’ll be stuck dealing with all those people whose email address you’ll need to delete from your system.

How should you spend your time and money to build a list of highly qualified leads? Here’s an overview of common lead generation strategies.

Email, Fax, and Snail Mail You can buy hundreds of millions of names to e*mail, fax to or mail to for just pennies per name. Yes, ten thousand or a million people could get your marketing message, but if they are not your target market, it won’t help you a bit and instead could create a negative impression.

The problem is that just because people on the list signed up for free information doesn’t mean they are interested in your particular service or product. You may get a response from the use of these third-party opt-in lists, but in my experience, it may not be worth the expense. Worth a try but watch your ROI (return on investment).

CO-REGISTRATION SERVICES

Identifying people who are interested in the problems you solve and your services and products is the key to increasing sales. Co-registration services offer the promise of helping you do this in a cost-efficient manner.

The way this work is that you provide a brief description of your business, and the co-registration service then distributes your mini ad on their websites or ezine sign-up pages so people can opt into your newsletter. You pay for leads when someone signs up and you are provided with the contact information. Some services let you target your market by country.

Your mini ad might read something like this:

If the co-registration service says they can provide you with a thousand opt-in names in a day or so for pennies a name, be careful. The services that deliver quality leads charge more and take longer. Once you get the names track your sales to see if your purchase paid off.

ADVERTISING

Advertising allows you to reach thousands of people who normally wouldn’t find out about your services and products. But you may be spending thousands of dollars to put your message in front of people who have no interest. How should you allocate your advertising dollars?

Radio, newspaper, search engine, and newsletter advertising can all work. The results will depend on how many people who want your services are exposed to your ad, whether the words you use in your message actually attract clients and the cost of the advertising campaign relative to income generated.

Radio and newspaper ads deliver your message to hundreds or hundreds of thousands of people, but only a fraction of a percent will be in your target market. Search engines and newsletters offer you the opportunity to target your ads based on interests and geographic regions.

FREE PUBLICITY

Thousands of online and off-line publishers are constantly looking for content they can use to attract and keep readers. Use your expertise to write articles that demonstrate your knowledge and ability to solve problems. Include a free offer at the end of your article, get it published, and you’ll find prospects contacting you without spending lots of money on advertising.

Unlike advertising, this strategy helps you build credibility and, over time, a steady stream of highly qualified prospects. If you’re not using your knowledge to share a few solid ideas and attract prospects for free, you should be.

DON’T WASTE YOUR LEADS

Once you have a lead make sure your marketing communication addresses the problems they want solved. Plan to contact your leads a minimum of six to eight times. Use the lead generation strategies that work for you, and produce more income than they cost and you’ll see your business and your profits grow.

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