As a 30-year veteran in the management-consulting industry, Rapidan Strategies’ John Beveridge has worked for huge multinationals and small regional businesses. His Fairfax, Virginia–based firm offers strategies for small to midsize companies looking to increase market share in a tough, competitive market. At the beginning and end of each day, that means generating leads—a constant challenge whether you’re The Coca-Cola Company or a start-up architectural or civil-design firm.
“Like most small businessmen,” Beveridge says, “I too am a small-business guy trying to compete with bigger companies, trying to generate leads.”
To that end, Beveridge stresses the importance of Internet marketing. But creating a business website is only the first step.
“You need to create website content, typically blogging,” he explains. “But don’t blog about your products; rather, blog about the problems that your customers face, but without explicitly presenting the solutions.
“Your website should be customer-centric,” Beveridge continues. “Instead of saying ‘We’re innovative,’ which doesn’t mean anything, your site should state, ‘We do this, and we provide that.’ You want to show that you understand customers’ pain points and give them ideas on how they can resolve those pain points. You really want to solve their problems.”
Here, Beveridge offers six tips on developing leads using old-school tactics that take on new meaning in the digital age.
1. Blog Subscriptions. “Say you’re an interior designer, architect, or contractor: Create a blog that offers great content for people who are looking to redesign an interior space or construct a new building. You could create a blog with the headline, ‘3 Things to Consider When Redesigning Your Office,’ as opposed to saying ‘We Redesign Offices.’ The more frequently Google sees your company blogging, the more traffic they’ll send your way through search-engine results. Once someone signs up for your blog, you have the opportunity to market to that person via email. On the sign-up form, give them the option to be contacted by a representative.’
2. Content Downloads. “In the middle of your blog post, add a call-to-action—a graphic that states, ‘Click here to download our free eBook.’ Use offers such as eBooks to generate leads within your blog. Clicking on the offer should lead to a landing page that contains more information, as well as the sign-up form. The eBook could be The Ultimate Office Redesign Handbook—something more in-depth on the same topic as in the blog. Place the landing page on Twitter or LinkedIn with the headline, ‘Download Our eBook: The Ultimate Office Redesign Handbook.’ As people click through and go to your landing page, those become more leads.”
3. Free Consultations. “Offer free consultations through online media or print advertising. The consultations can be an hour or a half-hour, and they’re really sales calls. The potential customer has done the research, they want to buy, and they’re ready to speak with an expert. This free consultation is a chance for the architect or designer to learn what the customer’s needs are and whether they are a viable business prospect or not. It takes you much closer to a decision point.”
4. Social Media. “Use social media to broadcast free-consultation or eBook offers, which will generate leads. If you’re posting to social media fifteen times a month, a few of those posts should be other people’s content—maybe an article from Architectural Digest, something related to your customers’ interests. Perhaps four of the fifteen are blog posts to Twitter or LinkedIn on ‘Tips for Office Redesign.’ And one of the fifteen posts should direct readers to your landing page. But in order to sell, you really need to help customers—even posting uplifting stories that have nothing to do with architecture. Ultimately, you want to help people.”
5. Seminars and Webinars. “Another way to generate leads to potential customers is offering webinars (online) and seminars (offline or live). You could offer a webinar or seminar that explains your eBook, The Ultimate Office Redesign Handbook. When people register for the webinar or seminar, they give you their email and contact info. You can do a seminar locally, or you can serve potential clients all over the country with a webinar via the Internet.”
6. Customer Referrals/Testimonials. “When you are working with a client and running through the project report to ensure the client is satisfied, ask for recommendations for more customers. You could also ask the client if they’d be willing to give you a testimonial—something you could post on your website or social media accounts.”
For further reading, check out “The Top 12 Ways to Generate Sales Leads” from the Small Business Advocate.