Become a Lead Generation Machine: Expert tips to maximize your lead generating efforts
Outside of managing the bottom line, employees and facilities, business owners are often tasked with a critical mission: generating leads that drive revenue for the business. From commercial to residential jobs, it’s all about finding opportunities to capitalize on, because no matter how good the work you do is, you can’t do it without customers. But there are some simple and effective steps you can take to generate new business — and you can get started right away.
Travis Petersen, the owner and CEO of Wind River Marketing, has tips on some of the best ways to spend your lead generation time and budget. Petersen has been working with HVAC and other construction related service industries to market their businesses for over 10 years, and before that, he had an HVAC company of his own for which generated leads. When it comes to bringing in new customers, he says, “You’re opening their eyes to the fact that the system might need to be cleaned.” Here are some ways to do that:
The Big Ones
“First and foremost, networking and referrals are obviously free, other than your time,” Petersen says. “When you get a referral, that’s usually a contract handed to you on a silver platter. And that comes from doing a good job for your existing customers. Networking is also a great way to go.” Along with partnerships, these are the lead generation tools where you’ll get the most bang for your buck:
- Join the Better Business Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, and Building Owners and Managers.
- Meet with property manager associations.
- Engage with the local community through schools, churches, and other community groups.
- Ask customers to be a reference.
- Offer customers a rebate for referrals.
- Encourage customers to post about their positive experiences with you on social media.
- Consider teaming up with mechanical contractors, carpet cleaning services, security companies, and other homeownership servicers.
- Bring your references.
The Overlooked Ones
Some tools that seem inconsequential can go a long way, and their initial investment pays for itself many times over. You can leverage search engine optimization, truck signage, and quarterly emails without doing too much work on your end, and it can make a big difference.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
- “It’s important that clients optimize their websites so customers can find them,” Petersen says. Use keywords to help your site turn up in the right searches. Use Google Search Console to be sure your site is fully optimized.
- Write articles or blog posts for your site, because “it’s all about content these days,” Petersen says.
- Set up a crosslinking relationship with other websites, where you share their links and they share yours. Websites linking back to your site improve your Google search placement.
- Make a list of prospects, either yourself or with the help of an outside company.
- Contact them quarterly or once every six months.
- Use quarterly emails to stay in touch with your current customers too.
- This one-time investment is a gift to yourself that never stops giving. “It may not be a priority with a lot of companies, but it’s like a moving billboard, right?” Petersen says. “Think about Stanley Steamer. Every time you see one, it reminds you, ‘I think we might have to have our carpets cleaned next week before the holiday party.’”
The Overrated One
“I wouldn’t necessarily tell people to stay away from direct mail entirely, but the reality is it’s become very expensive, and it rarely gets to a decision maker,” Petersen says. A carefully planned direct mail campaign can be very effective, but blindly sending out a large mailing without doing your research first probably won’t have a great ROI.
- Even at bulk rate, costs for direct mailings add up quickly.
- However, mailing your current customers once or twice a year to maintain a relationship with them and keep yourself in their minds is definitely a good idea.
- And of course, do what works for you—if you’ve had good success rates with direct mailings, keep them as part of your marketing plan. Consider tying each campaign to a specific call to action so you can track its success.
What to Do Next
Now that you’ve let people know who you are and what you do, you need to take a few final steps to close the contracts and reassess your methods for the future.
Following up quarterly is essential to closing on leads. “It’s absolutely imperative to follow up on all your proposals, either by email or phone,” Petersen says. “You don’t want to be a pain, but you want to make sure that the prospect has you at the top of their minds. And if you’re the only company following up, that can make all the difference.”
Check Your ROI
Keep track of where your business is coming in from. Whether you’re using a software system to enter new customers or you’re filling out a form, include a prompt to answer the question “How did you hear about us?” Then you’ll get an idea of how much business is coming from truck signage, how much from emails, how much from Google, and so on. And if you track this in your company’s customer-management software program, you can run reports to get specifics about your ROI on each type of lead generation in which you’ve invested.
Do Good Work
The foundational lead generation tool is doing good work and building positive relationships with your customers and within your community. With that as a basis, using these tools is the next natural step to growing your business. You can do some or all of these things yourself, or you can hire an outside firm to act as your sales team. Either way, you’re doing good work, and you need to shout it from the rooftop — and these tools can help you do that.
Door-Knocking and Cold-Calling
Don’t forget about these old chestnuts! Some things to keep in mind:
- For commercial prospects, knock on doors, hand your card out in a business park, and make cold calls.
- For residential prospects, look up your local laws on soliciting door to door, and make sure not to contact anyone on the Do Not Call list.