My most recent book, Planet Entrepreneur, was co-written with a dozen leading entrepreneurs and business experts from around the globe. These folks come from wildly different backgrounds – from an entrepreneur in India who is using social entrepreneurship to bring electricity to remote rural areas, to a PhD. in Chile who is creating a South American version of Silicon Valley.
But despite their differences, and different perspectives, all of these experts agreed on one thing: This is the golden age of small business.
There are many reasons for this, but a main one is this: technology has changed the game. Not only can any small entrepreneur be a global entrepreneur, but the ability to find customers and leads is easier and cheaper than ever.
Consider entrepreneurs a generation or so ago who wanted to generate leads, what would they do? They might advertise in the newspaper or on the radio, or maybe they would network at their local chamber and pass out scores of business cards.
The problem with that strategy is that it was bit of a crapshoot. Potential customers – leads – might see the ad, or might not. Maybe they would look at the business card, remember the entrepreneur, and call, but probably not.
But today? Today there are tons of smart, powerful, and affordable ways to use technology to generate, not just leads, but warm leads.
Pay-per-click: Pay-per-click is probably my favorite marketing method to come down the pike in at least the last decade. Here’s why: Instead of paying a lot of money for that ad on the radio or TV or in a magazine or wherever and hoping the right people see it and call, with pay-per-click you can micro-target the exact people who are most likely to want what you have to sell, and then only pay for the ad once they like your ad enough to click on it.
Now that is a warm lead.
E-newsletters: There are two ways to use e-newsletters to help create warms leads:
1. Start your own e-newsletter: The beauty of having a newsletter is that, as with pay-per-click, people choose to view it. They have to opt-in. In the vernacular, this is called “permission based marketing” and it too is an incredibly powerful way to find warm leads. Think about it: Someone who opts-in to your e-newsletter is giving you permission to correspond and market to them (gently, of course.) These people want to hear from you. Sweet.
2. Advertise in someone else’s e-newsletter. Let’s say that you sell wedding party merchandise online. One great way to find potential customers is to go to some of the bigger wedding websites and place ads in their e-newsletters. Not only have the brides who get those e-newsletters opted in themselves and therefore look forward to receiving them, but, even better, you are assured that you are reaching potential customers who are in your exact wheelhouse. They have self-selected themselves as people who are interested in what you are selling.
And because you are not reaching a lot of people who are not interested in what you are selling (as you necessarily would with a television commercial for instance), you will pay a lot less because you are reaching a smaller, but far more specific and valuable, audience.
SEO: Yes, Search Engine Optimization is the holy grail of marketing these days, and it is for a reason: SEO is probably the most powerful tool available today to get warm leads, and it is practically free to boot.
When you optimize a webpage and get a high search engine ranking and result, two things can happen. First, the person who sees this result trusts that your site has something valuable to offer them as that is the nature of organic search results – people trust them. Second, when they come to your site, you will again know that they are interested in what you have to sell, after all, they searched for it, found your site listed on their search result, and surfed over to your site. Your job then is to convert them.
But that is fodder for a different blog. Stay tuned!
Photo Cred: Anymane Remmal, Flickr