Lead Generation. It can sound like a small biz buzzword at first, but then you realize the concept is pretty straight-forward! Lead generation is essentially an analysis of where your leads are coming from and how many of those convert into sales. This is critical for small business owners to grasp because, without leads, there’s no work. Having a healthy handle on how people find you and which channel turns the highest conversion rate is key. Numbers matter, even for us creative folks. By analyzing those percentages we get an accurate understanding of where we’re crushing it and what lead sources need a little TLC.
Have you critically thought about your lead sources and crunched the numbers yet? If not, block out some time in your calendar to get those numbers and analyze them. In 2019, my two main lead sources were Instagram and Referrals, followed closely by Google. That’s not to say I didn’t land jobs from other social platforms or marketing strategies, but by knowing my top two lead generators I can give my energy to my best-performing channels.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that trying to “do it all” and showing up consistently can be exhausting. Attempting to reach success on every platform all at once will leave you feeling deflated. My advice: pick one platform to start with and get consistent with it. Maybe for you, that’s Pinterest, or it could be your email list. Hone in on that one channel and really master it. When that becomes manageable, then you can add in another platform. Most likely you will learn lessons from the first platform that you can translate to the next lead source!
Identifying the different types of lead generation has also been helpful for me as I work to maintain consistent leads. There are two main categories of lead generation; connection based lead generation and evergreen lead generation. These two categories have distinct characteristics and it’s important to identify which channels belong where, as that will heavily impact your strategy.
This includes social platforms, like Instagram and Facebook. These social networks are great for building a connection with your audience and showing your authority in your field. Facebook and Instagram give you the space to show up and talk to ideal clients through video, written stories, and interactive polls on a macro level. On a micro level, you can have authentic 1:1 conversations in the DMs that not only establish your street credit but also show your personality. While all of this serves to build deep-rooted relationships with your community, the lifespan of that connecting content is quite short and only gets circulated for a few days or less.
Polar opposite to connection-based leads, Evergreen leads include content that will last longer and continue working for you for months if not years down the road. This can include Pinterest, SEO blog posts, and Youtube. Even your Google Business Account, where you collect reviews and can post photo updates, will only flourish with time. This type of content has a much longer lifespan so the return on energy spent is better, but it doesn’t necessarily build a personal connection with your audience. While I receive a handful of leads from Google and Pinterest for custom design work, digital products like my website templates and my course, Brand Clarity Academy, sell better from evergreen lead generation. Custom design is a larger investment and the consumer is likely to want to feel a deeper personal connection with the creative instead of evergreen educational content.
Understanding these two categories and grouping my lead sources accordingly helped me gain clarity. I’ve started to focus my business energy on one from each category, understanding that it’s best to be consistent as opposed to randomly showing up on several. To get the most out of my content, I have a general workflow that goes like this:
It all begins with my blog. As a long-form content source, like this very article you’re reading, a blog is content-rich, juicy with lots of information and detail. From that blog, I can re-write a shorter, condensed version of the post and make it into one email to be sent to my list. From that cliff notes version in the email, I can spin that into 2-3 Instagram captions for posts or even use the copy as a topic in a series of Instagram stories. Creating 5-8 unique and on-brand Pinterest graphics inspired by the content can later drive traffic back to the original post — always continuing to expand the reach of the blog.
Beyond the two categories we talked about above, there’s one more lead generation source that is oh so important. It doesn’t really fall in the two categories, because it’s even more personal … and that’s referrals from past clients. If you’re any kind of service provider, you already know just how powerful word-of-mouth can be for a small business owner. As mentioned above, it’s one of my top two lead sources along with Instagram. While Instagram is great and has done a ton for my business and many other creative entrepreneurs, referrals are my favorite way to get new clients.
You’re sitting there thinking, wow this is it! My clients will do the brunt of the legwork for me and pass off a warm to hot lead. How can I keep getting consistent referrals from past clients? The answer is so simple you’ll do a double-take; you need to give them an amazing experience. What that amazing experience is will vary among business owners. An above and beyond experience can look like throwing in an extra goodie in their package, excellent communication, or keeping the project organized. It can even be as simple as listening deeply to your clients. When your people feel heard and believe you truly delivered on what they were hoping for, I guarantee they’ll be shouting your name from the rooftops.