Updated: May 20
What Are Lead Generators?
Generating leads is…I don’t want to say everything in business, but without it you’re like a concert pianist who just sits down at a piano and hopes that, somehow, people will show up.
Obviously, that pianist is going to play to a lot of empty seats.
The business version of that is being a consultant, coach, attorney, whatever, who thinks to get more clients you just run an ad and hope.
But lead generation isn’t just saying, “hey…buy this.” It’s about attracting and nurturing your public way before you run that ad.
Lead generators collect your audience before you sit down to play the first tune.
We all know about sales funnels, right? Yes? No? Okay - quickly. Very quickly.
Imagine a funnel, like the one you use for adding oil to your car - wide at the top and tapering down. That’s a visual stand-in for the customer journey.
The journey involves them seeing you, considering you, living with the idea of you - way before they ever have the notion that your offer is for them.
As they travel down that funnel more and more people tap out - based on their need for your message. The group of people still listening to your message gets thinner and thinner as you go down the funnel. Until a select group remains.
What pops out the other side of the funnel is…a client. A qualified lead.
Like a high-quality-action-taking-let-me-sign-on-the-dotted-line lead!
A funnel is a cool, shorthand for something called lead generation.
The point is it’s a long game.
Oodles of Information
Your “Almost Clients,” they’re out there. And every day they’re taking in oodles of information online - sometimes on purpose, sometimes passively.
By the time they get to buying something, it’s too late for you to make your pitch. They already know what they know. They already like who they like.
Lead generators are all the steps before the final “click” that brings in the sale. And they’re not expendable steps.
“Any rational person knows that all touchpoints, not just the final one, can influence a purchase decision,” says Harvard Business Review, “Yet, we tend to ignore this truth and focus only on the last click.”
You need to earn their trust before they buy. Give them value before you sell. That’s how you collect leads and nurture them through their journey.
“Oof, Katie,” you say, “give me the good news about lead generators!”
Okay how’s this? Most lead generators are waaaaay cheaper than running a ton of ads that may not even yield a customer. And the prospects that come from long-form lead generators are already good, qualified leads who believe in you.
In this article, I want to talk to you about how to sneak up on success with lead-generators - first through listening intelligently, then by creating value for your soon-to-be clients.
When you think about lead generators, it’s easy to think in terms of “what do I say?”
That’s always the first stop - talking.
But in all relationships - and lead generation is about creating a relationship before they purchase - you need to listen at least as much as you talk.
This brings us to Social Listening.
Social listening is the practice of monitoring social media for information, trends, and just getting the general vibe of what your ideal clients are thinking about.
You gotta swim in the same stream as your customers.
“Listen to the social buzz,” says the digital marketing and SEO service Moz, “identify the opportunities to respond to, engage with your customer’s queries, concerns, and complaints more comprehensively. ‘Listen’ to the growing trend of conversations and identify the influencer(s).”
Join some Facebook groups that your ideal client would join. Look for mentions, not just of your brand, but brands that occupy the same space. What are the complaints? The wish lists?
Look for posts on social relating to keywords associated with your industry. Read the case studies. Ask questions.
This info is the foundation for building lead generators. You need to be rooted in conversations that your clients are already having.
Long-term success is about answering existing needs and solving those problems. By being involved in the informational flow, you can build an instinct for where your client’s mind is, and what they care about.
Two cautions about social listening, though:
Be careful about getting so enmeshed in the listening that you forget why you’re there. We all know what a rabbit hole social media is. It’s easy to goof off online and label it as part of your “Lead Generation Strategy.” Be a grown-up. Know when you’re at work and when you’re not.
And, don’t just become an echo of other people. Social listening is to understand what’s relevant, not to become a carbon copy of everyone else. Listen, then create. Don’t mimic.
There Are Lots of Lead Generators
Remember, lead generators are a network of practices. Together they’ll invite your ideal client to learn from you, cheer for you, and cry on your shoulder. Eventually, they purchase from you.
You do need their attention. But once you have it, you need to donate yourself to the talk space. Always create value for them before you ask for their business.
Here are some lead generators that can create real value:
Website and Blogs
Your foundational lead generator is going to be your site. Do what you can to beef up your site’s SEO - that’s Search Engine Optimization. Basically, that means creating text on your site that appeals to Google’s algorithms.
You want to produce a solid word count per site page. And be sure to tell a clear story of what you do - using relevant, searchable keywords. Then add a blog and contribute to it regularly.
Make yourself really visible, open, and available on the site, but don’t get bogged down in “I” speak. Make the text more about solving the lead’s problems. Remember, lead generators are always about them, even when you’re talking about yourself.
Lead magnets are terrific lead generators! Think of ebooks, free templates, free consultations, quizzes, surveys. I give away my free Money Map!
These complimentary and often downloadable lead generators are free samples of you and your work. Your ideal client can sample the experience of collaborating with you while you retain their contact information for future conversations.
Lead magnets demonstrate your authority, voice, and expertise. They also demonstrate your generosity. And like blogs, these lead generators are often shareable. Which can create a viral conversation!
If we’re talking lead generators we have to talk about your email list. This is probably the most personal version of lead generation.
What I mean is…when a lead gives you that email address and you pop up in their inbox regularly, it’s like their giving you access to their living room. It’s not a public space.
This is a huge gesture. It deepens the connection and can often convert a lead into a devoted client.
My only caution here? Don’t abuse it. Don’t become an annoying guest in their virtual living room. Be judicious about popping into the space - and be sure to create value while you’re there.
Webinars and Livestreams
Videos, webinars, livestreams - this is my happy place! Sitting in front of a camera and just talking to you like a friend. Luckily, they’re also excellent lead generators.
Video creates a two-way affinity, and can really accelerate the relationship between you and your prospective client.
Living, moving, speaking content gives a sense of who a client is truly dealing with. And in some cases, it can give them the sensation that they’re already working with you.
But like a good relationship, you want to be there through thick and thin. Show up regularly. Your ideal clients will come to count on it, and the algorithm gods will reward you.
The “Long Game” Lead Generator = Shortest Route
Look I know that this seems like a lot. And I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed. None of this happens in a day. And you can definitely get help with a lot of this.
But making a business, creating impact - I’m not going to lie to you - it’s a commitment.
Lead generators are about investing in a community that sort of hasn’t formed yet. It’s being willing to make the space for them to gather.
And being ready to help when they get there.
Ready for your rebound? We talk all about FINDING clients in my free coaching hour, Brave Biz Lab.