Attracting leads is a frustrating and stressful business activity. It’s also time consuming to get the phone to ring, the email box to fill, and the meetings scheduled.

I’ve taught thousands of web professionals how to overcome this. My process for lead generation is always the same.

WARNING: There is no magic wand, no silver bullet, or secret sauce for this. There are many approaches, and they all take work and an investment of either time or money.

Here is my process for generating leads:

Step 1: Define your target

Even if you are working within your local geographic area, as long as you live in a reasonably populated area, there are probably more businesses in your market than you could ever work with over a lifetime. This abundant opportunity can often become paralyzing. There is so many options it’s hard to even take the first step.

The best way to reach a goal is to first define it. I’m not talking about just “niching” in a specific industry or vertical, I’m just urging you to draw a circle around a group of people that you can get yourself and your message in front of repeatedly.

For marketing and advertising to be effective, you need repetition. If you lack a target, you will do activities that fail to build on one another. They will fail to gain the repetition that you need to be successful.

Write down up to five constraints for your local market. This could be:

  • a networking group
  • an online forum
  • business size
  • industry
  • website status
  • etc…

Anything that helps you create a focused list that you will be able to get in front of through different mediums and create repetition.

Remember, I’m not asking you to define a “vertical” that you will work in for the next ten years… this is about getting specific so you know what to do next.

Step 2: Learn where your target hangs out

Once you’ve defined your target, it’s time to do some research to figure out how you can reach them. This can be both online and offline. You want to build a list of channels that are specific to your target.

Remember, it’s not enough to reach your target customer a single time. You need repetition. When I say “hang out,” I mean any communication channel that can get their attention or eyeballs on you or your message. Here are some ideas:

  • weekly meetup
  • association newsletters
  • conferences
  • mastermind groups
  • lead exchanges
  • online forums
  • Linkedin groups
  • online advertising (search, ppc, and display)
  • etc…

You might also notate on each channel what kind of resources it requires to use this channel. Get specific around money and time required.

Just because a meetup is free to attend, it still requires two hours to attend, travel time, and the required prep and follow up time. Consider each of your channels so you know what will take the least amount of resources to get the most impact to your lead pipeline.

Step 3: Deliver value

It’s really easy to forget this step and jump straight to step #4. You need to deliver something of high value to your target audience.

Value can take a lot of forms:

  • presentation
  • an email
  • blog post
  • e-book
  • conversation
  • video (generic or customized to that person)
  • free analysis
  • etc…

Your leads will drastically increase when you are able to deliver high value information through multiple channels and interactions. This begins to create momentum.

For example, lets say I am targeting businesses doing over $500k per year in annual revenue that are members of my local chamber of commerce by:

  1. presenting to new membership,
  2. writing articles for their monthly newsletter, and
  3. attending their weekly networking mixers.

It won’t be long until my message has reached all new members. So if someone attends one of my seminars, reads their newsletter, then meets me face to face at a networking mixer, I have already interacted with them multiple times and they might now have questions or an opportunity for me.

Instead of having a “getting to know you” conversation, we might instead have a “I have a problem and you might be able to solve it” conversation. This is the direct yield of building momentum by reaching the same audience multiple times through multiple channels.

Step 4: Get the lead

Do not skip step #3 or this one as I have often done before. After you deliver value, you must have a mechanism in place for getting the lead. This is your conversion step.

I don’t urge a high pressured method, but without asking for the lead in some fashion, you are expending energy without results.

How you get the lead will depend on the channel that you are working through, but make sure each of your channels has a lead capture mechanism in place:

  • an opt-in on the page your article hotlinks to
  • a call to action for a free consultation
  • a “business card contest” fish bowl on your exhibit table
  • a lead form passed out after your presentation for a free eBook
  • asking for every person’s business card you speak with at an event
  • getting email address AND phone number on your website contact form
  • solicit a reply in a newsletter email
  • etc…

It’s not enough to have a great conversation with someone and hand them your business card. You never want to put the hopes of getting a lead in the hands of fate.

You must take the lead. Ask for the business card. Get their information and be ready to follow up.

Step 5: Schedule the meeting

It’s not quite time to sell someone. Never sell when you first get a lead. Focus only on delivering high value, whetting their appetite, and getting a scheduled meeting.

Don’t talk about price, process, or proposals. Your goal in lead generation is to get an appointment, not to get a check or build a scope of work.

If you start to sell someone in front of other potential customers, you quickly risk turning other people away that might be qualified leads. You want to move the potential customer from “interested” to “scheduled” – not “interested” to “closed.”

Not only will you avoid being sleezy, but you will increase your chances for a higher value project by increasing the number of interactions in your sales process.

Here are a few scripts for different channels you can use:

At a networking event:

“I’d love to continue this conversation over coffee… let’s keep the momentum going, how about we pull out our calendars right now and put something on the docket for next Tuesday at 10AM. There is a great cafe by my office…”

In an email:

“Thanks for the compliments on my eBook! I’d love to talk to you further about this and I have many questions. Here are two times that work for me next week:

Time Option 1
Time Option 2

Let me know if one of those works or if I need to suggest a couple more options.”

At the end of a presentation:

“I have three days next week that I can meet someone for lunch. Who here would like to talk further about the ideas I’ve presented today?”

At the end of an eBook:

“Click here to schedule a FREE 30 minute 1 on 1 with me to apply the concepts I’ve talked about in this eBook to your business right now.”

Conclusion: Stick with a strategy

The secret to creating lead generation momentum in your local market is to be consistent and build up repetition. The biggest mistake I see web professionals make is shifting their strategy before they get to reap the benefits of momentum.

Don’t be one of the many who builds a strategy, executes a tactic or two, get some leads, sign a couple projects, gets busy and forgets the whole thing happened.

This only results in the well drying up, having an “I need some leads!” moment and then inventing a whole new strategy and starting all over again.

The trick to marketing momentum is to build activities that add on to one another so that eventually your marketing works for you 24/7. That will only happen when your message saturates a target market and your reputation carries you forward.