Lead Generation Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Generating Leads for Your Business

61% of marketers see lead generation as their biggest professional hurdle. If you could see yourself pulling that lever while filling out this survey, it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.

A lot of people will tell you why you need to generate leads. And even more people will talk about how a business can’t survive without a sales pipeline full of high-quality leads ripe for the picking.

But we’re different.

First, we’ll tell you exactly how to create a winning strategy to generate leads for your sales team. Then, we’ll give you some practical tips on the execution of said strategy.

By the time we’re done here, booking your next consultation could be as simple as checking your email inbox.

Read on to find out more.

Lead Generation Starts With Your Buyer Persona

They say that even the longest journey starts with a single step — And nowhere is this more true than with your lead generation strategy. Here’s how you can use your buyer persona to create well-informed lead generation campaigns.

buyer persona

1. Pick a Buyer Persona

As a coach, advisor, or consultant, your services probably have far-reaching appeal. After all, who doesn’t want to have better relationships or an improved career path? Even if the list of people who could be interested in your product can be summed up as “Everyone,” however, not all new leads are created equal. Hint… this is where lead scoring and lead management in a reputable CRM system are invaluable — and your sales team will love you for it!

6 Signs It's Time For A CRM System

Buyer Persona Example - Fitness Training Business

Here’s an example of what we mean.

63% of TikTok users are aged between 19 and 29. So if you’re offering fitness training, you may be able to generate high-quality leads. If you’re a traditional corporate image consultant, however, you might be able to collect a few email addresses — but your target demographic is likely on a different platform.

A buyer persona will give you clarity about who you’re targeting. If you have multiple groups that fit the bill, you can build separate campaigns for them later. HubSpot’s buyer persona templates will cover everything from the buyer persona’s goals to its social media use and communication style.

The more detail you can fit into your buyer persona, the better.

2. Flesh Out Your Buyer Persona

Okay. You’ve identified a target market that’s both solution-hungry and capable of paying your fees. And you’ve got a buyer persona document that covers all the important lead information you need to attract potential customers. 

This is where you turn that 2D buyer persona into a living, breathing person.

Many places will discuss the importance of understanding how to position your service as the solution to your customer’s pain points. But there’s another layer to this: Customer pain points don’t just apply to the specific reasons they need your business. Instead, there are bottlenecks and pain points that can limit your ability to connect with more leads.

Here’s what we mean.

Buyer Persona Example - Coaching Business

Imagine you offer workplace coaching services, and you’re looking for corporate clients. Company decision-makers are extremely busy people. And schedules only get tighter the further up the hierarchy you go.

If you knew that the person hiring you would only have five minutes to spare for the initial call, you wouldn’t begin by launching into a 40-minute presentation. It would make your prospect feel like you don’t “get” them. And this, in turn, would affect your conversion rates and reputation.

For this reason, you’ll want to put yourself in the shoes of your buyer persona.

What kind of car do they drive? What does their morning look like? How does this person’s day-to-day life affect their ability to return calls or google your business?

Once you’ve hammered out these issues, the framework of your lead generation strategy will quickly start coming together.

Putting Together Your Lead Generation Plan

At this stage, you’ve pinned down your target market and picked a buyer persona to focus your next campaign around. Then, you spent time familiarizing yourself with the prospect’s daily schedule. Finally, you’ve got the information you need to create a winning lead generation strategy.

Here’s a step-by-step guide that you can use to get your lead generation efforts off the ground.

STEP 1: Pick Your Marketing Methodology

There are generally two marketing approaches available to small businesses: Inbound marketing and outbound marketing.

Inbound Lead Generation Strategies vs Outbound Lead Generation Strategies

Outbound lead generation strategies, like paid ads, can get traffic to your site. But you do have to interrupt your prospective leads to catch their attention. On the other hand, inbound lead generation strategies, like content marketing and SEO, allow your future clients to find you.

Outbound marketing methods will get you fast results, but they often cost money. However, even when your blog is full of amazing, high-value content, it often takes a while for Google and Bing to send traffic your way. So for many businesses, the deciding factor is whether you have more time or money to spare.

Inbound Marketing for beginners
Inbound Marketing for Beginners

There’s no right or wrong approach when it comes to this. In fact, most busy entrepreneurs will be better off using a mixture of both lead generation strategies for long-term and short-term results. As you plan your lead generation campaign, it’ll be easier to start with one approach before transitioning to the other one. 

STEP 2: Choose Your Platforms To Market On

Think about the last time you had a pressing problem that had you searching the internet for answers. You likely went to Google, typed in a question, and then scrolled through the results until you found the website that made you say, “This could be exactly what I’m looking for!”. Or maybe that wasn’t what happened. Perhaps you didn’t even know there was a problem until you stumbled across that Facebook ad.

The Bottom Line

Either way, here’s the bottom line:

You’ve likely bought products and services due to inbound or outbound marketing. And those companies could land you as a new customer because they knew exactly where you’d be and how you’d likely find them.

And you’ll have to take a similar approach when it comes to your lead gen efforts.

If you’re opting for outbound advertising and your target audience primarily uses search engines, LinkedIn, and Facebook, then you know what PPC platforms will likely give you the best chance of success. 

Note… There will be a learning curve for these platforms, so consider only tackling one or two platforms at a time. Master those before adding more platforms.

STEP 3: Build Your Lead Generation System

The process of building a lead generation system can be broken into four basic parts:

  1. Map out your buyer’s journey
  2. Make content for every step of the buyer’s journey
  3. Use your content to drive action 
  4. Give direct instructions

We’ll go over each of these in turn. 

1. Map Out Your Buyer Journey

In advertising circles, it’s not unusual to hear people saying things like, “Where are they in the sales funnel?” or “What stage is the prospective customer in?” When you hear marketers using terms to this effect, they’re talking about how close the client is to making a purchase. Once you understand how these pieces fit together, you’ll be attracting potential customers like clockwork.

lead generation guide - buyer journey

For our purposes, we subscribe to a three-part buyer’s journey

  • The Awareness Stage
  • The Consideration Stage
  • The Decision Stage

This Is How Awareness, Consideration, and Decision Fit Together

The Awareness Stage

At the awareness stage, you’ve got an individual who knows they have a problem that needs to be solved. But they don’t necessarily know what solutions are at their disposal.

The Consideration Stage

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The Decision Stage

And during the final decision-making phase, they’ll be looking more closely at specific companies and service providers. 

This matters because you’ll need to create lead generation strategies that match the current intent of your potential customers. However, there is a catch.

Your buyer journey might look different from the journey established by another company. 

Connecting the Buyer Journey to Your Marketing Efforts

People in the awareness stage might find you through an informational blog post on your site. But for a competitor, those initial inbound leads may be coming through YouTube. 

Much like the inbound vs outbound debate, there’s no right or wrong answer here. But once you’re done analyzing the buyer’s journey for your company, you should be able to say, “My awareness leads will come from here. And when they’re in the consideration stage, I’ll direct them to this next piece of targeted content.”

Your lead generation efforts will become a lot easier once you have this sorted out. 

2. Make Content for Every Stage of the Buyer Journey

Every adult has experienced a situation where a potential friend or romantic partner was pushing way too hard for a close relationship.

If that person would have agreed to see a movie or go on a few dates before rushing things, you might have given them a shot. But there’s something deeply uncomfortable about a brand-new acquaintance deciding you’re best friends out of nowhere. 

Your cold leads likely will feel the same way about hiring your business if you go straight for the sale on first contact. To prevent them from running for the hills, your marketing process needs to match their preferred pace. And you do that by creating content that meets people where they are. 

If someone’s just getting their bearings in the awareness stage, that isn’t the time to start cranking up the sales push. But if someone’s ready to make a decision, you’ll want to do everything you can to convince them that you’re the best they’re going to get.

When you understand where someone is in the buyer’s journey, it becomes a lot easier to move them toward choosing you and your business. 

content marketing for generating leads
When it comes to content marketing, focus on creating fewer, better!

3. Use Content to Drive Action In Your Lead Generation Campaign

At this stage, you’ve locked your process in by creating a linear list of how you want people to move through the buyer’s journey. But here’s the key to making this strategy drive tangible results:

You need to keep asking the question, “And then what?” 

This can be tricky to visualize, so we’re going to give you a working example.

Career Coach Example

Let’s say you’re a career coach who specializes in helping people land managerial positions. Maybe you know that your target audience has a Google search history full of phrases like “How to climb the corporate ladder” or “How to get a higher-level job.”

In short, you can tell from the keywords that these people know they’re unhappy in their current positions. But they’re still exploring their options. So you write a few blog posts, and you post a YouTube video on the subject.

Taking Qualified Leads from Awareness to Consideration

After consuming your content, your warm leads will know that they can take on more responsibilities, create side hustles, or apply for jobs outside of their current organizations. In other words, they’re now aware of the solutions available to them. 

This is the part where you say, "And then what?"

In your initial blog post, you told your cold leads that they could hire a career coach, read a book, or take a course while investing in themselves. Technically, you could provide all three solutions. But if you’re deadset on turning this lead into a coaching client, you’ll want to create additional content that tells people why they need a career coach.

Perhaps a strategy session is needed because director-level positions are so competitive. Maybe you offer resume writing and recruitment agency introductions along with your coaching. Either way, you’ll want to keep asking the question, “And then what?” until the answer is, “This person becomes a client.”

4. Give Direct Instructions

Once people are past the awareness stage, you’ll want to make a point of putting your services in front of them. Perhaps you ask for an email address. Or maybe you sprinkle calls to action throughout your content.

The buyer’s journey gives you a framework for generating qualified leads on autopilot. But the only way to turn that initial interest into a steady sales pipeline of clients for your sales team is to tell them what you want them to do. 

STEP 4: List and Create Your Lead Gen Assets

At this point, you should have a pretty solid idea of where your lead generation process is going.

You know your target audience. You’ve put together a buyer journey. And now, you should have a list of actions you want your potential leads to take from the first touchpoint to the last.

Here’s the part where you start looking at logistics. Or, put another way, it’s time to create the assets you’ll be using to attract those new clients.

Lead Generation Assets Example

For instance, if you know that your awareness stage marketing involves SEO-optimized content, retargeting ads, and an email course, then your asset list might include the following:

  • Advertising pixel installations
  • 3 blog posts
  • An email sequence
  • A landing page (for lead capture)
What is a landing page?
What is a Landing Page?

If you’re planning to launch a YouTube channel, maybe that list includes video thumbnail images, graphics, and a script.

Once you’ve got your list together, the next step is simple. You just have to sit down and either create the assets or pay someone to make them for you. 

STEP 5: Finalize And Implement Your Lead Generation Tools (a.k.a. Your Tech Stack)

Marketing involves a lot of moving parts. And when you’re dealing with clients and preparing deliverables, it’s easy to forget about the marketing email you were planning to send last week.

In the past, people had to hire entire marketing and sales teams to stay on top of this stuff. Today? Some software solutions won’t just tell you when to follow up or send that email — they’ll do it all for you.

marketing automation basics for generating leads
Marketing Automation Basics

That’s right. With marketing automation, you’ll never miss an email or forget to do a follow-up call ever again. First, however, you’ll need to choose the right software for your business.

You’ll want to look for a tech solution capable of scaling with you. And you’ll also want to choose lead generation tools that are compatible with the workflows you already have where possible. When it comes to finding the perfect mix between flexibility, convenience, and results, we recommend our Keap service.

It’s a powerful solution that has helped many clients reach the next level.

What is Keap
What is Keap?

In Summary: The 5-Step Lead Generation Plan for Small Businesses

5 Step Lead Generation Plan

This Is How to Execute Lead Generation Strategies

At this stage, you’ve got the tech with some powerful lead generation tools. You’ve got your marketing assets. And everything, from your keyword-optimized YouTube videos to your email sequences, is locked, loaded, and ready to go.

Even so, your job here isn’t quite done. Here’s what you need to know about the post-launch aspects of your lead-generating efforts:

1. Assess Your Capacity

In an insightful article, Chron listed burnout and financial problems as two sources of stress for small business owners. As you test out your lead generation systems, you’ll be dealing with major changes within your business.

Small Business Owner Burnout
BEWARE: Small Business Owner Burnout!

You’ll have a lot more work on your plate. You may have to hire new people or deal with the implications of being in a new tax bracket. No matter how you approach your lead generation process, you’ll want to ensure that you’re leaning into your strengths while staying away from unsustainable marketing methods.

For instance, you might love the idea of SEO as a free lead-generating opportunity. But if writing a killer blog post is hard work for you, a YouTube tutorial or a stockpiled series of blog posts could be the right choice for your business instead.

You’re not at your best if online marketing is tiring you out. So you’ll want to evaluate where you are right now in terms of your personal and professional capacity. 

2. Set Performance Targets

Lead Generation Guide - Performance Targets

Have you worked with a client who had no idea what success would look like in their context?

As a small business owner, your idea of a successful lead generation campaign is probably one that puts qualified leads into your pipeline. But if every $10,000 client were costing you a million dollars to acquire, you’d likely struggle to keep your company afloat.

That’s why measures and targets are so important to have. 

You may want to set financial goals. This might look like spending $2 or less per lead. Or if you’re gaining one new client for every five strategy calls you take, maybe your goal is to book 20 calls a week. 

When all is said and done, you want to create actionable goals and quantifiable metrics — That way, you’ll know immediately if you need to make changes.

3. Always Revisit Your Assets

When that email sequence or blog post is doing well, treating your lead generation marketing like a set-it-and-forget-it affair can be tempting. But between audience fatigue and the fast-paced world of online marketing, you may need to refresh your content from time to time.

For instance, not providing valuable content is one of the most common customer acquisition mistakes that we see. However, many people haven’t realized that the definition of “valuable content” can change over time.

Back when the internet was new, and you didn’t want to overwhelm your business leads with information, short blog posts were informative enough to get the ball rolling for prospects. Now, in the 2020s and beyond, people are used to googling everything. As such, you need to bring your content A-game to generate leads.

As you learn new things and get a better sense of what your leads prefer, you may have to update that email course or revisit that old blog post. Don’t be afraid to make these changes. Your business will be better for it.

Generating Qualified Leads Doesn't Have to Be Complicated

Generating leads can be a simple process with a system and a set approach. But there’s no denying the fact that it’s a lot of work. If you’ve ever looked at your schedule and said, “I’d be fine if I could clone myself.”, there’s an easier way to get the results you need in a hurry. You can get in touch with us. We specialize in helping small business owners scale fastContact us to start growing your business today.
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