To generate leads through to on-going sales is the life blood of any small business around the world. The merging of information technology (IT) and marketing has made it harder for a small business to understand how they will generate leads in the future as the technology builds barriers to those who don’t, can’t or even won’t understand technology.
As you can’t touch, feel or see it there is a feeling in some areas of the small business community that you can ignore it. However, for those of us old enough to see fax machines, desktop computers and then the internet come in and fundamentally change the way we work then we know that this is not an option for continued success for the small business community to continue to generate leads.
The speed of change is increasingly. Adoption rates are quickening. You only have to look at the speed with which Google+ is taking off to realise that we are at the start of the next stage in the evolution in the Information Age (or is it revolution?).
So what does this mean to the small business community and how they generate leads? For many at this stage, probably not a lot. But as before there were at the start of the take up, there were some headline successes. The same is true today with the occasional small business experiencing substantial lead generation and subsequent sales on the back of it.
For the small business, the growth in social media means a huge shift in the way that the search engines work and how their small business web site will be perceived by the search engines. This is very important for many a small business as that is how their leads are currently generated.
The attached diagram shows the important part that the search engines play in whether a small business will continue to be found and therefore continue to generate leads.
So what actions should a small business take in order to exploit social media and to ensure that their web site will continue to be found and generate leads.
Social Media actions:
- Learn about key social media such as Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Flickr.
- Get set up on these key social media sites and starting linking with people you know.
- Learn the rules of what is acceptable and what is not.
- Ensure your website will allow you to update the content easily.
- Set up a Facebook company page and claim your unique small business company URL.
- For Google+ this is called a brand page, but at the time of writing this was not available but is due shortly.
- Set up a blog – I use WordPress which links in with Linkedin and is free and easy to use.
- Find a suitable Email Service Provider for sending out opt-in emails (I use Mailchimp).
- Add an opt-in email link to every page on your small business web site.
- If you have a customer relationship management system (CRM), see it if will link in with an email service provider so that you have a history of what you have sent to individual contacts.
- If you don’t a have a CRM system, you need to get one in order to ensure you manage the relationship with each and every one of your customers.
- Find somebody who understands how to optimise your writing so that you will be found or understand how to write copy for search engine optimisation. (Check out Wordle.net as this really helps you see how the search engines will see your article.)
- Each month write a new case study, news article, expert opinion or how to guide which you can put on your blog. Make sure you publish it to your Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Google+. (I use dlvr.it but WordPress does have its own built in system.) At the time of writing it is not possible to automatically link to Google+ but this facility is due shortly.
- Send a summary of your new blog entry to your opt-in mailing list so that you are keeping your name in front of your customers. (An email once a month is a timely reminder.)
When I talk to owners of a small business, they often say that they don’t have time to get to understand the technology. As I am old enough to remember the changes that previous disruptive technologies made to how to generate leads for a small business, all I can say is that is happening, it is happening faster than previously and it will change how prospective customers find solutions to their problems. Write down a list of actions with key 6 month objectives at the top and try to find 30 minutes each week to work through the actions. With social media and learning how to generate leads for your small business it is about taking one step at a time.