Surefire Ways to Generate Leads

2010 | Feb 24 in Home Page News , Marketing

By E-Myth Business Coach,

Almost every business owner wants more leads for their business. In fact, for many owners the need for a constant inflow of qualified leads often dominates their thinking. There are, however, many challenges to ensuring and maintaining that supply. And, in addition to the needs of today, growth objectives and profit goals will require increased revenue which must come from increased sales—which means more leads. So are there really “sure-fire” methods of lead generation? And, if so, what are they?

Start With Your Plan

Truly successful lead generation must always be an integrated part of your marketing strategy. And this rests on having a comprehensive plan that takes into account the demographics and psychographics of your target market, as well as your positioning—the perception of your business and your product/services held by that target market. In other words, your lead generation efforts must be guided by who it is you are ideally trying to attract to your business and what it is you’re promising them.

A mistake many business owners make with lead generation activities is to simply try different things with no real thought about who their ideal customers are, where they are, and how to best reach them. Random acts of lead generation produce random results—and a very questionable ROI.

Assuming you have effectively put together a strategic marketing plan and you know your ideal target market customer, what can you do right now to generate some solid, qualified leads?

Auto detailing shop business owner

5 Ways to Get Them to Bite

Here are some tried-and-true methods for getting good leads quickly:

  • Team up: Many businesses can find ways to share resources with other non-competing businesses that targets similar customers. One of our clients who specialize in dent removal teamed up with an auto detailing facility to exchange customer lists and trade discount coupons to promote each other’s services. Clients who had a dent removed from their car received a coupon for detailing and the detailer did the same for our client. Not only did each of them enlarge their potential customer database by sharing information, they also opened the doors for co-branding opportunities, to boot!
  • Referrals: Time, experience and much research has concluded that nothing brings a qualified lead to your door better than the recommendation of a friend or colleague. Having a structured and intentional system, or program, in place to elicit referrals is not only a sure-fire way to generate qualified leads, but it is highly cost-effective as well. 
  • Word-of-Mouth: According to Wikipedia, word-of-mouth marketing “encompasses a variety of subcategories, including buzz, blog, viral, grassroots, cause influencers and social media marketing.” People tend to act on what they hear in this way because of the added layer of integrity perceived in it. In other words, getting people to talk about your company, your products or services, who you are and what you do, is an effective means of moving people to come to your business. We often say that your best salespeople are satisfied customers.
  • Give it away: Give your product or service for free on a limited or one-time basis. This is especially effective if you’re a restaurant, a spa, or any service-oriented business. Make it a random weekday for just one hour, for example. The restaurant chain Macaroni Grill did this when they first opened with the idea of building mid-week traffic and it was incredibly effective. The old saying that “samples sell” holds a great deal of truth. And lead potential!
  • Surprise them: Never underestimate the power of surprise, of the unexpected. Reach out and “touch base” with your pool of past or current customers, but do something spontaneous or out of the ordinary when contacting them. If you can find ways to surprise and delight current or past customers you can then leverage the power of that moment to generate a new sale. Although you may not always think of them as potential leads, these folks are almost always a great source of qualified leads and can be a far more cost-effective source. The added bonus is that your lead conversion, or sales process is often shorter and easier with repeat business.

Where There’s a Way There’s a Lead

The real key to generating more leads is how well you know your most probable customers—your target market. This is why making lead generation a systemic part of your marketing is so important. However, even though continual research and quantification of data on your target market is essential, it’s also critical to avoid getting stalled by too much analysis and not enough action! It was the American General and military strategist George S. Patton, who said: “A good plan, violently executed today, is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” A good strategy supported by some effective tactics will result in the leads you need.

Share Your Story

What lead generation activities do you rely on? What's worked for you in the past? Post a comment and tell us about it.

Further Reading

Advertising is Not Marketing
Tips to Drum Up Sales Now
Stop, Ask and Listen: Exploring the Links between Marketing and Client Fulfillment


  1. .brian f. says:

    I know this will come off as a sales pitch, but I don't mean it to be. My Printer got me into Send Out Cards which is a company based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. I can do tangible cards online in a matter of minutes and then SOC will print them, stuff them, stamp them, and then send them out in a real envelope. I never have to touch them and I can do a card now and have it sent out up to 4 years later. The cards cost less than $2 and $.44 in postage. I can also send gift baskets and gift cards like AMEX or Barnes and Nobles with the card. I have a kitchen and bath business and I take quite a few digital before and after shots of my work. I then do a card with the customers photos in it and have it sent to show appreciation. I have also gone to my previous customers from the last 20 years and have been sending cards to thank them for hiring us. The cards cost me $.93 plus $.44 in postage and I have had a 15% growth in my business from old customers. I also send a card with a $50 AMEX gift card to customers who give me referrals that lead to jobs. If anyone wants info on this product goto www.sendoutcards.com/brianfitzgerald

    Submitted Feb 24, 2010 11:03 AM

  2. .Christopher G. says:

    The best approach is to identify your target market and lead channels and then hit them with all you got. Email marketing, targeted mailings and the list above identified by the E-Myth coach.  Take advantage of the technologies that are available (Facebook, Linkedin, etc) instead of wasting precious time at intruction meetings, association meetings, etc. I like to provide Case Studies, White Papers demonstrating competance in a specific area. Show your market that you know what to do and how you can help them. Get the potential client/customer to take a call to action.  This way you will get a good lead generation list created with folks who truly have an interest in the product or service you provide. Thats my two cents, go get em!

    Submitted Feb 24, 2010 11:28 AM

  3. .Keith L. says:

    These are excellent ideas!  I especially like the idea of teaming up with non-competing and complimentary businesses.  We have to do more of that.

    I also like the giving it away for a limited time idea.  I'll have to put some more thought into how we test that concept on our Twitter and Facebook followers.  Hmmmmm....

    Keith Larochelle, CFO


    Submitted Feb 24, 2010 12:10 PM

  4. .Bradley W. says:

    Since when is "Word of Mouth" a way to generate leads?  Give it away?  Surprise them?  This article is worthless!

    With all of the fantastic ways to reach customers out there this article could have been so much more that platitudes.  Highly disappointing.  To get leads, do the following:

    1) Define your customer - Figure out who you want to target.  Are they families?  High income?  Bulk buyers?  etc.

    2) Study your customer - Conduct research to find out what they are looking for, what they respond to, how they are emotionally connected to your business.

    3) Target your customer - Use tightly-targeted marketing methods to reach your target customer where they are.  Much of the time this will be internal marketing to existing customers.

    4) Convert leads to sales and go deep in the relationship.

    Most business owners neglect to identify and study their customers so it is impossible for them to target their customers.  As a result stupid advice like "word of mouth" seems like a decent idea because it's free.  Make a plan, execute your plan, and stop waiting around for leads to jump after you based on referrals and word of mouth.

    Submitted Feb 24, 2010 12:11 PM

  5. .Keith L. says:

    I think you missed the point of the article Bradley.  The section titled Start With A Plan talks about what you said was missing.  The suggestions made were simply that - suggestions on where/how to engage the target customer.

    Not sure why you attacked word of mouth as part of a marketing strategy.  Word of mouth boils down to customer service and creating happy customers.  Fostering repeat business by doing a good job the 1st time is absolutly a part of lead generation.

    My 2 cents...

    Keith Larochelle, CFO


    Submitted Feb 24, 2010 1:14 PM

  6. .heidi m. says:

    Okay, @Bradley, so I have done the preliminary work and I know my target demographic, then what are the (step #3) "tightly-targeted marketing methods" I can use? No existing customers since they are new. And #4, "go deep" means what specific action steps?

    Complementary businesses would be great for us.

    @brian f thanks for the card idea and link; sounds like a "Surprise them" strategy that I will use to thank a customer for their purchase, or just general holiday greetings.

    We have a high end product, so I thought about an e-mail blitz to friends and family for 5% off coupon to them and anyone they know in this first year of our business. For a $3K product, that's $150 savings.

    Submitted Feb 25, 2010 9:26 PM

  7. .Jill F. says:

    Being the owners of a fairly new business I found the article was really helpful.

    Of course no one relies soley on  "Word of Mouth" alone and waits around for that to work.  However, it has to be up there as one of the best forms of advertising especially in smaller communities. Word of mouth can make or break a business.

    I would accept the recommendation of someone I respect before I would simply buy from an ad or a gimmick.  In fact, whenever I am  looking to buy a reasonably high dollar value item or looking for a tradesman I always ask around for recommendations based on other peoples experiences.  So far over 25% of our work has come from recommendations - that cant be bad. 

    Submitted Feb 26, 2010 1:15 AM

  8. .brian f. says:

    I also use social/business networking like BNI. It's not the end all, be all, but it works nicely as a word of mouth tool. We have 40 people in our group and it's nice to get an actual qualified lead from a co-member, a lead who actually asked for my particular service.

    Submitted Feb 26, 2010 12:36 PM

  9. .Vi W. says:

    From a lead generation standpoint, I have to agree that working with related complementary businesses is a very effective strategy for growing your customer base.

    And, there is nothing like giving customers a gift of some sort to make them more likely to spread the word about your business.

    Whether your customers are businesses or consumers, these are good strategic suggestions.

    Thanks again for useful business information.

    Vi Wickam


    Submitted Feb 28, 2010 3:05 PM

  10. .Leslie H. says:

    Target your leads.  Defining your customers is so important, conversion rates and ROI will be much higher if you can put some thought into who your customers really are, where they are, what they spend money on, and how you can appeal to them. 

    Leslie Handmaker


    Submitted Mar 5, 2010 2:21 PM

  11. .shadrack i. says:

    Yes , i find it less costly to get new customers through the already existing ones ,by word of mouth and sure referals that end up in continuous repeat business!

    Submitted Mar 9, 2010 6:10 AM

  12. .Rick O. says:

    The card guy thing is a joke - bush league 

    Submitted Dec 15, 2010 12:07 PM

  13. .D C. says:

    Good stuff, I also have a blog that address that title of this video called "Marketing Marathon: Why Should You Sign Up"  you can check it out here: http://danielsartofmarketing.blogspot.com/2012/02/marketing-marathon-why-you-should-sign.html

    Submitted Apr 7, 2012 5:59 AM

+1 541.552.4600
United States