Pop quiz: how many different ways do you drive new leads to your business?
If you can only count ’em on one hand, it’s time to step things up!
Because when it comes to lead generation, your motto should be “the more, the merrier.”
The good news? You’ve got plenty of options these days.
Here’s our breakdown of 21 (yes, twenty-one) brilliant ways for local businesses to generate leads.
And while we don’t expect you to try them all (we won’t stop you, though!), each is fair game for just about any type of service business.
1. Lead Generation Starts with Your Website!
It’s no secret that most small business owners have websites.
The elephant in the room, though? Most small business sites don’t generate enough leads – not by a long shot.
Listen: In 2019, a business website that doesn’t generate new leads and new opportunities simply doesn’t cut the mustard.
Website visitors don’t just convert into paying customers because we want them to. Like everybody else, they need a little help to get where you need them to go.
Tools such as vCita’s online scheduling empower your online visitors to take action and book with you as soon as they land on-site. In just a matter of clicks, your leads can book the exact services they need before they have a chance to bounce elsewhere.
A friendly, interactive, online scheduling pop up grabs your visitors’ attention and sparks their curiosity. But much more than that, it transforms them from passive visitors into engaged shoppers who are now actively reviewing your services, rates, and your next available booking slot.
2. Referrals and Word-of-Mouth
According to recent consumer statistics, word-of-mouth is still one of the best ways to build buzz for your business.
And so the more folks you have talking about you, the better.
If you have satisfied customers, they need to be empowered to spread the word. That’s exactly why we have features baked into vCita such as automated client reviews.
Relax. If you’re using vCita, all incoming feedback from clients will only be visible to you and/or your team. No need to worry over a dissatisfied client’s feedback making the headlines!
However – and here comes the real fun – any client that gave you stellar feedback would automatically receive an email that sends them to your Facebook page and encourages them to share their review.
Our advice? No matter what tool or technology you use, find a way to put client reviews on autopilot. Don’t miss out on the power of positive reviews to steadily grow your client base.
3. Lead Generation Magnets and Special Offers
Email is by far the preferred method of contact for clients and consumers.
This signals the need for local business to get into your audience’s inboxes. There are a few ways to make this happen.
The first is through downloadable lead magnets (think: e-books, videos, webinars) that requires prospects to enter their email before they can access your content. This is a good way to start and grow a “captive audience” of people who are interested in what you have to say.
Once you have people on your email list, you can gradually warm them up to making a purchase by sending them more valuable content and, eventually, a targeted offer. If creating a gated content strategy feels right for your business, PageCloud’s epic beginners’ guide is all you’ll need to get started.
Your second (and no less powerful) option is to tap into the potential of the clients you already have. Sending coupons and special offers to your existing client base is the quickest, most cost-effective way to win new business from current and past clients. It’s pretty easy, too.
vCita is a great platform to get your feet wet with email marketing and couponing.
With no coding required, we make it a cinch to send targeted emails to your list to keep people engaged with your business on the regular.
4. Email Newsletters
Piggybacking on the last tip, a weekly or bi-weekly email newsletter is a great resource to keep your clients in the loop.
Newsletters serve as subtle “Ah-ha!” moment to remind folks to book with your service.
They’re also a way to drive first-time email subscribers to your list. Check out how parenting expert Susan Numan makes it happen.
Not sure about what to put in your own newsletter? Not a problem! Here are ten awesome newsletter ideas to help you get your first sale faster.
5. Business Cards and Signage
Local business owners shouldn’t neglect the power of physical media.
In a day and age where everything is digital, something as simple as a business card can make a lasting impression. This is especially true if you’re frequently attending in-person events or meeting clients face-to-face.
Many businesses encourage local service providers to leave their business cards on bulletin boards or community walls.
Making a business card that stands out is arguably easier than ever. Cost-effective services like Vistaprint can produce custom cards that won’t break the bank (but will catch the eyes of potential customers).
6. Facebook Page
Serving as the most popular social network by far, local businesses can’t afford not to be on Facebook.
In fact, many small business owners use Facebook as their second home beyond their website.
Allowing you to show off your services, post content and display client reviews, a Facebook Page can help introduce you to a wider, local audience.
But get this: Did you know you could turn your Facebook page into an active selling point?
By adding a “Book Now” button to your Facebook page you can have bookings coming directly from Facebook, without people ever having to leave your Facebook page. How about that?
7. Facebook Groups
It’s well-documented that Facebook’s organic reach has gone down for most local businesses. That’s why most small business owners aren’t seeing real return on investment from their Facebook pages.
As a result, more and more businesses are flocking to smaller, localized Groups to promote their services.
Whether it’s working with someone else’s community or building your own, Facebook Groups can be a goldmine of new business. People are always looking for tips and advice and nothing makes you more valuable (or popular) like putting yourself out there and sharing your collected wisdom with the community.
As they say, every community wants a hero. Here’s how to create a Facebook group that makes that dream come true.
Although Twitter may not be the powerhouse that Facebook or Instagram is, it’s still a staple social network for local businesses to answer questions and offer customer service.
As an added bonus, setting up your Twitter account is relatively straightforward. Setting up a profile can be done in a matter of minutes and doesn’t require much in terms of optimization or upkeep.
If nothing else, you can set up your profile to show up in local searches and drive more traffic to your website.
9. Social Media Ads
Chances are you’ve seen your fair share of Facebook ads for local businesses.
Running a social ad requires quite a bit of research and can be costly. However, it’s no accident that such ads are the bread and butter of so many local companies.
The beauty of Facebook ads is that you can hyper-target your ads to only serve people of a certain location or demographic.
Middle-aged women in the Chicago suburbs? Millennials interested in marketing in Milwaukee? To keep your budget in check, you can choose specific audiences to find folks who are likely to book with you.
For inspiration, you can check out some Facebook ad success stories from local and service-based businesses.
10. Search Engine Lead Generation Marketing
So many business relationships start with a Google search.
There’s no denying that SEO can be complicated. That said, the need to rank for keywords related to your business is universal. After all, whoever holds the top spot gets the majority of clicks by far.
Here’s an example of a search for “Chicago nutritionist.”
There are two simple steps you can take to help give your search rankings a much-needed boost.
The first is to make sure your business’ information is filled out on as many relevant third-party sites as you can manage. This includes Facebook, Google My Business and Yelp! (don’t worry, we’ll talk about some of these shortly).
Secondly, find creative but relevant ways to sprinkle keywords related through your business on-site. If you’re indeed a Chicago nutritionist, you need to let Google know by using the keyword direct and creating content relevant to your readers.
Nutritionist Renee Clerkin has a variety of blog posts related to her audience which undeniably contributes to her taking the top spot for the keyword “Chicago nutritionist.”
If you don’t have the time or resources to manage a full-time blog, we totally understand. However, the time it takes to craft a few keyword-targeted posts can be a valuable long-term investment for lead generation.
11. Attend Local Events
Anything that gets your business out in the “real world” is a plus.
No matter where you do business, your community is likely holding dozens of local events where you could make your presence known.
For example, have you ever thought about setting up a booth at a charity event? Sponsoring a local 5K race? People love it when they see businesses give back.
To get started, simply search Eventbrite based on the kind of events you’d be interested in attending or sponsoring.
Everyone loves a good deal, right? Perhaps that’s why consumers redeem coupons by the billions each and every year.
Many small businesses swear by discount sites like Groupon for scoring some much-needed exposure.
To keep from solely attracting bargain-hunters long-term, consider running a limited, one-off campaign for new customers to test the waters.
Video content is the most-shared and highly consumed across all the web.
And so any sort of commercial you have to show off your business in action is marketing gold.
Not only do people get to see your business work in the real world, but you immediately make yourself more visible than your competition. Literally.
As an added bonus, having content on YouTube can also help bolster your Google rankings for business-related keywords.
14. Third-Party Review Sites
Food for thought: 86% of people read reviews for local businesses before booking or making a purchase.
This again speaks to the value of having a strong word-of-mouth presence and asking for reviews. Additionally, having a presence on third-party review sites can help you monitor your online reputation while also driving new leads.
Yes, we know what you’re thinking: “I’m already listed on Yelp!”. But you’d be surprised to learn how many local businesses got their start from alternative, lesser-known, business review websites.
15. Google My Business
Getting listed on Google My Business is a must-do for securing your online reputation and getting more leads.
If you have an actual business address, an active and robust Google My Business profile makes you ten times more likely to pop-up in people’s search results.
The cherry on top? Google now lets people who are looking for local service providers in their area to book an appointment directly from your search results listing. This is what it looks like:
Now, this is a real game-changer. Think of the potential of hundreds of daily Google searches by people who live in your area, and are looking for a local service provider just like you. See why you have to set up your Google My Business profile? Check out this perfect little guide on how to get discovered and booked by Google users, right now.
16. Partner with Local Businesses
No business should ever be an island.
Creating a network of local business owners who can refer each other new clients can be a huge boost for your lead generation efforts.
If you haven’t put yourself out there much in the community, don’t sweat it. You can spot tons of local business meetups with the help of sites like Meetup.com.
17. Lead Capturing Widget
Not to be dramatic, but the contact form is dead.
As we said earlier, your site visitors need to be empowered to take action and book with you as soon as they land on your website. With a customer lead capturing widget, less of your traffic goes to waste as you catch the eyes of potential customers.
Fact: a shocking 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.
For solo businesses and professionals, having a LinkedIn presence is critical. There’s arguably no better place to highlight your authority and give potential clients a glimpse of your work history.
A big benefit of LinkedIn is that you don’t have to worry about upkeep much. For local professionals, simply having a profile and occasionally “liking” and commenting on posts is enough to make yourself visible.
Just make sure that your profile is totally filled out so you show up in local search and signal yourself as the top dog in your niche.
Instagram is the fastest-growing social network by far and deserves your attention if you’re a local business owner.
Despite popular belief, Instagram isn’t about lunchtime selfies and vacation snapshots anymore.
Many service business such as caterers, stylists, and even business consultants are capable of growing an organic following on Instagram.
If you can take a picture of your product or service, you can build an Instagram presence.
20. Host Your Own Event
We’ll keep saying it until we’re blue in the face: make face-to-face connections if you’re looking for new clients!
Putting together events among your existing clients and customers is a smart move. For example, you can promote a class or event to current clients and offer a discount or freebie if they bring a friend.
Don’t assume that you can’t handle the legwork of holding an event, either. vCita can help pick up the slack when it comes to organization and making your next event a can’t-miss affair.
21. Score Some Client Testimonials
Last but not least, social proof is an incredibly powerful marketing tool.
Think about how many businesses are out there competing for your local customers. If you have a proven track record, you immediately set yourself apart from the crowd.
That’s why dedicating parts of your website and social presence to client testimonials is such a good move. Putting your positive feedback front-and-center can give your leads some much-needed peace of mind.
Oh, and scoring those testimonials is easier than ever with automated client messaging with vCita!
Ready to Start Generating More Leads?
If you’re a local business, you have no shortage of options when it comes to generating leads.
Hopefully this list served as some much-needed motivation and inspiration to start getting more in your pipeline.
With the help of these tips and the features baked into vCita, you can start filling up your pipeline in no time!