If you are struggling to generate more leads on a limited budget, chances are you’re not using this effective, low-cost marketing technique. It’s an idea you can start using right away to boost response, and when set up properly, it can generate leads for you round the clock for months or even years to come.

Lead generation is as old as the hills yet many small businesses struggle with the concept and implementation. According to a recent ebook from Hubspot, only one in ten small business marketers think their lead generation campaigns are effective. There are two reasons for this difficulty.

1) The first is that they overlook an essential step in the mechanics of an effective lead generation system.

2) The second is that they overlook the most valuable resources for campaign content. It happens to be right under their noses.

“Lead generation” is defined as any method that attracts someone (a lead) to your business who has a need for your product or service. A prospective client learns about you through your website, advertising in various media or word of mouth. At this point they must see something so valuable and engaging that they reach out to contact you and thus become a lead.

Here is where many businesses struggle. Nearly all businesses have websites and advertising of some sort but they are often missing a compelling reason for the prospect to take action. And crafting an offer that is powerful enough to make someone surrender their contact information seems to intimidate many small business marketers into not trying at all. That’s a mistake but there is an easy fix.

The mechanism for successful lead generation is a simple one. You create an offer or piece of content that is useful to your prospect. They must then supply their contact info in exchange for the content or other item of value.

Typically the call to action is in an ad or on a homepage and it drives readers to a landing page on the site, where information is collected. But it’s not limited to this media. A call to action can be a coupon that brings people to your store. It can be a phone number to call to receive a free consultation, a free printed report or an educational DVD in the mail. The important thing is to motivate them at that initial moment of contact with your site or your ad, to take an action that puts them in contact with you.

If you are missing either content, or a call to action, or a method of contact, then your lead generation system has a missing link. Lead response will suffer.

In my experience I’ve found that many small business owners and managers hesitate most in the creation of content. “It’s too much work.” “It’s too hard.” “I don’t have time.”

The truth is they already have a vast store of lead generation wealth at their fingertips. The very fact they’re in business means people find value in what they have to offer as well as in the way they do business. You and everyone else involved in an ongoing business concern has an expertise that no one else has. You’re different so why not show the world!

Here are six tips for drawing on your uniqueness in order to create irresistible lead generation offers. Once you read the list you’ll see that it’s not hard, it’s not a lot of work and it doesn’t take much time.

1) Answer questions that clients ask.
This is probably the easiest one to start with since you are already answering them every day. Now we’re just going to write them down.

There are many questions your clients want answered before they decide to do business with you. Make a list of these questions and answer them in a report. Or answer one question at a time or group them into a series of reports that make sense for your product or service. Add a clever title and now you have a compelling piece of content such as “Why Choosing the Wrong Paper for Your Self-Mailer Can Cost You Thousands.”

2) Answer questions that clients should ask.
Here’s where your expertise comes in to play. There are probably things you tell your clients because it helps them purchase the most suitable product. You know that they don’t know to ask the questions. It’s part of your educational process. So answer these questions in a free report such as “10 Questions You Should Ask Before Printing Your Next Catalog.”

3) Create a checklist.
Make a checklist that your clients will find useful in their life. A letterpress shop specializing in greeting cards and invitations could offer “Checklist for Brides: 50 Last-Minute Items a Newlywed Shouldn’t Forget.”

4) Create a tip sheet.
Make a list of tips about subjects that appeal specifically to your clients. For example, we know you’re interested in marketing and lead generation so you’d probably be interested in a book titled “The 30 Greatest Lead Generation Tips, Tricks & Ideas.” (This is, by the way, a perfect example of an online lead generation mechanism at work. The original landing page is here. It has a great offer, a call to action, and a web form to collect appropriate information. It’s an excellent reference well worth downloading.)

5) Create a fact sheet.
For example, “7 Ways Direct Mail Outperforms Social Media in Marketing Medical Practices” or “10 Facts About Marketing Your Contracting Business in New Jersey That Could Get You in Trouble.” I just made these up but you get the idea. A list of facts that are important to your ideal client makes for compelling content.

6) Create a How-To report.
You’ve spent enough time in your business to have accumulated vast stores of knowledge. Think about all those things you can share that will help your customers. In some way they will be related to your product. Write a simple one or two-page report.

As you see, such pieces are relatively easy to compile and are typically evergreen. In other words, you’ll always be able to use them. They might need periodic updating but the core value, the draw for your ideal client, will never fade.

Create as many of these pieces as you like. Test different versions. Create variations for each type of client you wish to attract since each will have different interests and needs.

The key thing to remember is that whatever it is you’re offering should have real value. You can’t fake that. It should not be a blatant advertisement but rather a first step in establishing trust with a prospective client.

So, you’ve got the content at your fingertips, you know the steps. If you’re not using a lead generation system, now is the time to get started!

If you want more ideas for generating content, then check out this book by a colleague of mine. Bob Bly’s 17 Hidden Secrets of Business Success. When you get it here you also get 4 additional ebooks including Secrets of Successful Busines-to-Business Marketing, and more. Find out more here.

As always we welcome your stories, comments and suggestions below!

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Andre Palko Owner
Andre Palko is founder of the Small Business Rainmaker™ and its free weekly e-newsletter. He is dedicated to delivering award-winning marketing and content that helps business owners thrive in any economy.