This is the first of a three part series discussing lead generation.  Lead generation is the key to growing your business—more leads generated mean more leads converted, which means more business and more money in your pocket.  The first step to generating more leads is to stop settling for the status quo.  

How do you generate your leads?  There is no right or wrong answer—the important thing is that you have an answer.  For some businesses, direct mail or radio works well.  For others, marketing partnerships are effective.  In many cases, an online advertising campaign combined with an effective website provides results.

However, a mistake that too many business owners make is to stop experimenting with lead generation as soon as they find a system that seems to work.  Because they are satisfied with their current system, many business owners don’t even try approaches that have the potential to yield a much higher ROI.

So take a moment to think about your lead generation strategy.  Have you experimented with different approaches?  Below are some ideas that are typically cost effective and have worked well for many of my clients:

Targeted direct mailing. Note that this approach requires that you identify each recipient as a target customer before putting him or her on the list, otherwise the campaign becomes far less cost-effective.

Networking.  Networking requires a time investment more than anything else, and can be a tremendous source of new business.  People do business with those that they trust, and networking allows you to establish this trust.

Email marketing.  Email marketing is far less expensive than traditional direct mail marketing, and can be very effective for some businesses.

Speaking opportunities.  While the idea of public speaking makes many people nervous, speaking on your area of expertise is a great way to build your credibility and exposure.

Online Advertising. Programs such as Google AdWords are user friendly and require a minimal financial commitment to begin.  Combined with an effective website, this type of advertising can provide consistent results.

This is far from an exhaustive list, but the point is simply to get your wheels turning.  What could you do to generate more leads?  Create a list of 4-5 possible strategies and begin experimenting.  It’s critical that you track the expense and the results of each system in order to calculate an ROI.  Over time, you will identify a variety of lead generation strategies that work for your business.  Once you have identified these mechanisms, systemize them.  Increased lead generation allows your business to grow, and it all starts with identifying systems that work.