Small Business Lead Generation - Why Online Is In!

More and more people are avoiding yellow pages and directory inquiries and going directly on the internet to search for whatever they need. This presents a never-before opportunity for small business lead generation, with an exponentially high number of organizations understanding the need for taking their business to the next level by giving it the right kind of exposure online.

Essentially, there are two kinds of routes that businesses can take for small business lead generation to be successful. The first among these is via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is essentially a long term objective to ensure sustainable growth in traffic. Irrespective of the stature and reputation of an organization, if the SEO activity is not done properly, it can take years to be featured among the top searches on popular search engines. And even if it's done properly and aggressively, it takes at least a couple of months for the efforts to bear fruit. Sure, there are certain tricks that one can use to get better results, but they can only go so far. Businesses also have a great opportunity in the form of submission directories, which also help quite significantly in search engine optimization at virtually no cost.

Another great alternative for sound small business lead generation is pay per click advertising, which is also known as PPC. This is more of an 'instant result' kind of proposition, which gives results on the spot! However, the costs incurred for this activity are also significantly high. Many advocates of its long term gains state that once a website is popular, traffic flows in automatically. However, there are many arguments regarding this theory.

In the end, it's up to the business as to which route it wishes to take to achieve the desired objective. However, going online is definitely the only route to succeed in today's times.

However, just because qualifying the call is a very important aspect of the process does not mean that one should jump directly into it. It's essential to understand the stage at which one should attempt the same. Ideally, the first stage of a sales call is about introducing oneself and talking about the product. Once that has been taken care of, the salesperson needs to begin probing the prospect, with regards to checking how much interest has been generated. The introduction stage during small business lead generation is essentially all about telling the other person why the call was made, and it is very important that the prospect is made to feel that he/she was handpicked from a list simply because the product or service being offered caters to his/her needs.

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Small Business Marketing Ideas for Budding Entrepreneurs

The Internet is a great venue for small business marketing ideas. If you are looking for effective marketing strategies, you are in the right place. A budding entrepreneur like you should embrace online marketing because it offers a lot of opportunities offline advertising will not. For one, you do not have to spend big for these ideas. But you will earn big, not just money per se, but credibility for you as a businessman and authenticity for the business.

First, you can try content marketing. Especially if you have an online business, this type of marketing is not a waste of time. You will basically provide the content of your products through articles and publish them on a lot of sites that cater to this. Potentials clients can read these and take notice of you immediately. Of course, you need well-written articles for your marketing to be effective.

Another strategy to try is adhering to your clients' reviews and making this known to other people. This strategy is actually based on the universal "word of mouth" that has always helped promote businesses. By showing the reviews, you also can let other possible clients know what results they could experience from your business. Positive feedback's are what you should aim for always. Be sure to address any client concerns so that you have only good news to share.

The power of social networking is a great means of marketing your small business. A budding entrepreneur like you should always bear in mind that you need to introduce yourself and the business by all means available. You have free sites such as Facebook and Twitter. So why not post updates and information about your products?

On Linked In, another free social media site, you may also join groups interested in your industry. This can be fellow professionals that share advice, but it can also include groups that you think would be interested in your services, allowing you to post informative articles and draw new clients to your website. Be sure to present the business in a professional and approachable way.

Advertising is one crucial part of having a business. People have accepted the costs and risks of advertising in newspapers or on television, but they tend to hesitate to make the same commitment to online marketing. There are plenty of free small business marketing ideas, but you must remain consistent in your promotion - and willing to invest in that effort with your time or by hiring a virtual assistant - to make it effective.

With an Internet presence, you have the power to do business while you sleep. Your business is open 24 hours a day. Without a website, you are missing out on a lot of exposure. Affordable Web Design and Internet Marketing for Small Business

Essential Tools For Marketing Your Small Business

Growing and maintaining a small business is not easy. It takes stamina, patience and perseverance to keep the doors open every day. It also takes money and marketing to succeed at getting your message to the right prospects. Small business owners need to pay close attention to the message they convey and how it is perceived by their target audience in order to their promotional budget.

Knowing what works and what doesn't in the arena of promotional advertising and marketing is one of the most common problems business owners face. When you are working with limited resources it is extremely difficult to apportion time and money to every new idea that comes around. This is one reason why Internet marketing has still eluded a lot of local companies. They often don't know what to do and where to best allocate resources.

Trying to keep up with the various trends that seem to pop up on a regular basis takes a lot of work and no small business owner has the time keep up when they must also wear 100 other hats in their industry. What I found is that the basic principles of marketing still holds true even in the digital age regardless of the type of product or service being offered there are still fundamental applications that fit even the most cutting-edge marketing model. I have distilled the processes down to a basic set of tools that any business owner can use to succeed at generating leads.

There are marketing 18 tools that are vital to the health and growth of a small business in today's competitive world. There is no doubt that technology has made life easier for small business operation but it is also made it more frustrating. But the essence of marketing is still finding and influencing the people who have a need for what you are selling. You can use any of these 18 tools in a variety of configurations based on your budget or unique requirements.

1. A Company Website
2. A Separate Blog
3. Affiliate Or Referral Program
4. Customer Retention Program
5. Direct Mail
6. E-Mail Marketing
7. Google Maps
8. Internet Advertising
9. Monthly Articles
10. Monthly Newsletters
11. Online Videos Channel
12. Podcast Channel
13. Print Ads
14. Radio and Television Advertising
15. Regular Press Releases
16. Search Engine Marketing
17. Social Media Interaction
18. Telemarketing

These tools offer your business a fighting chance at staying ahead of the competition and can also dramatically improve your bottom line. I wouldn't necessarily stress one particular tool over another because they all have their pluses and minuses when it comes to effectiveness based on particular markets. It isn't necessary to utilize all the tools every month; that may be impractical for many small businesses.

If you are just starting to pay attention to marketing, choose a collection of tools that can easily be tracked to gauge their performance. For example establish a company website and a separate blog. Use e-mail marketing and direct mail to promote your company. Establish a customer retention program and affiliate or referral program using your e-mail marketing campaign and direct mail campaign to generate interest.

Craft your message and stick to it. Conduct market research and establish a series of keywords that can be used throughout your promotional campaign both on the web and off-line. Keep your message consistent with the keywords in order to generate a solid message to a target audience.

Promote your message through a variety of media sources for example articles and video or develop a podcast series dealing with the specific topics surrounding your message. Get the word out through social networks and your blog and drive traffic and search engine marketing techniques.

Sketch out your entire campaign on the calendar in order to simplify the entire process. This also allows you to identify your milestones and help in tracking your progress. Marketing should never be an afterthought in your business. Delivering your message and converting prospects to customers is essential for generating consistent profits.

You can find more information on generating leads at my blog. Get FREE online coaching at

Overcoming Small Business Problems

As a business owner you may often struggle with overcoming small business problems, you are not the first and you won't be the last. It's been our experience that most business owners think the "guy down the street" is somehow having an easier time running their business. The truth of the matter is that all business are challenged with trying to overcome small business problems. The difference between those who struggle with these problems and those business owners that don't is that those who struggle often let their small business problems build up and never deal with them.

So, what are the main problems that exist in small business?

- Not enough sales

- Not enough cash

- Trouble managing employees

- Not knowing what to do next or what direction to go in

The list of problems in business can seem endless, but it's not that the list is endless; it's that we too often allow our business problems to stack up and only really acknowledge their existence when they are at crisis point and often we never really deal with them and they therefore keep coming back. So the secret is to prioritise and deal with these challenges as they come along.

Let's take the small business problem of not having enough sales. The problem with not having enough sales is that in our experience it never "just happens overnight". Lack of sales in a business is almost always a gradual development that has not been dealt with over a long period of time and usually the owner has put the decline in sales to seasonal issues or market forces. While both can be true, the owners' conclusion is often not based on any facts it's often based on some gut-feeling.

Similarly, not having enough cash in your business is usually a symptom of not managing your expenses or not having a process in place to manage customers who owe you money, and is usually only stumbled upon when the bank account is empty.

The secret to overcoming small business problems is to start by acknowledging their existence in your business. Not to do so only prolongs the time where they come to crisis point and are usually very difficult to deal with at that time. As a small business owner if you were to do nothing else but face these problems as they arise then you will have made a significant step forward with your business.

Once you have acknowledged their existence you then need to deal with them. You may need to seek business advice from a friend or trusted fellow business owner. There is no shame is asking for business help, and the sooner you do, often the quicker the problem gets addressed and ultimately solved.

Marketing Plan

Marketing Plan: Why All Small Businesses Need A Solid Plan!

Good plans shape good decisions. That's why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true."Lester R. Bittel

Recently, I offered a marketing plan review as a door prize for a local business group. When I approached the winner to exchange information, she whispered that she didn't have a written one; she had it stored in her head. She then asked it a marketing plan was even necessary.

Should Your Small Business Have A Marketing Plan?

Absolutely! In fact, as a small business consultant, I've encountered numerous clients who repeatedly make the same mistake... failing to have a plan 'business or marketing' in place.

In a recent survey, I asked 200 respondents, 'of the many issues facing their businesses, what common road blocks hindered their business growth.' An overwhelming 32% said 'No Marketing Plan' was a potential reason for lack of sales and growth.

Why Marketing Plan?

Well, a marketing plan is a road map that details a route you should take to successfully promote and expand your business. It is critical to the success of a business, in fact, to all businesses! If a small business wants to achieve its potential, a marketing plan must be implemented!

Marketing is more than just ordering business cards or creating a flyer, it's how you communicate with your current and potential clients. It is important to get your name out in the business community and differentiate your products and services from that of your competitor. If you don't market your products or services, how will people know that you are a serious business owner or worse, in business? With a marketing plan, you will have a game plan in place.

A marketing plan is an integral and valuable tool for determining success of your business and the overall direction that your product or service should be taking. It should:

    Clarify the impact and results of past marketing decisions.
    Elucidate the external market that a company is competing.
    Include deadlines for meeting those targets.
    Prepare a budget for all marketing activities.
    Set objectives and provide path for future marketing efforts.
    Require accountability and measures for all activities.

6 Key Components of a Marketing Plan

Market Research

Gather information about your target market to include competition, business and industry environment.

When researching, answer the following questions:

    Who are your customers?
    What do they want or need?
    What is important to them?
    Who are your competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
    What is your businesses environment, locally, regionally, and nationally?
    Is your industry doing well?

Target Market

Potential customers who have issues that or problems which your products or services can fulfill. Generally, people in this segment possess common characteristics and a relatively high tendency to purchase a particular product or service. Included in a target market are demographic, geographic and psychographic characteristics.

Executive Summary

A brief summary which includes the main points of the plan; generally shared with people you approach with your plan, such as investors or lenders who may want to read a synthesized version to determine if they are interested in it before taking the time to read it in depth.

Situation Analysis

The evaluation of operations to determine the reasons for the gap between what was or is expected, and what has happened or will happen.

SWOT Analysis

A formal outline to identify and frame a company's' growth opportunities; SWOT is an acronym for an organization's internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats.

Marketing Strategy

A process that allows a company's to concentrate its limited resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.


Estimates tied to specific allocation of revenues. A budget is required to have a successful marketing plan.

    Yearly marketing budget
    Expected return after investment
    Breakdown of expected expenditures

In conclusion, as you can see, a marketing plan serves as your roadmap. It is critical for the success of your business. If writing a marketing plan seems a little intimidating, click here for FREE tools to help you.

Sylvia Browder is a small business consultant, trainer and author. She is founder of National Association Women on the Rise, a virtual community for aspiring and established women entrepreneurs. For the past 6 years, she has worked as Project Director of the Women's Business Center; and served as an online volunteer SCORE counselor since 2004. For FREE weekly articles go to Sylvia Browder's Blog for Women Entrepreneurs,