Clients we’ve worked with for years are asking questions about how to re-boot their marketing in today’s environment.  This is being written on September 1, 2020, 6 months into the weird and strange times of the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m hoping the information in this small business marketing blog will be useful to many small business and in the future, whenever a small business owner/manager, feels the need to rejuvenate and inject new life into their marketing.

This week’s question:

What mix of marketing will help me generate leads online?

Without face-to-face meetings, trade shows and networking events, small businesses that rely on referrals are struggling with how to increase new opportunities.

Tip 1.  Think Connect vs. Sell

Although you want leads, the direct approach will not be the most effective.  Switch your goal to making a connection. Using your marketing outreach to demonstrate your business’ value to your specific customer base and you’ll find the road smoother.

Tip 2. Put Yourself in Your Audience’s Place

What problems are they having right now?  What will help them solve their problems.  What is unique about your customers / clients?  Where are your customers / clients spending time right now?

Make sure you have a clear definition of your customer/client base. Write it down and refer back to it frequently. For more on marketing and branding strategy view this page >>.

  1. What demographics make up your customer /client base?
  2. Where do they live?
  3. Where do they hang out online?
  4. How do they look for products /services in your niche?
  5. Who do they listen to when making decisions relative to your niche?

The answers to these questions determine which marketing strategies and tools will be viable and which will not generate results.

Tip 3. All Online Outreach Revolves Around Your Website – So Make Sure it’s Right

There are 10 general categories of digital marketing channels that generate leads.  Since we are focused on making connections without face-to-face meetings, we are discuss tools which can be utilized online.
All 10 are centered around your website.  Having a website that effectively communicates your value is the most important starting point.  We are assuming your messaging clear and compelling and the design is modern, attractive and gives a good first impression.
The website is the center of online content campaign.

Each of the 10 marketing tools will be more or less effective for your small business depending on your ideal customer and their habits. All of the tools will increase search engine ranking and thus increase website visits from search engines. We are not covering paid advertising, only organic content used to generate connections. All of these can be useful in connect with an online advertising campaign.

  1. Webinars / Online events – Use this if you have good content available, someone on staff that can produce these and if you have ready access to a large mailing list of invitees.  Additionally, you can partner with a
  2. Case Studies and Reports – Focus on this if you need to present proof of experience and if you have a business where the customers don’t mind publicly endorsing your product/service.
  3. Blogs – This can be a time-consuming commitment but if you have some staff that are interested in becoming known in the industry or the budget to hire a specialist, this is extremely effective when entering new markets or just getting your name our.
  4. Email marketing / Newsletters – If you have a blog then your email marketing can use that information and push it out to your list of past clients, current and prospects who have signed up on your site.
  5. Video – This is extremely effective if you either have a very visual product/service or if you would benefit from having your personality associated with the business.  Video has become very popular is only going to continue to grow in importance for search engines.
  6. Landing pages – These are effective for driving online advertising visitors to download important information (see below white paper etc) and also if you have a lot of services on your site, a landing page can focus on one industry or service in depth.
  7. Infographics – If the results you provide your customers / clients can be expressed in a visual way, infographics can be very effective. Additionally if you need to quickly communicate and reach your audience these are effective. They can be a complex online infographic – see this example, or a simple one-subject social media post (see below)
  8. White papers – If you have someone in your company that is a good writer, lots of great information and a complex subject matter, this will be your go to tool.  Visitors will happily provide you with their email in exchange for a download of your proprietary and useful information. You’ll be able to re-market to them using your email newsletter and make a lasting connection.
  9. Social Media – Knowing where your audience is looking is the key to making social media work for your lead generation program. Is it LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest …? Find your audience and find new leads.  It is important to note that most social media today needs a paid advertising component.
  10. News Releases – If you have a constant flow of new products, services, awards or newsworthy accomplishments, this will be the tool for you.

Although there is no guarantee in marketing, selecting the right mix of tools will put you a step ahead.  Our last and most important tip for small businesses is:  use your content in a multitude of tools, slicing it in different ways without having to recreate new content as frequently, you’ll get more for your money.

Please note this is written mostly for the a small business market which includes firms that generate $3 – $35 million in revenue. If you are smaller than that, you are probably a micro business and have an additional set of issues related to staffing, time and money but these suggestions may still be useful to you.

About the Author:

We decided to write this blog to be of service to the many small businesses needing help today. We develop marketing strategy, implement campaigns and lead generation programs for small business in a variety of fields including manufacturing, construction and real estate, nonprofits, government special districts and member associations, and professional service firms

Hi, I’m a principal in Placemaking Group, and I’ve run and managed small businesses for over 25 years. I have worked with small business clients helping them to adapt marketing strategies pioneered by larger companies to their specific small business needs.

This small business marketing blog explores ways you can use today’s web technology to be successful. The Placemaking Group team of professions, working together, are a complete marketing department for small businesses.  We look for ways to maximize your marketing budget and help to create operational systems using web technology that have a positive affect on your top-line and bottomline.

If you have a question you’d like to see answered here, please email me  and we’ll throw it in the mix.  Thanks for checking in.

Barbara Irias, principal, customer experience and marketing strategy.  Connect with me on LinkedIn.