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Categories of customers and users arrayed on a colored wheel, representing lead generation tactics to grow your customer base

Lead Generation Strategy Basics for Small Businesses

When it comes to expanding your business, sales professionals will tell you it begins and ends with one thing: leads.

It’s what drives your revenue. Who can I talk to? How can I find people who want to hear from? Without leads, sales run dry.

The impact of technology on lead generation has been as transformative as it has been complex. We have plenty of data, tactics for visibility, and more. But too often, lead generation gets framed as a chore or output instead of being approached as a strategic initiative.

Want more sales? Get more leads. Need more leads? Keep reading.

Wait – What is a Lead Generation Strategy?

In marketing, lead generation is the process of making a list of potential, qualified buyers (aka leads) who show interest in your product or service. It serves as the first step of the sales cycle, identifying prospects who may be interested in your offer.

There are two main approaches to building your customer base:

  • Buy a list of leads.
  • Build a list of leads yourself.

The problem with buying leads is that it puts the organization at risk. Unsolicited emails may be flagged for spam. It may also result in you getting “blacklisted.” This means your organization has been designated as a likely distributor of spam, and your communications may not get delivered properly.

Once a domain email is blocked from a server, it’s a major headache to unravel. Yes, it can still be removed from the blacklist, but you’ll most likely have to pick up a phone and speak to your email’s hosting company to do so. It can be a monumental waste of time, and even money.

A better lead generation strategy is to build it organically. The marketer’s job is to begin with the end goal in mind and design a system for that specific goal. Building an audience or email list is the most common approach. Most successful digital marketers have used this lead generation strategy to build their own subscriber lists, then sell products or courses.

Lead Generation Strategy Basics

Building a database of quality leads is akin to building a house in one important way: you need a plan.

Just like a blueprint, developing a lead generation strategy will aid you in developing and deploying resources that deliver results. “Throwing spaghetti at the wall” (so to speak) will not cut it. A measured, informed approach will. 

Step 1: Define the Ideal Client

The first and most essential step to the lead generation strategy is defining the ideal client, also called a customer avatar. Creating a firm’s customer avatar begins with defining your demographic. 

Generally speaking, we build customer avatars based on data inputs for specific categories, including factors like:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity
  • Marital status
  • Annual household income
  • Home value
  • Geographic location
  • Number of children
  • Occupation
  • Education level
  • Net worth

This information often gets consolidated in a customer relationship management system (see below). You should also include relevant lifestyle factors such as hobbies, interests, and personality types.

Hold up, you may think. I know my customers already! Why do I need to design this “fake” customer to get the job done?

Of course you know your customers. That knowledge and understanding have served you well to date. But when discussing marketing and lead generation, avatars provide more value. At a minimum, it allows you to tailor your marketing and communications in a manner that will most likely yield more business.

Step 2: Build Something Valuable to Your Target Audience

Unless you’re a retail business with a sign above your shop (and even then), leads that look like your customer avatar are unlikely to just walk in the door. You need to give them a reason. That reason, digitally speaking, usually means a free or discounted value offering blocked by a registration form. We typically refer to these as “lead magnets.”

What does that look like? Maybe your financial advisory firm puts together a report about market conditions. Perhaps your technology company offers research on tech stack trends. You might give folks 10% off your cosmetic goods if they subscribe to your newsletter. 

The value offer varies, but its necessity does not. If you want people to give you the very valuable privilege of access to their contact information, you better be able to give them something in return.

And you already know how to do this. You wouldn’t be in business today if you didn’t. If your company’s general value proposition rings true, extrapolating it into different free and low-cost forms should be a no-brainer.

Examples of Lead Magnets for Financial Advisors

Usually, a magnet’s main purpose is to build an opt-in email subscriber list in hopes of nurturing the relationship over time so that it eventually converts to a sale. If a lead magnet is going to succeed, it must provide exceptional and relevant value to your ideal client.

Here are some examples of magnets to get your own ideas flowing:


Lead Magnet Description

Sample Topic

eBook An electronic version of a printed book, usually about 10,000 words Investing in Cryptocurrencies eBook
Case Study A several-page report about a person, group or situation Retired Corporate Executive Case Study
Cheat Sheet A concise set of notes used for quick reference, usually 1-2 pages Buy or Lease Your Next Car – A Cheat Sheet for Busy Commuters
Checklist A list of items required, usually 1 page Value Investor Checklist
Guide A several-page guidebook of directions, advice and information The Ultimate Guide to Tax-Efficient Investing for Medical Professionals
Template A standard document with a pre-developed page layout, usually 1-2 pages Budget Template Worksheet for Newly Married Couples
Tool A device that aids in accomplishing a task Extra Payment Mortgage Calculator for First-Time Housing Buyers
Whitepaper An authoritative several-page report giving information Annual Generational Wealth Management Report
Spreadsheet An electronic document where data is arranged in rows and columns Loan Amortization Table Spreadsheet
Webinar A live or recorded seminar conducted over the internet, usually 1 hour Social Security Benefits for Widows and Widowers

Step Three: Design Your Lead Generation Honeypot

A landing page, sometimes referred to as a lead capture page, usually contains a form that needs to be filled out in exchange for the offer presented on the landing page. The offer might be, for example, a free report or guide. The goal of the landing page is to capture as much information about the visitor as possible to empower the sales and marketing teams in their conversion efforts.

Landing page creation begins with deciding what action or behavior we want to happen. What is your end goal? What do you want your prospects to do? The answer varies: register for a webinar, sign up for your email newsletter, download a PDF, watch a video, schedule a demo, etc.

Each landing page has a specific purpose. A squeeze page is a type of landing page designed to capture an opt-in email address from a potential paying customer. It is the most common type of landing page, since email is one of the most coveted pieces of lead data. With a low commitment for the user and high potential upside for the business, these pages do a lot of work in terms of brand visibility, recognition, and authority – even when they don’t convert.

Best Lead Generation Practices

You can write the most amazing report on spending trends in the world and not generate leads because your landing page sucks. The most incredible landing page in the world will fall short if it isn’t offering anything useful. You can sink time into poorly conceived research and development if your customer avatar is off base.

Fortunately, there are tools, resources, and practices that increase your odds of success in the long term. 

Commit to Data-Driven Campaign Analysis

Numbers drive business. The numbers surrounding your lead generation efforts provide clear ROI calculations and strategy direction.

Before building a report or landing page, decide what defines success. Is it traffic to your landing page? Are you specifically worried about lead quality or scoring? Defining priorities and setting numeric goals in that category will empower you to make better strategic choices moving forward.

Don’t Skimp on Design

We get told not to judge a book by its cover, but let’s be real – we all do. This means the way we present information holds just as much significance as the way we present it. 

Without effective design, the value offering loses its potential impact. A report that looks like it was compiled in 1994 won’t be taken seriously. A landing page with weird spacing, absurd fonts, and disjointed copy won’t even give your research a chance at being taken seriously.

Design deliberately. Start with a goal in mind, research what your audience likes, and make sure you’re taking the right steps. This often requires expenditures on design experts. Don’t balk at the pricetags. The long-term cost of poor design far outweighs whatever you’ll generate on the fly.

Capitalize on Your CRM

A CRM, or customer relationship management tool, centralizes information about leads and customers and data on their activity. It allows you to better manage communications, identify opportunities, and track interactions.

When it comes to lead generation, the right CRM utilization can serve as sales steroids. Your team can look at things like what links a lead clicks on, what pages on your website the visit, and the chain of communication between a lead and your team members. Some even offer “lead scoring” – a means of tiering a lead’s likelihood of conversion. All of this informs the sales process and leads to stronger relationship development.

Some of the most notable CRM companies are Salesforce, Hubspot, and Insightly. All have their pros and cons. Which makes sense for your company depends on your business model, operations, and size.

Plenty of companies offer free versions of their CRM. This, at least, provides an opportunity for you to test their features. It also lets you start your lead generation strategy on the right foot and scale accordingly.

Lead Generation Strategy Could Be Your Ticket to More Clients

Whether you’re selling artisanal confections or high-tech consumer goods, leads matter. They represent the middle ground between potential customers and paying ones. Your company cannot afford to neglect that realm.

Almost any lead generation tactic you’ll use will involve a form of the above process to create brand awareness and growth via content marketing, blogs, and social media. Your sales team is begging you to take these recommendations seriously.

Want to improve your financial literacy beyond these basic lead generation lessons? Make sure you check out the Financial Poise On-Demand Webinar Series. From how to invest to how to build a business, the topics covered are all but endless! Click here to learn more about our offerings.

This is an updated version of an article from 2019. © 2023. DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM. This article is subject to the disclaimers found here.

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About Tina Powell

Tina Powell is the CEO of C-Suite Social Media, a full-service digital marketing and social media marketing consultancy for leaders in financial services who want to stand out. With over 20 years of hands-on digital marketing campaign and strategy, Tina’s extensive experience has kept her on the leading edge of marketing and social media. Prior…

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