Getting new clients is one of the hardest things I struggled with when I started my own business back in 2008. It’s still something I struggle with occasionally, but it’s much easier to move new clients through the pipeline now that I’m more established.
These are some of the tips I’ve used to increase local leads to my own business. Consider making them a priority in your own marketing and sales efforts.
I’ve worked with Joanne Black of No More Cold Calling for years, and working so closely with her has really helped me understand the power of referral sales. Before meeting Joanne, I wasn’t a proponent of cold calling (both as a business and as a customer), but I had no idea that referrals can close the deal with a potential customer at a much higher rate than cold calling or emailing.
Since then, I’ve worked a lot on growing my industry network, which has helped me exponentially in getting leads and new clients. Another point Joanne makes though, is that you shouldn’t solely focus on your industry when it comes to getting referrals. Oftentimes friends and family members become great referral sources for you. The point being is that you never know who your acquaintances know, and it’s important to take the time to invest in your network in order to make sure your contacts know and trust you enough to give you a referral. Make sure your friends, family, and colleagues know what you do and that you accept referrals.
Admittedly, this is where I struggle most. I hate the small talk that comes with meeting strangers on the way to getting to know them better. I also hate feeling awkward and introducing myself– it makes me feel like I have to prove in seconds why I’m worth that person’s time.
I have gotten better at meeting new people at networking events through the years, and that has helped me make some valuable connections in the Kansas City area. When you’re networking, it’s important to not have a mentality of “what’s in it for me?” but rather the opposite: “how can I help others?”
By being helpful and a trusted resource, opportunities for others to help you will naturally occur. To find networking opportunities in your area, check out meetup.com or your local chamber or commerce event calendar. I also did a MoxieDot Live about networking and marketing for your business.
Conferences & Trainings
Meeting people at conferences and training has probably been the most effective lead generation source for me. This is probably because it ties into eventually getting referrals, which I mentioned earlier. Not only am I able to increase my skills and knowledge at educational events, I’ve also spoken at them, which is a great way to grow my experience.
If you live in a major city, google your city metro name + industry name + conference OR training, and see what comes up. Depending on where you live, you may have to travel a bit, but consider it a (tax-deductible) investment in your business.
You should always have local SEO best practices in place for your business and website. You can use a tool like Moz Local to see how complete your local listings are for under $100/year (as of press time).
But for the most part, your business should have complete and updated listings on:
- Google Maps/Google+
- Facebook (with local address and contact information)
- Reputable local databases (such as chamber of commerce membership lists or local non-profit donor pages)
Once the profiles for these sites are created with updated information, be sure to keep them updated should anything change, like your location, phone number, or even your logo.
No matter your business industry, you should have a Yelp listing. The popular review site has grown enough that businesses of all types are listed. And if you’re in an industry where your competitors don’t have Yelp listings– you’re in luck! You have an advantage over them.
Besides allowing potential customers to see what current customers are saying about your business, many reputable review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Google+ are usually listed in the top of search results for your brand name. This can help you have better control over the search results for your business name, which can give people a better picture of your business dealings.
However, I don’t recommend trying to manipulate reviews or search results– any profiles you have set up should be to serve as a resource for customers. Don’t try to bribe or reward people for leaving you positive reviews. Many of the top review sites have checks in place to sniff out fake reviews and 20 5-star reviews doesn’t look as realistic to customers as 10 5-star, 5 4-star, and 5 3-star. Honest reviews are rarely giving any business 100% all the time.
When it comes down to it, growing your connections through referrals, networking events, conferences, and customer reviews can really help you grow your local SEO presence. Focus on being genuine, helpful, and offering great products or services, and you’ll be on your way to better local SEO.
Photos via Unsplash, edited with Canva