As a small business, marketing can be overwhelming, time-consuming and expensive. By understanding some of the free and low-cost lead-generation tools and tactics, you can start to effectively and efficiently reach prospects.
Among the social networking tools for businesses today, the big three are LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Yes, there’s Google+, but I’m not sold yet–the network effect isn’t there (not enough of my colleagues/friends are pressuring me be there and conversations are falling on deaf ears compared to the three social networks noted above). The benefit of these tools is to broaden your reach by leveraging your customers’ networks. Keep in mind your primary goal–generating prospective customers.
LinkedIn is a great lead-generation tool for salespeople. You can connect with colleagues and get introductions to others through your network, as well as conduct a little competitive and industry research. Grow your network by joining and interacting with your college alumni and industry groups. Act like you’re in a virtual leads group; be genuine and sincere, and avoid a cluster of outreach all at once. It may come across as spamming.
Twitter is a great way to engage business prospects since it allows you to send brief text-based posts of up to 140 characters and images. You can build up your base of Twitter followers by seeking out the influencers in your community and following them. In most cases, your savvy Twitter influencers will reciprocate by following your business if they find your messages (or tweets) interesting. Your tweets can link back to specific pages on your website or anywhere else that has a link. You can engage readers with photos, events, business tips and more.
Facebook lets you create a business page where you can list your business contact information and engage your customers with special offers, photos, events, polls, product launches, customer questions and business tips. Businesses advertise to target customers on a cost-per-click or cost-per-impression basis. But avoid creating a business page with the personal profile tool because Facebook will shut it down.
Finally, be sure to link to your social networks through your email signature, website, business cards, print materials, email marketing, invoices and other customer touch points. And as with all marketing activities associated with reaching prospects, be sure to maintain a consistent brand throughout, from the way you treat your company’s logo and color themes, to the voice of your communications.