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How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 2

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Rohit Bhargava

Rohit is a founding member of the Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence team, the world’s largest global network of social media strategists. His personal marketing blog called Influential Marketing has been recognized as one of the top 25 marketing blogs in the world and was featured in the Wall Street Journal. He also teaches global marketing at Georgetown University.

How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 2

There was a moment in the movie Forrest Gump where he was caught with his friend Lieutenant Dan in a huge storm on board their shrimp boat. As a storm rolls in and destroys all the boats docked at the port, Gump’s boat survives thanks to being out at sea. He comes back, ends up with a relatively monopoly over shrimp boating and gets rich.

So the obvious lesson here for getting more leads is to watch for storms and hope to be the last boat standing. Of course, that will probably be hard advice to follow if you happen to not be in the business of shrimp boating, or not really excited about the idea of having a business strategy focused on hoping for a big storm.

The irony is, that is exactly what many small businesses are doing with their marketing by placing ads in locations that are unlikely to be acted on, following ill-advised trends or advice to create social media graveyards (which never see the light of any attention or conversation), and assuming that just offering a good product or service will spread.

Hope is not a marketing strategy.

Instead, consider that leads come from many different methods. Here are a few that could be worth focusing on:

1. Show up in real life. There are dozens of events taking place in just about every region. Are you making an effort to show up and meet the right people in person?

2. Share expertise for free. Often you will be in a position where you are selling some type of expertise – but how much of it are you offering for free? Free advice, particularly online, has a way of paying off in terms of building your reputation as an expert. And reputation leads to, well, leads.

3. Make powerful friends. As the new social media adage goes – it’s not who you know, but who knows you. The more influencers who you can build relationships with, the more likely those will come back to your business directly with new leads and referrals based on what you do.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 3

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Sonia Simone

Sonia Simone is the senior editor of Copyblogger and a co-founder of Copyblogger Media, a company with a suite of valued marketing and training products and more than 55,000 customers. Copyblogger Media empowers online writers and content producers to command attention, create engagement, and influence people as powerful players in the new media revolution.

How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 3

It’s funny how many of our moms’ and grandmas’ most-treasured recipes came from the backs of cans, jars, and boxes.

Recipes are irresistible — and not just the cream-of-mushroom casserole kind.

The fact is, all of us have recipes in our business — sequences of steps that can help our customers get what they want.

It might be “8 ways to take out stains,” “7 ways to save money and headaches on your kitchen remodel,” or “12 simple secrets to reducing neck and back pain.”

One of my very favorite spots for this kind of recipe is the email newsletter. More specifically, it’s the email autoresponder — a sequence of messages that gets sent to each and every new subscriber to your email list.

When you create an email sequence that forms a killer recipe, the reader develops the habit of opening each message.

Sure, he can still unsubscribe when he’s finally captured the final step. But by that time, if your recipe is good enough, you’ve created trust. Your reader has started to know and like you.

You’ve just emailed him 9 times in a row and you haven’t sent him any junk. Just valuable, good information that gets him a result he wants.

Think he’s likely to open that 10th email?

Think he’s likely to refer your autoresponder to a friend?

Think he’s likely to talk you up on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter?

You bet he is … I’ve seen in it my own business.

The recipe for a great email autoresponder

Make sure your “recipe” delivers a solution that your prospect really wants.

1. Break your recipe into a 7-10 part sequence. Whenever you can, make each one a quick standalone tip that brings immediate results.

2. Deliver your recipe using the autoresponder function of your email marketing program. If your email service doesn’t let you put together an autoresponder with as many messages as you need, consider using a new service.

3. Write the best content you can. The time you put in now can continue to work hard for your business for years to come. If writing isn’t your strong suit, this is a great time to bring in a professional copywriter — you’ll get great ROI on a relatively modest investment.

4. Rather than selling your products or services, start to “sell” your great free recipe. It will build trust and rapport, so that down the line you can fully explain all the benefits of what you do.

You’ll find it’s much easier to promote this kind of high-quality free content, particularly with social media, than it is to try to jump right to the sale of your product or service.

Deliver a great recipe for your topic, and just like that killer marinara sauce on the back of the tomato can, it will get passed along.

You’re not just bringing in leads, you’re nurturing them and building your reputation … and that’s the kind of lead generation that will keep paying off for months and years to come.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 4

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Keith Ferrazzi

Keith Ferrazzi is the author of Never Eat Alone and the founder of the Relationship Masters Academy, an online training program for networking that offers the structure and support to put Keith’s bestselling books into action in your life for unparalleled career success and satisfaction. Go here to learn more!

How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 4

“The drops of rain make a hole in the stone not by violence but by oft falling.” – Lucretius

Do you want to stand out from the crowd? Then follow up.

The fact is, most people don’t follow up very well, if at all. Good follow-up alone elevates you above 95 percent of your peers. The follow-up is the hammer and nails of your networking tool kit. In fact, FOLLOW-UP IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN ANY FIELD.

Making sure a new acquaintance retains your name (and the favorable impression you’ve created) is a process you should set in motion right after you’ve met someone.

Why go to all the trouble of meeting new people if you’re not going to work on making them a part of your life? Give yourself between twelve and twenty-four hours after you meet someone to follow up. If you meet somebody on a plane, send them an e-mail later that day. If you meet somebody over cocktails, send them an e-mail the next morning.

Some tips for flawless follow-up:

Put the name and e-mail address of a new acquaintance in your database and program your calendar to remind you in a month’s time to drop the person another e-mail, just to keep in touch.

Remember—and this is critical—your follow up shouldn’t remind them of what they can do for you. It’s about what you might be able to do for them. It’s about giving them a reason to want to follow up.

Always express your gratitude.

Be sure to include an item of interest from your meeting or conversation—a joke or a shared moment of humor.

Reaffirm whatever commitments you both made—going both ways.

Be brief and to the point.

Always address the thank-you note to the person by name.

Use e-mail and snail mail. The combination adds a personalized touch.

Timeliness is key. Send them as soon as possible after the meeting or interview.

Many people wait until the holidays to say thank you or reach out. Why wait? Your follow-ups will be timelier, more appropriate, and certainly better remembered.

Don’t forget to follow up with those who have acted as the go between for you and someone else. Let the original referrer know how the conversation went, and express your appreciation for their help.

Make follow-up a habit. Make it automatic. When you do, the days of struggling to remember people’s names—and of other people struggling to remember yours—will be a thing of the past.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 5

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Bob Burg

Bob Burg’s national bestseller, The Go-Giver, has been heralded as a new business classic. Bob is an advocate, supporter and defender of the Free Enterprise system, believing that the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to how many people they serve and how well they serve them. Find out more information about Bob Burg here.

How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 5

First, let’s define “Top of the Funnel.” These are people who, while perhaps qualify as prospects they are little more than that. In other words, while they now “know” you, the “like and trust” part of the “know, like and trust” equation is not yet there. Nor, is the need, want or desire for your product or service. Thus, they are at the “top”…the starting point.

The more people at the top of the funnel, the more will likely work their way down into actually becoming prospects and/or referral sources. This, of course, assumes you are correctly building the relationships.

This is why, when people ask, “which is more important, quantity or quality?” I generally answer, “it’s not an either/or, but a both. However, the key is the focus. Since high-*quality* relationships lead to direct business and referrals, focusing on quality over quantity results in an even greater quantity of quality.”

Fortunately, whether in-person or via the various social media, it’s easy to begin the process. In a sense, it’s about identifying the right people (or having them identify you!), meeting (connecting with) them, and building the relationship.

So, in-person? Your local Chamber event, BNI chapter, charity function, etc. Ask questions focused 100% on them; make them feel good about themselves: “How did you get started?” “What do you enjoy most about what you do?”

Online via blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter? Engage them with value. Comment on something in their bio, post or tweet. Ask questions about them. Connect them with others (only with permission, of course), etc.

The best of all is through a referral. Usually, referrals begin already much closer to the sales point, but not always. Sometimes they come in at the top, as well.

Regardless, the key is, at the very moment you “meet’ them, communicate value; no, not in your products or services, but as a person. It’s as simple as that. And, best not to make it any more difficult.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 6

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Joseph Jaffe

Joseph Jaffe is President of jaffe, LLC. His popular blog and audio podcast, “Jaffe Juice”, provides daily and weekly commentary respectively on all things new marketing. His latest book, “Flip the Funnel: How to use existing customers to gain new ones,” presents a powerful hypothesis that retention can become the new acquisition through the strategic incorporation and elevation of customer service, customer experience and customer initiated word-of-mouth, content creation and incentive-based referrals.

How Do I Get More Leads in the Top of the Funnel 6

Want more leads for the top of your funnel? Then perhaps you want to take a step back and think about WHY you needed those leads in the first place. Did you not have enough customers to begin with? Or perhaps you just didn’t convince them to spend enough….keep coming back for more….and tell others about it. Or perhaps you just lost them – through poor customer experience, service or support, or just plain apathy (being forgotten)

Unless you’re a new business without a very short track record, getting new leads is really not your problem at all. Your real problem is churn. Attrition. You lose customers and try and constantly try and replace them with new blood. You are addicted to acquisition as you cast out that wide net, which just happens to be full of holes.
And you’re not alone.

But what would happen if, instead of ending with the sales conversation; the new customer, you began with the customer purchase? What would happen if you focused on the 20% of your customers responsible for 80% of your revenue? What would happen if you rewarded and recognized your lifeblood instead of wooing imperfect strangers or first time buyers with a slew of deals, discounts , special offers and/or coupons?

Would they pay it forward in return?

If Community 1.0 and 2.0 were the buzzwords of the original digital and more recent social media waves, then advocacy is going to be the next wave that crests and breaks on the shores of marketing engagement and innovation. Using existing customers to gain new ones by proving that retention is the new acquisition is a whole new paradigm that goes back to the future in order to demonstrate that word-of-mouth is most influential and credible when it comes from the hearts and minds of actual customers.

This is ultimately how a small, growing or even larger business can grow its revenue, customer and content base from the inside out by adding new leads to the traditional funnel without necessarily having to sacrifice any on the back end.

It’s good business sense. It’s common sense. And it’s a surefire way to add substantial dollars and cents to your top line growth and bottom line profitability.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

Wednesday Guest Stars

Here are your guest contributors for Wednesday’s edition of the Duct Tape Marketing Small Business Week iPad Giveaway.

Read each of the five posts that follow and click our entry form link to match the guest star with their post.

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a social media strategist, thinker, speaker and educator. SocialMediaExplorer.com is owned, co-authored and edited by Jason.  He also offers a question-and-answer and learning community at ExploringSocialMedia.com. Social Media Explorer is also the name of Falls’s consulting company which focuses on strategic counsel for medium and large companies in the realm of social media marketing, digital marketing, online communications and public relations.

Lee Odden

Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in strategic internet marketing consulting, training and implementation services including: Content, Search, Email and Social Media Marketing.  As an active thought leader in the search marketing industry, he’s contributed to top industry publications such as Mashable, iMedia Connection and Yahoo Search Marketing Blog along with publishing TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog.

Shama Kabani

Web and TV personality. Bestselling author. International Speaker. Award winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group – a global digital marketing firm.  Shama is a bestselling author with her book –The Zen of Social Media Marketing: An Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz, and Increase Revenue.  When not working directly with her clients or shooting her show, Shama travels the world speaking on business, entrepreneurship, and technology.

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer of Outspoken Media, Inc and writes for the Outspoken Media Blog. She has been involved in the SEO community since 2006 and is widely known for her honest industry observations, her inability to not say exactly what she’s thinking, and her excessive on-the-clock twittering at @lisabarone.

Rae Hoffman-Dolan

Rae is the Principal of Sugarrae SEO Consulting and does various types of Internet marketing; search engine optimization, viral marketing, affiliate marketing, site auditing, link development road maps and tons of other little nooks and crannies of this business.  She is also the co-founder, co-owner and CEO of MFE Interactive in addition to being the co-owner and SVP of Marketing for Speedy Incorporation.

2 I Have a Website, What Else Should I be Doing Online 1

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone is Co-Founder and Chief Branding Officer of Outspoken Media, Inc and writes for the Outspoken Media Blog. She has been involved in the SEO community since 2006 and is widely known for her honest industry observations, her inability to not say exactly what she’s thinking, and her excessive on-the-clock twittering at @lisabarone.

I Have a Website, What Else Should I be Doing Online 1

You should be doing what so many of your competitors are NOT doing – turning your attention toward building excitement around yourself and your brand.

First, begin growing the site’s presence by guest blogging on industry-relevant blogs to build your own authority as an expert, drive eyes to your site and to build those all-important links and relationships. Don’t start out targeting the A-listers, but the up-and-comers and the folks who appear just as hungry as you. Go through the same process on Twitter (you have one of those accounts, right?), using tools like Twitter Search, Twellow, and Tweepz to find like-minded Twitter users that you can follow and connect with. Get involved in Twitter chats, industry podcasts, and community events. The combination of reaching out in the blogosphere, on Twitter, and to your in-store customers will help you lay the groundwork of building a super awesome promotional army that you can push news too.

With your army intact, drive them wild with excitement, simultaneously building your brand karma by hosting or sponsoring a contest or event. It could be as simple as lending your name to something that’s already going on, giving away a product or gadget, hosting a Twitter party or something more old school like sponsoring a Late Night at your store where you stay open late and offer some cool (and URL-branded) giveaways and raffles. Because while having a website is great, taking the steps you need to build your promotional army to help you GROW that site is even better. Otherwise, yeah, nice website, dude. No one cares.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 2

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Rae Hoffman-Dolan

Rae is the Principal of Sugarrae SEO Consulting and does various types of Internet marketing; search engine optimization, viral marketing, affiliate marketing, site auditing, link development road maps and tons of other little nooks and crannies of this business. She is also the co-founder, co-owner and CEO of MFE Interactive in addition to being the co-owner and SVP of Marketing for Speedy Incorporation.

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 2

If you’re a local service based business, you may have noticed Google Places listings are steadily becoming a dominant force in the Google results for your most important local terms:

Various guides to optimizing Google Places listings agree that the reviews shown with your Places listing are an important part of getting to the top of those rankings. The reviews shown on your Places listing come from multiple sources across the web including big “local” sites like InsiderPages, Citysearch, Yelp as well as niche sites like Zagat and TripAdvisor and tons more. (Tip: click on your competitors’ listings to see additional sites their reviews are coming from.)

So the question becomes, how do you GET people to leave the reviews needed to rank well in Google for your local terms?

Create a “review page” on your website that links to all of your listing pages that you see being used in the reviews of your Places listing. Explain how you love providing great service and encourage customers to review your service.

Make customers aware of the review page via:

  • Business cards – on the back: “Love our service? Reward us by giving us an awesome review [link]”
  • Generic follow up emails – Check how they liked your service, ask for feedback – if the feedback is positive, suggest they might be interested in leaving a review [drop link]
  • Follow up when people leave positive traditional comment cards – thank them for their feedback and mention they can leave reviews about their experience online [drop link]
  • Add a “tell us how you found us” field to your contact form listing the biggest local review sites as options. Follow up with happy customers who say they found you via Yelp to remind them to leave their own review on the site [drop Yelp listing link]

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

1 I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 3

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a social media strategist, thinker, speaker and educator. SocialMediaExplorer.com is owned, co-authored and edited by Jason. He also offers a question-and-answer and learning community at ExploringSocialMedia.com. Social Media Explorer is also the name of Falls’s consulting company which focuses on strategic counsel for medium and large companies in the realm of social media marketing, digital marketing, online communications and public relations.

I Have a Web Site, What Else Should I be Doing Online 3

The web is not a venue where, “if you build it, they will come.” You have to make sure your audience knows your website is there and that it can help them. Spend some time discovering where your customers and people like them are hanging out on the web. (Hint: Assuming you want twice as many of the types of customers you already have, why not ask them?) Do they read blogs? Are they Facebook users? Is Twitter their thing? When you start to see where it is the people you want to attract are, go there, participate in the community on those platforms and provide your insights and expertise (not your catalog) to build trust and attract people to want to know more about you.

That’s it! There’s no big mystery here. Find your audience, serve them well. Remind them occasionally you’re there to help when they need you. Provided your website leads people to clear calls-to-action that you’re measuring, do that and you’ll see your needles move.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here

I Have a Website, What Else Should I be Doing Online 4

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Lee Odden

Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in strategic internet marketing consulting, training and implementation services including: Content, Search, Email and Social Media Marketing. As an active thought leader in the search marketing industry, he’s contributed to top industry publications such as Mashable, iMedia Connection and Yahoo Search Marketing Blog along with publishing TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog.

I Have a Website, What Else Should I be Doing Online 4

One of the most common forms of online marketing for small businesses is to have a website. The problem is, with today’s increasingly social and mobile web, a website just isn’t enough.

To help website owners take full advantage of the most important online marketing opportunities, here are 3 things small businesses can do to attract and engage new customers.

Content Publishing & Marketing: Consumers are interacting with multiple content sources before purchase and businesses that provide useful information beyond product features and benefits can attract more traffic and referrals.

Tips, articles, videos and experts interviews provide customers with the information they need to buy and refer to others. Useful content optimized with keywords also attracts more search engine traffic and links.

Social Media & Networking – 90% of marketers say that social media is important for their business according to the 2011 Social Media Marketing Report. Word of mouth, referrals and buzz on social networks can increase awareness, build trust and influence sales.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube offer useful platforms for small businesses to be helpful and share information with networks far beyond their customer base.

Local & Mobile – By 2014, mobile Internet will take over desktop Internet according to Microsoft Tag Lab. Small business websites can increase page views by offering a mobile friendly version of their website. They can also increase visibility on local search by making sure they’ve claimed their listings on Google Places and Bing Business Listings.

By integrating their website investment with useful content, social media and local marketing efforts, small businesses can make sure they’re visible wherever their customers are looking and provide great reasons to refer even more new business.

Read the rest of today’s mystery posts here