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In Moonlighting on the Internet, internet entrepreneur Shelby Larson presents the most reliable and proven ways you can create an extra paycheck for the short term and establish a continual revenue stream for the long term with your own website. In this edited excerpt, Larson reveals a dozen ways you can find new leads for your consulting business.
As a consultant, new, fresh leads are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, you will soon run out of services you can sell to your existing clients. You need to ensure there is always an influx of new leads pouring into your business daily. Many will not pan out, and others will want something for free. Resist the temptation to give your services away for the promise of a larger payday down the road. This almost never pans out, and your clients will only keep asking for more. This is not to say you should never help someone out, but be selective and remember this is your business! Treat it as such. (Trust me: Been there. Done that. Have the T-shirt.)
There are a large number of ways to generate consulting leads. Remember to pre-qualify your leads according to the parameters you want to work within. You don’t have to take on each and every person who comes along. Many will be very hard to work with or want guarantees you simply can’t make, and while it can be hard to decline business, particularly when starting out, in the long run you’ll be better served if you do.
Here are 12 great ways to generate leads for your consulting business:
1. Ranking your own site. Perhaps the best way to generate targeted leads is to have your consulting site come up at the top of Google’s search results when your keywords are searched for. If you’re consulting specifically for local businesses and your consulting business in Carlsbad, California, ranks in the top three in a search for “internet marketing Carlsbad,” you’ll be sitting pretty in the pole position.
2. Blog. Your site should have a blog where you regularly post useful content that genuinely helps people in some aspect of their business. When they see your expertise and how much great content you’re willing to give away for free, you’ll get some calls.
3. Targeted paid ads. Running precisely targeted ads, especially on Facebook where you can really zero in on your demographics, makes a lot of sense. This can be a very cost-effective method of lead generation.
4. Google+ communities and Facebook groups. Each of these can yield large numbers of leads, but be careful to geo-target your services or you’ll get a lot of useless leads.
5. Video. Making a promotional video(s) is a great way to help target your presence for consulting keyword terms. These videos will likely show up in Google’s search results and bring a good amount of direct traffic as well.
6. Strategic partnerships. Striking deals with other service providers can work wonders for both of you. Perhaps they offer something you don’t and vice versa. You can work out a deal whereby each of you benefits and effectively get more of the available market share.
7. Retargeting. Investigate retargeting as a way to follow interested parties around the web in the hopes that they will succumb to your persistence. While some may think retargeting smacks of stalking, it has been proved that most people need to see your offers seven times before buying, and retargeting works very well—and it’s fairly inexpensive to boot!
8. Email marketing. Building and marketing to a targeted list will ensure that your business lasts for many years to come.
9. Social media. Using your social media channels as a way to market and engage with your audience, announce events, and highlight your services gives you yet another lead generation tool.
10. Meetups and local events. If there are local business groups in your area, make sure you get in front of them. Ask to speak at a local chamber of commerce meeting, and join any Meetups or similar groups trying to promote business in your area. These people are your audience, and you should be doing all you can to make yourself known to them!
11. Referrals. Don’t just solicit those you’ve worked with for referrals, but consider asking highly trafficked establishments in your area if they wouldn’t mind referring your services to anyone asking, and be sure to incentivize this.
12. Brochures, business cards, and fliers. Don’t be afraid to go old school and distribute your printed materials. If you are strategic about where you leave these, you will find that there’s a reason they’ve worked for a long time.