4 Channels You Should Optimize Before Launching A Marketing Campaign
The business world is full of opportunities. If you are a small business leader, it’s likely you felt a sudden anxiety attack after reading the first sentence. Indeed, most young entrepreneurs today, especially when it comes to start-ups, become so overwhelmed with opportunities to promote their business that no idea results in business monetization.
According to recent studies, nearly 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years. Upsetting enough, it gets even worse when you find out that 20% of businesses collapse in the first year. Does it mean that many companies today introduce irrelevant or boring ideas to the market? Not necessarily.
No matter your biggest dreams and purest intentions to change the world with your product, at the end of the day, it all comes down to numbers. As prosaic as it sounds, the value of your product is measured by the number of customers you’ve helped. And that’s where lead generation comes in.
We at Respect.Studio know a thing or two about lead generation. In this article, we’ll share a few tips and tricks on finding clients for your service.
What is lead generation, and what does it have to do with your growth?
Think of lead generation as a magic tool to get new customers. When you start a business, the question that comes to mind naturally is where to find the first clients to show your expertise. That’s the point where most companies choose to go down the word-of-mouth path, securing clients through friends, family, and professional connections.
And while there’s nothing wrong with finding a few clients in such a way to jumpstart your sales, organic growth should not be the level of consistency a company strives for. Imagine a company lucky enough to close a few successful deals at the very beginning. Of course, the team would be so thrilled by the opportunity they would pour their heart and soul into operations to provide the clients with top-notch service.
After the first cases are closed, the client flow slows down, as fewer connections and word-of-mouth recommendations are left. Usually, this stage is the marketing team’s cue to start aggressively looking for clients. Chances are that small companies do not have a separate and functioning marketing team, so business founders, who were previously focused on operations management, become more involved in sales, finding new clients, and leaving little time and resources to fulfill the actual needs of the new leads.
Obviously, such a never-ending loop of being torn between sales and operations is a no-go if your company wants a shot at steady and quality growth.
Instead of anxiously drumming your fingers and thinking about how to find money to hire a marketing team and kickstart a sales campaign, think about your end goal. While it is unlikely you have a chance at competing with large enterprises in social media campaigns, a small company can easily generate leads through online channels that don’t hurt the budget.
Before jumping into sales, every company needs to choose the right approach to present their service. Essentially, it all narrows down to two directions: inbound and outbound sales strategies.
Inbound vs. outbound sales: Tesla vs. Edison, or the yin and yang?
We should probably start with a little disclaimer here: despite the ongoing debate about the supremacy of either marketing strategy, we know for sure you need both to survive in the market.
Let’s say your company has its share of successful deals, and you want to launch an outreach campaign aiming directly at the clients you’re looking for. You hire a team of marketing professionals and tell them you want to get some senior-level leads over the next few months, and your team does just that. That’s outbound sales in a nutshell: You define your target audience, approach it, and break the ice by suggesting your services.
But guess what? The ice is thicker than you thought, and your marketing pipeline shuts down when you’re left on “read” by yet another CEO. Most likely, it happens because your prospects know nothing about you, your brand, and what makes you different from the competition.
And that’s where inbound marketing comes in. The main premise of this strategy is to establish your brand and let others find out about your product on their own. Learn what your customers like and give it to them before pitch slapping your ideal client. Word on the street is people don’t enjoy a stranger telling them where to spend money.
A qualified professional with a reputation in the market is a whole another deal, though. Think of your own shopping habits for a second. You see the ad for the product that’s a bit over budget. You google it, check out their website, and, most importantly, read a couple of reviews before excitingly putting down your credit card info.
And that’s exactly what the prospects need from you. Some product info out there on the web, some reviews, and non-salesy engagement (you’ll always have the chance to attack your prospect with another offer, don’t you worry about that).
So, what should you do before switching to an outbound campaign?
Today is your lucky day because we made a list of easy-to-use and free tools to boost your sales.
What are the best inbound lead generation channels?
One of the most popular and easy-to-use freelance social networks, UpWork is nothing but a gateway to finding new clients through presenting your company and expertise to prospects. Potential clients surf the platform hoping to find talent that meets their project objectives. All you need to do is to create a strong company account, add relevant information, portfolio, and referrals from your previous clients. For example, you are a UX/UI design company looking for new projects in web design. To attract prospects, you need to:
- Build a strong profile filled with the keywords associated with what you do. Think of terms like “UX/UI Design,” “Web Design,” “SaaS Design,” “Illustration,” “Mobile App Development,” and other key phrases your prospects might search on the platform.
- Let your prospect know they’re dealing with professionals here. If you have experience in working with big clients, all you want to do is make sure other people know your worth. Add some projects to the portfolio, and don’t hesitate to ask for referrals after you complete a project.
Here’s a little pro tip: If you are a small company with no big projects up your sleeve, make sure to show what you’re capable of by building a functional project brief, whether it is a better rendition of a known marketing campaign or a functional website to a non-existent product. Your leads need to know what they settle for. For example, you can visit dribbble.com to look for a web design prompt or go to frontendmentor.io to look for coding inspiration.
When managing a small business, there is no need to jump over your head to find high-profile clients. Resources like UpWork draw attention to young creators and professionals by marking them as the “rising talent” category. No matter what intention (usually, though, it is the price and urgency), some prospects are determined to give their project off to a small business or freelance worker, so make sure you appeal to this target audience.
One of the fundamental advantages of UpWork is the company’s ability to create projects at a fixed price. Add some timeframes, price range, and other service tiers you consider important, throw in some keywords, and you’re good to go!
The more optimized and relevant your profile is, the better your chances are of getting noticed by your prospects in the long run.
Keep in mind that freelance marketplaces are free and can become a lead generation tool for anyone out there. While saving money on marketing is a plus, think of the competition you get. Adding a good visual or a catchy service description to stand out in your category can help you stand out.
Let’s say your business has gained some experience through organic growth. What’s a better way to bring new leads to the business than through the actual reviews of your former clients? Clutch, one of the most popular and trustworthy review platforms on the web, is a space for your clients to share their feedback and recommendations. With nearly 500K users monthly, the platform sure has something to offer to small businesses.
When creating a public profile on Clutch, you add basic information about your service, including industry, price range, location, and any other details relevant to what you do. Once the profile is completed, reach out to your former clients who might put a good word about your service and rate it appropriately.
The more positive recommendations you get, the higher the possibility of your product’s recognition in the market. The website’s interface encourages the prospect to find potential contractors via categories that showcase some of the top-rated companies and sponsored profiles.
To find their perfect match, Clutch users use search filters to sort companies by rating, number of reviews, company name, and Clutch Rank. The last criterion is especially interesting, as, to make sure the service hits the clients up with the best companies, the platform analyzes the online presence and Clutch activity of your business. Remember that next time you’re feeling uncomfortable asking your client for a review.
Similar to Clutch, GoodFirms or DesignRush can also help you find clients by posting your company’s profile and encouraging your former clients to share their experiences.
While freelance and review platforms have the obvious advantage of accessibility and higher client outreach, they can be a little too versatile when looking for hot leads.
Looking for an ideal client, you probably want to reach the prospects who fit your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) just right. So, to narrow down your customer reach, try using niche platforms that focus specifically on the services you provide.
Behance is the largest talent marketplace on the web, bringing together designers, web developers, artists, brand specialists, illustrators, and other creators.
Think of Behance as your visual portfolio to share with the world. Helping users find inspiration and references, the website has become an invaluable tool to bring you hot leads who fall in love with your work.
Having worked with many creative professionals specializing in Web Development, UX/UI Design, and Branding, we know exactly how valuable this tool is for finding clients who align with your creative vision. If you work in the creative industry, Behance gives you everything to engage with your prospects:
- Create visual case studies for your project
- Livestream your creative process by screen-sharing from your desktop or iPad
- Edit your availability to show the prospects your readiness to take on new projects
Besides Behance, the web is replete with platforms that allow you to share a professional portfolio. Less likely to bring you leads right away, niche marketplaces make sure that the ones who reach out are in for a long haul.
Professional Communities & Networking
As a small and aspiring business, you should always remember that you’re not alone in this. Thousands of small business leaders and entrepreneurs are also looking for ways to put themselves out there and make a profit from their passions. So why don’t you help each other out?
Business and entrepreneur clubs are a great way to share your story, listen to the feedback of professionals who lived through your pain, secure lasting partnerships, and get the support you need as an aspiring business leader.
For example, Respect.Studio’s CEO Iurii Znak is a member of the Young Business Club, a European network of young entrepreneurs who strive for business excellence and results. By networking with other talented and dedicated professionals over business events and meetings, Iurii secures strategic partnerships with other club members and brings new leads to the team.
If you don’t know of any professional communities in your area, consider online networking platforms such as Startup Nation or Founders Network. The benefits of networking are obvious, especially when it comes to introducing your business to the public. What are you waiting for?
So, inbound marketing is good. But what’s the catch?
As a young and growing business, you can’t fathom all the positive aspects of inbound marketing: low price, variety of resources, high feedback rate…the pros just keep coming.
But imagine pouring your heart and soul into boosting your online presence and collecting customer feedback, and having no hot leads in weeks or even months. Sounds frustrating, doesn’t it?
The truth is, inbound marketing can’t be the only sales channel if you want your business to grow steadily, and here’s why:
- Zero Predictability. You never know what to expect from organic inbound leads. At some point, your UpWork profile may bring you several hot leads and, just as suddenly, leave you hanging without clients for weeks. How can you possibly think of a business strategy that would be flexible enough to deal with the ebb and flow of your leads?
- Inbound Marketing is Hard to Scale. Let’s imagine the scenario where you see that some of your leads are coming from a freelance marketplace. Is investing money in a premium plan a guarantee for more quality leads later in the future? With inbound marketing, the lead flow cannot be tracked and systematized in a way that tells you how much to spend on marketing to attract even more customers.
- Questionable Lead Quality. Targeting pretty much everyone who sees your company’s profile, inbound channels don’t make sure that the leads align with your ICP.
What should you do?
It’s totally fine if, after reading this, your thoughts have turned into a big red question mark. Should you pursue inbound marketing tactics? How to know when your company is ready to launch an outbound campaign? Is there a third option to avoid all the possible problems?
We know it’s a lot, so you should take your time to look back at your business and think of its current capacity.
Sure, inbound marketing strategies have their pitfalls. But don’t be too eager to bite the hand that feeds your business. Consistent development of your brand voice and reputation in the market is the foundation of getting the clients you want.
Once you realize that your business no longer has to settle for any leads that come your way, it’s time to think of the next step and switch to a more specific and scalable marketing strategy. Just make sure you did your homework and got the most out of your inbound channels.
If you’re still in two minds about which direction to pursue, you can always contact us, and we’ll help you find the best option.