4 Lead Generation Strategies for Early-Stage Startups

Sales can make or break your company.

It doesn’t matter if you run a business with an eight-figure top line, or you’re leading a small startup that’s just trying to close on its first few sales, lead generation is something you have to focus on daily. Ignoring lead generation is not only foolish, it actually compromises the integrity of your business and erodes it from the inside out.

While a successful and established company has many more options when it comes to lead generation, your small startup also has choices. The key is to get creative and be patient. Here are a few of the top techniques you can use:

Leverage Referrals as Much as Possible

Referrals from existing/previous customers will always be the best source of organic lead generation. That’s because people trust people they know. It’s entirely more effective when someone tells them to try a product or service than when they hear about it on the radio or see a PPC advertisement.

Interestingly, these referrals don’t even have to be overt. Sometimes all it takes is seeing someone else using a product and other people instantly become more comfortable with the idea. Take the solar market as an example. Do you know what one of the best predictors of whether a person will install solar panels on their home is? It doesn’t have anything to do with income, neighborhood, age, race, or political affiliation. It’s whether their neighbors have solar panels.

“Referrals are a great way to generate warm leads,” explains SPOTIO, a door-to-door sales tracking app. “They give sales reps a comfortable, and more natural, introduction when speaking with a new potential customer for the first time and help reduce your customer acquisition cost (CAC) and cost per lead. By lowering these two numbers, you’re increasing your profitability.”

Attach Your Name to Reputable Platforms

As a new player in your industry with very little brand equity, you have to leverage the “Halo Effect” by attaching your name to more established brands. One way you can do this is by using different digital marketplaces.

Depending on the products you sell, you may find success on a platform like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, or even Walmart. When you establish yourself on one of these platforms, you gain instant credibility and exposure. Not only does this typically result in a few upfront sales, but it also drives leads that will benefit you down the road.

Implement an Organic Social Media Strategy

As a startup, social media is arguably the most powerful tool you have at your disposal. It can be used to create exposure, generate leads, and close sales. Best of all, social media can be used in extremely organic ways, which means it’s low cost (essentially free) and very low risk.

The key to being successful with social media is to humanize your brand and build relationships with the users on a given platform – such as Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. In order to do this, empower the handful of employees you have at your small startup and encourage them to help.

“Not only can your employees contribute their ideas for blog posts, tweets, and status updates, they can also be leveraged as advocates on your company’s behalf,” marketer Lauren Dugan writes. “Since 70 percent of customer brand perception is determined by experiences with people, those startups that encourage their employees to engage customers publicly on social media will be well ahead of the competition in terms of reputation-building.”

Try Your Hand at Guest Blogging

Blogging on your startup’s website is fantastic, but there’s limited potential. Only a small number of people will actually be exposed to your blog posts and you’re only reaching people who visit your website. If you want to reach a larger audience, you need to leverage guest blogging.

Find other websites and blogs that serve your target market and offer to regularly contribute guest blog posts with the agreement that you can highlight your startup in the byline and the posts. Not only does this increase your exposure, but it drives traffic back to your website and social profiles.

Lead generation is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Now’s the time where all of your hard work and brainstorming pays off and you actually begin to monetize and grow this business venture you’ve spent the past few months or years developing.

It’s true what people tell you – the first few sales are always the hardest. But thankfully, once you gain some traction and have a little bit of success, the lead gen strategies you’ve implemented will start to build off of each other and give you something to scale with.

Roll your sleeves up and get started.

Read more tips about lead generation for your startup on TechCo

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Written by:
Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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