“If only I could get prospects to call me, but….”
“If only customers would walk in my door, but…”
“If only I could get their attention, but…”

Do you find yourself saying things like this?

If you do, you are in good company. These are some of the commonest complaints uttered by owners of small business. Many business owners know that lead generation is critical but have resigned themselves to the fact that there is no way out and they’ll never master the challenges of lead generation. They feel they have no alternative but to focus on referrals and networking as their primary lead generation tools. After all these definitely work and most of their business comes from these activities.

Referrals and networking are great start up strategies, but there is a law of diminishing returns and as your business gets bigger these two strategies alone will not sustain you unless you need only a few large customers to be successful. Even then it’s doubtful that you’ll ever get beyond being a bit player in that market segment.

If you want to build a successful business, you must master lead generation.

To quote Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth books; “Lead generation is a nonstop endeavor. Even if it doesn’t happen right away, stop generating leads and I can assure you your company will die. A company that stops generating leads is borrowing from the past, just like a fruit tree that is no longer cared for. As hardy as that tree might be, there will come a time when it will stop bearing fruit.”

Most business owners have tried a variety of lead generation techniques before settling on referrals and networking. Those that get good results continue with what’s working and those that don’t get the results they want quit and try something else often with the same poor results.

Take a look around your industry. Where do the successful people advertise? How do they advertise? If you can figure out what’s working for them, it’s not hard to figure out how to make it work for you.

A good clue is that people do not continue to spend money on something that doesn’t work. So if you consistently see a competitor’s advertisement in a magazine or hear it on the radio, then it’s likely that its producing results.

Once you know where you should be doing your lead generation, you need to figure out how to do it and how to do it better than the competitor.

Don’t fall into the trap of copying everyone else in your industry. This seems like the easy way out but if you say the same things as everyone else, how is the customer to decide between the choices. Generally they don’t know how to decide, so they use price as a criterion they understand and go for the cheapest provider, continually undermining your margins.

Another thing that most business owners don’t understand, is when you say the same things as your competition in your promotions, you advertise as much for them as for yourself. No one can continue doing this for long.

Why should customers choose your business instead of your competitors? Why are you the best solution for their needs? You need to find compelling answers to these questions. The process is simple, but requires work and focus.

The message should change no matter if you use: print, broadcast, electronic, display, direct response, events, promotions, PR or word of mouth.

Your job is to:

If you don’t know how to differentiate yourself in the minds of your prospects, this is something you must urgently address. If you don’t figure it out, it undermines your ability to market and grow your business.

This subject is covered in the first day of the Rapid Growth Mentoring Program.