Lead Generation, “how do I get more business” is a question that is not far from every Small Business owner’s mind. Depending on who you ask, the answer varies. Also the best approaches to lead generation does change from time to time. There are always new trends in marketing.

Most of these new trends are great and show some promise, however if you are a small business, some of these solutions may not be aligned with you bank balance.  For the average small business owner, you may need to rely upon more fiscally responsible options.

To my mind one of the best methods available is to work “the good old list of preferred customers”.  It’s tried and tested. If constructed and used properly it can be a versatile money making device.

However if you get your list wrong, you could be wasting lot of time and money. There are pitfalls. Here are some tips which will help you navigate around the perilous world of lead generation lists.

Purchasing Lists

Not surprisingly, the easiest way to get a list is to buy one. However there are some big risks involved here. When looking to purchase lead generation lists online there are two main things you should be aware of:

  • In Australia it is illegal to email someone if you have obtained that address by using email harvesting software. The Spam Act 2003 is quite clear out this. Always ask the vendor how they get their information. If they are vague, be suspicious.
  • Every list will be out of date: How much out of date will vary. Ask the vendor how often they update. Also randomly select 10% of the list and check the information yourself. This will give you a good indication of how “healthy” the list is.

Building Lists

When building a lead generation list the internet can be your friend. The two best sources are:

  • Google: With the dominance of SEO and Ad words, if you are trying to locate a business, google is your tool.  However because of SEO and Ad words, it can also give you the business owner bit of grief. The chances are you will probably already know the business in on the 1st page.  If you have been doing business for a while they should already know about you.
  • Directories: There are hundreds of business directories out there. Major problem with business directories is that they will only be about 60% to 80% accurate. By accurate I am mainly focusing on up to date. Experience has shown me that the best directories in terms of Accuracy are:

In my opinion, the best directory to use to base your list upon in terms of accuracy and volume of potential leads is Yellow Pages.

Validate Validate

Verifying if a business is still operating is easy.  Just enter the name of the business into google. If the name shows up in either the google search results or in the Google My Business Listing, then the business exists.

Sometime businesses don’t have a Website or aren’t listed in Google my Business. This is especially true for those small business who operate in the “stay at home parent” space.  However they will most likely have a social media presence, so Facebook will be a handy resource. you could look at Instagram, Twitter, etc, but these site don’t give out much contact information.

Please note, just checking to see if the business exists it not enough, you need to ensure all the details you have are correct.  Also the list you are working on may have some details missing, you need to fill those blanks in.

Sometimes you will find information on one source which differs from another source.  Always try and to assess which source is the most recent. If you can’t determine this, then always refer to the information on their website (or social media site) over the directory listing.

What does a good list look like?

Well that can be tricky. It also depends upon what you want to get out the list and importantly based on who your target market is.  Regardless of these two factors each entry of your list should contain the following information:

  • Business name,
  • Address,
  • Phone number,
  • Email address,
  • URL, and
  • (If possible) a contact name.

Concerning contact names and privacy

You need to find out who the decision maker is.  The best places to source this information are; The Business Website and LinkedIn.  If there is a discrepancy between both these two sources, I prefer to use LinkedIn over the business website because a person is more likely to update their employment details faster than a business might.

In some instances you might think you are lucky and find the details of the decision makers personal email account. If this is not associated with the business, then DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE use it. You don’t like people using your personal information, why would others like it when you do it to them?

On other occasions, you might find their personal business email address.  I would advise caution here.  Most business that provide you with an email address want you to use.  Please do so, it’s just good manners.

Although addressing the email to the decision maker can’t hurt. It means you’ve done some research and not just some robot.  The only time I recommend you using their personal business email is if they have given you permission to do so. Some people do this on their business website, it is fairly obvious when the do this.

For some back ground on the legalities about using email addresses please check out a blog I wrote about here.

Lead Generation still looking a bit to tricky?

The biggest problem with building and validating a list is that is very time consuming. Also you have to be a special type of person to likes doing this type of work without going insane.  I suppose this is the main reason for all those business directories and list sellers out there. It is probably because of their success is why the spam act was introduced.

If all this does seem too much for you, then I’ve got news for you.  Building and validating lead generation lists is what we at Better Small Business Solutions excel at.

If you need a list without going through all that hassle then contact us here and I will gladly talk to you about how to make or rebuild a list which will work for you.

Online Research Matters

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