Marketing Basics: Generating Leads & Following Up


When I talk to beginning web writers, they say the scariest part of getting started is marketing their new business.

Today I’ll share fast ways you can start marketing your business right away. These techniques range from pretty easy to extremely painful, in my opinion. Of course, what I think is painful might be your idea of easy.

For example, I do not like cold-calling, but there are some web writers who do. (If you’re one of these web writers, you’ll be able to generate a ton of leads because so few web writers like picking up the phone.)

Beyond cold-calling — and the ideas in this article — there are probably a thousand ways to generate leads. The most important thing when it comes to marketing is to remember that consistency equals results.

No matter which method you choose, stick with it consistently.

Now, before we talk about how to generate leads, let’s cover, “What is a lead?”

A lead is a potential client who expresses an interest in your web-writing services. They might call you, send you an email, or fill out a form on your website. As long as they gave you their name and a way to contact them, they are a lead.

A lead that you found on your own (through LinkedIn, for example), can be called a “cold lead,” but for this article, I’ll call those people “contacts.”

Your goal is to turn contacts into leads. Then, you can turn those leads into clients.

Generating Leads

Here are four proven ways to generate leads for your web-writing business — like I said, this list just scratches the surface:

  1. Phone calls — I find phone calls terrifying, but the few times I’ve tried them they’ve been extremely effective. My tip here is to remember that you are offering to help the person on the other end of the phone to make more money. You’re not bothering them. You’re a professional offering a professional service.

    Remember, this article is about generating leads so the goal of your call is to talk to someone who expresses an interest in your services.

    Step 1 is getting a contact — or a name and number of the person you need to call. (If they asked you to call, they are already a lead. We’ll talk about how to follow up with them in a moment.)

    Depending on your niche, you can usually find contact information you need on the company’s website, through LinkedIn, or by calling the company’s main number and asking for the person in charge of marketing.

    You can also send cold emails to potential leads, instead of calling, but keep in mind that it isn’t usually as effective.

    If you’re like me (scared to death of cold-calling), here’s a great article from Mindy McHorse to help you get over that fear.

  2. Direct mail — Direct mail is a great way to generate leads if you’re scared to pick up the phone. Instead of calling, you write and mail a letter to generate interest among potential clients.

    Your goal of the letter is not to get hired. Instead, you’re trying to generate a lead: someone who expresses an interest in your web-writing services. The best way to do this is to offer them something of value, like a free report. Once they respond to get the report, they’ve become a lead, which you can begin to follow up with (more on that in a minute).

    Here’s a detailed article from Pete Savage that explains how to write your direct mail self-promotion letter.

  3. Website with an Opt-In Form — Just like your direct-mail letter, your website should also offer something of value, like a free report.

    This method works to generate leads because you won’t just give away the report. Instead, you should ask for their name and email address (or phone number) in exchange for the report.

    If you don’t have a website, you can learn how to set one up here. Then, check out this article called, “How To Choose A Topic For Your Bait Piece.” Finally, check out Sid Smith’s article called, “How to Attract Real, Live Visitors to Your New Website.”

  4. Social media — Social media is one of my favorite techniques for generating leads because it’s fun and quick. But, it’s not nearly as effective as reaching out to potential leads through phone calls or direct mail.

When it comes to social media, there’s a lot to know, but basically the steps are: set up a profile, include what you do in your bio, and network with professionals who are likely to need your services.

Once someone contacts you about your work, they have become a lead. Of course, you can use social media to drive traffic to your website where you can get a lead when they request your report.

If you’re interested in generating leads through social media, be sure to check out these articles:

Following Up

Generating leads for your business is just your first step. Next, you need to follow up with your leads with the goal of turning them into clients and landing paying projects.

Sometimes your leads won’t be ready to become clients when they first meet you. That’s why consistently following up is necessary.

The follow up is all about keeping in touch with leads and providing value so when they need to hire a web writer, you come to mind. There are two ways you can tackle your follow-up processes:

  1. Manually — The manual method means that you take time out of each day or week to call or email potential clients. This can be very effective because each contact is personalized. But, it can be very time-consuming and once you’re heavily booked you might be tempted to skip following up. Remember, it’s important to stay consistent with your marketing efforts. That’s why the automatic method is useful …
  2. Automatically — The automatic method is best done by building an email list. If you are sending people to your website to opt-in for your report (or other offer), you are already building an email list.

Otherwise, you can build a list by asking each lead if you can add them to your email list. Then, you can write one or two e-letters a month and keep in touch automatically by loading them into an email service provider.

For more help setting up your e-letter, check out this article about using an autoresponder sequence to market your web-writing business.

The best method for following up is a mixture of manual and automatic. You can automatically keep in touch with all your leads and also throw in some manual follow up to increase your conversion rates.

So, how long should you follow up?

It depends on the client, but if they don’t want you to contact them, they’ll let you know. Until they tell you to stop contacting them (or they opt-out of your email list), keep in touch with them. You never know when they might decide they need your services.

How often should you follow up?

In the beginning, you’ll want to follow up more often because that’s when they’re most likely to buy. You might follow up twice in the first week, then once a week for the next few weeks, then drop it down to your once-a-month e-letter. But, remember; base your follow up on your client. If they ask you to follow up at a certain time, do so.

In future articles, we’ll cover other Marketing Basics like, “Generating Repeat Business and Referrals” and “Closing the Sale and Asking for More.”

So how about you? What techniques do you use for generating leads and following up? What questions do you have? Comment below.

<< Previous Series Article | Next Series Article >>

This article is part of the Marketing Basics series.

Series Table of Contents:

  1. Marketing Basics: Shameless Self-Promotion and Attracting Clients
  2. Marketing Basics: Generating Leads & Following Up (This Article)
  3. Marketing Basics: Closing the Sale & Asking for More
  4. Marketing Basics: Generating Repeat Business and Referrals

Christina Gillick

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