The Ultimate Guide To Lead Generation For Small Business

As we often say:

Sales are the lifeblood of any business.

And if you want to make more sales, you need first to get more leads.

Today we are going to discuss:

  • What is a lead?
  • What is lead generation, and why is it important?
  • How to generate leads for a small business?

Want to keep your sales pipeline full?

Continue reading…

What Is a Lead?

A lead is anyone who has:

  1. Expressed an interest in your product.
  2. Provided you with their contact details.

For example, an email subscriber is a lead because they visited your website and gave you their email address.

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of collecting the contact details of people who have expressed an interest in your product.

There are many different lead generation strategies, but they can all be divided into these two categories:

  • Inbound lead generation is about attracting potential customers (e.g. content marketing).
  • Outbound lead generation is about reaching out to potential customers (e.g. cold calling).

Which one of these two approaches is better?

It depends. Some companies benefit more from inbound lead generation, some from outbound lead generation, and some get the best results by combining the two.

It’s best to try things out for yourself and see what works for your business.

B2C Vs. B2B Lead Generation

It’s worth noting that there are three key differences between B2C lead generation and B2B lead generation.

b2b and b2c lead generation puzzle

#1 B2C Lead Generation is Low-Touch, B2B Lead Generation Is High-Touch

The main difference is this:

  • B2C lead generation is low-touch.
  • B2B lead generation is high-touch.

In other words, the former can be fully automated. Meanwhile, there the latter may require networking, cold outreach, sales presentations, etc.

different stages and statistics of b2b and b2c lead generation process

Of course, this is just the general rule, there are plenty of exceptions.

The lower the price, the lower touch the lead generation, so when you are creating a lead generation strategy, the cost of your product is more important than whether you are selling to consumers or businesses.

For example, a boutique that sells luxury items to consumers may need to put more effort into lead generation than a SaaS company that sells $47/month software to businesses.

#2 B2C Cold Calling Taboo Vs. B2B Cold Calling Norm

b2b and b2c cold calling

Another important difference between B2C and B2B lead generation is the way people view cold outreach.

Cold calling an individual consumer may be seen as invasive and weird. Meanwhile, cold calling the relevant person in a company that may benefit from your product is generally seen as acceptable.

#3 One-Sided B2C Relationships Vs. Personal B2B Relationships

b2b and b2c prospect relationship for lead generation

Relationships are essential in both B2C and B2B lead generation, but the strength of a relationship required to generate a lead is different.

For B2C companies, a one-sided relationship where the company establishes itself as an authority in their field through content but doesn’t interact with individual potential customers may be enough.

However, for B2B companies, personal relationships are much more important because in the world of business, the old “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” adage holds true.

When it comes to making purchases with your employer’s money, there’s additional risk involved because buying the wrong product makes you look bad in front of your boss and can negatively impact your career.

That is why decision-makers want to buy from people they have met in real life, with whom they have personal relationships, and whom they trust.

This means that B2B businesses may benefit from investing in networking by attending industry events, inviting people for lunch, etc.

How To Generate Leads for a Small Business

Okay, so what can you do to generate leads?

Here are seven lead generation strategies that work well for small businesses…

#1 Cold Emails

cold emails for lead generation

Cold emails are the most straightforward way of generating leads.

Justin McGill, the founder of LeadFuze, had great success with this approach.

Here’s how he used cold emails to grow his startup to $30,000 monthly recurring revenue in a year:

Step #1: He Created a List of Potential Customers

LeadFuze is a search engine for leads that can help you find verified email addresses, mobile numbers, and social media information.

Justin created a list of potential customers that he wanted to reach out to, then used his product to find their email addresses.

Alternatively, you can use SellHack, FindEmails, or Hunter to find the email addresses that you need. 

Step #2: He Wrote a Personalized Email To Each of Them Using the Question-Value Proposition-CTA (QVC) Formula

Justin used a specific formula to write his cold emails:

  • Question – He opened with a question that was relevant to that company.
  • Value Proposition – He then got to the core of his message by highlighting what made his product unique.
  • Call-to-Action (CTA) – He ended the email with a clear call to action. “Don’t end the email weakly, with a “Look forward to hearing from you” type closing. Instead, ask directly if they can speak in the next few days OR give them some sort of closing question that begs an answer to elicit some kind of response, ” he explains.

Take a look at this sample cold email that follows the QVC formula:

cold email outreach template

Justin also advises giving the recipient a way to opt-out of follow-up emails:

cold email outreach template

This is important because you don’t want to come across as a spammer that won’t leave them alone.

#3 He Followed-Up on the Initial Cold Email

Merely sending one cold email is not enough. You need to follow up on it.

But Justin didn’t just follow up; he made sure to add value with each subsequent email.

“You don’t want these to be simply “checking in” type messages. Instead, you want to bring more value than you didn’t bring in the first email.

For example, it is the perfect time to now highlight a case study of a company you have worked with and their results, “ he explains.

Justin has seen a lot of success with this email sequence:

  1. QVC Email
  2. Case Study
  3. Value Add (recent blog post link, relevant news article, another case study, etc.).
  4. Break-up Email (letting them know you won’t be following up anymore).

You can also experiment with sending follow-up emails until you get a response, whatever that response may be. Just remember that each email should add value!

#2 Cold Calls

cold calling for lead generation

Cold calling may be nerve-racking, but it’s another straightforward way to generate leads. It can work well once you get the hang of it.

Here are a few tips that will help you get better results with this lead generation method:

Stop Being Awkward

People are often uncomfortable with cold calling.

They either feel as if they are begging for the sale or pushing their product onto someone. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Best-selling author and renowned sales coach Grant Cardone emphasize that if you believe in your product, then not trying to sell it would disservice potential customers. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

So do you believe in your product? Then you are doing people a favor by cold calling them. You are letting them know about something that would add value to their lives.

Pre-Qualify Leads

You don’t want to waste your time calling up businesses that have no use for your product.

That’s why it’s important to research each company before contacting them to make sure that they belong to your target audience.

Look at the company’s LinkedIn profile, recent press coverage, news on their blog, etc.

This will give you a better understanding of whether or not they would benefit from your product.

Do Customer Research

Once you have pre-qualified a lead, it is time to do customer research.

Here’s what you want to understand:

  • What challenges is the company facing right now?
  • What challenges is the decision-maker facing right now?

You want to present your product to make it clear not only how it will solve a specific problem for a company but also how it will make the decision maker’s life easier.

Keep in mind that the better you understand a potential customer, the easier it is to sell to them, so make sure to do your homework before picking up the phone.

Learn more: Why Entrepreneurs Feel Like A School Bully When Selling On The Phone” (ClickFunnels)

#3 Blogging

blogging for lead generation

Blogging is a great inbound lead generation strategy.

Here’s how you can turn your blog into a lead generation machine:

Step #1: Do Keyword Research

You probably already have a pretty good idea of what your target audience is struggling with.

Do keyword research to identify specific keywords related to those problems that can attract a significant amount of traffic if you rank for them.

Ubbersuggest is a free keyword research tool that you can use for that.

unersuggest dashboard for keyword research

Alternatively, you can use Ahrefs, which is arguably the most powerful SEO tool on the market.

ahref homepage screenshot

Learn more: “Keyword Research for Your Business”(ClickFunnels)

Step #2: Create SEO Content

Now that you have a list of profitable keywords, it’s time to create SEO content around them. 

What matters the most is that you provide genuine value to the reader. Your article should be a comprehensive guide to that particular topic. It should tell the reader everything they need to know about it.

It’s best to go to Google, search for that keyword, then read all the results on the first page. How can you make your article better than what it is currently ranking?

Clearscope comes in handy here. It allows you to analyze competitor content quickly and then optimize your content accordingly. 

writing blog post about best travel credit card

Learn more:“What is SEO Content? How to Write Content that Ranks” (Ahrefs)

Step #3: Get Backlinks

Backlinks are the most important ranking signal that tells Google that your content deserves to be on the first page.

This makes sense. When established websites link to your site, they are effectively vouching for it. Presumably, they wouldn’t link to it if they didn’t think you offer quality content.

That’s why writing great articles isn’t enough to build a popular blog; you need to go out there and get those backlinks.

Here are the three most straightforward ways to do that:

  • Guest post – The easiest way to get a backlink from an authoritative website is to write a free blog post for them. Adam Enfroy used guest posting to grow his blog from zero to 178,021 unique visitors in 2019, so it works.
  • Broken link building – Use Ahfrefs to analyze list posts on popular websites in your niche, find broken links in them, then email the site owners to let them know about the links and suggest your blog posts that they could link to instead. 
  • Creating linkable resources – You can also get links by creating resources that other people want to include in their content (infographics, statistics, case studies, etc.). Remember the infographic at the beginning of this article that illustrates the difference between low-touch and high-touch sales? That’s a great example of linkable content. CrankWheel got a backlink from us without contacting us because they created an image that happens to add value to this post.

It’s important to understand that if you want to create a popular blog in 2021, you need to be aggressive about link building.

 A link here and a link there is not enough. You should aim to build at least one link per week proactively. Ideally more.

For example, back in 2019, Adam Enfroy wrote 80+ blog posts in one year to get his blog off the ground.

That’s the pace you should set for yourself if you are serious about blogging.

Learn more:Link Building for SEO: The Definitive Guide(Backlinko)

Step #4: Create a Lead Magnet

Once your blog starts getting traffic, it’s time to convert that traffic into leads.

You can do that by offering website visitors a freebie in exchange for their email address.

This freebie is called a lead magnet. It can be an e-book, a case study, an email course, a video course, an app, etc. What matters is that it provides genuine value to the visitor.

What does “genuine value” mean? It means that the lead magnet should provide a solution to a problem that the visitor struggles with. 

For example, Jon Morrow is a famous blogger that teaches people how to build a lucrative freelance writing career. 

When you go to his website SmartBlogger you are immediately offered a free cheat sheet for becoming a freelance writer:

freebie offer from jon morrow's smartblogger site

If you are an aspiring freelance writer, you want to know how to get that first paycheck, so you probably won’t hesitate to give Jon Morrow your email address.

Of course, it’s not enough to promise a website visitor something extraordinary in exchange for their email address; you then have to deliver on what you promised. It better be good!

Keep in mind that people use your free content to decide whether they should invest in your premium products, so you want to exceed their expectations with your lead magnet.

Learn more:“How To Create a Lead Magnet That is Highly Effective [With Examples]”(ClickFunnels)

Step #5: Use Pop-Ups to Collect Emails

You can capture more email addresses with pop-ups.

Use ClickFunnels to set up an exit-intent pop-up shown to people as they are about to leave your website. You have nothing to lose at that point.

You may also want to consider experimenting with other types of pop-ups, such as a welcome pop-up shown to the visitor when they arrive on your website. 

That’s riskier because you may alienate the visitor, but you won’t know if it’s worth it until you split test it.

#4 Paid Advertising

paid advertisement drawing

Now that you have a lead magnet, you can promote it via paid advertising.

Step #1: Create a Landing Page for the Lead Magnet

You should start by creating a landing page for the lead magnet. Think about it as a sales page for your freebie. Its purpose is to “sell” the lead magnet.

Step #2: Create an Ad for the Lead Magnet

You should then create an ad that promotes your lead magnet.

Make sure that you emphasize the main benefit a potential customer will derive from getting it.

Remember that Jon Morrow’s subheadline “Go From Total Beginner to Watching Your First Paycheck Deposited in Your Bank Account”?

That’s a great example of a powerful copy. What does an aspiring freelance writer want the most? That first paycheck! 

Now, the question is, what do your potential customers want the most?

Step #3: Drive Traffic To the Landing Page

Run the ad and send people that click on it to the landing page. 

What’s important here is that you figure out how to get email subscribers profitably.

Learn more:“7 Ways to Lower Your Facebook Advertising Costs”(ClickFunnels)

#5 Podcast Sponsorships

Did you know that 75% of the United States population over age 12 are familiar with podcasts?

And U.S. weekly podcast listeners listen to an average of six podcasts per week:

statistics on podcast listeners in us

Consider sponsoring a podcast in your niche. It doesn’t have to be big. What matters is that its listeners are your target audience. 

Usually, podcast advertising includes a custom link for that podcast’s listeners to get a special offer, usually a discount.

However, that special offer can be your lead magnet, in which case you would be using podcast advertising to generate leads.

#6 Print Advertising

print advertising for lead generation

Print advertising may seem old-fashioned, but it nevertheless works well for some small businesses, especially the brick-and-mortar ones.

You can make print advertising more effective by including a link to your lead magnet landing page and a call to action encouraging people to download it.

You can also make it easier for them to provide a QR code that takes them straight to the landing page.

#7 Networking

network building for lead generation

As we have discussed in the section on the differences between B2C and B2B lead generation, personal relationships play an essential role in B2B sales.

So if you have a B2B business, you may want to consider investing in networking by attending industry meetups, conferences, etc.

You may also want to reach out to individual people in your space and invite them to lunch just to get to know each other.

Of course, you shouldn’t expect immediate results from this, but if you play the long game and consistently work at building your network, it will eventually generate leads.


Generating leads is how you keep your sales pipeline full.

When you are just starting, you might have to reach out to potential customers yourself, but your aim should be to eventually get to the point where potential customers come to you instead.

You should also look for ways to automate lead generation as much as possible. 

That may mean complete automation for B2C businesses or partial automation for B2B businesses. You need to figure out what works for your company.

What matters is that you create a system that allows you to generate high-quality leads consistently.