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What's #1 On Your Business's Holiday Wish List?

The holiday season is a season of lists: gift lists, card lists, lists of seasonal events, grocery lists for holiday feasts, and lists of New Year’s resolutions. However, as business owners, we can often forget to focus on one of the most important lists for a happy and healthy New Years - building a list of leads.

Whether you’re a nonprofit organization, a financial institution, insurance company, or healthcare provider, you have to create a constant stream of leads to succeed. It’s common to want to complete a sales transaction on your first contact with new leads, but it isn’t a sound strategy. Before consumers and targeted businesses become customers, they are prospects. And prior to becoming a prospect, they are leads. By designing an effective list building strategy, you create an efficient process for attracting leads, qualifying them as prospects, and converting them into customers faster.

Here are six methods you can use to generate a growing list of leads:

1. Write a Blog

Include a blog on your branding site with an opt-in box where visitors can fill in their name and email address to receive automatic updates sent to their email. You can include a RSS feed on your site for collecting contact information, too. A blog offers multiple benefits: it gives you the opportunity to express your expertise to your target audience; it gives them valuable insights and ideas, creating a greater incentive for them to further engage your business; and, if done right, it helps improve your SEO.

2. Publish a Newsletter

Publish a newsletter and create a mechanism where interested readers can subscribe for automatic update notifications in their email. You can create this as a physical mailer and collect names and addresses if that is what your target market prefers, too.

3. Offer a Give-Away

Offer a give-away on your branding site in exchange for contact information. Your give-away could be a white paper, a video, a free trial service, or any other offering that is complementary to your products and services and offers value to your target market. Make sure you give something of value. Too many companies try to trade something as valuable as a lead’s contact information for a cheap tchotchke. Don’t. This will only diminish your brand and get your emails flagged as spam.

4. Conduct a Survey

Conduct a survey with a raffle. By using this tactic, you get the benefit of collecting a list of leads, plus you get insight into your leads’ opinions. You can structure the questions in such a way that the respondents’ answers will help you qualify them as a prospect.

5. Be a Guest Speaker at a Live Event

Find events - live events or webinars / teleseminars – where your target audience will be attending and the even host will share with you the contact information of the attendees. This gives you the opportunity to connect with an audience that you might not otherwise have access to; you get to leverage the visibility and credibility of the host; and you can create a better bond through live interaction with the audience.

6. Get Involved in Social Media

If you think social media doesn’t offer value for your business, you’re giving a big advantage to your competition. While not all social media sites are right for your business, there are a wide variety of media and networking sites where your customers spend time. For example, Facebook can be a great site for B2C companies and nonprofits, while LinkedIn has excellent opportunities for B2B businesses.

If you managed to stay off of Santa’s “naughty” list for 2011 that’s a good start, now make sure your business is ready for 2012 with a full pipeline and a qualified list of “nice” leads.

Happy Holidays!

Incite Creative is a marketing and graphic design firm that specializes in strategic positioning, brand development and creative implementation services for small- to- middle market businesses and organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region. For more information, log onto http://www.incitecreativeinc.com or contact Dina Wasmer at 410-366-9479 ext. 2# or dina@incitecreativeinc.com

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