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18 High Impact Marketing & Lead Generation Strategies For Small Business in 2021

2020 Was A Tough Year For Small Business

If you’re like most small business owners, you have likely experienced a drop off in new business along with fewer inquiries, messages & phone calls. This has been the norm for businesses across a wide variety of industries.

According to the Local Economic Impact Report from Yelp, more than 60% of small businesses that closed their doors back in March have still not reopened. 

Even businesses that have managed to stay open have reported far less profitability than at the same time last year, with more than 48% saying they are still not profitable or currently operating at a loss.

Small Business Marketing in 2021

25% Of Small Businesses Could Close Because of Covid 19

A recent study by Mckinsey that examined the effects of Covid on small business also made a startling discovery. In some industries, as many as 1 in 4 small businesses could close permanently due to the effects & repercussions of COVID-19. 

The most vulnerable businesses face multiple threats simultaneously from financial & competitive factors, in addition to ongoing restrictions due to Covid.

But interestingly enough not all businesses are struggling. Some small businesses, even those in the hardest-hit industries, are not only surviving the pandemic but thriving in it. 

How Some Businesses Pivoted During The Pandemic

We’re not talking about face mask manufacturers, e-commerce giants, or big tech companies, but regular local businesses in a variety of industries. How did they do it & what can we learn from them?

Some businesses have managed not only to stay afloat during the pandemic but have excelled in face of lockdowns, restrictions, and layoffs. 

Mr. Holmes, a local bakery in California that was put out of business overnight during the lockdown. Instead of throwing in the towel, they re-strategize & re-opened as an e-Commerce website, selling bread-making kits to tons of newfound amateur bakers on their social media. 

Other brands like Remarkable Liquids, a beverage distributor in New York with more than 5,000 bar & restaurant clients lost 70% of their clients when the shutdown happened. Making matters worse was the $400,000+ of perishable draft beer and cider inventory they now had in their warehouse. 

Thinking fast on their feet (for both themselves & their clients) they bought growlers (steel jugs for transporting draft beer) and got to work transitioning into the beer takeout & delivery business. 

Does Your Business Need To Pivot Or Just Find New Customers?

The case studies above are good examples of what to do if your entire industry is turned upside down and you’re forced to reinvent yourself overnight, but what if it’s not that extreme? 

Instead of losing 70% of your customers overnight, maybe you lost 20% and then experienced a downturn in new business ever since? What if your normal 10-20-50+ inquiries have gone down to 2 or 3 per month, maybe even 0? 

Sometimes you don’t need to pivot to different types of customers or change the services you offer entirely, you just need new ways to find new customers. 

That’s what this guide is about. No matter where you’re located and which industry you’re in, we want to help you diversify your lead generation strategy & find new customers for your business consistently in 2021.

In this guide, we’ll break down 18 of the most effective lead generation strategies for small businesses that we’re aware of. Let’s get started.

1) The 80/20 Campaign: Use The Power of The 80/20 Rule in Your Business, Marketing & Advertising

The 8020 Rule Highly persuasive

What Is The 80/20 Rule?

The 80/20 rule is more of a strategy than a campaign itself, but it can be used as part of your campaigns and if there’s one philosophy you can apply across everything else you do, it’s this one. 

The Pareto principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 rule, it’s a universal law that states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. 

It was first observed by Vilfredo Pareto back in the late 1800s to demonstrate that 80% of the land and wealth in Italy was owned by less than 20% of the population. When people started looking into it, they discovered that it applied to a surprising number of situations in other areas of life. Here are a few examples:

  • The US Government found that the top 20% of taxpayers pay 80-90% of all income tax. 
  • In computing, Microsoft observed that fixing 20% of most reported bugs eliminated 80% of all the reported errors.
  • In one health care study in the United States, 20% of patients were found to be using 80% of the whole health care resources.
  • Roughly 80% of the world’s GDP is owned by 10%-20% of nations.
  • In manufacturing, 80% of the production volume is focused on 20% of the SKUs
  • In Hollywood, 80% of box office revenue comes from 20% of movies. 

There are countless other examples of the Pareto principle in action. It can be found in government, finance, engineering, manufacturing, healthcare, the military, and countless others, but how can you apply 80/20 in your business? 

How Does 80/20 Apply To Your Business?

You don’t have to apply 80/20 in your business at first, but look for and actively notice it. It’s likely already operating in multiple areas of your business from sales, to marketing to operations. Here are just a few of the ways that 80/20 might be operating within your business as across a wide range of departments:

  • 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your clients/accounts
  • 80% of clients come from 20% of marketing/advertising efforts
  • 80% of referrals come from 20% of your clients
  • 80% of your website traffic goes to 20% of website pages.
  • 80% of your customers use 20% of features
  • 80% of sales meetings come from 20% of emails

I think you get the picture. 80/20 can be found in many areas of your business. When we notice it and harness it to our advantage, that’s when the magic starts to happen.

How To Take Advantage of 80/20 In Your Business?

All sorts of books and papers have been written on the Pareto principle & its underlying principle, especially in business & marketing.

The One Thing by Gary Keller is probably one of the best because it provides you with practical advice on how to apply the underlying principle behind 80/20 it to the day to day of your business and personal life to accomplish big goals.

80/20 is a powerful strategy but it also requires you to do things a little differently. Here’s a couple of ways how:

  1. You have to try out multiple strategies to find out what works. You’ll rarely find the ‘winner’ on the first or second try.
  2. You have to measure everything to find out what’s working and what’s not working. Apply shared KPIs across channels that you can use to measure results.
  3. You have to double down on what’s working & eliminate what isn’t working, but not too early. Give strategies time to work for you before pulling the plug.

One important thing to note. Like most things in life, the 80/20 rule is not an exact science per se, but more of a universal law of distribution. 

You’re not always going to get the breakdown of 80/20. Sometimes the ratio is 99/1, 90/10, or 70/30, but the important thing to remember is that no matter what you do, there will always be a minority of your efforts that’s responsible for the majority of results. 

Take Action:
Look for it, recognize it, and use it to your advantage. If you do nothing else besides adopting the 80/20 mindset you will be lightyears ahead of the competition for reasons they can’t begin to comprehend.

2) The Foundation: Convert Your Website Into A Sales, Marketing & Lead Generation System For Your Business

Small Business Website Design Agency Thailand

Some things may never go back to the way they were before the pandemic. Depending on your business, the way that customers buy might be one of them. 

Customers are more comfortable than ever researching, comparing, eliminating & shortlisting service providers based entirely on their websites. Many don’t even consider reaching out or interacting with a sales rep until after they’ve completed their competitive research and are ready to buy.

This poses a particular challenge for small business owners because although most already have a website, few have had to rely on it as a primary channel for lead generation & business development, at least until now. 

Your Website Has To Do More Than Just Look Good in 2021

For many businesses, the website will play a much larger role in business development & lead generation than ever before.  If your brand isn’t visible or top of mind when people are searching for the services you offer, you may struggle to be seen by customers, let alone convince them to buy.

Not only do you have to get found in search, but you also have to demonstrate how you’re different from competitors and persuade customers to take action, all from your website. What makes things much more challenging is that you only have 7 seconds to make a strong first impression with prospective clients to get them to stick around & learn more.

7 second rule 01 01 01

Offline Brand Positioning Vs Online Brand Positioning

If you’re like most businesses, you naturally do a great job of positioning your business in the offline world. 

You’ve spent years investing in your business & customers by building trust with your clients at the local level. People in your community likely recognize your brand name and know what it means to do business with you.

Online it’s an entirely different story. When people search for service providers in Google or Bing, they probably don’t know anything about your business. 

This could be because they live outside of your regular service area or simply because they’ve never needed your type of services before and now are unaware of companies in your space. Whatever the reason, it falls on your website to convince them why they should work with you instead of the other guys. 

The more detailed and persuasive your website can be in helping clients understand their problem, showing them how you’ve solved the very same problem for other people and showing them how you can solve it for them, the better off you’ll be. 

In other words, your website’s job is to get your company shortlisted by pre-selling customers before they contact you.

How To Convey Your Brand Credibility & Expertise Online

Most companies already have a website, but what might surprise you is how much your website influences your client’s decision to buy or not buy.

Everything from the site’s layout, design, messaging, & imagery down to the font, color & button text contribute to the way that potential clients perceive your business or brand. This is especially true when interacting with your brand for the first time.

These first impressions gut feelings are entirely subconscious and based on several influence & persuasion factors present on your website. 

We can dive into some of the many conversion factors in another guide, but the bottom line here is that if the client feels like your business is not a match for whatever reason, it’s going to be challenging or impossible to change their mind.

What Does Your Website Need To Generate Leads?

Redesigning your website to focus on lead generation, brand positioning & conversion optimization is a complex topic that is beyond the scope of this guide. 

If you want to get an idea of where you stand right now and which areas are likely to boost your conversions, we have a free evaluation that you might be interested in.

Website Conversion Evaluation for Small Business Highly Persuasive

Our 70 Point Conversion Evaluation For Small Business compares your website against 70+ best practices in a wide range of areas.

  • Direct Response Marketing
  • Psychology 
  • Copywriting 
  • Objective Design 
  • Seo & Local Seo
  • Brand Positioning 
  • Brand Strategy
  • Messaging 
  • User Experience
  • Conversion Optimization

If you’re interested in getting this free evaluation for your business or if you want a web design agency with experience building websites specifically for direct response & lead generation that can do all of this for you,  email us directly at [email protected] to get started.

3) The Ready To Buy Campaign: Reach People That Are Ready To Buy What You Sell Right Now

Ready To Buy Campaign

The fastest & most straightforward way to find new customers is to buy them.

You can buy them directly from lead brokers that specialize in your industry or you can purchase unwanted leads from your direct competitors.

But the most lucrative leads will be the ones you collect yourself from a paid search advertising or paid lead generation campaign. 

Why You Should Try Paid Leads Before Other Types of Marketing

Pay Per Click advertising is one of the fastest ways to acquire targeted leads for your business online because it taps directly into existing demand for your services. 

Yes, it can be expensive, but it’s still one of the most effective ways for businesses with high-value services or high lifetime values to find new customers online.

Depending on your industry, location & competition you can expect to consistently acquire qualified leads regularly & still generate a significant return on ad spend or ROI over the lifetime value of your customer.

In competitive service industries like roofing, construction, local services, plumbing, electricians, & even attorneys, a pay per the lead strategy is often factored right into the business model. We know of one roofing company in Denver that’s been spending more than $40,000 per month for years because the leads drive so much business value. 

But you don’t need a massive advertising budget to make paid lead generation work for your business, even as little as $500 per month can result in a real return on investment for your business.

Google Is Now A Fundamental Part Of The Buyer’s Journey

In many businesses, the way that customers buy is largely the same. They might buy different services at different prices for different reasons, but they all buy in more or less the same process. 

This is what’s known as your “buyer’s journey”. The buyer’s journey changes slightly for each business, but you can simplify this down into three main stages. Here’s a more in-depth example of a buyer’s journey and how you can target buyers at each stage with your sales, marketing, and advertising initiatives.

Buyer Journey Map

Source: B2B International

Does Google Advertising Work For Every Business?

Successful digital advertising depends greatly on what you sell, where you’re located, and who you’re competing against.

In major metropolitan cities in the US & abroad, cost per click for B2B & professional services businesses can easily range from $10-$50+ per click which makes it difficult (but not impossible) for smaller businesses to generate a return on investment.

On the other hand, if your average project or lifetime value is worth $1k-$20k+ or much more, you can afford to spend a lot more to acquire new customers.

PPC ads can generate a massive return on investment in a very short time. We were able to achieve a 3,733% ROI for our client in less than 60 days using Pay per click ads and direct response marketing.

Take Action:

Setting up & running a successful PPC campaign is a complex topic with many moving parts. Google offers some guidance, which is helpful for beginners if a bit poorly laid out. 

Most businesses just want results now. If you don’t have the time to learn and manage AdWords but still want the immediate and powerful benefits of a paid lead generation campaign, consider hiring a Google Ads Management Agency that can handle everything for you for a low monthly management fee.

4) The Brand Visibility Campaign: Optimize Your Website & Rank Higher In Google With Local SEO 

Local SEO Agency

SEO optimization is the act of optimizing your website for keywords and phrases that people search Google for related to the products and services you sell. 

Even basic SEO optimization can result in significant changes to your website’s ranking & search traffic, causing Google to better match you with qualified buyers in your service areas.

Focus On Local SEO To Attract Highly Targeted Website Visitors

If you’ve never had your website optimized for on-page SEO then you will likely see noticeable results in search traffic & rankings within the first few months.

Regular SEO  targets national or international ranking positions in Google search, but 

Local SEO focuses on getting your business to appear higher in the Google search results only in your local service areas. 

For example, “electrician in Houston” or “plumber San Diego”. Research shows that 46% of all searches in Google have “local intent” attached to them. To take advantage of local SEO and rank your business higher in search for keywords related to your city + services, you need to optimize your website for local SEO. 

Although these types of searches might get fewer searches, these local searches are often highly qualified & lead to much higher conversion rates overall.

While it can be challenging to rank these terms in major cities without a dedicated SEO agency, smaller markets can be much less competitive. This is especially true outside of the US & particularly in emerging markets.

Local SEO Optimization Services

Local SEO Example for Roofing Company in El Paso, TX

If you were a roofing company based in El Paso, TX, and your site has never been optimized, your website’s homepage might be named something like “Home – Company Name” or simply “Company Name”.

The problem is that most of your ideal customers online probably won’t know your brand name, so they aren’t going to be searching for you by name. But what they are searching for are the products and services you sell.

For example, in many local service-based businesses, people generally search for service + location like “roofing company el Paso” or “roofing Contractor in El Paso”. 

How To Optimize Your Website For On-Page SEO

All on-page SEO starts with professional SEO keyword research to see what people are searching for in your local service areas. 

  1. Research your industry, competitors, & customers to uncover what they’re searching for and how they’re searching for it
  2. Compare & contrast which keywords have the most search volume, search difficulty, and cost per click (for google advertising)
  3. Fully optimize your website to target these keywords and keyword themes using best practices in ON page SEO Optimization.

It’s also worth noting that on-page SEO alone isn’t enough to rank you high in the search results, at least for the long term. You also need a solid off-page SEO campaign focused on building links, increasing authority, and boosting your rankings for a list of target keywords.

Take Action:

Optimizing your website for SEO can be one of the most effective things you can do to bring in new visitors and exposure in the long term and the sooner you can get it implemented the better. Google offers an in-depth guide on SEO optimization which is supposed to be for beginners but is a bit difficult if you don’t have web development and search marketing experience.

There are countless other resources out there if you want to do it in-house, but if you just want the results and want it done quickly, consider hiring a dedicated SEO agency to do all of this for you so you can focus on running your business. 

Watch out for SEO agencies/freelancers that use (or recommend using) Grey or Black Hat SEO tactics to ‘trick’ Google into ranking your site higher. These tactics might work in the short term but will end up getting your site penalized or even delisted from search altogether. Only use the recommended SEO guidelines that Google provides to be safe.

5) Social Proof: Boost Your Lead Generation & Conversion Rates By Applying Social Proof To Your Website & Marketing

Social Proof in Marketing

What Is Social Proof?

According to WikipediaSocial proof is a psychological and social phenomenon wherein people copy the actions of others in an attempt to undertake behavior in a given situation”.

The use of social proof can be found in many areas of marketing, advertising & sales dating back thousands of years, but let’s talk about how you can use it in modern business to build trust & authority with your audience.

According to Dr. Robert Cialdini, who studied the principles of persuasion in real-world experiments in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, “we view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it”. 

In other words, we follow the actions of others in situations where we are uncertain about what to do. We look to the people & experts around us who have already done what we want to do and follow their actions/advice on how to proceed. 

It’s why you’ll seek out a full restaurant among a street of empty ones or why people trust user reviews from strangers more than marketing & sales materials from companies. At its core, this is the concept of social proof. Here are 6 ways that it’s used in modern business that you can weave into other types of campaigns or as a standalone.

1. The Expert

When an expert in your industry or person in a position of influence (teacher/advisor) recommends your brand to their followers, clients, or other businesses. 

2. The Celebrity/Influencer

Celebrities that endorse your products and services to their followers achieve the same effect as they are ‘vouching’ for your credibility. Found in promoted Instagram posts, commercials, partnerships & sponsorships

3. The Customer

Current & past customers recommend your services based on their experiences with your brand. Present in reviews, testimonials, video testimonials, and others.

4. The Crowd

When a large group of people is seen to be endorsing your brand/product/services. If so many people are using it, it must be good right?

5. The Recommendation

For some recommendations, people trust their family and friends more than all of the other types of social proof. 

6. Brand Recognition

You get the stamp of approval by an authoritative brand, organization, or government in your industry that partners with you, recommend, or uses your services. 

6 Formats of Social Proof In Marketing

How To Use Social Proof On Your Website To Boost Conversions

Over 92% of online consumers look at a product review before making a purchase & 57% of consumers will only buy or use a business service if it has at least a 4-star rating.

Business owners can tap into the power of social proof as a tactic for generating credibility and authority with their visitors online. Showcase your reviews, testimonials & even recent activity like downloads, signups & messages by using a digital social proof service can help you build authority perpetually.

6) The Easy Win Campaign: Maximize Your Online Brand Visibility Through Google My Business

Google My Business

If you’re just getting started with focusing on your online brand presence, Google My Business is one of the very first places to start. 

Even if you already have a profile, taking the time to go back and fill it out will help you see noticeable improvements in rankings, especially if you haven’t yet set up or fully optimized your online properties before.

Together with on-page SEO, optimizing your Google My Business profile correctly is one of the easiest ways to improve your brand awareness on Google.

How Does Google My Business Help You Reach More Customers?

The main objective of Google My Business is to have your business’s key information like address, phone, email, hours, services, service areas, photos, reviews, and more consistent and available online – verified by Google.

This helps Google show your brand for local searches related to the services you sell (local SEO) and is highly recommended for linking to all types of online advertising.

Your business can show up all over Google properties in places like search, maps, images, voice, discovery, shopping, and more

Take Action: How To Set Up Google My Business

Setting up Google My Business can be broken down into two parts. The initial verification and listing setup and then going through and filling out the entire profile. 

To get started with verifying your business, go to, and just follow the steps on the screen. At the end of the process, you’ll need to verify the business, usually via postcard to confirm it’s a real address. This can take a few weeks. 

Once you’re verified, you’ll want to make sure that you fill out all of the different areas to maximize your exposure across Google properties.

If you’d like someone to do this for you we offer full setup as part of our website management packages or with all of our digital marketing campaigns.

7) The Low Hanging Fruit Campaign: Run Remarketing Ad Campaigns To Target Customers That Didn’t Convert But Almost Did

According to Salesforce, the average sale takes between 5-8 touches before a purchase takes place. If your visitors are only seeing your website one time, they’re highly unlikely to convert on that single visit.

If you don’t have a strategy in place to track and retarget those visitors in different places online, they’re essentially lost forever and you could be missing out on revenue opportunities.  How can you reach these people and get them to buy? Remarketing campaigns.

remarketing ads services for small business

How To Target People Who’ve Visited Your Website

Remarketing campaigns target visitors who visited your website but didn’t end up converting into customers. From this basic list of people who visited your website, you can narrow it down even further by creating custom audiences in analytics that only include visitors that meet certain requirements.

For example:

  • Number of pages visited
  • Time spent on page
  • Time spent on site
  • Source of acquisition
  • Location & tons more

You can then set up advertising campaigns targeting those specific groups of people with unique messaging and ad creative that targets them based on an action they took on your website. 

For example, if someone downloaded a guide or visited a certain page, you can tailor your messaging to their specific experience. Remarketing can work well to convert those clients who didn’t take action but almost did.

Take Action
Remarketing campaigns can be an incredibly effective way to drive more sales from your existing website traffic.

At the same time just because someone visited your website doesn’t mean they were a qualified visitor. Segment your campaigns according to key engagement metrics and you’ll see better overall results.

If you need someone to set up a remarketing campaign for you, we are a full-service digital advertising agency specializing in all types of Google Adwords & Facebook Advertising.

8) The Remember Me Campaign: Target People Who’ve Bought In The Past With Reactivation


Reaching out to previous customers is one of the easiest ways for businesses to generate new revenue. Depending on the size of your customer database, this activity alone could bring you all the business you can handle.

How To Approach A Reactivation Marketing Campaign

You’ve already worked with these clients at some point in the past, so you likely have their email, phone number, and address. The idea is to let them know that you value their business and want to offer them something to get them back. 

It needs to feel exclusive & substantial. This could be a free one-off service, a free trial on a new service, a special promotion, or an account credit they can apply on their invoice. The main thing is that it needs to feel high value, custom, and substantial.

The medium that you reach out to is less important. It could be a phone, email, or direct mail but the most effective campaigns use multiple communications to get the highest chance of response. 

For example, you might start with an email marketing campaign first, but if you don’t get a response, then you can switch over to a cold calling campaign. If that doesn’t work you can send a direct mail piece or target them in other areas. You’re reaching out to people in multiple formats & multiple channels until they respond.

Take Action

The offer needs to be significant enough to capture their attention by demonstrating value.  It needs to feel high value and let your former clients know that their business matters and you want to get it back. 

Test out different offers until you find one-two that works better than all the others.

9) The Brand Advisor Campaign: Create or Revise Your Client Referral Program For Modern Times

create you a world class referral policy

Referrals are powerful sales tools for all types of businesses. A study by Heinz Marketing found that  84% of B2B decision-makers start the buying process with a referral. 

One study by Neilsen saw that 92 % of consumers trust reviews and recommendations from people they know, and are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.

Creating a referral program is often an overlooked way to generate highly qualified leads that are more likely to convert into clients than all other marketing channels. There’s a catch of course. Any old referral program won’t cut it.

In a study published by Texas Tech University, 83% of consumers are willing to refer a brand after a positive experience—yet only 29% do.

Three Keys to a Referral Program That Generates Results

When designing a referral program there are many elements to consider, but here the 3 of the main ones

1) Client Incentives:

Clients are busy if you want them to bring you leads you have to offer them something to make it worth their while.

You might think that a cash incentive would be the strongest way to do this,  but a study by the University of Chicago found that cash incentives were 24% less effective than non-cash-based incentives.

Consider offering alternative incentives such as discounts,  vouchers for business service, or loyalty program style rewards like free hotel stays, meals, and gifts.

2) Timing of Referral:

One of the biggest mistakes you can make outside of not asking for the referral is asking for the referral at the wrong time. Most people ask for the referral at the very end of the project, but leveraging strategic timing can make all the difference.

Asking for referrals immediately after key project milestones are achieved and when your clients are feeling the most pleased with your service can be the ideal time to pitch the referral.

3) Clarity Of Referral Incentive

Ensuring your program is clear and easy to follow is essential. Dedicate a page on your website to explaining the program details and how it works. Be sure to include frequently asked questions or questions that you think your customers would have right on the page itself.

If there is a minimum requirement or other criteria required to be eligible for the rewards, be sure to make that information immediately clear. Otherwise, you could risk aggravating customers who have gone to the trouble to recommend you but that doesn’t meet the requirements for the reward. 

It’s always helpful to study what your competitors are doing, but consider looking outside of your industry for inspiration and you’ll likely have a more unique referral experience than others in your industry.

Bonus tip, include a link to your referral program right in your email signature to subtly market your program every time you send a message.

10) The Out of Home Campaign: Use Billboards & OOH Advertising To Get Customers to Take Action

If you’ve tried billboards or other forms of out-of-home advertising, you know that one of three things usually ends up happening.

  1. You run the ad but there is no noticeable surge in sales
  2. You run the ad but you’re not sure if it worked or not
  3. You run the ad and you know it’s driving tons of new business

It won’t surprise you that on average more than 80% of all outdoor advertising doesn’t produce noticeable or reliable results for small businesses. 

Given what we already know about the 80/20 rule, that probably doesn’t come as a big surprise. But it’s not because advertising doesn’t work, it’s because most of the time it isn’t being used correctly. 

How Much Does Billboard & OOH Advertising Cost?

Billboard & print advertising can range from $1,500 to more than $15,000+/month in major cities like Chicago, LA, & NYC. At those prices, 1-3 months is the limit most business owners can afford to try before calling it a loss & moving on.

How Much Do Billboard Advertisements Cost 2020 Updated Pricing DASH TWO

What Are The Two Types Of Billboard Advertising Strategies?

1. Brand Awareness Advertising Campaigns

Large corporate brands primarily buy ad space to achieve brand & messaging awareness in different regional markets. Whether that’s awareness of the company in general, awareness of a service, an upcoming event, or some type of promotion, they simply want to make you aware. 

They assume that you’ve at least heard of them and are already familiar with what they do. Think Nike, Intel, Heineken. These ads are just one of many placed on carefully planned routes of traffic flows, mass public transport & foot traffic that offer the maximum possible visibility to the masses.  

How Brand Awareness Campaigns Work:

In these campaigns, billboards & out of home (OOH) advertising are often just one of the many channels utilized as a part of a larger communication, marketing, or advertising strategy.

Other mediums might include traditional media, youtube, newspaper & magazine print advertising, radio, podcasts, endorsements, sponsorships, press releases, TV, and more. These campaigns target you in multiple areas in multiple ways.

Omnichannel campaigns work well because they’re based on repetition and are spread out over multiple channels. Their ultimate goal is to expose you to the message enough times until they get you to take notice. Whether you buy or not is not always the primary concern, it’s more about making sure you get the message.  

Unsurprisingly, these campaigns often require larger advertising budgets and are usually part of a larger marketing or advertising campaign. Sometimes they can make sense for small businesses that rely heavily on brand awareness, but most small businesses need a different type of campaign.

2. Direct Response Advertising Campaigns

Small businesses buy advertising because they want two things to happen. They want to generate more leads & find more customers. 

Direct response advertising campaigns are much better suited for small businesses because they focus on getting people who are in your ideal target market to take action.

You’re getting people who would be ideal clients to raise their hand and say, I’m interested. I’d like to learn more. This is an important distinction from brand awareness because, in addition to trying to make them aware of our business, we’re trying to get them to take a specific action.

The tendency is to create one ad for one location that packs everything in like a mini-profile including business, services & contact information. You’ve probably seen something like this in the wild.

18 High Impact Lead Generation Strategies To Find New Customers in 2021 Highly Persuasive Google Docs
The problem with this type of design is that it’s difficult for someone who is glancing at the billboard (or any outdoor advertisement) for 2-3 seconds to take a specific action because there’s simply too much going on.

How To Use Billboards More Effectively With Direct Response

The best way to use a billboard is to focus on communicating one core message or concept that positions your business as the expert & gets the prospect to take action.

To be successful, all print advertising regardless of the medium needs to have three main ingredients:

  • One Message 
  • One Call To Action
  • One Objective

Compare the billboard above with the one below from Master Plumbers in New Zealand. It’s simple, has just three words as the main message, and features a call to action that cleverly combines the marketing message (don’t risk doing it yourself) with a call to action that’s central with their brand position as “Master Plumbers”.

18 High Impact Lead Generation Strategies To Find New Customers in 2021 Highly Persuasive Google Docs 1

Notice how they don’t list their phone number or all of their services? They know that all of that stuff comes later but first, they need to get people to take the first step. By sending people to the website, they can start the conversation and provide all of the information needed to close a new customer. 

Direct response advertising works incredibly well as a lead generation strategy for local service businesses if you have the budget. If not you can use the same strategy in the next campaign to achieve similar results for much lower costs.

11) The Shortlist Campaign: Run A Small But Precisely Targeted Direct Mail Campaign

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Direct mail has always been one of the most powerful forms of direct to consumer marketing & advertising strategies, but with the recent shift to digital, you might be wondering if it’s still effective in 2021.

Surprisingly enough, a recent study by The Data & Marketing Association found that direct mail customer response rate increased by more than 43% & the overall response rate increased by more than 190% year over year.

We recommend starting small with a super targeted and well-defined list of 25 ideal prospects.  At this level, you can get super personal with these clients and address their exact challenges specifically and how you can help them solve their problems. 

Having a solid direct response mail campaign can produce a significant ROI for your business regularly, and once you find an offer that performs well, all you have to do is increase the circulation to see more sales.

What to Consider Before Starting A Direct Mail Campaign?

When approaching a direct marketing campaign, it’s best to break it down so that each ad has one primary objective but with all ads working towards one larger objective.

Sometimes you can go for the direct sale right away depending on what you’re selling. But usually for more expensive services you’ll want to stretch out the process over multiple communications and aim for much smaller commitments over a series of actions. 

Direct response achieves this by following an objective-driven framework that’s designed to get prospects to take a series of specific actions one step at a time. This happens over multiple communications & touchpoints.

How to Send A Successful Direct Mail Marketing Campaign

Several factors go into a successful direct marketing mail campaign, such as buying or creating a targeted list, creating the right type of offer, getting the campaign delivered, and getting your message opened and read by the prospect. 

The type of campaign you send will ultimately depend on your services, locations & other factors, but if you’re not currently taking advantage of direct mail for your business, it could be a gamechanger.

Successful direct marketing requires a specific set of skills. If you’re interested in sending out a campaign for your business we’d recommend reading up further or hire an agency to do all of it for you.

12) The Minor Celebrity Campaign: Invest in Influencers… But With Caution

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94% of marketers surveyed reported that influencer marketing was effective in marketing their brand. If you have the budget, utilizing partnerships with influencers can be an incredibly lucrative opportunity for almost any business. 

There are many ways to go about incorporating influencers in your strategy, but let’s start with the basics.

What is Influencer Marketing?

The concept of influencer marketing may seem relatively new since we tend to associate the term with Instagram and Youtube stars who promote your products on a paid post basis,  but influencers have been around for a very long time, known by another alias, endorsements.

Whether Michael Jordan and Haynes, Tiger Woods and Nike or Michael Jackson and Pepsi, influencer endorsements, are incredibly effective at transferring authority and credibility to the products they promote.

If you have the budget, using celebrities to promote your brand can be an effective way to bring results. 

After all, they are already known and trusted, will lend instant credibility to your brand, and their stardom means that you will reach a large audience in a variety of demographics.

Problems with Celebrity Influencer Marketing

Celebrity influencers can bring a lot of credibility and attention to your brand, but there are also a few problems.

First,  it’s usually obvious to consumers that these celebrities are getting paid to pitch products or services. This is especially apparent when the endorsement doesn’t make logical sense. For example, a basketball player promoting logistics might generate some buzz but it won’t drive sales the way a basketball player promoting a basketball shoe would. It all comes back to authority and being an expert on the topic.

Second, it’s expensive. No major celebrity is going to sit down at the table without a substantial offer. In many cases, the cost of this partnership can exceed sales, making it a losing venture.

Third, the demographics of the celebrity audience are likely a varied mix of people with a large portion who would not have a use for or understand your services.

 So how can you get the same credibility and exposure for your brand without paying ridiculously high rates to celebrities? The answer is micro-influencers.

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What Are Micro-Influencers?

Micro-influencers are defined as people who have between 1k and 100k followers on social media. They are typically focused on one main niche or have a loyal following of engaged subscribers. 

Essentially they are minor celebrities & you have the option to leverage that in form of paid partnerships. 

Not only are micro-influencers more willing to promote your products or services to their audience if it’s a good fit, but they can also be surprisingly effective at driving sales.

Even though they might have fewer followers than larger influencers or celebrities, the people that do follow them often trust their judgment and depending on their niche could be a perfect fit for your services.

Three Reasons To Pick Micro-Influencers

1. They’re More Cost-Effective

The primary reason is that it’s much cost-effective than big-name celebrities or even larger influencers.

2. They Get Higher Engagement Rates:

Research shows the following for influencer engagement rates across social media platforms, as you can see a larger account experience less engagement.

  • Influencers with 1,000 – 4,000 followers = 4.5% Engagement Rate
  • Influencers with 4,000 – 100,000 followers = 2.4% Engagement Rate
  • Influencers with 100,000+ followers = 1.7% Engagement Rate

The same research also found that micro-influencers have up to 22x more buying conversations with their followers than celebrities do, which results in higher sales revenue.

3. They Provide More Precise Targeting

While it’s unlikely to find a celebrity who’s branded themselves in the same niche industry you have, you may be able to find a micro-influencer who is part of your target market or appeals to your target market.

To find influencers who are a good fit for your business, use a website like Klear. The system analyzes 500 million+ profiles across 60k different categories from the past five years. It allows you to narrow down your search by networks, such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, or blogs.

Take Action:

Find someone who is a good fit and reach out to start the conversation. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are great places to find these influencers, but be sure to check their comment and post likes to make sure they are getting actual engagement.

Partner with micro-influencers to get more exposure, engagement, and sales for your company. 

13) The Show & Tell Campaign: Teach Your Audience Something Valuable 

Albert Einstein once said that “you don’t truly understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” 

If anyone knows the ins and outs of your business, it’s you. No matter which industry you’re in there are people in need of advice from someone who’s lived and breathed it first hand. 

What Can You Teach Your Audience?

You can provide valuable insights into key areas of your business, such as recruitment, current trends, or common challenges & solutions to problems you routinely experience. 

You can save people years of their time and large amounts of money by contributing your knowledge through education. Now that’s value. 

There are several ways to go about doing this, here are a few:

  • Teach the essentials that people need to understand about your industry
  • Do a case study of actual businesses that have achieved the final result
  • How to solve specific problems that clients would find useful
  • Share your knowledge on things people should watch out for / common pitfalls

The key thing to remember is to make it related to your business. This will strengthen your brand positioning & help you reinforce your messaging & brand values.

Create A Video About A Problem Your Business Solves

Professional service businesses can find a great level of exposure with youtube videos targeting common issues and how to fix them or approach fixing them.

By creating a series of videos based on SEO keyword research, you’re ensuring that your videos will have the potential to get the widest exposure possible, exposing your brand to new potential customers via youtube.

If your services are more advanced or for commercial audiences, consider creating testimonials and case study videos that document the entire outline/process of you solving the problem.

How Does Teaching Move the Needle For Your Business?

It will come as no surprise that teaching business-related content tends to attract professional people, especially seminars, workshops, and paid courses.

Many of your students will invariably be decision-makers in their respective businesses, which can lead to a host of new professional opportunities, either directly with the students themselves or through word of mouth recommendations & referrals to their colleagues, coworkers, and friends.

By teaching your audience about aspects of your business they find useful, you’re tapping into the power of authority and credibility & positioning you as an expert in your industry.

Sharing your knowledge gained from years of experience in your industry not only helps out fellow professionals but also builds up your brand in the process.

14) The Trusted Advisor Campaign: Engage Customers Directly in Consultative Chat 

Listing your phone number is essential to any service-based business, but offering live customer support chat can have a massive uplift on conversions.

Most businesses wait for customers to start chatting with them, but taking a more proactive approach can be ultra-effective at starting with the conversation. 

Don’t Make This Common Mistake

A lot of businesses that are proactive in live chat outreach come across as pushy & overly aggressive. While it’s important to let them know that you’re there, you also don’t want to scare them away.

We recommend taking more of a consultative approach. Letting them know about an existing promotion, a new service, or free evaluation they can take advantage of. Sometimes a basic ‘let me know if you need any help’ can be all it takes to start the conversion and get them talking.

How To Set Up Live Chat:

Setting up live chat sounds complicated but it’s a lot easier than you might think. Most of the time all you need to do is install a plugin or copy a small bit of code and you’re up and running.

You can set your live chat functionality to only be available only during business hours, route inquiries to different agents, or take a message after business hours and on holidays – all automatically.

At Highly Persuasive, we use Drift. When someone chats with us it auto collects the email address and we get an instant notification via chrome. We can also run automation that ties in with email marketing and CRM platforms. 

If all that sounds like overkill you can just as easily link your business’s Facebook messenger with your website.

15) The Joint Venture Campaign: Partner With Another Business Who Sells To The Same Clients

Same customers – different services. 

Entering into a joint venture partnership with businesses that sell to the same customers but aren’t direct competitors can be a powerful way to open up a completely new stream of leads and sales revenue that you never would have had access to relatively easily.

You can do everything from simply cross-promoting each other’s brands in-store and online to offering a direct commission or referral fee for every new lead they send your way (& vice versa.)

Which Businesses Should You Partner With?

When possible, it’s always best to partner with a company that sells to the same audience that you do, but that doesn’t always have to be the case

We’re starting to see these brand partnerships go mainstream with Nok Airlines recently partnering with Krispy Kreme to sell donuts on their local flights in Thailand.

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The key is to think about who your ideal customers are and what other local businesses they are interacting with within your local area.

For example, if you were a home service business like an electrician or a plumber targeting residential services, you might consider partnering with a real estate agent, a distributor, or a construction company.

You likely already have existing business relationships of this nature but by reaching out and making it official by offering to pay third parties for a referral fee, you’ll start to generate new leads from multiple sources & ultimately close more new business.

16) The Ask Me Anything Campaign: Hold Office Hours Where People Can Ask For Professional Advice & Recommendations On Areas Related To Your Business / Services

The fastest way to demonstrate your expertise with people who don’t know you is to answer their questions.

Holding office hours on your website, social media, youtube is an easy way to start the conversion with potential customers and get people to raise their hands and say “I’m Interested – Tell me more”.

What do you talk about during these office hours?

That’s entirely up to the people who attend, but you’ll also want to have a rough outline of what to talk about if nobody asks a question, at least at first. 

How To Structure Your Office Hours

Ideally, you’ll structure your expert advice and recommendations around your areas of practice and how you can help them solve a problem or gain a benefit.

A lot of times, people just want to know the answers to relatively straightforward questions. How much does it cost to do something like this, what would you do exactly in a situation like this, are there any risks with using x over y?

If you structure your office hours around covering these key topics when no questions are coming in, you can help start the conversation with new prospects and get people into your wider marketing funnels.

How Do You Find the Most Common Questions?

Check out websites like Reddit and forums related directly to your industry to see which questions are showing up over and over again. You’ll start to see a theme and get an idea of what people most likely want to know about your services. 

17) The 97% Campaign: How to Sell To People Who Aren’t Ready To Buy Right Now


We’d love to think that everyone who interacts with us is ready to buy right now, but the truth is that number is a lot smaller than we might think. Did you know that at any given time, only 3% of your true market is ready to buy right now? Also known as the 3 percent rule, it sounds shocking but it often holds true. 

Why Most Of Your Audience Isn’t Ready To Buy Right Now

If you gathered 100 of your prospects in a room to hear a sales presentation & interviewed them to gauge their interest, you might visualize the breakdown like this:

  • 15% are not interested, not qualified & will never buy.
  • 15% are interested but fully qualified. They may become qualified in the future.
  • 30% are qualified but not yet problem aware. They may buy within the next year.
  • 30% are qualified, problem aware & ready to buy in the next 3-6 months
  • 7% are qualified, problem aware & ready to buy in the next 1-3 months
  • 3% are qualified, problem aware & ready to buy right now, as in today.

Many companies focus solely on going after the immediate sale (the 3%) and the not now but soon sale (the 7%). In doing so, they miss out on the opportunity to target a much larger audience over time. 

The solution is to go after both groups but with different types of strategies. You want to stay top of mind with your audience until they are ready to buy no matter where they’re at in the buyer’s journey.

How To Target People Who Aren’t Ready To Buy Right Now

Email marketing allows you to open up a direct line of communication with your audience and stay top of mind over the long term. 

As long as you educate, impress, or entertain your audience with content they find useful or valuable, they will continue to read your content & interact with your brand.

The catch is that you truly have to provide value. This isn’t promotions and direct selling, which is the quickest way to get ignored and blocked. Instead, you’re providing value-packed content that addresses the very issues or challenges your audience is facing.

To do this, you have to understand why your customers buy from you and what each stage of the buyer’s journey looks like. It should provide them with real-world, actionable advice they can immediately put into practice, whether they do or not.

How To Run An Email Marketing Campaign On Autopilot

Email marketing is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. If you’re not currently utilizing email in your marketing strategy, you could drastically increase your website traffic, content shares, conversions, and sales, simply by starting now.

But with more email messages landing in our inboxes than ever before, it’s not enough just to start sending out emails, you need to make sure the messages get opened and get read. Email marketing is a complex subject and we’re not covering it in full detail in this post, but here are 3 tips to keep in mind when planning & developing a profitable email strategy:

Build Your List With Qualified Prospects

Use email opt-ins at strategic areas of your website to grow your subscriber base. Exchange your most valuable content only for email and basic lead information.

Be sure to let people know what they’ll get in exchange for providing their email and that you won’t spam or sell their data to any third parties.

Keep your opt-in form as basic as possible to increase the likelihood of conversion. Many times a name and email and perhaps a website is your best bet. The more the fields you include the fewer people that will convert.

Get Specific with Audience Segmentation

Segment your email campaigns by creating different email flows to target different target markets and objectives.

For example, if someone just signed up for your newsletter, they are most likely new to your brand and could benefit from links to your most useful or popular content in the form of a series of introductory emails. 

Nurture Leads By Where They’re At In Buyer’s Journey

Email campaigns that can involve as many emails as you want to send your prospective client on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. Emails can be an effective way for companies to keep prospects interested in their brand and stay top of mind without constantly pushing the direct sale, which is played out with everyone.

Email marketing is versatile. It allows you to develop long-lasting, multi-faceted lead nurturing campaigns designed to build trust and authority with clients by delivering value consistently over time.

Matching Content With The Buyer’s Journey

It’s worth noting that the farther along in the buyer’s journey someone goes,  the content needs to match.

At the top of the funnel/start of the journey blog posts, checklists and short videos can help you grab people’s attention and get them to pay attention to what you’re doing.

When they are further along in the buyer’s journey / at the middle and bottom of the funnel, they need to see more detailed and in-depth information like case studies, white papers, sales presentations, full-length demonstrations, testimonials, and advanced videos.

How Does Sales Tie Into This Strategy?

You have to provide so much value in order to stand out from your competitors and show your audience that you’re different. 

That’s not to say that you can never mention your services. Your customers know that you’re not doing this for no reason. Soft selling that’s present only some of the time is not only tolerated but expected, especially the further down the line you get.

Over time, some of your audience will become ready to buy the services you offer. Since you’ve been building this relationship with them, providing valuable information & helping them solve their problems, who do you think they’ll reach out and speak to first?

If you’re new to email marketing but don’t have time to learn and implement an entire email marketing system, we offer email marketing services as part of digital marketing campaigns

18) The Master Blueprint: How To Combine It All Into One Strategic Marketing Campaign

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Which strategies make the most sense for your business? If you’re like most business owners, some of these marketing & lead generation might be a better fit than others. 

For example, if you sell to customers who aren’t already aware that they have a problem, they probably aren’t going to be searching for it on Google.

No matter how much you spend on Google advertising, it still wouldn’t generate qualified leads because there’s no search demand for your services. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t find new customers, you just have to change your approach. 

Exploring other types of lead generation strategies that work to identify the problem first and then offer the solution (direct marketing – print advertising – cold email, etc) can work well to drive lead generation where awareness is not present. 

How To Apply All Of This To Your Your Business?

The pandemic has forced all business owners to re-evaluate their marketing strategies and ask what will still work to attract customers in 2021. 

The good news is that almost all of the marketing & lead generation strategies in this guide can work to bring in new customers for your business in the year ahead.

What if you don’t have time to implement all of these strategies yourself? What if you don’t know which strategies will work best for your business? What if you can only afford to try one or two and you don’t want to pick the wrong ones?

What If You Don’t Have Time To Do It Yourself?

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is knowing how to tie all of this together in a cohesive & measurable marketing campaign that works for your business. 

Despite what marketers might tell you, there is no one size fits all approach to marketing & lead generation for small business. It depends on too many factors.

Our marketing blueprint strategy session can help you make sense of the entire situation, for free. We analyze & review your existing business setup to uncover low-hanging fruit, identify urgent issues & discover areas of opportunity to boost your leads, conversions & overall revenue. 

If you’d like to get a marketing & lead generation blueprint for your business, you can learn more about it & book it here, it’s completely free.

Closing Thoughts & Next Steps:

Hopefully, at least one of these lead generation strategies has given you ideas you can use to implement these strategies in your own business, both online & offline.

The temptation is to try all of them at once, but we would advise you to focus on implementing just 1-2 of these strategies to start, getting them up and running before moving on to the others in the list.

Better yet, if you focus on implementing just one of these strategies per month over the next year, you’re virtually guaranteed to see noticeable results in business development that are directly attributed to your campaigns.

If you use these campaigns and they work to drive lead generation for your business we want to know about it. Email us your experiences at [email protected] to be featured in a Take Action Case Study and featured on our website.

Who Is Highly Persuasive:

Highly Persuasive is a direct response marketing, advertising & branding agency helping brands in competitive industries stand out & get noticed online.  Interested in working together? Visit our website at or message us at [email protected] to get started.

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