Attracting new clients with a lead magnet

A lead magnet is a little freebie you put out there for free for two reasons. The first reason you might want one is to get attention, to draw leads (potential customers) to you.  The second reason, besides attracting traffic, is that the lead magnet will make people feel that you’re a good guy, and that they owe you something, because you’ve given them something useful, therefore invoking the reciprocity principle.

Usually, a lead magnet is something you offer which offers information, tips, a guide or a methodology which your clients will find useful. The classic version is a white paper or report which people can sign up to get, exchanging their email and contact details for the report. But it can be almost anything, as long as your clients will find it valuable. And you don’t have to make them sign up, if this doesn’t fit with your brand.

My lead magnet

I’ve been using a lead magnet for years, before I even knew what one was.

Around 2002, I called it a “business health check”. And around 2005, then I changed it to an introductory session. For the past few years, I’ve offered potential clients a session to look at their business and talk about how getting some business advice might be a good idea for them, in return for them buying me a fancy coffee and a nice cake.

You can see how I phrase this here, note, how I make it very very low risk for the potential client, as all they can lose is an hour of their time and the cost of a coffee and cake. But they don’t feel obliged to buy anything there and then, because they’ve bought my time with cake, so it feels better to people.

Your lead magnet

You might want to steal my coffee and cake idea. Feel free, there’s plenty enough cake to go around. But that might not be the right thing for you. Here are some ideas for good lead magnets I’ve stolen from other people.

  • Video explainer lead magnet – if you sell gardening products, you might want to show just how easy it is to put that pergola up, or give tips on correct digging technique.
  • Or a what to do when calendar people can print out and put on their fridge.
  • Video instruction lead magnet – If you’re an SEO expert, maybe you could do a video showing people how to understand their google analytics.
  • Resource kit lead magnet – if you teach people how to do difficult things like how to manage staff, you could do a check list for people to use to make sure they’re using good management behaviour
  • Matrix – if you sell ideas, do a pdf version of your matrix on how to understand a situation that people can print out and use themselves
  • Cash flow forecast lead magnet – if you’re an accountant, I’m sure you have a templated cash flow forecast you use yourself, so why not put this on your website, with a bit of branding and offer it up for free.

What makes a lead magnet different to free resources

Lots of us put free resources on our websites. That’s great, and I try to do a lot of it in my blogs, which of course attracts potential clients and gives people a flavour of how I work, and the idea that I do, in fact, know what I’m talking about.

But a lead magnet needs to be more substantive, especially as your competitors are also writing blogs, giving away free tax calculators, or providing guides on how to plant tomato seeds.

Your lead magnet needs to be something that your potential customers can engage with AND that they can notice that it’s from you. Which is why video is so useful, because you’re likely to get their attention for more than the 45 seconds they might spend on your blog, and they get much more of a feeling for you.

And if we’re wanting your potential clients to feel that they’ve received a gift from you, it needs to be of more value than just a quick article. So you need to put more work into generating a lead magnet, so that it feels like something of value. Don’t feel that you have to write a whole book, or compose a full video course, as that can feel like over giving, or might be so big that they don’t get round to engaging with it.

As a rule of thumb, I’d say that you need to spend a day creating a lead magnet, and you might need to spend a £100 on getting a designer to pretty it up for you. Of course, you might well have something lying around already that you use all the time, and it just needs to be made into a pdf.

Have a think about the existing resources you can use, it’s amazing what you might just take for granted but could be gold if you just polish it up a little.

Getting people to sign up to your email with a lead magnet

The classic version of the lead magnet is that you put it on your site, maybe do some google ads or Facebook ads to send traffic your way, and get people to give you their details in exchange for access to your gold plated resources.

You’ll have seen this in a million pop up ads and websites all around the internet. And I’m not dissing this approach, it’s tried and tested, and it works. You give people something and then you have permission to send them emails, and then they get your emails and then they buy.

But there are two things to consider about this approach.

1. In online marketing, if everyone is doing something, maybe you shouldn’t be doing exactly the same as everyone else.

People get wise to this very quickly, and if they have to give their details, it will put some people off, even if they really want your lead magnet. People are becoming very canny about who they give their email address to, as we’ve all been burnt by inbox overload, where we get rubbish emails entreating us to buy buy buy. And if your target market is particularly sophisticated, eg, you want to sell to CEOs and high level decision makers, or online savvy people, they’ll either not bother signing up, or they’ll sign up using a crappy hotmail address which they only use to sign up to online offers, not their real email address that they give to real people.

2. What are you going to do with all those lovely email addresses you’re harvested?

If you haven’t got your email marketing strategy worked out yet, then you risk doing all this work just to fill up your mailchimp list. Which is not the object of our exercise. Sometimes it’s better to start with the lead magnet and a voluntary sign up, or put some interaction points into the lead magnet by encouraging people to tell you how they’ve used your growing guide, or to ask you questions about google analytics.

If you don’t have huge volumes of traffic at the moment, you can probably handle some enquiries from nice people who are interested in what you sell by sending them a direct email back. Or even just phone them up and talk to them when they get in touch. Don’t just add them to a list that you don’t know what to do with.

Working on your online strategy

If you’d like some help with getting more clients with some of these online tools and you’d like some advice on how to approach this in a more joined up strategic way, then maybe you would like to buy me some coffee and cake and we can have a chat about how I might be able to help. If you’re not in Brighton, then I can eat cake while I’m talking to you on Skype about online marketing too.

Here’s how my business advice works.

Photo credit of iron filings with a magnet – Windell Oskay from Flickr on a creative commons license

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The Joy of Business
Secrets of Business Success
Julia Chanteray