Business Opportunity Leads – How to Generate Business Leads in a Cold Digital World

Before I started doing affiliate marketing online I was actually involved in a home based network marketing business. I learned a lot about this business and how valuable a solid lead can be in growing a business.

My problem was I always wanted to go on the internet to find my leads but the business itself exploded in a “warm market” environment.

Against my mentor’s recommendations I decided to try the online lead gathering approach anyway… and tried to build trust online so that I could eventually show people the real business plan and hopefully become partners with them.

After a few months of work online I was getting pretty decent at capturing online leads. I thought I really was on to something big. In fact, what I really learned was that my follow-up plan for converting my leads into my business was failing and most of my leads were not interested in joining me in an offline business endeavour.

What I began to realize was I was good at getting leads online but was having trouble converting them in a warm market business. I was able to convert them on other things which made me focus more on the affiliate side of things and I started to lose focus on my original business. This is because I was actually starting to see money come in from my online leads.

I no longer do network marketing, but I do believe it is an excellent business model, and in fact sometimes I think back and wonder if I made a mistake in leaving that offline business to start working online.

My mentor really taught me a lot about business and personal relationships, and I have starting using some of his philosophies when structuring my own online marketing campaigns in a way to stimulate long-term growth, and residual income.

So, with all that in mind, understand that I learned a whole lot from my online approach to capturing business opportunity leads.. and this post is going to explain some of the things I learned

Gathering Business Opportunity Leads Online – What I Learned

Gathering qualified leads online can be tricky, but many people find it a necessary step they must take. With your own list of leads you can continue to promote your own business opportunity, your own products, or continue to market affiliate products and offers to your list well into the future.

Business opportunities is one of the most competitive niches online. You can even narrow this niche down to “home business opportunities” which still gets millions of searches around the world every day. People searching for home business opportunities are very valuable leads for several reasons.

If you do a typical search for home business you will find hundreds or thousands of people advertising the next great opportunity, and millions or even billions of blogs around the globe pumping out daily content in this niche.

Many of these site owners have done nothing more than hire a graphic designer for a few hundred bucks to create a nice website and some of them even pay people to write their blog posts for them. These sites have one goal in mind and that is to capture you as a lead and then later convert you to a customer or business partner. Many of the sites and owners promise fancy cars, and warm days at the beach, and some of them will tell you they have the answer you need to gain financial freedom.

Does this sound familiar? It probably does…

The actual number of these types of sites has drastically expanded in the last 10 years. There are literally billions of them – which makes it extremely expensive to advertise in this niche, and very difficult to stand out above the rest.

So How Does One Generate Their Own Qualified Business Opportunity Leads Online?

There are many tactical methods for generating good business opportunity leads online, but it really depends on what type of business you want to build.

If you are looking to just collect emails and send people a bunch of affiliate based products related to making money then the above mentioned style of websites might be all you need, but of course you will be competing against millions of people doing the same thing.

If you are one of the many people who have come online to find qualified business opportunity leads to expand your own home based business then you are probably familiar with warm markets and cold markets.

For the purpose of this article warm market is people you know, which could be friends, relatives and existing customers, even referrals are said to be warm. “Cold market” refers to a sales person’s future or prospective customers.

You may have a lot of experience in converting a warm market but the internet is generally a cold market environment. This does not mean you cannot turn your online leads into warm leads. It just requires a different approach to online lead generation that goes against the traditional “squeeze page” or “sales page” & affiliate approach.

Below are some of the most important things you should include in your quest to build a large list of business opportunity leads, that you can convert into a warm market business.

Be The “Real” You Online

Your first step should be building a presence online that is the “real” you. That’s right. You have to come out from behind the curtain and actually post your real name and photo online.

Many people who start a home business will come online and try to keep their identity hidden because they don’t want their friends, current employers, or family to see they are doing this. This will NOT work for you if you want to build a relationship with your leads.

You must get over your fears and create your online profile.

To do this you should develop your own blog (WordPress is easiest), which can contain anything you want and can be business related. On this blog you can post your daily thoughts, business tips, quotes, information about yourself… etc. You will want your blog to link to all of the following.

  • A Twitter Account
  • A Facebook Profile
  • A Facebook Fan Page or Business Page
  • A Facebook Like Box on Your Blog (Very important for building trust – it shows how many people like you on Facebook.)
  • A Private Facebook Group
  • A Linkedin Profile
  • Facebook Comments – this is a cool way to link your blog to Facebook and every time someone comments on your post it goes on their Facebook news feed.

A Professional Lead Capture Approach

You will want to have a squeeze page or a form on your blog where people can actually enter their emails or contact details, or can contact you directly. You can set up a form on your blog to collect whatever information you want from your leads and even allow people to send you a message. the form is designed to prevent spam. This can be done on WordPress blogs by using a free plugin like WordPress Contact 7.

You can also encourage them to join your email list for exclusive updates, industry news, events, or a free ebook. This can be easily done using a service like Aweber which stores email addresses for you and costs about $20 a month.

Whatever you think your readers would find valuable you can offer to them as an incentive to join your list. Aweber will store all your emails in a safe place and allow you to send emails easily and automatically if you wish.

You might want to steer clear of looking too promotional on your lead capture page and in your messaging. Avoid typical marketing images showing material possessions, and over use of exclamation points. You really need to separate yourself and look professional here in order to keep this people from clicking on the “back” button before they even subscribe.

Most people who are joining your list will be people you have met online or in person and you have already told them to visit your blog. These people will also be referred by friends and family, so you probably don’t want to look like a “shady” salesperson.

Become Involved

To build a following that will trust you, you need to be interactive online. This means you need to update your blog regularly and update your twitter, your Facebook etc. You need to build a following and show them you are the real deal, and you are available to talk at any time. If your leads believe you are there and available, they will be more likely to convert.

Save Time With Syndication

You can update all of your online accounts automatically just by setting your blog up to syndicate the content to other places. If you build your blog in a way that facilitates automatic publication onto social media outlets then you can save a ton of time. For example, you can install the auto tweet plugin so that all your new blog posts are automatically tweeted to all your followers. The same goes for Facebook Page Publish plugin.

Make sure that at the bottom of all your posts you remind people to join your email list or fill in your contact form! People will follow your instructions – all you have to do is tell them. You will want to give them an incentive to do so.

You can also syndicate your content to other popular blogs and websites in your industry if they exist. All you need to do is content the site owners and ask them if they wish to post your content. Many of them will if you have a solid reputation and this will generate traffic to your site.

Generate Traffic

There are several ways you can generate traffic to your site. Paid traffic is the fastest form of traffic online. Facebook allows you to buy traffic and target specific interests and hobbies. It can be effective, but very expensive.

If you are going to pay for traffic you need to calculate your cost per acquisition or CPA and you need to know the value of 1 lead to your business. This will determine whether it is worth the investment in buying traffic.

You also have to have an end goal in mind on how you are going to get the paid clicks to convert into an email lead and how you will then convert that email lead into an actual business partner. This is the most difficult part of the process for most people.

What is the Cost Per acquisition?

In my experience online using squeeze pages, for every 100 clicks you buy you should convert at least 30 – 40% or more into email leads. So if you pay 40 cents per click it will cost you $40 for 40 leads. ($1 per lead)

I found with a few tweaks and some cheaper traffic I could acquire email leads for 0.50 cents or less.

You could also pay-per-click on places like Bing Ads or Google Adwords which may be a bit cheaper than Facebook.

Once you become more involved and post more blog content you will start seeing a trickle of free traffic. Another trick is to build a viral video or viral content that will be shared among people on social media sites. Make sure it is linked back to your site.

Every time you post new content you should also be sending it to all your other social media accounts and your subscribers. You will find that as you gather more and more leads and continue to build more solid content on your blog that your traffic will increase exponentially since many of your existing leads will share your content through Facebook and Twitter.

You can also set up new business cards with your blog address, and do some offline promotion including radio ads, flyers, classifieds etc.

Email or Contact Follow Up

How you follow-up with your leads is the most important part of all your efforts.

Business opportunity leads generally convert better if you “warm” them up first. So you should treat the people you meet online the same as you would treat people in person, or even your friends and family. Steer clear from lengthy automated email follow ups and salesy tactics. You need to build trust and give them what they are looking for.

A couple automated welcome messages may be OK, but you really should try to eventually get these leads on the phone or use a tool like Skype which allows you to have a face to face conversation with someone.

If you have a pre-formatted presentation or “plan” you need to show them, you should not do this on auto pilot – (for example with automated emails).

You should call them and arrange a meeting time and have them watch the plan or presentation. Then follow-up immediately by phone or Skype. Be prepared to sign them up or have them purchase your product at that point. This will drastically improve your conversion rates for your business opportunity leads that you collect online.

Affiliate Approach

If you are an affiliate looking to make money from your leads, then an automated follow-up sequence on Aweber may work better for you. There are several legitimate business opportunities that have affiliate programs and convert well with this type of marketing approach.

Regardless of how you want to build your business in this niche, you are definitely at a huge advantage if you collect your own business opportunity leads first before giving them to other companies.

Hopefully this article will help you separate yourself from the rest and build a strong team of qualified business opportunity leads from the internet.

The Parts of a Business Plan

Think about your hand. It has five fingers, right (hopefully)? Or just imagine you have five fingers. In the same way I want you to know that there are five parts to a business plan:

1. The Summary; also called “Executive Summary” or “Introduction”
2. The Marketing Plan
3. Operations Plan
4. Financial Plan

These are the names I have used and it is easy for me to remember them.
What Does Each Name Stand For:

1. The Marketing Plan – “What I Want To Do” – What type of business are you wanting to start? What market do you want to start your business in? Who do you want to cater to?

2. The Operation Plan – “How I Am Going To Do It” – What kind of business structure do I need for this enterprise? Who do I need to network with? Do I need a mentor?

3. The Financial Plan – “What It Will Cost To Do It” – What are the costs of production, cost of sales or monthly expenses? How much profit will the business make in 12 months?

Part 1: Marketing Plan

The marketing plan, when not written correctly, has far reaching consequences:

1. If the marketing plan is wrong, then every other part of the business plan will be wrong. i.e. if you create a product that people do not want, then the way you plan to structure the business (Operations) and what you think it will cost (Financial) will be wrong.
2. If the information you have about who your customers are is wrong then the business will not work.
3. If the information you have about your competitors are wrong then the business will struggle.
4. If the way you have defined your market is wrong then the whole business will collapse like a wobbly stool!

Trust me when I say the Marketing Plan is the most important part of the business plan.

What Is Included In The Marketing Plan?

Industry overview – Past, Present & Future
a. Let’s say you want to start a business selling baby food. Your Industry overview is the information you can find out that relates to the overall food industry. Information such as: what has happened in the past to food consumption, how much does the average household spend on food and what are the projections for the consumption of food? How many babies are born in your area; nationally or internationally? (Don’t worry this information is readily available online and at your Business Libraries; start there.)

b. Industry Overview is important because it exposes you to vital trends that may affect your business. Some businesses are so seasonal that this information can make or break the business.

Sector overview: – Past, Present & Future
a. Using the same Baby food sales business example: Baby Food is a sector within the Food Industry so this business will need to know how much food babies consumed in the past, what they are consuming now and what they are likely to be consuming in the future. You might want to know an estimate of how many children are born per year and what the projections are for the following 10-20 years.

b. Remember most businesses never consider the future. They are too busy trying to deal with the day to day aspect that they are not planning for the future. Do not acquire this mindset. Writing your business plan offers you the opportunity to think and plan ahead and position your business greater than what your competitors do!

III. Competitors: You can bury your head in the sand and convince yourself wrongly that there are no competitors for your business or you can take an active approach to learn from your competitors and use the information to further your business.

Competitors come in 3 shapes and sizes:
a. Direct,
b. Indirect
c. Future Competitors

Let’s break this down: If you are a Hairdresser located on a high street your Direct Competitor are other established Hairdressers in your vicinity 1-2 miles radius. Your Indirect Competitors could be those Mobile Hairdressers or those working from home or even those located 5-10 miles away that your potential customers can drive to. Your Future Competitors are those in schools and colleges studying Hairdressing.

Therefore investigating your competitors has become extremely important. The kind of information you want to know about your competitors include and not exclusively:

S.W.O.T. Analysis – What are the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your competitors?
Manufacturers – Who are they working with?
Relationships with other – What type of business relationships do your competitors have?
Finance – How are they financed? By shares, loans or personal funds?
Suppliers – Who supplies their products? (Hang around outside their shop or business)
Consumers – What type of consumers do your competitors have? – age, sex, etc.
Promotion Strategy – How do they promote themselves?
Geographical Coverage – How far do your competitors operate?
Product Range – How many types of products do they sell or do they offer other attractive services?
Culture – What is their work culture?
Staff – How many? What ages? Sex? Etc.
Size – How big or small is this business in terms of sales or profits?
Cost Structure – How do they charge?
Reputation of the business – What do people say about your competitors both good and bad
Ownership of the business – Who is the owner of the business? Is it a franchise?
Distributors Used – Who are they?
Segment Served – Do they cater to a particular niche?
Motivators Beyond Money- Can you find out?
Management information – Who manages your competitors business? Do they have a Dragon giving them advice?
Industry Opinion – What do experts say about them?!

You might need to do some hard detective work but you are only able to develop your products/service once you know what others are doing. Otherwise you will set up a business that will just be like the rest; struggling businesses!

Where Do You Get This Information?
Visit Local Stores
Shared Customers
Shared Accountants
Lawyers/Solicitors
Suppliers
Reports Exhibitions
Internet
Local Business Libraries
Industry Magazines
Companieshouse.gov.uk (if they are a limited company they need to log their annual accounts here. You can down load it and find useful information about your competitor’s Sales, Finance, Staff, Loans etc. all for £1-£3

IV. Product/Service: Now that you have done the above research you are ahead of most people who have an untested idea and force it on the market only to discover someone else next door has the exact product/service and he is struggling.

Since you know what your competitors are doing, which has given you insight into the market, you know what the experts are saying about your industry and what/how your niche (sector) is doing. You are ready to create a Unique Product/Service.

Even if you have been working in an industry for years and you believe you will be the next Steve Jobs, research is still vital to your success.

Remember that your product must be solving a problem. People do not simply pay for a product; they pay for what the product can do for them! Invariable thinking like this will help you identify your target market when you consider “who has the problems I can solve?”

What to Look For When You Invest in a Business

In order to protect a business’ trade secrets, business models, and other sensitive information, a business attorney may advise a client to incorporate non-compete and non-disclosure agreements in a manner that makes sense for the particular needs of the business. Non-compete agreements and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) can often create a more secure and trusted partnership between business professionals and their employees or business partners. This is especially important when trying to determine if a particular business relationship or employment relationship is in both parties’ best interests.

Creating a non-compete agreement can protect a business and help establish trust and security between two parties: employer and employee. A non-compete agreement often states that, if employment ends, the former employee will not enter into or start a similar business or profession in competition with his or her former employer. The non-compete agreement must state a specific and reasonable scope of such restrictions, a timeframe for the restrictions, and a geographic area in which the restrictions apply.

The motivation behind asking an employee to sign such an agreement is not to hinder his or her advancement in the business world; rather, a non-compete agreement can help clarify what the employer and employee are exchanging.

From the business owner’s perspective, the non-compete is the company’s way of saying, “I really want to hire you, and I believe that we will have a great future together. When I hire you I will be revealing valuable information about our products, services, clients, trade secrets, proprietary and/or confidential information, business model and more. This information is something that our company has worked hard, and invested significant resources, to develop. So in exchange for your employment with my company, I am going to ask that for a certain period of time, that you not use the information you obtain while working with our company to go start your own business or work for another business that is in direct competition with us.”

A non-compete agreement should be well written with clear and specific language. Contact a business law attorney to discuss when a non-compete agreement is appropriate, what language it must include and why.

To further ensure the security of a business, a business that wishes to protect sensitive information should strongly consider implementing a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). A non-disclosure agreement is a contract between two or more parties in which certain parties are going to be provided with specific information or knowledge (often proprietary or confidential information, trade secrets, business strategies and more) that the revealing party does not want to be shared with third parties.

Non-disclosure agreements are often entered into by separate businesses, or by partners of the same business. A non-disclosure agreement, may be crucial to secure the trust in a new relationship between businesses. Often, one business is considering partnering with another business, but in order to vet the potential relationship, one business must reveal valuable information about its plans, business strategy, product, service or otherwise. A non-disclosure agreement can secure the confidence and trust between the parties and allow them to discuss the full details of the potential relationship.

When two or more partners share ownership of a business, drafting a non-disclosure agreement can help to maintain trust between those partners. If there is no non-disclosure agreement and a partnership goes awry or the business ownership changes hands, business secrets and confidential or proprietary information may go unprotected. The consequences to the business could be devastating. A former partner might share sensitive information with competing businesses or otherwise use the information in a manner that damages the unprotected business. To avoid such consequences, consult a business contract drafting attorney business contract drafting attorney who can advise you on how to build trust among partners and protect the company’s most valuable information.