First date horror stories. I’ve heard my fair share over the years and even had a few myself — the kind of date where one person falls hard and fast before you’ve even had a chance to skim the drinks menu. And by the time you decide on a glass of red, your date is loved-up, planning a trip to Positano and asking you to commit. However, this isn’t just limited to the dating game.
Many small biz owners who hire me to rewrite their websites are guilty of asking for marriage on the first date. No warm-up. No foreplay. No first date kiss. It’s straight down to the proposal and then onto the ceremony.
For most people, that’s a leap of faith — even if it’s as innocuous as leaving an email address for a newsletter sign-up. It’s a leap they aren’t willing to take yet. This is why I always advise my clients that they give away something of value for free.
Before you say, “C’mon, Anthony! Every website is flogging a free eBook/checklist/factsheet or whatever.”
Know this: before people commit to a purchase or sign-up for a service, they do an information search. They need info, reviews and facts to escort them from the decision to the purchase … because no one wants to make an uninformed, stupid decision. People want to make informed buying decisions.
What’s more, every successful (DR) direct response copywriter I’ve spoken with—meaning they have repeat clients or are on high-paid retainers—and any marketing book worth its weight offers value upfront. No exceptions. Before the cheques are signed, these DR marketers know they must warm people up first.
Why go to all this effort?
Lead magnets (e.g. a free eBook) do more than attract email addresses to a sign-up form. They inform readers and help position you as an industry expert. Many biz owners go wrong when they produce lead magnets on the cheap. The final product ends up looking like something on the clearance rack at your local Salvation Army store, and the content stinks like a backed-up toilet.
If you do have quality info and you want to give it away in exchange for contact details, do these four things.
ONE. Make it interesting for your target audience. The top-notch lead magnets I’ve come across are always hyper-specific on their subject. They niche down, then niche down further. Now contract this to the worst performing lead magnets. These ones make a broad appeal, for example, ‘7 Simple Low Carb Recipes.’ Did I hear you yawn?
TWO. Choose one lead magnet type—such as a checklist or video series—and allocate a budget to it. There’s nothing worse than seeing a lead magnet that looks low-rent. The scammy design will raise red flags with people and when those flags are raised, it’s doubly hard to win the trust back.
THREE. Hire professionals. Time and time again, I see eBooks that look like the biz owner hired their 11-year-old nephew—who apparently knows a thing or two about Photoshop—to whip something up. Hiring a pro designer pays for itself in the long run.
FOUR. If you don’t know how to write content, or you don’t have the time, outsource it to a copywriter. (By the way, that’s not a shameless plug for my services.) It’s worth setting aside cash for content production because this is one task where paying peanuts does get you monkeys.
Next, you’ll need to figure out what type of lead magnet/s you want to offer. Depending on the industry and what you’re selling, some magnets work better than others.
Non-spammy lead magnet examples you can use.
To get the ball rolling, I’ve brainstormed a few non-spammy examples of lead magnets one could use to drum up leads.
Next, you’ll need to figure out what sort of lead magnets you want to offer. Depending on the industry and what you’re selling, some magnets work better than others. To get the ball rolling, I’ve brainstormed a few non-spammy examples of lead magnets one could use to drum up leads.
Plumber/electrician/tradie: a checklist that lists everything you must know before you hire a tradie so you can vet the good ones from the dodgy ones.
Gyms/personal trainers/coaches: a training pack giveaway worth $X. The prize is the lead magnet.
SEO content writer: a professional guide and checklist on how to structure content so it ranks on page one of Google for specific search queries.
Photographer: a cheat sheet, for instance, that tells readers the exact camera settings to capture picture-perfect landscape images at sunrise.
Carpet cleaning/tile restoration/floor restoration etc: offer a no-cost professional audit/assessment accompanied by a checklist of questions to ask.
Nutritionist/dietician: quizzes. Everyone’s favourite topic is themselves. So why not get them to take a quiz on how healthy/tired/lethargic they feel, then ask for their email address to send them the results.
Real estate agent: a landing page that lets homeowners fill in their residential address and add details about their home in exchange for an instant valuation that will be emailed on completion. Not only does this method provide the email address, but you will also have the physical address, which is ideal if you want to run a direct mail campaign.
Now, I’ve saved what I consider to be the best for last.
Let’s say you teach small biz owners how to do their bookkeeping. Your lead magnet could be a three-part video tutorial on recording and maintaining specific types of transactions.
A final thought.
Question: how do you know your date was successful?
Answer: you made the right first impression.
And getting leads is no different. You must look good, sound smooth and be interesting to the other person. If not, he or she will bolt the first chance they get. Or in the case of your website, scrambling to hit the Back button.