15 Small Business Lead Generation Strategies to Fuel Your Growth

Imagine growth as a fire for small businesses. Lead generation is what fuels the fire. Yet, many small businesses struggle to fuel their fires and stagnate at the same low-level burn for years, or their fire dies out. 

Picking the right lead generation strategy can determine your path to success—whether you’re a small business on Main Street or one that lives digitally. To win at lead generation, you need to know about pinpointing potential customers, captivating their interest, and building trust. 

In this guide, you’ll find 15 strategies that you can test to create and nurture leads for your small business. Of course, each business is unique, so the actual strategies you use may vary. But think of this as a launching pad to find the right strategies for your success.

Understanding Lead Generation for Small Business

Lead generation is the process of attracting potential customers (leads) to your business and nurturing them until they're ready to buy. This process takes place between the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer's journey, right after they realize they have a problem they need to solve.


At this stage, potential customers are researching solutions—your job is to make sure they find your business, wherever they’re looking. And when they do find you, they should be captivated and excited about giving your business a shot.

How does this work for small businesses? 

First, you need to identify your target audience and speak directly to them. Know your buyer persona and the pain points they want to solve.

Next, play to your strengths. While bigger businesses can rely on brand visibility, you’ll need to be more resourceful. You can test different lead generation strategies and pivot faster to improve your chances. Once you find a strategy that works, you can double down on it without the red tape and bureaucracy that slow down big corporations.

Here’s the key—make sure every marketing dollar counts. Learn fast, and iterate faster.

15 Small Business Lead Generation Strategies That Can Help You Reach Your Potential

If you’re ready to fuel the fire that ignites your small business’s growth, here are 15 strategies to amp up your lead generation. 

Some of these strategies will work, some won’t—it depends on your unique business and your target audience. Start with the ideas that resonate with you and your team, and double down on what works.

1. Sweeten the Deal with Irresistible Opt-in Offers

You can lure leads with an offer they can't resist on your website or through paid ads. This is a call-to-action (CTA) to sign up for something or get some information they want. Think bigger than a basic email subscription and consider exclusive downloadable content, easy-to-follow templates, a free trial, or a free how-to webinar that offers deep value. 

Example: IIFYM (If it fits your macros) does a remarkable job with this exact strategy. I personally have calculated my macros on their site probably a dozen times.


How to use this for your own business:

  • Develop a quick offering that’s closely related to what your business does.
  • Make it super appealing to your target audience, so they’re happy to hand over their information.
  • Naturally lead potential clients into purchasing more services in the future.

2. Master the Art of Discounting

Who doesn't love a good discount? Well-executed discount strategies can spike lead traffic when you really need it. However, tread carefully. Overdoing discounts and ‘free plans’ can cheapen your brand or set cost expectations that you can't sustain. 

Instead, use discounts strategically, such as rewarding first-time buyers for a subscription service or incentivizing referrals. That way, you're not only generating leads but also building up your profit margins.

Example: Sarah Roberts, a professional makeup artist, skincare expert, and founder of the online beauty publication, A Beauty Edit, has a solid discount strategy that helps her get tons of referrals. “I offer home-based makeup and beauty services to my clients, and one way I drum up more business is to incentivize them to refer my services to their friends, neighbors, and family members. I give each client 20% off their next makeup session for every successful referral they make for my business.”

This strategy has been widely successful. About 80% of Sarah’s clients come through referrals from current and previous clients. 

How to use this for your own business:

  • Consider which situations would work best for discounts for your business (e.g. new customers, referrals, industry organizations).
  • Come with a discount number that you’re comfortable with—don’t go to steep and regret it later!
  • Create a ‘win-win’ discount plan, e.g., bring me a client and $100 off your next order. If you both win, you’ll get more out of the discount plan.

3. Share Your Expertise on YouTube

YouTube is crawling with potential leads who would love to hear your highly-specific domain knowledge. 

By creating informative videos that showcase your expertise and business value, you can attract a loyal following (and generate new leads). Seeing your face, hearing your voice, and learning directly from you is a great way to build trust and increase the qualify of your leads as well. 

Example: Anyone can do this, even local lawn care specialists. Check out how Fill’s Lawn Care does a fantastic job of generating views and leads through his YouTube Channel. This guy actually lives only 15 minutes from me, maybe I’ll hire him myself!


How to use this for your own business:

  • Figure out what problems your business solves that lend themselves to video format. For example, makeup tips, vehicle maintenance, or setting up Google ad campaigns could all make good educational videos.
  • Study some others in your niche and figure out what’s working well. Also, brush up on your video editing skills (or plan on hiring someone to help).
  • Make videos that teach your customers how to solve problems in your unique way.
  • Be consistent. It might be slow going at first, but will pay dividends over time.

4. Keep at it with Retargeting Ads

Calling back lost visitors with retargeting ads can be a game-changer. These ads, which target your previous website visitors as they browse elsewhere, keep your brand top-of-mind while offering a call to action that sends them back to your site. It's like saying, "Hey, remember us? We've got what you need."

Example of this lead generation strategy: Let’s say you browsed the Nike website for shoes and decided not to buy right now. You might later get an ad pop-up in your Facebook feed that looks like this:


Often, they can even display the exact item (a shoe in this case) that you were looking at.

Companies like Adroll offer retargeting ads services, although you can also set them up yourself using platforms like Facebook ads or Google ads.

How to use this for your own business:

  • Set up retargeting either through a service like Adroll or learn how to do it on various platforms like Facebook or Google ads.
  • Write simple ad copy and use existing product images for your ads. Don’t make it lengthy or complicated.
  • Track performance and pivot to maximize ROI over time.

5. Get More Eyeballs with Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO isn't just tech jargon; it's your ticket to the top of search results and a powerful asset in your lead generation toolbox. By optimizing your website with relevant keywords and high-quality content that Google loves, you can increase your visibility, attract more visitors, and convert them into leads. It's like putting your "Open for Business" sign on the biggest billboard in town!

For small businesses, it’s not just about keyword-rich and helpful articles, but also optimizing for local SEO. This means ranking for search terms such as "Plumbers in Dayton, Ohio" or "Yoga Studio in Tucson, AZ." Make sure your home page and service pages are clear on these terms and are getting indexed by Google. 

Also, don’t snooze on Google Maps and Apple Maps; you’ll want to make sure your business is submitted to those map apps so people can easily find them via search.

Example: There are plenty of small businesses doing this right, but a simple Google search for “curly hair salon in Boston, MA” came up with one singularly excellent result: Anita Kurl.


This salon shows up first in both the Google map results and the organic search results, which means anyone searching for this will obviously come straight to them. Score!

How to use this for your own business:

  • Learn the basics of SEO.
  • Hire an agency or optimize your site for SEO on your own.
  • You may want to add SEO-optimized blog content to your site. For that, you can also outsource the work to an agency or choose to go DIY.

6. Stay Fresh with Engaging Email Marketing

Email marketing has proven itself to be a tried-and-true lead generation method. Remember, you're not just looking for clicks; you're building relationships.

Think about times when you’ve responded to a brand’s email or been inspired to click on a link. You can even create a ‘swipe file’ of emails you love from your favorite brands, and aim to create something similar. You can manage your email list and send mass marketing emails from your customer relationship management (CRM) system, like Close

Here’s an example: DAVIDsTEA, a specialty online tea shop, sent this email to customers who completed a certain amount of time as customers of the company. This kind of engaging email is the stuff that keeps people around (and interested in purchasing again)


How to use this for your own business:

  • Set up email marketing through your CRM (you can do this in Close).
  • Write personalized email campaigns for different customer segments (think 3-6 emails in each sequence).
  • Track your performance and improve over time (you can also do this in Close).

7. Connect and Convince with Blogging

Just like creating videos on YouTube, blogging is a great way to showcase your expertise. Plus, it’ll help you with SEO, like we talked about above! 

Share insights, how-to’s, case studies, and more to engage and educate your website visitors. And whenever appropriate, subtly introduce readers to your products or services.

Once you’ve published a blog post, distribute it on social media or via email. This storytelling builds trust and drives sales.

Here’s one example of a brand using this lead generation strategy: We’ve all come to know and love the BarkBox brand over the years, and part of the reason is their fantastic blog. They speak authoritatively on subjects that appeal to their target audience, as well as sharing funny and heartwarming stories. Their blog answers questions related to the products they sell, as well as helps their target audience take better care of their four-legged friends.


How to use this for your own business:

  • Do keyword research using a tool like Semrush or Ahrefs to find highly searched questions that your audience is asking.
  • Write articles answering those questions.
  • Distribute your articles through social media, partners, and any other channel you can think of so you get more links back to your website.

8. Build a Tribe on Social Media 

Use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to engage with potential customers. Post content your audience finds entertaining, informative, and shareable—more shares increase your ‘network effect’ and bring in more leads. 

Example: Miles Beckett, the CEO and Co-Founder of the innovative dental care company Flossy, has found success on social media by showcasing testimonials and adding a human element.

“We showcase positive testimonials from our dentists and our customers to show the human aspect of what we do in providing quality dental care at affordable costs. Our dentists convey fulfillment in knowing what a difference they are making, and our customers are appreciative to be able to access oral care in such a convenient way.”


How to use this for your own business:

  • Again, this is something you can either outsource to a social media agency or even hire a social media manager for. You can even hire a contractor who manages the pages of several brands at the same time for cheaper than hiring someone.
  • Come up with a social media strategy. Do you want to showcase your customers, talk about the benefits you provide, or speak to the pain points you solve? Or all of the above? 
  • Write out all your ideas and create a ‘content calendar’ where you schedule your posts for at least the next 30 days. Repeat monthly. This will make it easier to keep going.

9. Host Helpful Events and Webinars 

Offering free in-person seminars or virtual webinars provides value to attendees while positioning you as a trusted expert. You can teach people how to get the exact benefits that your business offers and point them in your direction as a partner to help them make it happen. Solid events will generate an eager new pool of leads.

If you offer a virtual service, you can use webinars to reach a global or nationwide audience. At the same time, local in-person events are powerful for networking with your ideal customers.

Example: Saad Alam, the Co-Founder, Owner & CEO of the modern men’s health platform Hone Health, has generated tons of leads through virtual events on LinkedIn. “I’ve found that hosting virtual events is a fantastic way to generate leads for my business. LinkedIn’s virtual event promotion tools allow you to optimize promotion with intuitive banners and call-to-action buttons, create a native event landing page, and easily share events with your followers. LinkedIn then allows you to showcase highlights from the event on your business page’s video tab.”

How to use this for your own business:

  • Write down a list of your customers’ biggest problems that you solve and decide which one to create an event for.
  • Plan the event, either virtually, in person, or both. You can also hire help for this, either through an agency or contractor. Or you can figure it out all on your own. There are plenty of resources online.
  • Promote relentlessly. Use social media, email, paid ads, flyers around town, or whatever else you can think of to fill up your event.

10. Expand Your Reach Through Influencers

Influencers who align with your company values and resonate with your target audience can expose your brand to more people—and their followers already trust their recommendations. 

Start by looking for influencers in your industry. See what kind of engagement their posts get and which brands they choose to work with. Remember, follower count isn’t everything—it’s more important for these people to be aligned with your goals and target audience.

Here’s an example of this lead gen strategy in action: One dietary supplement brand was having trouble finding the right influencers for their business. They used the platform Upfluence to get some help, and went from $0 in revenue to over $440k in five months—all through connecting with influencers and setting them up as affiliates with the brand.

How to use this for your own business:

  • Research influencer marketing platforms like Upfluence. Understand their terms, past successes, and affiliate structure.
  • Alternatively, connect with specific influencers directly. Come up with your own affiliate structure that you think is fair (e.g. 10 percent of sales).
  • Measure your performance and forge long-term relationships with the influencers that bring you the most success.

11. Grow Your Network on LinkedIn  

For small business owners in the B2B (business-to-business) space, LinkedIn is a goldmine for lead generation. Freelance marketers, advertising agencies, accountants, and other B2B small biz owners are often found posting and prospecting on LinkedIn because it works. However, it might not be useful if you own a sandwich shop or a Yoga studio (Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook are more up your alley). 

If LinkedIn applies to you, join groups related to your industry, interact with thought leaders' posts, and actively publish relevant content to establish your authority. Also, connect with as many like-minded people or potential leads as possible, but do so in an organic and non-spammy way. 

Example: Brooklin Nash runs the content marketing agency Beam. He regularly posts on LinkedIn, engages with his followers, and comments on other relevant posts in his industry. Because of this, his network is huge, and his team isn’t wanting for work.


How to use this for your own business:

  • Start posting on LinkedIn about your expertise, business story, or other relevant content.
  • Alternatively, hire a marketing agency or contractor to run your LinkedIn page and post content for you.
  • Set up your CRM to track leads, conversations, and opportunities from LinkedIn.

12. Take Aim By Targeting Specific Niche Markets

Instead of broadcasting your marketing to the world, identify niche markets that need your solutions and target them with specific messaging and ads. Tailor your marketing to speak to their unique pain points, and the leads will start trickling in.

Social media and other ad platforms have tools for hyper-specific niche marketing, so you can target your ads to local moms aged 25-40, US Navy veterans over 40, or whatever market you best serve. Getting that specific with your niche makes it easy to tailor your ads with a message to serve their needs. 

Here’s a classic example of this lead generation strategy for small businesses: Your local market. Let’s say you're a plumber in Boise, Idaho. The obvious niche market to target is people looking for a plumber in that city. However, you can get even more specific. Perhaps you specialize in plumbing for new home construction in that area. You can hyper-target for exactly that in your ad copy and through your website’s SEO through relevant copy and meta tags.

These two websites have specific landing pages for this exact use case, and they show up when you search for "new home construction plumber Boise"


How to use this for your own business:

  • Write out all of your specific niche markets. This could be your local area for a market that you uniquely serve.
  • Set up pages on your website that use terms this niche would be looking for. Examples could be "nail salon in Shelbyville," "workout clothes for pregnant and post-partum moms," or "financial planning for retired navy veterans."
  • Set up ads for the same specific niches. You can hire an agency or use platforms like Facebook advertising to set this up on your own.

14. Don't Forget Snail Mail

Why do you think that today, in the 2020s, we’re STILL getting constant ads in the mail? Hint: It’s because they work. Without a positive ROI, the mail advertisements would stop dead overnight. 

In your local market, you, too, can take advantage of the power of direct mail campaigns. Get creative with well-designed and personalized mailers. Sending a tangible message that someone can pick up with their hands can cut through the digital clutter and offer a refreshing way to start a conversation. 

Here’s a fun example: Knorr, the company well known for its soups, sent out a mailer with the line “Unlike any F****N dinner you’ve ever tried,” with a prompt to put the card into their freezer. Since the mailer was printed with leuco dye, the letters responded to the change in temperature by revealing a whole new message: “FROZEN meals can be this delicious.” This campaign generated 17,000 purchases with an average response rate of 10.2 percent!


How to use this for your own business:

  • Create a goal for your direct mail campaign. Do you want to attract new customers with an exclusive discount, introduce your business to a new neighborhood, or use a unique message to drum up new business? 
  • Link up with a direct mail service such as PostcardMania to help you execute this plan. Going with a service will make this much easier…unless you want to print postcards, stuff letters, and lick stamps all day. 
  • Track your performance carefully and double down on what works. You can keep this strategy up over time if it does well. 

15. Get Creative!

This isn’t a specific strategy, but a reminder that you can think outside the box to generate leads and business opportunities. While other methods are tried and true, a novel idea might create more of an exponential growth opportunity if executed well.

Here’s an outside-the-box story of how Zach Dannet, co-founder of the home furnishings platform Tumble, used IndieGogo to not only raise money but also generate leads. 

“Tumble used IndieGogo, a crowdfunding platform, three years ago to generate leads, and it is definitely a unique way to generate leads for startups and small businesses. We wanted to get the attention we badly needed for our startup, understand if people liked our product, find potential buyers, and get funds. It worked well. On the first day, we went beyond our goal and got $100,000, which was much more than we initially asked.

“Unintentionally, we got more leads and customers after we increased our efforts to communicate with our leads through surveys, updates, and responses to messages. This helped our campaign greatly. After two months, we got three times more money.

“Altogether, we got over $340,000 and over 1,400 people supported us during our crowdfunding campaign. This was a big achievement for a small new business like ours.”

Exploring, combining, and refining these strategies can lead your small business to steady growth. Or, if you find something that works and invest heavily into it, explosive growth. 

The key to an effective lead generation campaign is persistence and adaptability. Don't be afraid of trial and error, but try to make tweaks quickly when you suspect something isn’t working. It’s a fine line between ‘give it time’ and ‘let’s make an adjustment.’ 

No matter the strategy you choose, the key to lead generation is to understand your audience and provide real, authentic value.

Choosing the Right Small Business Lead Generation Tools

To do lead generation effectively, you’ll need some good tools. Here are some categories of tools that you’ll need and some highly useful tools we recommend to get the job done. 

A High-Powered CRM

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is your best friend for organizing, tracking, and managing your leads and customers. It can also help you evaluate and score leads so you know which ones are most urgent to follow up with. 

Here are a few CRMs to consider:

  • Close: I may be biased, but I truly believe that Close is the best CRM for small businesses. It’s set up to help you easily gather and track leads, and then nurture them through closing the deal using the right mix of automation and human touch. It’s designed to scale with your business so you can start out small and grow the CRM with the business over time.


  • Salesforce: This robust and well-known CRM software is great for larger businesses with bigger budgets and is packed with useful tools, some of which have a steep learning curve. Some small businesses use it, but many don’t because it’s out of their price range.
  • HubSpot: Some small businesses might enjoy HubSpot as it has a freemium business model to start, and has some decent features that are good for beginners, but you may find that you end up paying for a lot more as you grow.

Prospecting Tools

Prospecting tools are generally for outbound sales, where you find people and reach out to them via cold email or social media (often on LinkedIn). They allow you to search for new leads based on parameters such as their industry, job title, geographic location, and more.

Some top prospecting tools include:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: LinkedIn's tool allows for advanced searches so you can find specific people that fit your target audience. Then, you can reach out to them directly from LinkedIn, via email, or both. 
  • Hunter: If you find someone you want to reach out to via social media, a company website, or some other means, you can use Hunter to find their email address and verify it.

Inbound Marketing Tools

Inbound marketing is all about getting leads to come to you. Inbound and digital marketing tools help you create and distribute content and ads that attract new leads.

Some popular inbound marketing tools include:

  • Adroll: There’s a good chance you’ll want to advertise on more than one platform. Adroll lets you set up ads on several major platforms at once and helps you set up retargeting campaigns. 
  • Hootsuite: An amazing tool for managing and scheduling social media posts across various platforms.
  • WordPress: As the most widely-used content management system, WordPress makes it simple to create a business blog to attract inbound traffic through SEO.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Small Business Lead Gen

Lead generation is a game you’ll play for a long time, and you’re bound to make some mistakes. Learning from these mistakes can help you over the long term, but we can also provide some context into the common mistakes that small businesses often make so you can avoid them. 

Lack of Consistency and Long-Term Planning

Too often, small businesses treat lead generation like a sprint when it’s really a marathon. They get excited with one-hit wonders, but the flood of leads from one successful campaign will fizzle out, leading to a feast-or-famine cycle. Many give up on making a consistent effort when famine comes. 

It’s better to plan for the long haul. Create a consistent and well-paced approach that you can sustain. Then, you can expect more of a steady stream of leads rather than spikes and difficult drops. 

Focusing on Quantity Over Quality 

As any sales team will tell you, not all leads are equal. Leads that are a poor fit are a waste of your time. They cost you more through the effort you make in qualifying and communicating with leads that don’t have a true purchase intent. 

You’re much better off focusing on quality leads, even at a drastically reduced quantity. You’ll have a much higher ROI on your marketing campaigns, and you won’t waste as much time talking to people who aren’t gonna buy. Do everything you can to attract highly qualified leads with a genuine interest and the capacity to buy. 

Ignoring Tracking and Measuring

Lead generation isn’t a "set it and forget it" strategy. It’s an ongoing process that involves tracking and analyzing your efforts to determine what’s working and what’s not. Yet, many small businesses go into it without the proper tracking. They may end up leaning into strategies that aren’t doing as well as they think and letting good ideas slip past them. 

By tracking metrics like lead source, conversion rates, and cost per lead, you can refine your strategies, ditch ineffective marketing efforts, and better invest in your growth.

With the Right Strategy, Successful Lead Generation Will Come

For a small business, effective lead generation is the key to building a strong and loyal customer base. It takes time and effort, but doing it right will fill your sales funnel with qualified leads who actually want to know more about your business and what you can do for them. 

This is an extremely important part of your business and one where you can get creative. Try your own twist or mixture of the 15 strategies outlined in this article and refine it to feed your sales process over time. 

It’s a long game, but if you keep playing it the right way, you will win. 

Psst… Want to improve your odds? Start with the right tools. Get a free, 14-day trial of Close.

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