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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

On a tight budget? 9 unconventional ways to generate leads

Bringing in high-quality business leads doesn’t have to cost a ton of money.

On a tight budget? 9 unconventional ways to generate leads
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]

A business can’t be successful without interested customers, but attracting those customers and their interest can be one of the most challenging parts of launching or maintaining a business. It can also be quite costly to generate leads, and many smaller or newer businesses may have a tighter budget to work with.

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Even with a reduced budget, there are still many unconventional but effective ways to create interest in your services or products. From collaborating with other business leaders to leveraging data insights, these nine Fast Company Executive Board members share their expert tips for low-cost lead generation.

1. TRANSPORT PRODUCTS YOURSELF.

We brought our products to our prospects on a trailer rather than relying on tradeshows. This got our prospects’ sole attention, and there was none of that drayage, signage, or other expenses to deal with it. – Cheri Beranek, Clearfield Inc

2. USE DATA TO PREDICT CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR.

Utilizing data to predict customer behavior and mindset is a smart way to generate leads. When AI-based software and systems are implemented to process huge volumes of data acquired from customer datasets, a data-driven strategy can quickly identify prospects and enhance business outcomes. By analyzing the right data, organizations can ensure they get the best out of their marketing spend. – Irfan Khan, CLOUDSUFI

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3. CREATE MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL PARTNERSHIPS.

Create a laser focus on partnerships and, counterintuitively, focus on how much you give to them and what you will receive in return. Act with radical generosity in terms of how many leads you bring your partners and you will reap rewards beyond your wildest dreams. – Esther Kestenbaum Prozan, Ruby Has Fulfillment

4. SHARE CONTENT ACROSS FREE SOCIAL CHANNELS.

Create social media pages for the founder or CEO and utilize social platforms to promote your company. This marketing method is an effective and cost-efficient tool for sharing content and applies to both B2B and B2C business models. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

5. PUBLISH FREE CONTENT IN EXCHANGE FOR EMAILS.

I suggest creating downloadable content like ebooks, reports, and guides that are valuable to your target market. You can make them available to people for free and all they have to do is enter their email on your website to download it. You’ll build a pool of leads that are relevant to you and you can build a direct line of communication with them. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

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6. FOCUS ON A TOP-NOTCH CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

Read all customer reviews, ask for 1:1 feedback from current customers and implement technology that is going to help you send the right message to the right customers at the right time. The right technology saves both money and time for businesses of all sizes, a concept I’ve always been passionate about. – Jason VandeBoom, ActiveCampaign

7. UTILIZE LINKEDIN TO NETWORK.

If you are a service-based business, utilizing targeted outreach on LinkedIn can provide the opportunity of taking your networking fully digital and opening up a brand new market for free. If you find success, you can boost your success by going Premium and utilizing LinkedIn Sales Navigator. We have done this for many clients, and it is a great way to fill your calendar with appointments. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

8. CHANGE YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT TO EXPAND.

Get out of the office, go to a coffee shop, attend a class, or even attend a random conference unrelated to your field. Meet people outside of your typical network. If you are open-minded to other possibilities, you will realize that unexpected opportunities will present themselves. Embrace ambiguity and enjoy the process of networking. Most of all, spread good karma! – Bill Nottingham, Nottingham Spirk

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9. GET INVOLVED IN YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE’S COMMUNITY.

Create opportunities to be a convener of thought, collaboration, and contribution in your target audience’s industry and community. Host roundtable discussions, invite contributions to published content, share opportunities for volunteerism and giving in your communities, and be present, in person (or virtually) at the events that matter.  – Danielle Paige, Nixon Peabody

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