How to generate business leads

How many of you have WhatsApp installed on your phones and use it on a regular basis? If I were to guess, I’d say it’s probably more than 90% of you!

But do you know the story of how WhatsApp came to be?

Jan Koum was born in a small village near Kiev in Ukraine. Coming from poverty, Koum’s family emigrated to California, and Koum started learning about computers in his spare time. 

By the time he was 18, he had developed impressive computer programming skills, and in 1997, Yahoo! hired him as an infrastructure engineer. Here, he met his future co-founder, Brian Acton. And in 2009, they legally established the business as WhatsApp Inc.

What stands out in this story is that the founders built the app and grew its popularity with no advertising at all.

So just how did they manage to generate leads and convert them to over 10,000 downloads daily without any advertising?

It was through the single most powerful form of marketing – word of mouth. Up until recently, the application relied on the premise of users referring WhatsApp to their friends and families.

In short, word-of-mouth marketing led to the rise of a business to a one billion user base. 

The founders eventually sold the application to Facebook in 2014. Today, WhatsApp has become so widely used that it has almost fully replaced dated forms of communication, like texting or calling.

Here are 10 other ways that you can generate leads for your business:

10 ways to find business leads

1. Identify your target audience

Who is your ideal client? Are they male or female? What do they look like and how old are they? What do they like/dislike? 

If you’re able to answer these questions, then that’s the first step towards generating business leads. After all, how can you market to an audience that is not defined?

Once you have a clear understanding of who you are targeting, you can move on to determine how to turn them into a lead. In short, you have to first define your lead in order to turn them into a lead.

Let’s put it this way…

When a stranger initiates a relationship with you by showing an organic interest in your business, the transition from stranger to customer is much more natural.

And the only way you can show organic interest is by first knowing your target audience clearly.

2. Create your digital footprint

Just as the name suggests, a company’s digital footprint refers to the trail left behind on the internet which has the potential to reach millions of users around the world.

It’s a combination of social media, websites and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), emails sent and received, and basically all the information you submit online.

By creating a uniform and sharp digital footprint, you can easily generate leads from customers and potential customers who land on you. 

When it comes down to it, the important question to ask is, “How can my company have a positive and effective digital footprint that will drive customers to my business and make it grow?”

To start with, optimise your webpage, and establish a strong, authoritative presence on social media.

Remember, social media is the easiest way to get to the widest range of customers at the lowest price – free!

3. Generate leads through LinkedIn

Let’s talk about LinkedIn, which is absolutely heaven sent!

LinkedIn on its own, if used correctly, can help you to find new connections, connect with people and businesses, and generate tons of new leads.

The audience on LinkedIn has 2x the buying power that your average web audience has. And that’s probably why B2B marketing using LinkedIn is especially effective, and can yield very profitable results.

Just how do you go about this?

At the most basic level, connect with members of your target audience, engage with their posts, and message them directly to offer your product or service.

At Outside ideas, we are just initiating the use of Linked Helper, an automation tool that assists users to generate leads.

4. Run a giveaway

Have you ever won a giveaway? How did it make you feel?

What did it make you think about the brand, and how likely are you to buy from them?

My guess is that you felt REALLY good, and you would probably buy from them again and even refer your friends to them. After all, who doesn’t like free things? 

Giveaways are extremely powerful in generating leads for a business. They help people to identify your brand and encourage them to engage with you.

In many giveaways, you’ll be asked to nominate somebody else, and by doing this, you subtly make more people aware of the brand.

Giveaways are a great way to reach many people, let them know about your product, and generate leads.

5. Answer a question on Quora

Quora is one of the most underrated platforms online, yet it can be a great tool to generate leads.

Statistics show that over 300 million unique users visit Quora every month.

How can you use this to your advantage? It’s simple. Ask and answer questions.

The caveat, of course, is that you should only be engaging with topics related to your business offering. You don’t want to answer questions about pizza, only for people to click and find out that you’re a business coaching firm.

Out of the 400,000 topics discussed on Quora, you can definitely find a topic that’s related to your business offering.

If you answer enough questions of users and solve their problems, they will spot your profile and most likely check out your website.

6. Start to guest blog

“Competition makes us faster, collaboration makes us better.”

If you can identify websites where your content would be relevant, and then go ahead to collaborate with them on blog posts, you’ll achieve A LOT.

From an SEO standpoint, the primary objective of a guest post is typically to get a link back to your site and hence get people to know about you.

Make sure that your articles have relevant information for your audience. Your content should have really unique information to keep the users interested.

Lastly, be sure that the site you choose has a strong domain authority and is well-respected by your audience.

7. Referrals and referral partnership

We’ve talked about referrals over and over again, and I can assure you…

Word of mouth marketing is a super powerful tool for generating leads.

A few months ago, The King of Collaboration, Dave Plunkett graced us with a FANTASTIC talk, and his three takeaways for getting referrals were:

  1. Ask for the referrals (at the opportune time)
  2. Make it easy.
  3. Say thank you.

You can watch the full video here.

8. Host educational webinars

Coming from the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced almost the entire world into lockdown, it’s clear that webinars work almost as well as physical meetings, if not better.

If you can offer your audience free webinars, that will help them in their business, then you are likely to attract a fresh audience.

If you’re speaking to business owners for example, they can benefit from webinars about marketing, project management, sales and bookkeeping, generating leads…etc.

Another example would be if your target audience is people in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry. You can offer them a webinar on how to transport their goods in a quick affordable way.

Webinars allow you to share ideas, educate, and demonstrate your skill for your target audience.

And while you are at it, more and more people get to know about your product and are encouraged to buy.

9. Ask for testimonials

You’ve probably heard it over and over again…

People don’t buy products, people buy people.

The more you can humanise your brand and make it relatable to your audience, the better.

Testimonials are one great way to do this. They can lead you to a completely new set of potential customers and hence increase your sales. Beyond that, they build your brand credibility and help more people believe in you.

You can leverage testimonials in two ways:

  1. Ask your clients to share the work you do for them and the value it brings to their business is a great way to generate leads.
  2. Ask your clients to refer names of people they know who could benefit from your services.

10. Email marketing and newsletters

“In the time it took you to read this sentence, 20 million emails have been sent.” ~Jon Walton

If you’re still wondering if email marketing really works, there goes your answer.

And to put the icing on the cake, statistics show that COVID-19 brought email marketing back from the brink of extinction. 

There are a few things to keep in mind for your email marketing to generate leads. 

  1. Personalisation is the most effective way to convert leads through email.
  2. Most consumers open emails exclusively on mobile devices and will ignore/delete emails that aren’t optimized.
  3. Interactive content improves open rate, while embedded video content increases Click-Through Rate (CTR) by 300 percent.


I’d like to believe that most of the people in business do it to increase sales and hence their cash flow.

To do this, you have to first generate leads for the business, and then convert the leads into customers.

Lead generation is a really sensitive process in that you are trying to create a relationship with potential customers. During this process, you want to come off as a credible, strong, and preferred brand.

In summary, there are 10 ways through which you can generate leads for your business:

  1. Identify your target audience
  2. Create your digital footprint
  3. Through LinkedIn
  4. Run a giveaway
  5. Answer a question on Quora
  6. Start to guest blog
  7. Referral and referral partnerships
  8. Host educational webinars
  9. Ask for testimonials
  10. Email marketing and newsletters

If you need help to set up a business lead-generation strategy, get in touch with us.


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