Generating Cold Leads for Your Small Business Can Be Easy With This Formula

Image of the blog title, Generating Cold Leads for Your Small Business Can Be Easy With This Formula

By: Kathleen Ries-Jubenville   |    Read time: 8 minutes


If you're an entrepreneur, you know that generating leads is essential to growing your business.

You may spend a lot of time going to networking events, cold calling, and direct messaging on social media to get a chance to pitch your services to someone.

But what if there was a way to generate leads even while you sleep?

With a little know-how, you can create an online marketing funnel that will do just that!

The first step is to create something of value that your leads will want enough to give you their email address as "payment" for it. By giving a potential client value in exchange for their email address, you can then nurture the relationship by sending them email campaigns and newsletters. During these touchpoints, you can offer them your services.

When you lead with value, you are building their trust and allowing them to get to know you first. This increases your chance of closing the sale when you make your offer. And the best part? It can all be automated so you are attracting leads and selling to them in your sleep!

Here's a step-by-step guide to creating a lead-generating marketing funnel:

  1. Attract people who may be interested in your services
  2. Give them value in exchange for their email address
  3. Nurture the relationship
  4. Offer them your services

Step 1: Attract people who may be interested in your services

There are a few ways to attract people who may be interested in your services.

Start by identifying your target market and writing out all the problems they are having that you can solve with your business services. Think about the various types of problems they may be experiencing. Are they struggling with finances or relationships or mindset or something else? There are often many dimensions to a problem, so write at least twenty ideas so you get to the emotional depth of their challenges.

Then, create content that appeals to them. Write blogs and engage with them on social media. Show your expertise and talk about their problems. Empathize with them. Show them you understand what they are going through. Add in your personality. Let them get to know you and like you. Not everyone will appreciate what you are saying. That's ok! It's important and more fulfilling to work with people who are like-minded to you. So share your values and give them reasons to trust you care about them and can help them.

Other options are to guest blog on other people's websites or be a guest on podcasts that are frequented by your target audience. This will help increase awareness of your brand and get your name in front of more people. And you can keep networking and doing speaking engagements. Keep getting people's attention.

At the end of all of these "attraction" methods? Offer them value! Give them a "Call to Action" they can hardly refuse. Instead of constantly trying to sell your services to cold audiences, offer to give them help - for FREE. Or, really, for just the price of their email address. Some people will still refuse to give you even that much, but they probably wouldn't buy from you anyway. But all the ones who do give you their email are now warm leads!

 You need a software system that does four things for you:

  1. Creates a link you can embed on your website or in your social media posts so people can enter their first name and email address to request your free offer, your "freebie".
  2. Captures their name and address so you can email them your freebie and stay in contact with them.
  3. Allows you to automatically send emails based on triggers, such as requesting your freebie.
  4. Enables you to create email campaigns to nurture the relationship with newsletters and sales offers.

If you don't have an email marketing service yet, check out MailChimp and Constant Contact. They are two popular ones with small business owners.

Step 2: Give them value in exchange for their email address

So, what kind of "free" help are you going to give them? Create something useful to them that they can access anytime they want without your involvement. Make sure the freebie is relevant to what you're selling and that it provides value to the reader. These are often called lead magnets and they are incentives that encourage people to sign up for your email list.

Your freebie could be an eBook that they download from your website. Or a brief training video with a worksheet. It could be an online self-assessment tool or a cheat sheet. You will spend time creating this ONCE, but it becomes your passive lead-generating tool.

Other forms of lead magnets include webinars, social media challenges, e-courses, and free trials. Your imagination and creativity are the only limits! But the two keys to success are to be sure it is useful for your ideal client and that it leads them to becoming your client.

Three elements to include in your freebie include empathizing with their struggles, demonstrating your ability to solve their problems, and explaining how you are different from your competition. You should use your freebie to position yourself as the expert while helping them clearly understand why they even need your help. It's an opportunity both to give them useful information and explain how your services can benefit them.

This is not a sales piece, though! Don't hard sell them. Just give them a lot of value, introduce and position yourself as their guide, then offer the next step to connect with you, such as a brief discovery call. The important thing is to always include a "Call to Action" with everything you do!

Step 3: Nurture the relationship

After someone signs up for your email list, the first email you send them will include the freebie they requested using your automated email marketing software service.

A mistake a lot of small business owners make is stressing out about the content of their emails. This causes them to procrastinate and get stuck on this step. Just pretend you are writing a regular email to any business associate. Keep it simple and normal. You are not trying to 'wow' them. You are just being helpful and people are busy.

So, just start with a header like, "Here's the FREE eBook you requested" and then just give them the attachment or link so they can download it with a little explanation in the body of the email to encourage them to open it.

Then, create a series of 5 more emails to automatically send to them over the next week or so. This is called an email campaign. One email can tell your story...who you are and why you do what you do. Another email can explain some of the benefits of your services. The third can include some client testimonials; social proof of your ability to get results for your clients. Another can address some of the objections you receive from leads and/or describe how you are different from your competition. The final email can be a more direct sales pitch. But all of them should include a clear "Call to Action" at the bottom to talk with you or to sign up for your program directly. You need to write these emails one time, then just schedule them to automatically send every time a contact is "captured" in your lead magnet.

Finally, after the initial email campaign, it's important to continue to nurture the relationship so they don't forget about you. Send regular email newsletters to keep in touch and give them more free value, tips, and tricks. Even if they are already working with you, clients will enjoy your newsletters because you are continuing to provide value in addition to their paid services.

Make sure your newsletters are interesting and informative, and that they offer value to the reader. For example, you could include tips, advice, or case studies. Again, keep it simple for you to create and for your readers to digest. It is helpful to use a template so you can just plug in a couple of new paragraphs and it is ready to go! Some people include images to make it more engaging. But don't do this if it slows you down. The important thing is to get your message out there! And, as always, include a "Call to Action" at the bottom, even if it is just to follow you on social media.

Step 4: Offer them your services

Once you've built up a rapport with potential clients, you can use email campaigns to promote your programs and services to your contacts. You will send these campaigns occasionally to offer special programs or discounts or opportunities to your clients. Do this sparingly so they are used to opening your emails to get lots of helpful information and will gladly receive special offers from you from time to time.

Again, make sure it's clear and concise, and that it tells the reader what they need to know. Use the same copywriting formula you used in your freebie. Talk about their problems and how your program or services can help them. Empathize with them and show you authority in the matter. But now, you don't have to "sell" them on YOU. By now, they already know, like, and trust you, so - if they need your services - they are much more likely to buy from you than anyone else!


A marketing funnel is a great way to generate leads while you sleep. By giving potential clients value in exchange for their email addresses, you can nurture the relationship over time. Then, you will have the opportunity to offer your programs and services to them when they're ready to buy.

This is not a quick marketing strategy. But neither is referral marketing and networking. Trust takes time. Relationships take time. There are other ways to get fast leads and close deals quickly. I recommend you implement several marketing strategies and play both the short game and the long game.

But when you are on vacation or you get sick or your family needs your attention, you will be glad you implemented an online marketing funnel that works for you and generates cold leads for you automatically!


The Fearless Climbers

Business Newsletter

Sign up for weekly mindset, marketing & sales tips for entrepreners!

Subscribe now to get your first edition today!

You can unsubscribe any time and we will never sell your information.