6 Smart Ways to Generate Leads for Local Businesses (Plus 3 Common Mistakes You Should Avoid)

March 23, 2024

The top 6 smart ways to generate leads for local businesses are:
  • Ranking your own site and renting it to local businesses
  • Hosting or joining events
  • Asking customers for referrals
  • Doing outbound sales
  • Optimizing your business website
  • Using paid ads

In this article, you'll learn how to use these lead generation tools to your advantage. You'll also uncover some common mistakes (that are easily made!) that you must avoid in order to be successful.

While many of these strategies only deliver short-term success, local lead generation has proven to be a more sustainable business model. This is where we "rank and rent" out digital assets that we own in local areas, helping small businesses get the traffic they need while also making scalable, consistent income.

6 lead generation ideas for small businesses

Ranking your own site and renting it to local businesses

The rank and rent SEO tactic means building a digital property (a website), ranking it organically on Google, and then renting it to a local business. As you position the site on top search engine results, it naturally attracts free traffic - which makes it attractive for businesses struggling to obtain fresh leads. 

So instead of ranking other people’s websites, you rank your own and rent it out to potential tenants (local businesses) who’ll pay top money to get more leads. You can collect monthly payments from your clients so they can continue to benefit from your site’s traffic.

Hosting or joining events

Event marketing can be a fun way to attract new leads. As a business owner, you can organize product launches, raffles, and workshops to introduce your brand to the community. You may also join local events such as conferences, trade shows, networking events, and others.

When hosting or joining an event, go for those that will allow you to connect with your sales lead prospects. For example, if you own a bookshop, you can invite an author to do a book signing session. You may also giveaway small freebies like bookmarks and tote bags that contain your store’s name and contact information.

Have a simple form for attendees to sign and write their details as they arrive. Follow up with them later to ask for their feedback. You can also offer discounts and other perks to potentially convert them into loyal customers. 

Asking customers for referrals

Asking for referrals is a practical, no-cost way of finding new leads. It’s also significantly more profitable. According to Neilsen, 84% of consumers trust recommendations more than other marketing methods. Meanwhile, Harvard Business Review shares that referred customers generate 16% more in profit compared with other customers.

Doing outbound sales

Traditional outbound sales techniques (such as cold calls, cold emails, door-to-door leaflet distribution, etc.) can also be a good way to generate leads. Done correctly, it can help you reach untapped areas of your target market. Besides, this strategy gives you the chance to pitch your message directly to your prospects.

In short, you’re introducing your products and services to people who may haven't heard about your business yet. You get to meet new people and generate new leads during the process.

When you do outbound sales in combination with other lead generation methods, you increase your chances of having more leads.

Optimizing your business website

An optimized business website makes it possible for you to capture more leads. As users browse around your site, they should find relevant information that directly fulfills their search intent. Showcase your products with complete information. Also, give them opportunities to make a direct purchase and/or leave their contact details.

Moreover, a quality digital presence likewise builds credibility for your online business.

According to a Forbes feature:

“Without a website, people may question your legitimacy as a business. Having a website is an opportunity to make a great first impression and give people comfort that you’re a real business.”

Using paid ads

Paid advertising should also be part of your overall lead generation campaign. For example, you can sign up for PPC (pay-per-click) ads. So when you run a Google ad or a Facebook ad, your business appears in prominent spaces (page one of search engine results or the social media sidebar) when a potential client uses the platform. It would be hard for people to miss your product or service as they do a Google search or browse their social media feed.

Here’s a crucial lead generation tip for PPC ads: write effective copy. Mention about the benefits you offer and then a clear CTA (call to action). That way, customers know what to expect and what to do when they see your ad online.
Make sure, however, that you do not rely heavily on any of these methods as your sole lead generation tool. At the end of the day, it’s always better to use a combination of these strategies, depending on what works best for your business.

The importance of lead generation for small businesses

Lead generation is important for small businesses because it helps them grow their company and increase their revenue. This is why 91% of marketers say lead generation is their “most important goal” and 53% use “at least half of their budget” on generating leads.

RNMKR founder Ari S. Goldberg defines lead generation as “the process of creating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of increasing your client base and revenue.”

“You cannot serve clients until you get them,” Goldberg also tells Business News Daily. “And you cannot get them without generating the initial lead to convert them from an unknown person to someone interested in your product or service to an actual paying client.”

With local lead generation, your efforts are focused on a specific market - which allows you to get quality leads.

Digital marketing vs traditional marketing: which one to choose?

Digital marketing vs traditional marketing: which one to choose? Well, the major difference is in the methods they use. Digital marketing, for example, uses online platforms (social media, websites) while traditional marketing refers to classic mediums such as newspaper or television advertising.


Digital Marketing

Traditional Marketing


Uses email, social media, websites, etc.

Uses billboards, brochures, magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, etc.


Less expensive (or even free)

More expensive


Wider audience reach

Targeted local audience reach


Measurable marketing with metric and analytic tools

Limited methods of measuring reach (print run, TV show ratings, etc)


Higher level of engagement with potential customer base

Little or no engagement with potential customer base


Advertisement can be tweaked or updated anytime

Advertisement cannot be tweaked or updated once printed or broadcast

To decide which to choose, small business owners need to define their goals, budget, and desired results. In most cases, combining both elements can take your lead generation strategy to the next level. You get to reach more prospects and attract more qualified leads.

How do you generate leads organically?

You generate leads organically by pushing your website and targeted keywords to the top pages of local search engine results. It takes a lot of work to achieve that, but in the end, it’s a better strategy than paid methods. Your small business gets to enjoy superior search engine ranking for years. Usually, doing local SEO (search engine optimization) involves keyword research, customer persona creation, and content marketing.

First, it’s important to know which keywords prospects are typing whenever they look up your products or services online. By doing keyword research, you can position your business better and boost your visibility to local prospects.

Some tools you can use for keyword research include:

Next, you need to understand your target audience by creating customer personas. You want to be as specific as possible so you have a clearer idea of who your customers are. Where are they located? What are their ages, jobs, income ranges, and spending habits? Also, which of your products or services are they most interested in?

Once you have a detailed customer persona, you can proceed with creating quality marketing content that captures your prospects’ attention. Writing blogs, producing videos, and making social media posts will be easier. These could then help you gain more traffic and generate more leads.

How can I generate leads with no money?

You can generate leads with no money through organic lead generation. This strategy allows you to target local traffic which drives greater interest - and thus, bigger revenue - to your business website. This is highly ideal for small businesses that do not have big marketing budgets.

Here are some ideas for you to generate leads without spending anything: 

Stay active on social media

Creating social media accounts for your business is free. To drum up interest for your products or services, make sure to:

✅ Regularly post content (photos, videos, etc.)
✅ Join business groups and communities
✅ Engage with your followers by responding to comments and direct messages
✅ Share positive reviews
✅ Use the right hashtags

Look for free guest blogging opportunities

Guest blogging can be an excellent way to establish your reputation as an industry expert. Moreover, it can help increase brand awareness and grow your traffic.

To make the most of your efforts, look for trusted websites that offer free guest blogging opportunities. Read their submission guidelines before writing and sending your blog posts. In most cases, you will get a link back to your website within the body of your article or in the author's bio.

Maintain an email distribution list

According to Snov.io, 89% of marketers “use email as the primary channel for generating leads.”

Maintain a list of your current and prospective customers’ email addresses. Then reach out to them whenever you have important announcements and promotions.

You can check out top email marketing platforms (such as HubSpot, Mailchimp, Zoho Campaigns, etc) for a free trial. If you wish to take advantage of the full features, you can also sign up for their paid versions.

What are common lead generation mistakes that small businesses need to avoid?

Some of the most common lead generation mistakes that small businesses need to avoid include relying heavily on paid lead generation methods, failure to use social media, and neglecting the importance of competitor research.

Without sales leads, it’s hard to maximize your revenue and grow your business. Lead generation builds relationships, trust, and credibility between your brand and potential customers.

Relying heavily on paid lead generation methods

Ideally, the goal of lead generation efforts is to build your credibility so you can gain organic traffic. While paid ads are good, they can be potentially costly and cannot guarantee lasting results for your business in the long run. On the other hand, organic lead generation can boost your visibility and authority. Your website will stay on top search engine rankings for years - which leads to a greater percentage of users converted into qualified leads.

Failure to use social media as a marketing tool

You’re missing out on a lot if you don’t have any social media presence. Besides, 77% of small businesses use social media “to help build brand awareness, facilitate customer service, and increase revenue,” reports SCORE.

Neglecting competitor analysis

Studying the competition is also a must for small businesses aiming for success. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their lead generation and marketing tactics can help you come up with better strategies.

The US Chamber of Commerce sums it up this way:

“Good competitive research could put your business in a unique position to reach customers who are being underserved.”

What is the best way to generate leads for your business?

The best way to generate leads for your business is through organic lead generation. As you focus your efforts on this strategy, your business website will have higher chances of ranking among the top search engine results.

Simply put, organic ranking puts you in front of people searching for specific buyer intent keywords. So when, for example, someone searches "plumbers in Detroit, MI" online, having digital properties in Google allows you to be in front of these people. It's so powerful because this is constant stream of people looking for your service - which means you will then attract a greater number of prospective customers. 

Organic marketing allows you to strengthen your online presence which results in bigger revenue. Since the strategy doesn’t cost a dime, you get to avoid spending big bucks on advertising and marketing.

You can also enjoy lasting benefits for your business website such as:

✅ Better brand visibility
✅ Bigger return on investment (ROI)
✅ Constant stream of free, organic traffic
✅ Greater niche credibility
✅ Higher percentage of site visitors converted into qualified leads

Can you start your own local lead generation business?

You can start your own local lead generation business if you have high level skills in SEO, social media management, content marketing, PPC advertising, and in traditional marketing methods. Businesses constantly require new leads so your services can be highly valuable to them. As long as you have the technical know-how of generating effective leads, you can help entrepreneurs find customers and increase their earnings.

To get started, you need to pick a niche and locality to focus on. Next, build your lead generation system and set your rates. You can then contact small businesses in your area to offer your services.


That said, lead generation is definitely one of the best ways to make money online. It helps put your website in front of more people - without spending expensively on paid traffic and other marketing tactics.

If you want to learn organic lead generation, we have the best coaching program just for you. By mastering our proven 3-step process, you can be a lead generation expert and rank your own business website in no time. 


Our lead generation program is easy for anyone to learn, even for those who aren't tech savvy. We've had over 7,000 students so far and plenty of business owners have signed up to learn how to do lead generation with us - and their small businesses eventually blew up.  So don't hesitate to get in touch with us. We’ll teach you how you can do it for your business website, too. 

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses

Ippei.com is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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