- Give something away for free. This is probably the best way to get new leads quickly. Hold a drawing or contest whereby the winner gets a complimentary service. This might be a web page rewrite, a logo or brochure design, a free search engine optimization analysis or any other free service or product you can provide that has great value for your customers. If you get 100 leads for the price of one logo design, you're well on your way to building a highly targeted mailing list.
- Ask for referrals. Do you ask your current clients for referrals? If not, you should. Your clients like what you do for them, so why wouldn't they share your talents with their business associates? Without being pushy, ask your clients for referrals and — if you're local — offer to pick up the tab for an introductory lunch or after-hours meeting.
- Post often. If you're involved in relevant online communities (and you should be), post often and include a signature linking back to your website. Blogs, forums, answers websites and others are excellent vehicles for this. The key to social marketing success? Add value to the conversation and be helpful whenever possible. Don't be a salesman in your posts (that's what your signature is for). The benefits are two-fold: forum members who appreciate your posts and need your services will call on you, and in some cases search engines will pick up popular posts for targeted keywords, supplying you with optimized and permanent back links (a key component of SEO).
- Contact webmasters/owners directly. Stop waiting for everyone to realize their website has issues and expecting them to come to you — or light up the competition on job boards. Instead, whenever you're on a website that you could improve with your services, take a few minutes to let them know you'd like to help. If you're respectful of their current efforts and offer valuable suggestions, you can earn many new clients this way. Remember that you're the expert in your field, and website owners don't always realize when their sites need improvement.
- Write articles. Write expert articles for industry and consumer publications free of charge in exchange for a short bio about you and your company at the end of the article. You could write for publications online and off, from newspapers to websites to trade mags to ebooks that you distribute online for free.
- Work on your blog. Don't have one? Get one. Create valuable content that your audience will appreciate. Be instructive, insightful or humorous — treat your blog as a column that your readers count on to entertain or inform them every day. A good blog establishes credibility, reveals your philosophy and presents infinite SEO long-term possibilities. If you have a blog, make it better and aggressively promote it.
What can you add to this list?