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What’s the best way to generate leads with no money?
Budgetary restrictions are rough.
Trust me – I get it.
I know when I got started that I didn’t have any budget to do any kind of paid lead generation.
So I had to learn how to make things work without any money.
And I can guarantee you – there are trusted, tried, and true ways to generate leads with no money.
But I have to warn you – it’s not easy.
Here’s the bottom line:
Money gets you success faster, or helps you to fail faster. Either option is worth it because you then know what you’re working with.
But you can still get real results for free.
You just have to put in the time and effort.
I know that’s not what a lot of people want to hear.
We always want it fast and easy.
But that’s not the way the world works.
I know – because I’ve been there myself.
I know what it feels like to be frustrated that stuff isn’t working the way you thought it should.
I know what it’s like to feel discouraged and want to give up.
I know what it feels like to be confused and not know what the next steps are.
You just have to be willing to do the work to make it happen.
And when you do, I can guarantee you that you’ll be glad you stuck with it because the payoff is worth all the work you put in.
So how do you generate leads with no money?
I’ve seen successful entrepreneurs who consistently bring in 6 and 7 figures using nothing but Facebook groups.
But it’s not just a matter of throwing a group together and expecting it to magically work.
There’s a method to organic traffic, so let’s dig a little deeper.
What’s the best way to generate leads with no money?
The most success I’ve had generating leads without spending money is to leverage the power of social media to make it all happen.
You see, it took forever for me to figure out that the whole way that I was using social media was wrong.
There are written rules and policies that you have to follow on these platforms, but there are also unwritten rules for what works when it comes to what you actually create and post.
The kind of post that will do well on Instagram is different than what works on Facebook.
And what works on Facebook won’t necessarily work on TikTok.
You have to have the right message in the right format on the right platform in order to generate leads with no money.
But before you run out the door to start taking over the world with your social media platforms we’ve got a few more things that we need to cover, so stick with me – trust me – you’ll be glad you did.
And by the time you get to the end of this post you will have a solid plan for what you need to do to start generating leads without spending money.
Figure out who your dream customer is
If you don’t know who your dream customer is, how are you going to generate any leads from them?
It should go without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – that you need to figure out who your target audience is.
You need to know what they like, what they don’t like, what they want and where they’re struggling.
I go through this exercise with all my clients and every time it’s an eye-opening experience for them.
They think of things they’d never thought of about how they can reach their dream customers and, when they do it right, it opens up entirely new opportunities and paths for them to connect with them and help them.
So start there. If you’ve not figured this out this is where you need to start.
Find out where your dream customer is hanging out online
Let me tell you a story.
I’m a huge college football fan. And I graduated from Florida State.
We’ve not had much to get excited about the last couple years, but there are a lot of us who are passionate fans who stick with them through the good times and the bad.
And one of the things that passionate fans do is congregate to talk about FSU football.
And there are a lot of online communities and places to do that.
For a long time now, I’ve been part of a paid membership site where we get a bit of “inside access” to what’s going on with information on recruiting, what the coaches are up to, how the spring workouts are going, and a whole lot more.
And if I were a business that was trying to reach college football fans, and specifically FSU fans, I’d make sure that I joined that community.
We’re passionate fans who’ve congregated around a common interest.
And your business is no different.
Your ideal customers will congregate around their passions and interests – whether they’re looking for solutions, or are just generally passionate about the subject.
Once you’ve figured out who your dream customer is, it should become apparent where they’re going to be hanging out online.
Your job is to find those places and go engage with them there.
But a word of caution is in order.
Make sure that the places you’re looking for online are in line with what your dream customer is passionate about.
Just recently, on that same membership site that I told you about, they started allowing paid advertisements into their community, but there was a HUGE problem:
The ads had nothing whatsoever to do with FSU football or athletics.
They were from mortgage brokers and another guy selling franchise opportunities.
That is the perfect example of misalignment.
Sure, there may be a small subset of the members of that site that are looking for solutions to those kinds of problems, but the vast majority of the members couldn’t care less, and several were actually offended that those people were even posting in that community! Not to mention, the trolling that happens when something comes across as fabricated and contrived.
It didn’t work out well for them.
I don’t want the same thing to happen to you.
When you find out where your dream customers are hanging out online make sure the place where they’re hanging out is aligned with the overall mission of that community.
We’ll talk more about this in a minute – this is important stuff.
Repurpose how you use social media
Just about everyone gets started with social media as a consumer. But if you want to generate leads for your business then that has to change and you have to become a producer.
Since we’ve identified your dream customer already, and you know where they’re hanging out online, it’s time to make a mindset shift in how you engage and interact on social media.
No more cat videos.
No more mindless scrolling.
No more political or religious dialogs.
Everything now becomes intentional with the intent of building a brand and a reputation that positions you as the go-to authority in your space.
So this means that we’re going to do a couple things with our social media accounts that could be challenging for you, so stick with me.
After all, we’re trying to figure out the best ways to generate leads without spending any money, right?
To make an omelette, you’ve got to break a few eggs.
And to be successful generating leads for free online we’ve got to change the way we do things.
What does that mean?
It means that you remove everything and everyone one from your friends and follow lists that are not your dream customer.
Yep, you read that right.
That means everyone.
Stick with me – this is really important.
When you remove everyone who’s not your dream customer your entire mindset shifts when you open up Facebook or Instagram.
And all you see are the posts from your dream customers and dream 100.
And so your mindset immediately becomes one of answering questions and engaging in a meaningful way instead of seeing another post from your high school best friend who’s posted yet another political rant that you really don’t care about anyway.
By being intentional with how you use social media you’re going to be a in a much better position to generate leads for your business and be focused on the right things.
Now that doesn’t mean that you unfriend Aunt Helen, your cousin Jim, or anything like that.
You can group your family into a group on most social media platforms, but once you do, unfollow them so that they’re not in your feed directly.
Sounds a little harsh, I know.
But when you’re ready to see what’s the latest from your old school friends and family, you can easily visit the group you created.
Use social media algorithms to your advantage
What’s the one thing that all social media platforms want?
Yes, traffic is part of that, but what really makes a social media platform successful or not successful is the level of engagement it gets.
And if you’re going to generate leads organically then you need to play according to their rules.
Two things are going to happen when you do this right:
- you’re going to build top-of-mind awareness in the mind of your dream customer
- you’re going to start showing up and being visible everywhere your dream customer is hanging out
But this also means that you’re going to shift how you interact on these platforms.
The goal is to become a producer and not a consumer.
You have to change the way you look at social media and stop the constant scrolling through the feeds and instead produce great content. We’ll talk more about that in a minute, but if you want to generate leads organically using social media, this mindset shift in reference to social media is crucial.
Prime your own feed
“Priming” your own feed means that you log on to these social media platforms with a purpose in mind. And that purpose is to “wake the algorithm up” and let them know that you’re on and you’re ready to go.
And you do this by commenting, liking, and engaging with every single post you see in your feed.
Now that your feed has been cleaned up and everything has been removed except the posts and groups from your dream customers, this is SO much easier.
When I cleaned up my feed I literally unfollowed EVERYONE. It made engagement so much easier because I was only seeing the posts I wanted to see in reference to my overall goals for my business.
Comment on everything
Every single post you see gets three things:
- A “heart” or like
- A comment
- A mention of the author of the post
This interaction not only tells the social media platform that you’re on that you’re a high-level engager, but it will also endear you to your dream customers on who’s posts you’re doing this.
Because let’s face it – who likes making posts that don’t get any “likes” or comments?
That’s a lonely place.
And you can be the one who is the source of that positive feedback for your dream customers – it’s a win/win.
Once you’ve primed your feed, you’re going to create your own posts.
There are a lot of different kinds of posts that you can create – engagement posts, question posts, etc. That’s a subject for a different post that I’ll cover later, but the main idea is that once you’ve done your own priming you create your own posts for your audience.
When you get comments on your own posts, you’re going to respond to every single one with the same formula I mentioned above – a like, a mention, and a response comment of your own.
The goal here is to build up your own personal brand and its value in the mind of your dream customer.
As you build your authority and visibility your dream customers are going to start finding YOU, and clicking through on your profile because they want to learn more about you, and that’s where the magic starts to happen.
Create an outstanding lead magnet
In order to attract your dream customers into your world you need to give them something that delivers for them a quick win related to your area of expertise, that will be insanely valuable to them.
THe goal of a lead magnet should be to establish your own authority in their eyes, see the value you can provide, and entice them to take even more steps into your world.
A lead magnet can be:
- a free guide or cheatsheet.
- It can be a video, or a video series.
- It can be a webinar.
- It can be a free trial.
There are a ton of options when it comes to what you can create for a lead magnet.
But here’s the catch:
Whatever you choose for your lead magnet it has to be good.
It has to actually deliver value.
Because if it’s thin or lacking real value, your dream customers will not buy from you.
They will reason, “if this is all I get from them for free, why should I pay anything to take another step, if this isn’t any good?”
And they’ll be right.
I’ve seen so many poorly done lead magnets and it’s incredibly disappointing.
Your lead magnet doesn’t have to deliver the kitchen sink.
But it does have to deliver real value.
Otherwise, it’s not going to generate any real leads.
So don’t shortcut the lead magnet step – it’s your chance to make a good impression and entice people to dig deeper into the solutions you can provide.
Create prolific content
One of the biggest challenges we face when it comes to generating leads is visibility.
The problem is it’s really freaking hard to get in front of enough eyeballs to move the needle in a meaningful way.
But one of the best ways to solve that problem is to create prolific content.
Here’s what I mean:
When I say prolific content I mean two things:
- that it’s everywhere and there’s lots of it
- it’s polarizing, provocative, and divisive and represents original thought
So let’s talk about these two things.
First off – there needs to be a lot of it.
The simple way to do this is to commit to publishing something every single day.
That means you create a piece of content that gets pushed out to your platform every single day.
It’s hard – I get it.
It’s not easy.
But we’re trying to figure out the best ways to generate leads for free, right?
So we’re going to have to hustle to do it.
It can be a blog post, a video, a podcast episode, a Facebook live session, etc.
Start with something that you can do and build up to it.
One of the things I recommend is to start with video because you can get a LOT of mileage out of one piece of content that way.
But the point is that you’re going to push something out every day without fail.
Trust me – your dream customer will take notice, and it will get engagement. It will drive traffic. And it will generate leads.
Second – it’s needs to be provocative, and divisive and represents original thought.
I don’t mean that you need to be crude or rude. That’s ridiculous.
But what I do mean is that you need to have an opinion and stand strong on it.
You also need to approach content from a perspective that’s a lot less common than what everyone else is saying.
Here’s an example:
One of the things I’ve been working on for a while now is my series on how to generate leads. This post is part of that series.
And I’m coming at the topic from a different perspective than many others.
I’m talking about cutting-edge kinds of stuff in the online marketing world, while other posts and content on the same topic is just rehashing what everyone else is saying.
You might be thinking: “How is that going to attract anyone?”
The effect that it has is quite the opposite.
It’s turning off the people that are not my dream customer, and it’s highly interesting to those that ARE my dream customer.
It’s intriguing to them because I’m talking about doing things in ways that most everyone else isn’t talking about it.
So it comes across as slightly edgy and it divides my readers.
And that’s precisely what I want.
I want to attract the right people, and repel the wrong ones.
So when it comes to creating your content for your field be polarizing, controversial, be edgy, but don’t be a jerk. Don’t be insulting.
And don’t forget to publish something every single day and you’ll build an audience of your dream customers who will start to pour into your sales funnels.
Create a Facebook Profile Funnel
So we’ve talked about using social media, creating content, being polarizing, and delivering value.
Now what you need to do is optimize your social media profiles to lure people into your world.
And you do that by setting up your profiles to entice people to dig deeper.
How do you do that?
By optimizing your profiles around a lead magnet.
If you go to my Facebook profile you will see that it’s not cat pictures, or pretty scenes of the ocean and mountains.
Nothing wrong with any of that.
But the purpose of my social media profiles, and specifically Facebook, is to drive traffic on autopilot into my lead magnet.
The copy on your profile should be a short, sweet, concise value statement.
Your image should address the pain your dream customer has and how they can find a solution.
Each social media platform is a little different but the idea here is to arouse curiosity.
The main concept here is to build your profile out in such a way that you start to generate leads by people clicking on the links in your profile.
You do this by creating an image that positions the value you deliver and leads them to a lead magnet.
The good thing is that on just about every social media platform you have the ability to place a link to an external source.
This link is going to be sending traffic to your lead magnet.
Then, as you interact and engage in the way we talked about above, you’ll be generating leads with no money, on autopilot every single day.
Create a how-to channel on YouTube
Your dream customers are going to want to know that you know what you’re talking about.
And one of the best ways to establish that authority is to start your own YouTube channel.
This will do several things:
- It will give your dream customer a way to validate your authority.
- It will give you the opportunity to put a face with a name that your dream customers are seeing around as you work on your omnipresence.
- It will give you an additional channel to earn traffic organically.
Creating how-to videos, and even vlog videos will go a long way to getting you noticed and generating leads.
As your influence grows and you start to connect with more people your ability to answer their questions and concerns in your videos will have more and more impact.
Develop your brand on Instagram
Instagram has become the go-to social media platform these days.
People have built entire careers around being an Instagram influencer, and regardless of what you think about the value that those people bring to the world (for some it’s more questionable than others) the fact that the platform is wildly popular is undeniable.
And it also happens to be one of the places where your dream customers are hanging out.
The goal here is to grow your brand and increase your visibility on the platform.
One of the greatest ways to do that is what’s called the JK5 method developed by Jenna Kutcher.
The point is to create five different categories of topics that you’re passionate about and post images and content related to those five things.
Leverage TikTok to drive traffic
People have very strong opinions about the value that TikTok brings to the world.
It’s grown immensely popular in an incredibly short period of time.
And it’s definitely not just teens lip syncing to music any more.
There’s actually a ton of great content on there.
Any topic you can imagine, just like all the other social networks, is there and has an audience.
The short 15 to 60 second videos are fun and informative and just the right size.
You can leverage the topics that you’re already creating for your YouTube channel and use it as a platform to send traffic to all your other channels and most importantly, to generate leads.
There are several influencers on TikTok who’ve had radical growth in their platforms and their ability to generate leads by creating content here.
Start your own Facebook group
Facebook is still the biggest of them all and the undisputed king.
And one of the features they’ve developed over the last few years is the ability to create private groups.
This is a fantastic way to fill your group with your dream customers.
People love community and they’ll congregate around common interests using groups in Facebook.
By doing live teaching and training, and fostering engagement and community, you can connect with tons of people who are interested in hearing what you have to say around your topic.
There are people who’ve generated millions in sales revenue from private groups on Facebook.
So don’t overlook the ability to generate leads using Facebook groups.
Leverage your dream 100
If you’re not familiar with the Dream 100 concept, then it’s something you want to learn about.
Introduced by Chet Holmes in the Ultimate Sales Machine and popularized by Russell Brunson in Expert Secrets, it’s become a hugely popular way to generate leads and connect with new people.
I’ve talked about it a lot here on this site, for good reason: it works.
Your dream 100 is the 100 people who are influential with your dream customers that you want to connect with.
These are the people who’ve already gathered people who are your dream customer.
Think about it this way:
If you’re an author Oprah would (or should) be on your dream 100 list because if you can get your book on her recommended list, your sales are going to launch into the stratosphere.
By building out your dream 100 list as you grow in your own influence you’ll be able to get in front of unimaginable audiences that will flock to your offers.
Of all the methods here this one may be the one that gives you the greatest return on time invested, but can also be among the most challenging to get off the ground because of all the legwork that has to be done to get going.
But without a doubt, this is an extremely effective way to generate leads.
Build your own Platform Hub
Personal branding is more important today than it’s ever been.
And if you’re not building your own brand, then you’re going to be lapped by others that have.
So there’s no more excuses if you don’t have your own personal website.
But the kind of personal website I’m talking about is a very specific kind of website called a funnel hub.
I call it a Platform Funnel.
But the concept is the same:
It’s the one piece of virtual real estate that you own that you have total control over.
It’s the central place where all your various outposts online point.
Think of your personal brand as a hub & spoke system.
All your content creation efforts – blogging, podcasting, videos, etc. all radiate like spokes from your one central hub online.
And it’s an amazing, organic and highly effective way to generate leads into your sales funnels for free.
Create search engine friendly content
Part of the platform I just told you about is the content you create.
And one of the types of content you create is text-based posts..
When you create these posts the right way they’re like pouring gas on fire.
Your traffic will grow exponentially.
And you’ll be attracting people who are searching for the answers that you provide in your content.
It’s a win/win.
They get the answer they’re looking for.
You get the traffic that you can then convert into leads.
Search engine content should be part of any marketing plan.
If you’re overlooking the possibilities of generating leads from search focused content, you’re only hurting yourself.
Costs, Benefits & Results
By this point you’re probably thinking, “this sounds like a lot of work”.
And you’d be right.
It is a lot of work.
I know because I’ve been doing all these same things myself.
But I can also speak to the payoff.
Using these same methods I’ve mentioned here I’ve been able to consistently and steadily generate leads over the years.
My website traffic has continued to increase.
My email list full of warm leads from people who are interested in learning more how I can help them has grown exponentially.
And I continue to learn and refine and get better at doing what I do across the board.
Because I want to help people be successful with their own online businesses.
That’s at the core of what I do.
Because I know what it’s like to struggle.
I know what the frustration feels like.
I know the sense of confusion surrounding the question of what to do next.
I’ve been there and done that.
That’s why I create stuff like this.
I’m documenting my journey and telling you all about what’s working and what’s not.
And I can tell you that everything that I’ve talked about here works.
It may take some time.
It may take some refinement.
Everything goes through different versions as we learn.
So if you try one of these tactics and it doesn’t work immediately, instead of giving up, examine and ask questions about *why* it’s not working.
Because I can tell you – it’s not the tactic – it’s the execution.
You have to learn how to execute properly.
But in time all of these things will help you to generate leads for your business without spending money.
Related question: How can I generate leads quickly?
If you need to generate leads fast then you have to understand that doing it without any kind of budget is virtually impossible.
Unless Oprah is your best friend.
The benefit of paid ads is that it allows you to fail faster so you can iterate and revise quicker to get to a better result.
If you don’t have any kind of platform at all and you’re just getting started with these things, then it’s going to be hard.
Money greases the skids and makes everything move faster.
Related question: How do you get unlimited leads?
The best way to keep the flow of leads into your business going is to be consistent.
That means that you are continuously publishing and putting yourself in front of your audience.
It means that you are omnipresent everywhere your dream customer is hanging out.
And it means that you’re tapping into the things we’ve discussed here, like creating your own Facebook group.
But the most important thing to get unlimited leads is to make an offer.
How can you sell anything if you don’t have an offer?
Make offers regularly and consistently and make your audience aware of it and there’s no limit to the number of leads you can generate for your business.
Related question: How do I generate leads without a website?
This is a tough one because if you don’t have a website you’re essentially building your sandcastle in someone else’s sandbox and that’s dangerous.
What I mean by that is this:
You don’t control Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, or any of these other platforms.
So if you’re going to do this without a website you have to make sure you play by their rules.
But it can be done.
The stuff I talked about above about creating your own private Facebook group is one the best ways I’ve seen this done.
By creating your own Facebook group you have the ability to gather the people in your dream audience into your world where you get the opportunity to serve them and for those who are ready to dig deeper, you have the opportunity to sell them the products & services you offer.
Trust me – Facebook groups, when you do it right, have the ability to generate an outstanding flow of leads into your business. Like I said above, I’ve seen wildly successful entrepreneurs earn 6 and 7 figures just from their Facebook group.