Winning new customers is at the heart of every business – no matter how big or small. If you’re just starting out the chances are you’ll be experimenting with various lead generation strategies to find out what’s going to work for you. Five companies tell us their most effective techniques and offer advice to start-ups looking to follow their success.

1. Content Marketing // Steve Wiideman, Wiideman Consulting Group

A creative content marketing strategy is paramount to growing leads and conversions for our clients. We use to give us all the question-based keywords we need to create a 52-week content marketing calendar.

Teaching our clients to be disciplined, publishing at least one “best answer” to common industry questions per week, has resulted in hundreds of thousands of new visits from search engines, which play into remarketing strategies for our auto repair and storage franchises.

One recent case study that is already driving a healthy amount of organic traffic is Public Storage’s “How Storage Works” campaign. Phase I was to simply publish these pages as a starting point, prove the model works, and then continue to time-release new content on a recurring basis.

2. Direct Mail // Joan Yu, Digital Wavefront

With Direct Mail you can add that personal touch and address your customers by name. I personally look forward to seeing what I get in the mail (besides bills of course!) and I’m more likely to respond to a special offer that is addressed to my personal needs.

You choose who you want mail to be sent to and when it will be sent. Direct Mail is more focused and targeted to individuals who will most likely respond to your offer.

Furthermore, Direct Mail can easily be integrated with web, media and social to create a winning combination. Integrating Direct Mail with these online channels enables measurement and accountability.

3. Data // Nicola Lloyd, Mason Frank International

Industry reports are a great way to get eyes on your brand and capture leads in the process. We produce an annual recruitment report for Salesforce professionals that covers salaries, benefits and bonuses, trends, motivations and movement across the international Salesforce community.

Printed copies of the surveys are distributed at key industry events – such as Dreamforce in San Francisco – and we make the report available to download on our website using a data capture form. We also pick out selected newsworthy stats to show the press. It’s a great way to leverage media coverage and reach new audiences.

4. Social Media // Scott Woodley, Tutora

Your social media channels are a great way to build a user base and a trusted brand. We create and share content which adds legitimacy to our brand and, in the minds of our customers, demonstrates our industry expertise. We find that the best pieces of content are those which include statistics or survey data, rather than opinionated pieces.

One of our most successful posts was one in which we stated the average cost of tuition sessions for different subjects, cities and levels.

Producing this in an infographic format meant the content was imminently sharable without editorial work, whilst the data also allowed journalists to write comment-style pieces which linked back to the source of the information they quoted.

In having a mass market business which depends on high volume, we take a long-term view to developing leads – producing great content rather than seeking short-term conversion.

5. Networking // Alan Man, PMGC

Generating leads consists of finding prospective customers that could benefit from your services.Trade shows and networking groups offer the opportunity to reach out to many people as possible, in person, which can also be very effective in building a business relationship that ultimately drives referral business.