Hubspot’s 2017 State of Inbound report confirmed what small business owners know; the top challenge that 63% of marketers face is generating enough traffic and leads.


In this article, we will present free and low-cost lead generation methods and strategies for B2C and B2B leads. We’ll give you some practical ideas you can implement right now to acquire business leads, online and offline.

But before talking about how to generate leads for free or when you are on a budget, let’s look at the meaning of lead generation.

What does Lead Generation mean?

Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting people into prospects that have an interest in your product or service. In other words, a lead is a person who has explicitly shown interest in your company in some way, shape, or form.

For example, if you’re in the process of buying a new car, and you are visiting car dealerships to see new car models, you are a lead to those car brands and dealerships.

Why generate leads? The sole reason why businesses are actively looking for leads is to convert them into paying customers.

Leads are the lifeblood of each and every business.

If you’re looking to generate leads for your small organization, you are in the right place. We have chosen the free or low-cost tactics that actually work, and that you can implement starting now.

Want more lead generation techniques? Join a free lead conversion workshop hosted by Jason Drohn and discover how to attract, engage and profit from new leads by systematically giving them what they want.

Without further ado, here is the list of the best online and offline methods to generate quality leads.

1. Word of mouth

What it is:

The best way to generate leads free or when you are on a budget is word of mouth. Word of mouth (WOM) produces high quality leads as the State of Inbound report confirms.

Word-of-mouth advertising is the practice of actively influencing and encouraging organic discussion about your company or product.

It is a fact that people seek opinions and share experiences online and offline. 84% of consumers say that they either completely or somewhat trust product recommendations from family and friends – making those recommendations the top-ranked source for trustworthiness. (Source: Nielsen)

How to generate leads with WOM:

If you want to implement word-of-mouth marketing you must optimize every aspect of your business that affects the customer experience. This involves answering emails promptly, picking up the phone to respond to inbound calls, having a responsive helpdesk and delivering a great customer service.

Also, people often overlook the simple strategy of asking customers to leave a testimony or recommend your service – 70% will say “yes.” This will greatly help your local or online reputation. Moreover, have your customers publish the reviews directly on review sites, like Capterra, GetApp, Amazon or other industry-specific review sites. Don’t forget to display those testimonials prominently on your site too.

When it comes to online reviews, 88% of people trust them as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. (Source: BrightLocal) That is why it is important to have a system in place to help you get online reviews. Such a system will also help you battle negative reviews.

2. Local meet ups

What local meet ups can do for lead generation:

One of the most effective lead generation ideas is still business networking. Online lead generation is essential, but face-to-face communication can’t be beaten for impact.

How to do it:

Join the local Chamber of Commerce or a professional association to get a list of upcoming business events and trade shows you can attend.

Visit to find a local meetup. Meetup is an online social networking platform, intended for people to organize and/or join offline group meetings in their area.

Also, look for international summits or conferences to join or speak at. You may offer to present for free at these events. You will, in return, get access to a lot of potential leads for your business. Speaking in front of a targeted group is one of the best real-life lead generation methods.

If you cannot participate yourself, offer your product free for a local event. For example, do you sell chairs and tables? Simply find a local event and offer to provide seats for the participants. Are you in the software business? Offer a free one-year subscription for a small-business summit. Do you provide hosting services? Give away a free plan to the local WordPress meetup.

3. Host a giveaway or a viral contest

Why host a giveaway:

Giveaways are one of the most thriving forms of lead generation. However, a giveaway can also attract a bunch of useless leads and waste your time if you don’t follow a well-thought strategy.

The trick? There are two of them. First, make an effort to give away something people actually want. Electronic devices, like an Amazon Kindle, or smartphones, like a new Samsung, usually make people’s heart beat fast. The second trick is to promote your giveaway where your ideal customer hangs out. Is it Facebook? Is it another social network? It’s your choice.

How to do generate leads with a contest

To host a contest you need the right tools at hand. Rafflecopter is an online service that helps you run giveaway and sweepstakes online. Whether your giveaway attracts hundreds of entries or hundreds of thousands, Rafflecopter is an affordable choice for most professionals.

Viral Loops is another service which is free to try. How it works is you add a so-called viral-widget to your website using a small piece of JavaScript code.

Alternatively, you can run a giveaway on Facebook with a normal post, which is completely free. Post your giveaway prize and brief terms of the giveaway and ask people to like and comment to take part.

4. Use your social media of choice

The social media fallacy:

Data compiled by Placester determined that social media had a lot of potential, but it ranked low compared to other lead generation techniques.

There is a reason why social media is clustered at the bottom of the thermometer: People are doing it wrong.

Marketers typically count on social media to be the hottest for top-of-the-funnel marketing. But the key is to use social media strategically for lead gen.

How to generate leads on social media:

How do you do it? Either do mass posting on the most popular social media, if you have the resources to handle that, or choose one or two social media and focus on those. We advise you to opt in for the second option. Start by posting links to your preferred network, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other, at least three times a week.

Link posts directly to specific landing pages built to promote high-performing offers. Make sure you make it obvious to people that you’re sending them to a landing page, though. This way, you’re setting expectations fairly.

You can also do a traffic analysis on your blog to figure out which posts generate the most leads. First, go to Google Analytics and find the posts that attract the highest number of readers. Then, link your social media posts to those blog posts.

Bonus tip: Add a lead generation form to those high-ranking pages to capture more leads which are interested in the topic. You may also offer a freebie to entice visitors to give up their email. Use this set of free list building plugins to power up your site!

Another way to generate leads from social media? Create a contest, as we previously discussed, and promote is on your favorite social profile. Contests are fun and engaging, a perfect fit to the relaxing atmosphere on social media.

Finally, take advantage of the lead generation opportunities each social media platform already gives you. For example, Facebook has a feature that lets you put a simple call-to-action button at the top of your Facebook Page, helping you send Facebook followers directly to your website.

5. Reach Out With Cold Emails

How it works:

It is pretty much self-explanatory, right? Pick up your phone and call people. Well, the difficult part is where to find those people who may be interested in your product. That process is called prospecting.

As Shopify defines it: “Prospecting is the first step in the sales process, which consists of identifying potential customers, aka prospects.” And continues: “The goal of prospecting is to develop a database of likely customers and then systematically communicate with them in the hopes of converting them from potential customer to current customer.”

How to do it:

The best business lead generation tactics are proven to work through frequent, widespread, or long-time use. And cold calling is one of them.

To create a targeted list of potential prospects in your niche, you may have to look at phone directories or trade show lists depending on whether you are a B2C or B2B company. You can also skim through LinkedIn profiles, your Facebook friends or members of topical Facebook groups.

Reach out to potential leads personally to start a conversation and determine if your offering may be the right fit for them is most of the time the best lead generation effort you can make.

Cold calling can result in new clients as well as help you build your email list for follow-ups. The key to success is to research each of your prospects fully before sending them a personalized email.

6. Video and Live video

What this lead generation technique involves:

Video is booming, period! If you’re not using any kind of video content to generate leads you are missing out on a great opportunity for your small business.

B2B marketers know that a constant stream of leads is the lifeblood of every business. They also know that, with limited time and other resources, you need to focus on what works best. Generating leads through video definitely works because, put simply, video is the best alternative to eye-to-eye contact.

How to use video for lead generation:

There are two main ways you can use video to produce more business leads:

  • Add video to a landing page with an optin form.
  • 2. Collect email leads in the media player itself.

Both ways work, and both will generate more leads for your business very soon if not immediately.

Live video is a strong lead generation tool which is also free. Live streaming is becoming more and more popular among businesses across all industries, from technology, to education, to healthcare. Live video is expected to rise even higher in the years to come.

Are you utilizing video and live video to boost your lead gen efforts? If not, start with Facebook Live and Hangouts on Air. Both are so easy. You can easily start a Facebook Live on your mobile device. Alternatively, Hangouts on Air is a Google service that help you broadcast to a limited number of people that you have invited or go live publicly on YouTube. Both services are free.

More often than not, videos will be gated behind an email form that locks the content. This means that viewers can’t watch the video unless they type in their email address. Apart from pre-video email gates, you can capture leads through end-of video forms and in-video calls to action (CTAs). Such features are offered by Wistia.

What about the content? Delivering a high-value piece of content, like a free webinar, allows you to build your brand authority and also capture leads directly in the registration form. Scriptly’s Webinar Wizard will help you get started with webinars right away. Scriptly’s Webinar Wizard offers a free trial that will help you see leads flowing into your business.

7. Connect with journalists and local media

Last but not least, keeping warm contacts in local or online media will help you with lead generation. You might have heard of a site called HARO which you can join for free.

What HARO does is match journalist inquires to content providers. So, a journalist might be writing a story about sales strategies and be looking for sales executives to share their expert opinion. Then, when the story is published, the contributors will be referred to by name and get a link back to their site.

It is advised that small business owners attend local or nationwide publishers’ conferences where they will get to know national and regional reporters and build professional relationships with them.

You should also reach out to local press, TV or radio stations and offer professional advice to their audience. You might offer to be interviewed or take small part in a Q&A section of the show. It’s a win-win situation for both local business and the media outlet — they do want content.

Ready to acquire leads on a budget?

So, that was it! A range of online and offline ideas for lead generation, for both B2B and B2C companies in any industry. Hopefully you will start implementing one or more of those lead gen tactics right away — we gave you some action steps!

Keep in mind that however you choose to go about your lead generation process, it’s always going to take consistent work to see results. Don’t get intimidated if you take action today and see no results by tomorrow! Every effort takes some time to produce results.

Tired with boring trade shows, uncomfortable meet-and-greets, and the poor results of most B2B lead gen campaigns? Then it’s time to try some new lead generation ideas and tactics. However, always keep your strategist hat on and focus on the lead generation approach that works best for your individual business.

Instead of finding leads and prospects with mass advertising and email blasts, you must now concentrate on laser-focused campaigns and relationship management.