When entrepreneurs start a brand new business, they often try to do too many things at once. My biggest piece of advice? Be consistent and zone in on your advantage. You’ll want to find one thing (or a couple things at most) that you are really good at and absolutely nail those. In other words, don’t allow yourself to be spread too thin. I recommend following this when you are considering what industries, niches or target audiences to service. This will allow you to become an expert in one specific industry and truly position yourself and your service/product to a unique audience – giving you the competitive advantage over those who choose not to become an expert in a field.

With that being said, this is the first step of lead generation. It will help to simplify the foundational step of creating and working through a lead list in the most effective and strategic way. A common mistake aspiring entrepreneurs make is spending a load of money (they don’t have) on random lead lists, without direction or a strategy around it. More leads means more revenue and more profit. So you want to hit a home run when it comes to finding and generating leads. With tight startup budgets in mind, here are ways to find SMB leads for free and cherry-pick the most promising ones.

Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Free LeadsIf you own a company that sells products or services to small businesses, the internet is going to be your best friend for finding free leads. For example, let’s assume you are a business who sells mobile apps to hair salons. If you choose to be the premier provider of mobile solutions for hair salons, you will really be able to understand the problems salon owners face and, most importantly, how exactly your solution can fix them.

When it comes to finding local hair salon leads for you to reach out to, Yelp will be one of the best free resources out there. Not only will it return a list of local businesses in a list of highest to lowest rated, but you can also find pertinent business information like their website, phone number, address and even skim through the reviews themselves for the names of managers or business owners. You will soon discover the things that their customers rave about (their unique advantages) and potential pain points and complaints when it comes to their customer experience. All of this information combined will help you draft up a compelling and knowledgeable argument for when you reach out to them.

Step 1 – Conduct Search:In this case, I would search for “hair salons” in “my city”, which will return a generous list of some of the best (and worst) salons in your area. The salons listed at the top of this search will always be the highest rated salons, with a combination of the most reviews and the average highest star rankings out of 5 – arguably the salons that are the most successful but also potentially the most competitive.


Step 2 – Create a List:Next, we recommend creating a list with a more strategic approach. For example, let’s focus on creating one lead list with all of the hair salons with a 4-star rating and below. We know that in a competitive market like this, a 4-star average rating is a major pain point for the salon when being compared to their competition with 5 stars. You can also segment a separate leads lists for things like: Are they lacking a Google My Business Page? Are they excluded from the top spots in the local pack?

Whether you choose to use a basic excel spreadsheet or a free CRM like Hubspot, make sure you have a way to keep all of your lead details organized and easily tracked. While creating the document, you should also add in a section about these particular paint points they might have in order to use it in your sales pitch later.

Step 3 – Create Outreach Campaign:For this curated group of hair salons, create a compelling email and/or phone call cadence, that directly addresses their paint point that might come with not being placed in Yelp’s top spots.

When it comes to reaching out via email, 59% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective channel for generating revenue. In fact, the three most commonly used B2B lead generation strategies are email marketing (78%), event marketing (73%), and content marketing (67%).

The more valuable and tailored your email, the higher the chance that your cold email will generate warm leads. You immediately want to grab their attention and show them how you can make a difference for their business. Also, make sure to incorporate that you are a local expert and have conducted market research in their particular area.  

Here are time-tested email templates that can generate SMB leads for your business:

Email Template 1 – Raise The IssueEmail Subject: Quick Question

Hey [name of business owner or manager],

I came across your business’ presence on several review sites and have a couple questions and observations I’d love to share with you:

Are you losing clients to your competitors with 5 stars?

How are new clients finding you amidst the competition?

Do you have a strategy in place to retain your existing clients ?

How are you driving new potential clients to your location?

My name is [your name], and I also own a local business offering free insights on how you rank against your competitors in the area.

Let me know which time works best for us to connect and share my findings.

Talk soon. Thanks!

[your name]

Email Template 2 – Demonstrate Your ExpertiseEmail Subject: Came across your website

Hi [name of business owner or manager],

I’ve been doing some research on your business and created a free marketing report on how you rank against your local competitors. Here’s basically what I found…

– You have fewer reviews than most of your direct competitors

– You have a lower star average than most of your competitors

– You do not have mobile strategy in place to improve this or your customer’s experience

– You do not have a loyalty solution in place to help retain your existing customers

Basically, you are losing customers to your competitors that do.

This is where I come in. I specialize in helping local businesses like yours grow by creating a strategy based on how you compare to your competition.

Would you be open to chatting for 15-minutes this week?


[your name]

If those first emails don’t get you a response, you can send a follow-up. You can also create an email highlighting one of their biggest competitors in the area – as we know this will be an obvious pain point for them (see Follow-up Template 2).

Follow-up Email Template 1 – Demonstrate Your ValueEmail Subject: Trying to connect

Hi [name of business owner or manager],

I’ve been trying to reach you about some research I’ve done on your business and created a detailed report on how I could potentially help you grow. I’d love to go over this report with you in-person or on the phone if you have some free time.

You’ll be really surprised how easily your business can:

– Increase social media activity

– Increase positive online reviews

– Increase local search ranking

– Increase customer loyalty & retention

– Increase your business’ revenue

Do you happen to have 15 minutes this week to connect?


[your name]

Follow-up Email Template 2 – Share Competitor AnalysisEmail Subject: Haven’t heard back

Hi [name of business owner or manager],

I’ve been trying to reach you about some research I’ve done on your business and one of your biggest local competitors. I’d love to go over this report with you in person or on the phone if you have some free time.

– [Competitor] has a 5-star avg on Yelp

– [Competitor] has 575 reviews

– [Competitor] has an incentivizing loyalty program

– [Competitor] offers a great mobile experience

Why can’t you have the same?

Are you available for a quick call [time and date] to explore your options?

Thank you,

[your name]

ConclusionBizness Apps partners have had success with this lead generation and email marketing technique. This strategy can be used by anyone who sells an online marketing service to small businesses, whether it be websites, reputation management, or SEO consultancy. The key is to make the best of all of the free information out there on the internet and on third-party sites, like Yelp, Tripadvisor, Google, Facebook, etc. These resources allow you to generate free SMB leads for your business and, if you do it correctly, they will be quality leads.

This is our newest blog series featuring expert opinion and experience from Bizness Apps employees in all departments. We aim to capture emerging trends and challenges in sales, marketing, design, and product development. This blog post is contributed by our Senior Mobile Marketing Advisor, Karina Sanchez. You can catch Karina guiding our clients to success during the 9-5 (in both English and Spanish!) and checking out new foodie hotspots after hours.