What Is Lead Generation? 35 Ways to Generate Leads FAST!

Are you tired of the same boring lead generation strategies? Do you want creative ways to generate leads for your business?

In this article, we’ll answer the question, “What is Lead Generation?” and show you new, creative lead generation strategies that actually work.

What is Lead Generation?

Creative ways to generate leads for all kinds of businesses

Lead generation is the process of cultivating a qualified buyer’s interest for your product or service with the goal of converting that person into a customer. Most often, that is done by collecting their information through a form on your website so you can follow up with them after they leave your site.

You can generate leads at any stage of your sales funnel. In fact, you should make sure not to focus too intensely on any one stage. Ideally, you want to have ways to reach customers who are in the Awareness, Evaluation, and Conversion stages.

If you only focus on building awareness of your brand, you won’t be able to convert as many of those leads into customers. Likewise, if you optimize your Conversion strategies but neglect Awareness and Evaluation, you won’t have any leads to convert at all.

Creative Ways to Generate Leads

The strategies below work for leads at any stage of the customer journey. You can also adapt these for almost any industry. Read this list with an open mind and imagine how you could use each strategy for your business.

Since this is a long list, we’ve broken it into sections for you based on overall strategy type. Please use the table of contents to navigate to the section that interests you most:

Table of Contents


People love hearing good things about themselves. One of the best compliments you can give is to show that your business values your customers’ opinions. Here are some ways to use kind words to generate leads:

1. Ask for a Referral

Referrals are an easy way to make your customers feel like you care about them. When you ask for a referral, tell them how much you enjoyed working with them. Then ask if they know anybody who might also benefit from your product or service. Add a little extra flattery by saying how much you’d love to work with someone else like them.

You can offer a reward for referrals such as an extra product, complimentary service, or credit toward future purchases. If they are genuinely pleased with their experience, many people are happy to give referrals without any promised reward.

2. Request a Testimonial or Case Study

Another easy way to compliment your customers is ask them for a testimonial or case study. This shows that you take their opinion seriously. People enjoy talking about positive experiences they’ve had. Quoting them on your website can make them feel influential. This may motivate them to share about your business. Their network will see the results they got and perhaps be interested in working with you too.

Learn how to write an epic case study or check out our case study library to see how it’s done.

3. Respond to Social Media and Customer Support

Everyone wants to feel seen and heard. When you respond positively to public comments on social media, you show that you’re paying attention to your customers. Likewise, timely and helpful customer support can set high expectations for working with you. Keeping your existing customers happy is a great way to generate referrals and repeat purchases.

4. Feature Real Users in Your Marketing

Give your best customers a claim to fame by featuring their words and images in your marketing. This shows potential leads how they might benefit from your service or product. Plus, people will be excited to share their feature with family and friends. Remember, always ask permission to share testimonials and photos.

Offline Lead Generation Ideas

Vector image of a business event

While digital marketing is effective and widespread, don’t forget about your customers offline! It might even be easier to stand out in real life than online. These strategies are especially important and effective for brick and mortar businesses that rely on customers actually coming in to purchase. Here are some ways to use physical objects to bring in new leads:

5. Throw a Party

Parties and events are a great way to help customers associate your business with having fun. Gather potential customers at your physical location or offsite and treat them to a good time. You can demonstrate your products and services, or simply build connections. You can also sponsor other events to build your brand recognition.

6. Send Physical Mail

In the age of flooded email inboxes, a physical envelope can really get people’s attention.

Consider sending “lumpy mail,” which is any kind of mailer that contains something besides a flat letter or postcard. You might send a branded pen or magnet with your contact information, or something more unusual like a balloon or key. People are often curious enough about an oddly shaped package to open it instead of tossing it in the recycling bin.

You can also send different sized mail than a standard envelope. This can also catch people’s eye. Be aware that “lumpy” or off-size mail may need additional postage.

Make sure to include a way to contact you or purchase your product. It can be fun to connect the item you send with the act of purchasing or visiting. For example, a car dealership might send a fake car key with the invitation to bring the key when they come in for a test drive.

7. Offer Samples

Another way to generate leads for your business is to offer samples or trials. Costco is famous for its food samples, but you can give away sample products or mini services. Respectfully ask for an email address or phone number before they claim their freebie. You’ll have a whole list of people who are interested in hearing from you and have already tried out your product or service.

This strategy also works well with digital offers. Use OptinMonster to create popup campaigns that ask for an email address to send a free eBook sample, limited membership access, or trial software code.

8. Create an Experience

We spend so much of our time online that offline experiences can take on a new meaning. Turn your marketing or sales process into an enjoyable experience for your customer.

Put a photo-friendly prop by your storefront to encourage people to take and share photos of your location. You could even offer a discount or other promotion if they tag you on social media.

You can also create a game or activity related to your business and take it to local events. Collect contact information from participants to send them marketing materials later.

The experience doesn’t even have to relate directly to your product or service. You’re just trying to generate interest and awareness of your work.

Gifts and Giveaways

Vector image of people holding gifts and one person speaking through a megaphone

Everyone loves getting gifts, and some people will even spend money to get something for free! Here are some ways to use gifts to generate new leads:

9. Send Referral Gifts

In addition to a sincere thank-you note, you can send a gift to people who refer you to new leads. This shows that you appreciate your existing customers. Referral gifts can also motivate new leads to become customers since they see how well you will treat them. Some businesses only send referral gifts for leads that actually purchase, while others do so for all referrals. It’s up to you!

10. Offer a Gift With Purchase

Adding a bonus item or upgrade can help people decide to purchase your product or service. Combine this strategy with a time limit to turn leads into customers quickly.

11. Start a Loyalty Program

A great way to encourage repeat business and referrals is to offer a loyalty program. Choose a way to track a customer’s purchases or referrals and give them a gift when they reach a certain number.

For example, if you sell consumable items, you could give a free product after the customer has purchased ten.

You can also keep track of a customer’s referrals and send them a reward after a certain number of referrals have become customers.

Another fun variation on the loyalty program is to offer a discount for bringing a friend in for a service or purchasing two products at once.

12. Host a Contest or Giveaway

People enjoy the feeling of winning. Many are happy to hand over their contact information for the chance to win a prize. You can collect entries on an ongoing basis or for a limited time.

With OptinMonster’s gamified coupon wheel campaigns, you can even give every visitor to your website a chance to win a free or discounted product.

Time and Attention

A person looking at a phone set next to a person wearing a headset providing customer service

With everyone in a hurry, giving people some extra personalized attention can help you attract leads for your business. You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of time to make someone feel special. Here are some ways to use attention to find new leads:

13. Give Them a Call

Outbound calling can still reach new customers for your business. Keep the call from feeling too “cold” and impersonal by learning about their needs before reaching out. You can collect information through a form or survey on your website.

OptinMonster’s Field Mapping feature can greatly help in this process.

By leveraging Field Mapping, you can capture specific details (such as demographics, interests, or industry preferences) about your leads through customized opt-in forms. These forms can be strategically placed on your website to gather information aligned with your sales objectives. In addition to form-based data collection, you can further track your subscribers’ activity by utilizing email segmentation.

Using this data, you can customize your outbound calls to address specific pain points and offer relevant solutions, increasing the chances of success.

For more information, explore these 11 Ways to Use OptinMonster’s Field Mapping Feature.

14. Provide Awesome Customer Service

Make both your existing and potential customers feel cared for and like they are “more than just a number.” Take time to answer questions thoughtfully and compassionately.

Hire extra help or invest in tools to help you do this at scale. Happy customers will reward you by purchasing again and telling their friends all about your business.

15. Host a Customer Appreciation Event

Show your existing customers how much they mean to you with a customer appreciation event.

This should be a sales-free space and focus on building positive relationships. Create a memorable experience for your guests and they’ll have fond memories of your brand.

You could even invite customers to bring their friends who could then become new leads for your business.

16. Teach a Group Workshop.

You can connect with lots of potential customers by teaching a workshop or class.

Choose a topic related to your product or service and tell participants about your business at the beginning or end. You are teaching them something valuable and building a relationship with new leads.

The workshop participants get a chance to learn something and see that your business can help them.


A team of volunteers wearing the same branded shirt

Most people appreciate a good deed done for them or in their name. Here are a few ways that generosity can help you attract new customers who value kindness and helpfulness

17. Participate in Community Service

Give your employees and leadership time to help on community service projects. It’s a more personal way to make an impact than financial sponsorship, though donations are helpful too.

Volunteer for causes together, then share authentically about the experience on your website and marketing. Branded clothing can lend your business some brand recognition and credibility.

Find reputable nonprofit or NGO partners and follow their guidance on volunteering to avoid being performative or exploitative.

18. Make Charitable Donations

Many customers want to feel good about their purchase beyond the thrill of receiving the item or service. Consider making a donation to a charity on behalf of your customers.

You can even let them pick from a list. This lets them feel like their purchase has a positive impact and may encourage them to work with you instead of another business.

For example, you could include a field in your checkout form where customers can choose a charity to which you will donate a portion of their purchase.

19. Offer Free Setup or Migration

Some leads might feel nervous or overwhelmed by the idea of starting with a new product or service provider. Help them over the initial hesitation by offering free setup or migration from their existing solution. You can adapt this strategy and offer free webinars or workshops showing how easy it is to get started.

20. Provide a Service Upgrade

Another to get more leads is to provide a free service upgrade in return for giving their email or signing up for a trial.

This strategy costs very little as you will only provide the upgrade to paying customers.

Creative Ways to Generate Leads for Real Estate

A realtor showing two people a modern house

Let’s take a look at some industry specific examples, starting with real estate. The housing market is highly competitive. Finding new leads for real estate can be difficult even if lots of people are buying and selling. Here are five creative ways to generate leads for realtors from each of the categories above:

  1. Compliments: Send thank-you card and ask for referral after closing.
  2. Offline: Send a physical mailer about new listings or closings in the neighborhood.
  3. Gifts: Cover the client’s home warranty or other closing costs.
  4. Attention: Host open houses to meet new buyer or seller leads.
  5. Generosity: Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity to connect with others interested in housing.

Creative Ways to Generate Leads for Local Businesses

People standing and celebrating in front of a store with sale signs in the windows

Local businesses remain key parts of many communities. But it’s getting harder to compete with large global corporations. Here are five creative ways to generate leads for local brick and mortar businesses.

  1. Compliments: Feature local celebrities or community leaders as testimonials.
  2. Offline: Host an event where people can sample products or services.
  3. Gifts: Offer a loyalty program for frequent customers.
  4. Attention: Make personal phone calls reaching out to customers who haven’t been in for awhile.
  5. Generosity: Offer free delivery within certain distance of your location to encourage the local community to shop with you.

Creative Ways to Generate Leads for Travel

A travel agent in a headset with a background of a globe, suitcase, and airplane

  1. Compliments: Post on social media about different destinations and respond to questions and comments personally.
  2. Offline: Offer destination-themed refreshments during customer consultations.
  3. Gifts: Sponsor a giveaway contest on your website to collect email addresses in exchange for the chance to win a travel voucher or upgrade.
  4. Attention: Host customer appreciation mixer to connect customers with similar 
  5. Generosity: Donate a portion of each booking to a local charity at the customer’s destination.

There you go! Here are the new and creative ways to generate leads for any kind of business. You can adapt these strategies across many industries and business models.

Learn more with our complete guide to lead generation and a complete list of awesome lead generation form examples.

If you liked this article, follow OptinMonster on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter for more marketing tips and advice.

Jennifer is a content writer and course creator. She has a passion for helping small businesses grow sustainably and ethically. In her spare time, she enjoys writing fiction, cooking, and exercising.


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    1. Jacinda Santora
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