How many battles to fight at once?

An interesting question came up during my uGurus presentation on lead generation yesterday.

“How many lead generation approaches should you be focusing on at once?”

I know about 5 years ago I would have said “none”, because I didn’t understand the importance of marketing my own services. I just depended on luck and anxiety-fueled hustle to bring work in the door.

Maybe 2 years ago I would have said “the more, the better” because it seemed like there would be a multiplier effect that worked this way: if I got 10 leads/month from pursuing 2 lead-gen approaches, then by pursuing 4 lead-gen apaches I should be able to get 20 leads/month.

It doesn’t work that way. Lead generation scales the same way that adding headcount to a software project does. Very non-linearly, and sometimes adding more makes the results worse.

Especially for solo freelancers and small shops, you hit a ceiling on the effectiveness of your lead generation efforts at a surprisingly low level. Not a low level of leads, but a low level of lead-gen approaches.

I find that number to be about 2 or 3 for most situations.

You’re already busy working in your business. Lead-gen is “working on the business time”, and until you get used to it, it will always feel like it’s competing with your “in the business time”, which feels more important than the “on the business” time (until you go through enough dry spells or have to deal with your first painful layoff).

So it takes a while to learn to value and prioritize marketing activities like lead-gen, and it’s for that reason that having a “come to Jesus moment”, deciding you’re really going to fix your marketing once and for all, picking 6 or 10 lead-gen techniques from, and then adding those to your TODO list is a recipe for failure. In this case I’d define failure as getting overwhelmed, spinning your wheels, getting no real results, and then giving up on the whole thing.

What works much better–even though it feels wrong at first–is to pick 1 or 2 lead-gen activities and execute them consistently for 6 months. During those 6 months you will learn the fine points of the approaches you’ve chosen, you’ll iterate on what you’ve learned, and you’ll stick with it long enough to actually see results.

The other thing that will happen during those 6 months is the “echo chamber effect”, or resonance. Let’s say you pick podcast guesting as a lead-gen technique.

You’ll start appearing as a guest on multiple podcasts. From your perspective it may get a little repetitive, or even slightly boring. But from the perspective of people you want to become clients, you’ll start to “be everywhere”.

That makes you seem like an expert and a safe bet. And that’s when your lead-gen efforts start to get traction.

It works the same way when you’re going after a narrow market position. You have to spend some real time pulling back on the “slingshot” before it has enough potential energy to propel you where you’re aiming.

Next steps? Head over to, pick 1 lead-gen approach that seems like a good fit for your goals, and get good at it over the next 6 months.

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