“It’s shocking how many companies simply haven’t pinpointed who their customer truly is, which creates a huge drip marketing list with very few potential customers in it. Therefore, generate several qualifying questions and use them to filter the leads in your pipeline. Not all leads are created equal. – Dave Scott, CEO of Marketfish, Inc.
In a recent b2b report, Dave Scott made an excellent observation regarding one of the biggest marketing mistakes that most companies make. The culprit? Underdeveloped lead generation. No company, even small businesses, has it completely figured out when it comes to defining, qualifying, nurturing and converting a sales lead. Some of the biggest industry players have a tough time figuring out who their customers are too.
We’ve all been there. You have a pretty good idea of the target market. So, naturally you focus communication efforts on an identified segment. After time in the market, new and more profitable customer segments began to drive revenue. It can teach you an important lesson early on about targeting: we don’t always know as much as we think about who will buy our products and services.
Small Business Lead Generation
Lead generation, commonly referred to as lead gen, should be a top priority for every small business. To maintain solvency, the quicker you learn how to generate new leads the more profitable you can become. Even if you are unfamiliar with the formal expression of “lead generation” I am willing to bet you’ve been doing it in one form or another.
Lead generation is a driving force that will grow your business. It’s the creation of prospective customer interest or inquiry into a business’ products or services. Basic lead gen goals usually include efforts to increase sales, build an email database and/or increase event attendance and so on. An example of a good lead gen goal is to: Generate 100 new qualified leads in 3rd quarter.
The goal doesn’t’ stop there. Once you’ve defined your goal – lofty or conservative – there are strategies and proven tactics that can help you meet it. And, the best way for a small business to cultivate a healthier customer base is to test lead generation and develop a test action plan (TAP).
Start with your core competencies and some knowledge of where and how your customers engage with your brand or competitive brands. The primary goal is to develop mini TAP’s to focus on two to three key lead generation activities over a set period of time, gauge ROI, refine what works and get rid of what doesn’t.
Top Lead Gen Activities
A survey of 700+ marketing and sales executives revealed that their primary lead generation activities included online events (34%), followed by email marketing (15%), physical events and direct mail (12%).* To get started, select one or two marketing tactics to begin your lead generation activities. This can include:
- Paid Search
- Online Ads
- Phone (Telemarketing)
- Organic Search
- Channel Partners
- Public Relations
- Referral Sites (Blogs)
- ReferralsSocial Media
The aforementioned activities (both direct and indirect) should move a prospect down a predetermined path. For example, if your TAP includes paid search, once a customer clicks on a link you can direct them to a squeeze page or a landing page that will capture key information, reward them for visiting your site and move them further along the purchase cycle.
How to Acquire a Profitable Lead
Once your customer has entered your sales funnel through one or more of the lead gen activities listed above, you then acquire that customer through registration coupled with an offer. This is one of the most important steps. Make it easy for prospects, that like your brand, to convert to customers. No one likes to search for anything these days. A strong and clear call to action will help increase conversions in the acquisition process.
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