Lead generation is vital for any business. I have tracked with interest the evolution of marketing automation companies and lead tracking technology providers. Lead generation software gives marketers incredible power to scale marketing to thousands and to track, nurture and ultimately convert interested followers into paying customers.
But while technology is great, when it comes to start-ups and small firms, I am concerned that lead nurturing technology actually confuses rather than helps. You don’t need a Ferrari to collect your groceries when you can walk around the corner to the supermarket or order them online.
There is always the classic sales/marketing schism which runs like this: sales find that the leads they are provided with by marketing are no good, while marketing feel the leads were great but sales can’t close them. Entrepreneurs don’t have time for this.
I remember working with the ceo of a start-up who needed 12 trial customers within three months. I sat down with the sales director and asked how many leads they had in the pipeline. I also asked about the sales process. I then asked what key collateral was needed to help them close deals — case studies, fact sheets, press coverage, advocates. In this case, if marketing didn’t support sales then after 12 weeks neither would exist.
I also worked for an enterprise workflow start-up vendor and the ceo asked me to draft the business plan to help secure funding. I was delighted, as I knew that the revenue targets would shape how many leads marketing had to generate which would, in turn, flow down to a series of tactics I could deliver.
It’s not just about brand, share of voice, tone of message — it’s about leads. Yes, you need to get the other metrics right. But my experience has told me that we must be united about leads. As Bruce Springsteen puts it, “If you don’t stick together you won’t stick around”.
Once we have the leads, we need to work out which ones are really worth pursuing and which ones are time-wasters that will stall you. As entrepreneurs, we can’t confuse interest with commitment.
Ultimately, we are after customers and once you have a lead you need to know what to do with it — play or pass. The other point to remember is that going for glory — and the time, effort and resources involved in chasing the one big name account — may not be worth as much as the lower hanging fruit, the deals that are easier to close and will generate cash more quickly.
Marc Duke is a marketing consultant.
It has never been easier for small businesses to market their businesses for little more than their time. But if you are still unsure about social media, content marketing, online advertising and blogging, you are not alone. Many sole traders and small firms are only now starting to take full advantage of the possibilities that digital marketing offers. It’s not too late to start!
Landing pages are focused, customised digital sales pitches, designed to transform your website visitor into a valuable business lead. A good landing page targets a specific audience and allows you to capture a visitor’s information through a lead-capture form.
Social media is big, really big. In fact, it has been predicted that by 2016, Facebook may be the largest country on Earth. And with some 130,000 people signing up for a Twitter account each day, it’s easy to see why businesses are tackling social media head-on. To get started, create profiles on the places where your prospects hang out and start talking.
Content has been the marketing buzzword of the past two years. And alongside content marketing, techniques such as inbound marketing and lifecycle marketing have done away with the older, push marketing techniques and heralded new, more effective pull marketing.
Pull marketing uses intelligent, high quality content to encourage people to visit and seek out your website and products, rather than showering them with endless emails and phone calls.
To really crack online lead generation, you need to distribute lots of content, and not just any old content. Only high quality, fresh and relevant content will do. This is where blogging really comes into its own.
From fashion-forward teens to amateur chefs and even celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, bloggers are taking over the digital landscape. But you don’t have to be a celebrity to benefit from blogging. For good old fashioned B2B lead generation, blogging has become the reliable wingman that can help you gain prominence and boost your reputation in your target market.
Rhian Morgans is an online PR executive for Tomorrow People.