Leads (solid ones anyway) can be hard to come by. You know you need to up the ante in the lead gen department, but figuring out what works and what doesn’t isn’t easy. Particularly when you don’t have a handle on the options available to you.
The secret formula for success is different for every company. While kind of obvious, it does bear mentioning. I wouldn’t want you thinking this was one of those sure fire, quick fixes prevalent on some parts of the Internet (you know, those shady bits where you shouldn’t loiter after dark).
Before you can figure out your personal formula for success you first need to know what the options are. Some (the ‘in real life’ ones, for example) won’t apply to you at all, while others will be highly relevant to the way you do business. Use and ignore as it suits you.
You’ll still need to do some fine tuning before you arrive at a doable plan of action, but at least you won’t be stabbing in the dark.
SEO gives you the chance to capture prospects at the exact moment they need your services. Do it properly and you’ll leave your competitors standing. It won’t happen overnight, but you could eventually rank at the top of page one in Google’s search results for a keyword that will generate you loads of leads.
That said, SEO can also be an arduous slog. Google’s intermittent updates and algorithm changes make for a tricky playing field. What works today will be your downfall tomorrow. If you want results, you have to keep at and never try to cut corners. Ranking for key terms takes time, we’re talking months, sometimes longer.
One way around the time consuming organic approach is to pay for it. A service such as Google AdWords to promote a campaign is quick to set up and allows you to maintain close control over your budget.
You’ll enjoy many of the advantages typically associated with SEO, however the success or failure of the campaign depends largely on whether or not people are actually searching for your ‘thing.’ It doesn’t get cheaper over time either, so it could end up becoming costly.
Content / Inbound Marketing
It’s difficult to properly gauge the value of this one, because when it works, it really works. There’s nothing quite like good content, managed well, to entice customers when they need your services. You’ll need to invest in marketing software and actually producing the content, but that’s about it. All in all, it offers bang for your buck.
What you do need to keep in mind though, is that creating really good content isn’t easy. Worth it, yes, but a walk in the park it is not. You’ll need to figure out how to hook an audience, how to sustain their interest, and, most importantly, how to make them act.
Everybody hates telemarketers. Show me someone who enjoys being cold called and I’ll eat my grandmother’s hat. But there’s a reason it’s still a thing. Done in a non-intrusive way, such as following up about a gift sent in the post, you can get great results that’ll cost you far less than direct sales.
People love the convenience of online shopping, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still appreciate the personal touch (so long as it isn’t, you know, too personal). Your competitor may have the better product, but genuine human interaction can often sway things in your favor.
Salespeople can be expensive though, so if they’re not attracting and converting leads on a regular basis, then they’re just costing you money. But then, you already know that.
A less obvious version of in-person sales that involves palling up with people you meet at events. This approach can prove useful because you’re talking ‘founder to-founder’ or ‘marketing director-to-founder.’ This is a vastly different scenario than the one your junior sales guy is faced with when trying to impress a disinterested CEO.
Granted, the time and energy investment required of senior team members is considerable and doesn’t guarantee a positive result. Plus, it means befriending people you might not otherwise have spent time with. At the end of the day only you can know if it’s worth the effort.
Broadcast / Print Advertising
Given the multitude of digital channels at our disposal, it’s easy to assume that old-fashioned print and broadcast advertising are on the way out. Daily circulation and viewership might be dwindling, but to discount these avenues out of hand would be a mistake. TV, radio newspapers, and magazines boast a wide reach, and offer you full control over your messaging within the ad space.
On the downside it’s still a costly exercise, even with solutions like GuerillaScope available for smaller businesses. Another negative is that you can’t tinker with it once it’s out there. It either works or it doesn’t (and you only find out after you have spent all your money).
A room full of your target audience! Imagine that? Talk to the right people and you could come away from a trade show with a bunch of quality leads. A tempting thought, I’m sure you’ll agree.
You need to choose which trade shows to exhibit at carefully though. With so many booths to visit, people are very likely to walk past yours without a second thought. Or they’ll stop, but only long enough to pocket some of the treats you’ve brought along. It’s an expensive exercise with no guaranteed ROI.
Generating leads is a pain, so why not share that burden with a partner? Finding a simpatico company isn’t easy and yes, you’ll have to forfeit some of your profits to your new ‘friend.’ But if you’re struggling, buddying up with another business could have you generating high quality leads in a lot less time and with a lot less effort.
There you have it, a quick and dirty overview of the various options at your disposal. They may not all be suited to your type of business, but at least now you have a better understanding of what’s out there. Go forth and market with gusto.
Author: In addition to her role as founder and CEO of TopLine Comms, Heather Baker wears her word nerd and inbound marketing hats with equal verve and gusto. Whether it’s a misplaced apostrophe or an elusive angle, she’ll find it.