What is the one thing your business cannot do without? What one single priority outranks all others?
Whether your business is a small one-man operation or a huge, Fortune 500 behemoth, generating new leads for new business is your single most important imperative.
Without customers or clients, you have no business. And without a constant stream of new leads, you will eventually have no customers.
According to a recent survey, lead generation is the number one goal for businesses in 2007.
Generating leads to acquire customers and drive sales will be top of mind for b-to-b marketers next year.
According to BtoB’s “2007 Marketing Priorities and Plans” survey, acquiring new customers is the No. 1 marketing goal for 2007, cited by 62.3% of respondents.
That said, how are you planning to generate leads for your business in 2007?
Two immediate ideas that can get your lead generation project off to a fast start in 2007 are:
- Create Free Information Products. These can be everything from white papers to tip sheets to ebooks to free DVDs. This strategy recognizes that all buyers go through an information gathering stage in their buying process (the exception of course is impulse purchases, which is a topic for another article). Think about the last time you bought a new car, new house or helped a child choose the right college to attend. You probably looked up a lot of information on the internet, possibly you questioned people who had direct experience with your various possible choices, or you asked the companies for information.
The single caveat of this approach is to avoid selling for your competitors. Don’t just offer information that sells the entire category. If you do that, your reader may choose anyone who offers what you offer. You must sell yourself without being too self-serving in the process ( a fine balancing act, but one that can be done).
Offering free information is a strategy that recognizes that each buyer has a unique buying cycle and procedure. This approach allows you to enter their consciousness at any point along that buying cycle and become a trusted resource for valuable, non-self serving information.
- Turn Your Website Into a Lead Generating Machine. It costs most businesses $10 to $20 for every qualified visitor that lands on their websites. I would argue that if you have a choice between getting a visitor to buy something now vs. leave his or her contact information, you are better off getting them to create a lead. When someone has opted in to receive future emails from you (ie “permission marketing”), you have multiple chances to sell and then sell again. This person can become a repeat customer for life. But if you try to hit the home run every time someone visits your site, you only get that one chance to sell and at best may only sell one thing.
Lead Generation is a huge topic and I will revisit this subject many times in the coming year. But for now, I would like to leave you with some resources you will find helpful.
- Brian Carroll writes a blog entirely devoted to the topic of generating b2b leads. He offers a lot of great ideas that you can never keep up with. If you can only put one our of ten into practice, you will do well.
- Michael Stelzner writes a great blog on marketing with white papers. He has also written an excellent book on the same topic called: Writing White Papers: How To Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged.
- Anne Holland has written a very good article on Marketing Sherpa in which she offers some very practical insights and ideas on how to generate leads.
- Another article by Anne Holland is about lead generation mistakes that get in the way of effective marketing. Anne is nothing if not candid, and her insights are always worth reading. They are also the kinds of mistakes we can all make, so her article is a good cautionary piece.
I’m interesting in hearing about your ideas and insights on the topic of lead generation. What do you think about this topic?
COPYRIGHT © 2006, Charles Brown