Ahhh, spring: The days are longer, the flowers are in bloom, and hints of summer are in the air. It’s a time of renewal and regrowth for many things, and that should include your business marketing. So why stick with the same old lead generation tactics?
Don’t get me wrong: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” If your current marketing is consistently generating a desired number of qualified leads for your business, then keep doing what you’re doing. However, if your results have fallen off over time, or your heart just isn’t in it anymore, consider the following five ideas for spring cleaning your marketing.
1.) Update Your Website
Your Website is your digital sales representative, showcasing your brand to the world, and yet it’s easy to neglect. Take a look at your Website (don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone it’s been a while since you have!) and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the look still feel fresh, or does it appear dated? How does it compare to your competitors?
- Is it mobile friendly?
- Are the existing keywords/SEO still relevant? Could you update to produce better results?
- Is the site’s navigation user friendly? Ask a friend to find 3-5 specific items on your site and then give you feedback on how easy they were to find.
REV Resource: If you’d like some expert advice on refreshing your Website, we have several partners that specialize in Web design, SEO, SEM, etc. Let us know what you may need, and we can point you in the right direction.
2.) Create a Video or Two (or Ten)
Show, don’t tell, is the mantra of today’s marketing. Prospects would rather watch a video than read lots of text to understand quickly and easily how your product or service can help them. A professionally-produced video is a resource that you can use on your Web site, on social media, as part of a sales presentation or trade show display, and more.
But if you are concerned about costs, content, and/or the camera-readiness of your staff, here are some alternative ideas:
- Animated explainer videos are a fun and effective way to educate your prospects on a product or service in only 2-3 minutes. And it’s all computer-generated, so no need to memorize your lines. Here’s an example from one of our clients.
- Go “behind the scenes” to give your audience a more informal glimpse of the personalities that make up your company
- Interview your customers for testimonials about your company
REV Resource: Contact our friends at TG Visuals Video Production for an exploration of what type of videos could create an effective visual message for your brand.
3.) Host a Webinar
If you’ve talked shop with me for more than five minutes, you will know I’m a big fan of Webinars. Webinars level the playing field for small businesses and expand your marketing reach by allowing you to present to multiple prospects all at one time. Plus, the cost of hosting Webinars is much lower than most other forms of traditional marketing (trade shows, advertising, etc.) and Webinars integrate well with email and social media (other lower cost marketing tactics).
REV Resource: Check out our 5 Best Practices for a Successful Webinar guide for lots of tips for a DIY Webinar. Or if you’d prefer us to do the heavy lifting for you (and why wouldn’t you?), take advantage of our affordable Ready-to-Go Webinar Sherpa services services.
4.) Get more social
Whether we B2B marketers want to admit it or not, social media is here to stay. There are of course, many social media platforms out there; however, we’re going to recommend that you especially focus on increasing your LinkedIn activity—most B2B marketers under-utilize the capabilities of this powerful platform. LinkedIn can provide you with a goldmine of prospecting possibilities, including:
- Research target companies, follow their Company pages, and learn who is the appropriate contact for you
- Follow companies that are highly esteemed in your industry (or that of your target prospects’) to stay informed and relevant
- Join groups where your target prospects are active, and participate in discussions to connect and demonstrate your expertise
REV Resource: Read this great article from our archives on maximizing LinkedIn for new business development
5.) Go Forth and Network
Digital connecting is great, but sometimes we just need to get out of the office and go talk to people face-to-face. Meeting new people that can be potential referral partners is an effective way to pump up your lead generation opportunities. The goal should be to connect and build relationships with other professionals that are not competitors for the purpose of referring business to each other. (Caution: Don’t be that person who tries to sell everyone your services the moment you meet.)
If you are new to referral networking, or are looking for more/different opportunities, we recommend the following:
- Check out your local Chambers of Commerce and Rotary Clubs. (To really get plugged in, volunteer for a committee!)
- Ask trusted colleagues where they network. If they are part of a referral networking group, they will likely invite you to visit.
REV Resource: If you are in the Atlanta area, we highly recommend the Professional Services Alliance (PSA) for business-to-business services professionals, meeting twice a month in Sandy Springs. If interested, email Tara for details.
It’s quite true that the biggest hurdle we at REV (and I suspect many of you) must overcome in converting a prospect to a customer is to get that prospect to decide to do something, to make a change. It’s often not the case that the prospect decides to business with another company—it’s that they don’t decide to do anything at all.
In his article “The Cost of Doing Nothing,” Michael Lippig of IDCON, Inc. asserts that:
“The cost of maintaining the status quo for professional services business owners is enormous. The status quo affects each and every one of us every hour of every day, at work and at home. We have come to accept doing nothing as a safe and acceptable alternative. We even make it the default solution.”
So why do business owners who want to grow their businesses default to doing nothing? There are many reasons we can recite, including lack of money, lack of time, lack of desire, unsure of what to do, etc. If we do nothing, it seems like a safe choice that protects our valuable time and resources. However, there is a hidden cost, as Lippig writes:
“Doing nothing is the management equivalent of a baby’s pacifier. It makes us feel safe and comfortable. But there is a cost to doing nothing. Economists and accountants frequently refer it as ‘opportunity cost;’ what you could do yourself with your resources if you were not doing what you are doing right now.”
By doing nothing different this quarter than last quarter with our marketing, we ensure that we cost our business the following:
- Your e-newsletter, direct mail, social media updates, prospecting emails, etc. will not go out, and so your prospects will get colder
- Your customers—past, present, and future—will not hear from you enough to make repeat, expanded, and new business a consistent reality
- You won’t build your reputation online and offline as an expert in your field that prospects must seek for solutions
- You won’t invest in that training to make yourself that much more knowledgeable in your field of expertise
- You won’t connect with strategic partners that can expand your sales capabilities
- You won’t get off the unending roller coaster of project work and cyclical sales
Make no mistake: When you decide to do nothing about marketing your business, you are still making a decision. You are deciding to stay where you are and not grow your business. You are saying you are comfortable with your current income, profitability, and lifestyle.
(Or as my husband, a die-hard fan of the band Rush reminds me: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”)
Of course, sometimes doing nothing may be the best decision for you at this time. If you have other life priorities that need to take precedence right now over growing your business, it makes sense to maintain the status quo.
However, if you are ready to grow your business, then you have to start doing something to push your business forward (i.e., marketing) and/or stop doing the things that hold you back (i.e., not marketing).
Let us help! REV Demand offers a free, 1-hour, no-obligation assessment of your business development capabilities (including current marketing strategy and tactics as well as sales goals and processes). We’ll help you build a plan of action and even offer a kick in the butt as needed. Click here to request your free assessment!
Does the phase bring to mind purchasing contacts from a list broker, collecting business cards at a trade show, or cold calling?
Here at REV, we believe these actions can certainly generate names for us to put in our databases, but are they leads worthy of our limited (and therefore precious) selling time? Instead, we define “lead generation” as “sparking interest on several fronts from prospects we believe are interested in our company’s services or products.” We rely on multiple channels working together in an integrated strategy, rather than putting all our proverbial marketing eggs in one basket and hoping for the best.
(On a sidenote, I’ve always wondered about that phrase: When I collected eggs on my grandparents’ chicken farm as a kid, I did only use one basket. . . hmmm. . .)
Some of the channels we might recommend include email campaigns, direct mail, social media, tele-prospecting, Webinars, special events, Internet marketing, video, speaking engagements, etc. Within all of these channels, our goal is to consistently communicate a message that resonates with our intended target audience and produces some sort of response. From there, we can develop that response into potential sales for our companies.
Here are some must-have tools we recommend in your lead generation endeavors:
- LinkedIn: Read this fabulous article from guest author and REV strategic partner Richard Kirby on four strategies for using LinkedIn to find and develop prospects.
- Webinars: We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Webinars work. Webinars allow you to communicate your expertise to an audience you know is specifically interested in the topic at hand. To capitalize on the effort involved in putting on a Webinar, we highly recommend joining forces with a strategic partner to reach as many target prospects as possible in one session. Need help organizing a Webinar? Let us know.
- Contact databases: While it may seem obvious, we find that often our clients simply don’t have enough contacts in their existing databases. This may necessitate buying additional contacts or aggressively home-growing your database. In any case, to make any significant impact on the number of leads you can generate, most companies need 2,000-3,000 contacts at a minimum. While not the best resource for finding information on small (<$50M in revenue) companies, a subscription to Hoover’s is a valuable resource for researching and obtaining contact information for larger companies in your target market. If you focus primarily on small-to-midsize companies in Atlanta, Charlotte, and/or Dallas, we highly recommend BusinessWise.
- Email marketing service or marketing automation software: If you are going to use email campaigns to generate leads, you need to have a way to track the response from your intended prospects. At a minimum, you’ll need stats on the opens and clicks for every email sent. This leads to using an email marketing service such as SwiftpageEmail, MailChimp, ExactTarget, etc. To get a more comprehensive understanding of how your prospect is interacting with your company over time, we recommend a marketing automation platform such as Act-On, Infusionsoft, or Marketo that will develop a “lead score” for your leads based on their email responses, Website visits, social interaction, and event attendance, and can automate the nurture marketing process. We plan to delve more deeply into email marketing services vs. marketing automation in a future article; in the meantime, feel free to contact us with any questions or to help you choose a service.
Questions or comments on the tools listed here? Any we missed? What do you think of when you see or hear “lead generation?” We’d love to hear from you.