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.
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.
Here at REV, we often recommend Webinars as a highly effective and cost-efficient marketing vehicle, especially for businesses that need to educate their target audience in order to create sales opportunities. You probably already know the obvious reasons for hosting a Webinar, including nurturing your contacts and generating new prospects. However, we’d like to offer you some lesser-known, possibly quirkier, advantages of hosting a Webinar:
- Gives you an excuse to reach out to your clients, prospects, referral partners, etc. A Webinar is an event, and provides you an opportunity to send invitations to your contacts. Even if they don’t register or attend, it still counts as a “touch” in the nurturing process, and helps to keep you top of mind.
- Makes for great SEO fodder. Since you are updating your Web site and social media sites (that link back to your Web site) with Webinar announcements and updates, you will create relevancy around the Webinar topic and your company. Higher relevancy leads to higher rankings in search engines. And we all want to be highly relevant to our target audience!
- Demonstrates some of your personality. Most of the time when interacting with prospects and clients, we are on our best professional behavior (as we should be). While still providing valuable information, your Webinars can also give your audience a taste of your fun side. For example, when I moderate Webinars for REV or for clients, I always joke with the audience that I conduct interactive polls mainly to “make sure you’re still awake and paying attention.” You have a captive audience for 30-60 minutes; why not leave an impression of a knowledgeable and likeable person?
As you can tell, Webinars hold a special place in our hearts, and we love to discuss them. Feel free to ask questions or comment below!