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.