One of the most important aspects of running a small business is being able to bring in new clients.
In a hyper-competitive marketplace, the company that fills its funnel full of opportunities is the one that manages its lead generation strategies most effectively.
If you want to make the most of your efforts to find new clients, here are five marketing moves to generate quality leads.
Spend on tactics that produce an ROI
You need to ask what your return on investment will be for every strategy you employ.
When it comes to lead generation, I see a lot of businesses go the route of image advertising on billboards or in magazines – without any call to action or direct-response mechanism.
Those who do it say it's to build awareness – but awareness is so vague, it's almost impossible to measure.
Money spent on general awareness tactics could be better spent on tactics that connect more intimately with your marketplace or give you an opportunity to start a relationship with them.
Rather than stick up an image advertisement, focus on tactics where you can offer direction to participants and kick-start relationships. Such tactics could include direct-response advertising, special events, seminars or webinars.
How can you tell if a marketing effort produced an ROI? You have to test it.
Test your marketing
The cause of great failure in marketing is speculation. Don't rely on conjecture. Getting great at lead generation is all about testing the different variables that go out into the marketplace to determine what it best responds to.
Take, for example, a pay-per-click ad on Google. You could try it two ways. Take out an ad that directs people to two Web pages. One would tell the visitor to call a sales person today to get a 30-day free trial. The other would tell the visitor to download a top 10 guide. That guide would teach your reader about your product or service, and offer a link to another Web page to download a 30-day free trial.
Collect data on each effort. That data should be used as a benchmark against other marketing tactics or campaigns to determine which approach works best to achieve your objectives. Whichever achieves the best result will become your new benchmark moving forward.
Use many tactics
On the battlefield, a number of different weapons are used, from aircraft to fighting ships to remote-controlled weaponry.
What if a large-scale war was fought using just one tactic? Chances are it would not be very successful. The same is true in marketing.
Many people often gravitate to what they feel comfortable with and what feels easiest, rather than what will garner the best results.
It's far easier to send one direct mailer instead of sending one in combination with a telephone follow-up. It's far easier to send one or two e-mails than it is to create an e-mail campaign, sending two or three different e-mails directing someone to a website page and testing to see which one fares best.
It's extremely rare to see any great results from just one communication. To increase leads, you must combine your efforts and "touch" your targets more than once from a variety of different angles to win the battle.
Always issue a call to action
It's far too common to see an advertisement, Web page, white paper, webinar, direct mailer, article or e-mail come from a small business without any call to action in it. But a call to action is your gateway to a new client, directing the prospect who is reading, listening or viewing a piece of your marketing to take immediate action.
Such a call to action could be to sign up for a newsletter, subscribe for a free trial or download some content.
You must put a call to action in every marketing effort. Lead potential clients by telling them their next step; otherwise, they will most likely take no action.
Push and pull
There is a long-standing battle among marketing and sales professionals and company executives about to which approach is most effective: the traditional methods, where you push messages out to consumers, or the newer pull methods, where you create content for people to find when they are searching.
There is no doubt that traditional marketing, such as direct mail or advertising, doesn't work as well as it used to because consumers are in complete control; if they want to ignore your message, they will.
Newer forms of marketing that centre around content development, such as blogs and video, are meant to help you be present when the prospective consumer is looking for a product or service. If they're searching online and you aren't there with your product and service for them to find in the form of a website, blog or video, someone else will be.
Does this mean that one is necessarily better than the other? Absolutely not! All tactics are created equal; it's the one who wields them that that needs to change.
Both push and pull marketing should be used to maximize your lead-generation efforts.
For example, combine advertising with a website page developed solely for that ad, or combinea n e-mail marketing campaign and a telephone follow-up initiative. I have seen both combinations work better together than if they were used on their own.
Don't take a stance on one or the other; find ways to make them both work for your business because they can both be powerful forms of marketing that will generate leads for your business.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Ryan Caligiuri is a Winnipeg-based growth strategist who works with companies in hyper-competitive marketplaces that want to increase leads and demand to fill their pipeline, that need help breaking into or taking control of already established markets when there's a need to create more revenue streams, or to become more influential in the marketplace.
Engage with Mr. Caligiuri on Twitter.
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