Lead generation is a critical part of marketing, in fact – it’s why we market in the first place.
In the past, you might have bought a few radio spots, sent out some direct mail cards, held a contest or even made a few phone calls. And yes, a few people might have responded. You’d then send them some more information or an email hoping to keep that spark of interest alive along with your potential sale.
Take a jewelry store in my area for example. I recently made an inquiry there about having a custom piece of jewelry made for my wife. Over the last three weeks, I received three small catalogs, a pamphlet in the mail, and three emails all trying to sell me mass-market jewelry. Where does it end up? The trash.
Why? What’s changed?
The New Way – Social Media For Business
What that jewelry store doesn’t know is that the world has moved on to a new method of lead generation – one that focuses on empowering the customers to make their own decisions and building relationships. Basically, being there and communicating with your potential or existing customers before the sales process ever begins.
Seth Godin calls it Permission Marketing. Hubspot calls it Inbound Marketing. Others call it Pre-Relationship Marketing (taking on the concept of building the relationship before you market). You can call it whatever you want.
The old ways involved beating your potential customers over the head with information, sales drives and an aggressive sales force. Now, it’s about letting your customers find you and empowering them to make their own decisions.
How Do You Do It?
Use the web. It’s the easiest way to start conversations with your potential customers, build those relationships and be there before a sale ever happens.
A blog lets you inform, Twitter keeps you in contact, social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn let you connect with people and niche message boards give you fast access to your target group – it’s beautiful.
So, let’s go back to that jewelry store example. While researching custom-designed jewelry, I also came across an independent artist working in my area. She had an Etsy site, a Facebook profile and a regularly updated blog with pictures of her past custom work and tips on planning a custom design. Not only was it informative and easily found, it was approachable. Who do you think I hired?
Converting the Lead to a Sale
Of course, converting those online relationships (or “leads”) into a sale is a whole other ball game. Just because someone comments on your blog, that doesn’t mean they’re going to buy your product.
So, how do you take those wide-funnel sales opportunities and turn them into hard, concrete sales? Do you focus on one-on-one communication? Or do you think it’s all a waste of time?
What are your thoughts on the new style of online lead generation?