Guest post by Amanda Mitchell (learn more about Amanda at the end of this post)
Sales and marketing is considered by many to be one of the most difficult parts of a business, but it’s not as hard as it used to be. As recently as twenty years ago, generating leads was limited to three main avenues: postal mail, door-to-door, and the dreaded cold call. The Internet changed all that, allowing marketers to reach a larger audience more quickly, and via several more methods. Use one, a couple, or all of them for a successful lead generation campaign.
A blog gives you the opportunity to be more informal, and to address potential customers directly. It can help readers to feel more comfortable with your company, and the more comfortable they feel with you, the more likely they will be to spend money with you. Keep your blog updated, interesting, and useful, and you’ll build a strong readership, which you can turn into leads later on.
You will likely have one or more regular writers creating content for the blog, but consider including other staff once in a while. Everyone within an organization can have a slightly unique take on your product or service, so you should leverage this as much as possible. Consider having your customer service manager, someone from the outside sales team, or even the CEO to contribute.
Conference calls are a standard B2B communication tool, but have you considered them for lead gen? Conference calls not only allow you to speak directly to potential customers, but they also afford the opportunity for participants to ask questions and get answers right away. There are a couple of great things about these calls that make them an ideal lead gen tool.
Conference calls can be thought of much like Webinars, however participants need only have a phone rather than downloading special software. Plan to host a call in which you’ll share important information about the products or services you offer, and how others can be sharing in your success. You’ll market the call through your blog, social media, e-mail, and whatever other means you have at your disposal, and encourage a large response. Find a conference call provider that allows large groups to participate in calls, and offers the ability to record calls. This way, when you reach the limit on the number of people who can attend the call in real time, those who can’t will still be able to listen to the call later. Once the call is recorded, it can be saved as an MP3 file, and put up on your blog for download. Even after the call is done, and you’re not actively working on it anymore, it will still bring in leads as long as you make it available to the public.
This is another tool that will require some work up front, but will later become a passive method of generating leads. Take some time to write a white paper about your business, about the services and products you provide, and how others can join in your success. Alternatively, write on a topic that is complimentary to one of your services or products, and use it as a tool to show you are an expert in your field. Remember that it’s no longer enough to put a word processing program document up for download. It needs to look professional, and it must be easily and quickly accessible.
Take some time to convert your white paper into a PDF. This is generally considered the universal format for text documents made available via the Internet. But black text on white background still isn’t enough. Put some thought and imagination into a design, or if you can afford to do so, hire a designer to make your white paper look professional and aesthetically pleasing. Where do the leads come from? In order for people to download your white paper, require them to enter some basic information. All it takes is a first name and an e-mail address, and there’s your lead. With every download of your white paper, your list grows, becoming more and more valuable.
This may very well be the holy grail of lead generation. A solid e-mail list is a direct line from you to a large number of potential customers. The beauty of it is a list can practically build itself through subscribers to your blog, participants in your conference calls—you’ll need participants’ e-mail addresses to provide them with call access information—and e-book downloads. Just be sure to add a small disclaimer to those activities stating that by providing an e-mail address, people are agreeing to be contacted in the future.
When sending an e-mail to your list, you can offer products like e-books, you can invite list members to participate in conference calls, and you can include links to your blog. Most importantly, you will keep your company’s name on the minds of those people on your list, and keep them interested. Just be careful not to overdo it. Many people are quick to unsubscribe from e-mail lists if they feel they’re being contacted too often, or pushed too hard.
These aren’t the only tools available to you for lead generation, but they’re some of the most effective. Used consistently, and in conjunction with each other, you can build a successful lead generation campaign that will help you bring in a steady stream of business.
About the Author
Amanda Mitchell is a freelance writer who specializes in getting the most of technology for small businesses.