When I submit proposals to clients I like to provide them with strategic advice, and not just how many keystrokes they’re getting for their money. Recently a client asked me to recommend a lead generation strategy. I was happy to comply.
This strategy can be used by freelancers, consultants and any business where you need to educate prospects on the value of your product or service, and not just sell based on price alone.
1) Create some valuable content to act as a lead magnet
Asking people ‘buy my stuff’ or ‘hire me’ isn’t going to earn you much attention, or respect. Making an upfront offer is a common mistake, and why most businesses struggle with lead generation. Marketing managers and business owners don’t have time, or the inclination, to listen to pitches, unless you’re really lucky and they happen to be looking for your service at that precise moment.
What your prospects want is solutions to problems. So to get people’s attention, a smart approach is to create a valuable piece of content that addresses a key industry challenge. This could be in the form of a white paper, buyers’ guide or set of helpful downloadable tools. Webinars are red hot right now as a way of reeling leads into the funnel.
2) Create a list
If you don’t already have a list, you can buy one from a respectable broker. Just make sure you do some background checks and ask to see a sample first. A decent list broker should be able to provide you with a quality up to date list for even the smallest of niches.
Depending on how many people you want to target and how niche focused you want to go, it might be more effective to build your own. You could draw up of companies to target using a business directory and then hire a virtual assistant to track down email addresses and key contacts on LinkedIn. The higher the quality of your list, the higher the response and the ROI will be.
3) Distribute your report
The temptation can be to simply email your report to your entire list. While email is cheap, quick and easy, you can only expect 20-30% of email recipients to even open your message, and that’s being generous. You’re also looking at a mere 5% clickthroughs and maybe 1% taking action on your website.
While email still has an ROI that makes ‘social media marketing’ an oxymoron, if you want to target a relatively small list of high value prospects sending a physical letter in the post is the way to go. Sending letters may be expensive but it’s a great first step in a lead generation strategy. The physicality of a sales letter makes it harder to ignore than emails which face a daunting number of barriers before they’re read. With less businesses sending mail these days, it will also have more impact.
You could send the actual report, but this will increase your printing fees and you wont be able to track responses on your website. Upgrade options include sending a physical item in your mailing (a ‘lumpy mailer’) and using personalised URLs to track every response individually.
You should also promote the content in the digital realm, with a popup on your website, advertising and starting discussions in relevant LinkedIn groups and forums.
4) Follow Up
An oft quoted (yet invented) stat in direct marketing is that most sales come after the fourth contact, but most sales people give up after the first one or two.The same rule should be applied to your lead generation strategy. Persistence pays, and you should set a timetable for contacting prospects at least four times over 30 days.
Calling anyone who responded to your letter will allow you to give a human voice to your campaign and allow you to ask plenty of questions before framing your offer, which is what smart selling is all about. You can also follow up with another few emails to expand on the information in your report and to present your product as the solution.
Make sure you track all the leads and key metrics, and use this as feedback to help drive up responses even higher in your next campaign.
This four step strategy is based on Inbound Marketing best practices and is that I’ve read about in multiple courses and books on lead generation. With a few tweaks, any business should be able to successfully generate leads and sales using it. If you try it, let me know how you get on.
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