I wanted to talk with you about an all too familiar topic called lead generation. Whether you are in DTC or B2B marketing generating and engaging prospective customers will be at the heart of all your initiatives.
But what really is lead generation?
Lead generation has been through a lot since the inception of the internet, and just as those shining Western heroes in the early years of cinema gave way to the questionable antiheroes of the Spaghetti Westerns after the 1940s, lead generation has a little bit of a dirtied reputation.
When lead generation first came onto the scene, potential customers were more than happy to give away their email addresses or phone numbers to get something of value for free, but gradually we’ve all become more reserved. Today, lead generation efforts have to be just right or we’re not going to give them the time of day. Most people are too worried about being solicited cold or having their inboxes spammed with the same vigor that Clint Eastwood’s character’s enemies missed their shots in a shootout.
So, if we actually want to generate leads from our lead generation efforts, what can we do?
What is a lead and what is lead generation?
Let’s get the basics clear before we move on to how we can optimize lead generation – a lead is simply a prospect (a potential customer or client) who has expressed some interest in what you do. This may be as simple as signing up for your newsletter list or reaching out to your contact form – it’s simply an “opt-in” to your business.
Lead generation is simply the first part of that process – it’s driving strangers via your marketing toward avenues in which they may decide to hear more from you.
So how do you nail your lead generation?
1. Know Your Customer
Before you do anything else, learn everything about your ideal customer avatar and really familiarize yourself with them, don’t just write it all down and forget the majority of it a few minutes later. If you’re going to do lead generation right so you start getting those all-important inbound leads (AKA they come to you), you need to know what they want and what they respond well to. You need to know them well enough that you can craft those CTAs (calls to action) so they speak directly to your ideal customer.
2. Know Your Antivar
An antivar is the opposite of your ideal customer avatar (ICA), it’s the person that is wrong for your business and who you absolutely don’t want as a customer. You may wonder why it’s important to know these people well, but it all comes down to knowing the type of person your ideal customer doesn’t relate to. When you also incorporate this into your marketing campaigns, you can align yourself better with your ICA and repel the people you don’t want to waste your marketing dollars on.
This can work seriously well, especially if you’re not a brand that’s afraid of being outspoken. What does this look like? Imagine you’re a resort people go to for rest and relaxation. You’ve got beaches and spas. Your marketing may look like “Who are those people that go hiking for their vacation? We can’t relate.” Similarly, if you’re a fitness brand for weightlifters, you may align yourself with your ICA by saying something like, “We’re for the athletes who would rather lift 300 pounds than run 300 meters.”
Don’t be afraid to be the brand that stands out from the crowd.
3. Offer Value
Nowadays, people fully understand the value of their email addresses and strongly defend their phone numbers. If you’re going to get either, you need to offer something of value whenever you market your business. From the blog posts and social media posts you share to lead magnets like free books and audits, you need to give your ICA a reason to become a lead. You need to prove to them that you have the solution they need, so consider what value you’re offering with every lead generation method.
Go back to your ICA and consider (or ask!) what it is they want from you at the beginning of the customer journey – what do they want to know? Is it a simple how-to training video series? Is it a free trial of your software? Is it a cheatsheet or workbook? Get to know them and figure out what it is they need to learn from you to become a customer.
4. Use Lead Scoring
If you’re an ecommerce store, then lead scoring may be a step you want to skip, but if your customer journey tends to involve a member of your sales team, such as selling kitchens almost anything in the B2B world, then it’s worth doing.
Lead scoring is the process of assigning a value to any leads that come in so you know how likely they are to convert, as well as whether they’re really the right fit for your business.
For example, if you sell business cellphone contracts to small businesses, you may have two leads that come in via a form on your website. One is a building contractor with a team of 15 and a high turnover, while the other is an office manager at a local landscaper with the same size team, but a slightly lower turnover. The contractor would have a much higher score because they are the decision-maker, have a good size team, and a high turnover. The landscaping company may also go on to become a customer, but they’d have a lower score primarily because the person inquiring is not the decision-maker.
When you reach out to your leads, have different processes for different scores, and don’t forget that these different scores represent real people. There are a few different ways you can qualify these leads:
- A marketing qualified lead (MQL) – a lead who has taken action but isn’t necessarily ready to buy
- A sales qualified lead (SQL) – a lead that has given indicators that they’re ready to buy.
If you approach an MQL the way you would a SQL, you may scare them off or make them feel pressured, so set up different scripts or different email sequences to speak to where they are in their customer journey.
5. Test and Optimize
Remember that lead generation is ongoing, you’re not the antihero of a Spaghetti Western rolling into town and exploiting a situation for a Fistful of Dollars only to leave forever afterward. You need to create your lead magnets and lead generation promotions, test them, analyze the results, and tweak them. If a lead magnet starts to lose its ability to convert, investigate and find out what you need to change. Is it that your ICA is hanging out in a different place? Has the information changed or gone out of favor? Maybe it’s just that ebooks are so 2014. Test and experiment, always keeping your ICA front and center.
My Final Word
The number one thing you need to do when you’re planning your lead generation strategy is to keep your ICA in mind. It’s all too easy to look at what your competitors are doing and at the lead generation you’re being targeted with as a customer, and think you need to do the same. While it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on what everyone is doing, your ideal customer is your ideal customer.
Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone saw that The Spaghetti Western is named such because when Westerns went out of style in America, the Italian market was still clamoring for something similar, and he brought it to the market with a new twist with A Fistful of Dollars. Dare to be different, dare to put a twist on what’s working, and respond to what your ICA wants from you. When you lead the pack, everyone else in your industry will simply be trying to keep up.
If you have any questions about what we’ve covered here, feel free to reach out!
Until next time, stay moxie my friends!
The Marketing Moxie League is the official blog of Marketing Moxie, LLC., where we dare to be daring! We love to hear from you. Please comment, like, and share below.