A reader wrote me, “I was reading your website very carefully and a lot of the recommended actions we are working on. I am currently trying to start lead generation mainly in Europe, Middle East and Latin America. I would like to know what your recommendation is.”
I get this type of query often and realized I should write about it.
First Things First
Before we start a lead generation campaign, let’s make sure you have the basics in order.
- Do you have a firm positioning statement for your product or service?
- Do you know who in the target organization does the purchasing and their title or functional role?
- Can you credibly convey your stability for long-term support and reliability?
- Is your digital house in order (website, contact page, social media pages) so when leads seek more information they aren’t turned off by your online communication?
- Do you have a process in place, tested, and ready to go to handle leads promptly and effectively?
- Have you prepared a campaign (or annual) budget that includes what you want to spend on a cost-per-lead basis?
Once you have these essentials in place, lay out your lead generation options side-by-side and select the one(s) that hit your prospect at the lowest cost-per-lead basis first. You may find your list looks something like what follows.
Prioritizing Lead Generation Activities: Top Four
You want to communicate with someone who may be interested in buying what you’re selling.
1. Online marketing is what I suspect most readers are thinking when they ask about lead generation alternatives. I’ve written extensively on the importance of letting readers offer their contact information so you can begin a dialogue. I’ve talked about the importance of live chat but both of these are passive tactics; that is, your prospect is already on your site when these come into play.
The top online marketing tactic I can recommend for you is focusing on your search engine optimization efforts because your prospects are actively searching for your solutions. You want to be seen as a top result for queries relevant to your line of business.
2. Phoning is a surprisingly effective and relatively inexpensive way to proceed provided you have a strong list, strong message, and – this is essential – someone with phone bank technology and staff dedicated and properly trained for outreach. A telemarketing campaign is often one of the first tactics I recommend for clients and I have a number of success stories with service providers like Emerge Sales.
The great thing about phone sales (or setting up appointments) is how measurable it is. If, after a few weeks of calling, your conversion numbers aren’t enough to justify the spend, then stop and refine or abort.
Phone conversations also allow you to pick up some intelligence about your prospect; for example, where are they in the buying cycle and who are they using today? And if you have news to share such as “meet us at Arab Health,” all the better!
List acquisition belongs as a subset to phoning and I break it out here for readability purposes only. You can build your own list through public sources such as LinkedIn, rent lists from brokers who will guarantee their freshness, or have strategic discussions with a data house like LexusNexus whose information includes medical claims data to indicate precisely who is buying what. It’s likely that the more you spend, the more reliable and actionable the data.
Video chat is a corollary to phoning and, I’d argue, a better one because you get to see your prospect’s expressions. I use Skype; you may use GoToMeeting, FaceTime, or another platform. The message here is, given the option, choose the video chat version over the plain vanilla phone call.
3. Offering a webinar or white paper is my second favorite inbound lead generation tactic. I’ve conducted more than two dozen webinars with members of the Medical Devices Group and, among them, thousands of leads have been generated for their sponsors. Webinars have the added urgency of there being a specific time and date when the event takes place and, since participants can join from their desks, the barrier is relatively low for a commitment. In exchange for the information they seek, your prospects will offer their email addresses and other contact information. If you successfully convey value during your time together, you’ve created a warm lead for yourself in the process.
4. In person is always most effective but expensive (trade shows and conferences) or impractical (they don’t know who you are yet). Similarly, you can sponsor relevant events in exchange for the contact information of all the participants but this is also very expensive.
Prioritizing Lead Generation Activities: Bottom Four
These are still worthy of your consideration.
5. Email campaigns can be effective when you mail your native lists. Rented email lists rarely work out but if you’re feeling adventurous you can do a small test for a small amount of money. Just remember, if your product or concept is a high commitment decision, your click through rate will be commensurately lower. It takes more than an email to buy a hyperbaric chamber, obviously – but if you have something truly revolutionary, you can generate some interest from an email.
6. Writing articles on credible third-party sites are harder to measure and bear fruit. When you are published on a third-party site, you benefit from the brand equity of the publication itself. (Think, “as seen in The Wall Street Journal.”) Wherever possible, include links back to your site and, preferably to landing pages specific to the article itself.
7. Physical mail seems a long-forgotten outreach medium. It’s relatively expensive but, done selectively, can amplify some of your other efforts. I wouldn’t rule it out completely. Remember, you can test and measure returns on mail just as you can phone and online media.
8. Banner ads and press releases are two tactics I rarely recommend for lead generation. For the former, the click-through rate is far too low. The latter, without some genuinely newsworthy content, is likely to be ignored by editors and readers alike.
As you start lead generation efforts for your company, weigh these activities for cost-per-lead metrics and prioritize accordingly.
Are there tactics in addition to these that you’ve used with success? If so, email me and let me know. I’ll write a future article about it.