The other day a client forwarded me an email that was written by the president of a commercial printing company who asked:
Does anyone have suggestions for marketing specifically designed for lead generation?
I’ve done plenty of work with this client over the years that resulted in generating leads, but most of our focus has been cross-selling and customer retention. It was easy for me to rattle off various projects we’ve done that generated leads. But I was at a loss of words to provide specific advice for this president of an unknown company even though the company is in an industry I am very familiar with.
The only thing I could come up with is “It depends.” This seems to be the answer to any general marketing question.
Lead Generation Ideas
There are many things you can do to create leads. The best ideas are those you have the ability to be effective, your time and budget resources, and what feels right for your brand. There are links to many Print Media Centr blog posts related to lead generation in the following list. Lead generation techniques include:
- Google search traffic [Don’t Get Crushed By The Google Page Experience Update]
- Email newsletter [7 Tips to Grow Your Email Marketing Audience, When it Comes to Email Marketing, Set a Date With Customers]
- Behavior triggered email drip campaigns [Four Behavior-Based Email Marketing Tactics]
- Direct mail to a purchased list
- Digital advertising, including search engine and social media advertising, as well as retargeting display advertising to people that visited your website
- Send retargeting direct mails to people that visited your website [Offer Direct Mail Retargeting to Your Clients]
- Inbound/Content marketing [Help Your Customers Improve Their Content Marketing Results with Print]
- Sales development outreach
- Inform existing customers of services you can cross-sell to them using any of the above techniques.
The last item isn’t generally considered lead generation, but there may be people at your existing customers that you aren’t talking to that may be in a position to buy your services. Besides, selling more to existing customers is less expensive than generating new customers.
Which Lead Generation Techniques Are Right For You?
It depends (sound familiar?) on your goals and needs. We’d all like more sales this month. But since you have time, resources, and budget limitations, focus on the results you need.
Here are several questions you can ask yourself to determine what you should do next.
1. Do you need to increase revenue in the short term?
If so, you have a few options.
Dedicate sales resources to outbound lead generation. The skills, personality, and focus for this are different than customer nurturing account management. Don’t expect results by telling your existing sales staff to spend more time prospecting. Ideally, you can hire sales development reps focused on generating new customers or reassign one or more sales reps to focus on prospecting and closing new accounts. This requires changing roles and compensation structures. These options are not easy.
Implement digital advertising. This can be done quickly, but you can spend a lot of money and get limited or no results. You may get a few quick opportunities but expect it to take three months to optimize a new digital advertising program. Hire a consultant or digital marketing firm to help launch your program.
Purchase a list and send compelling direct mail. This is something that is available to most commercial printers. Unless you have internal marketing expertise, hire a consultant or agency with direct mail copywriting experience. You may have an agency that is a current customer that can help.
2. Is what you really need is to implement a long-term revenue program?
I commend you if this is the case.
Inbound marking, or content marketing, is a good long-term strategy. Investing in a content marketing program can consistently deliver results over time that are consistently more effective as your marketing assets grow. But don’t expect to see consistent results for at least six months, and it normally takes 18 months to two years to generate a predictable stream of leads. But you’re in this for the long term, right?
While inbound traffic from Google search results pages is often considered the primary lead source for content marketing, be more proactive and share your content using:
- Social media
- Sales outreach emails
- Social media and Google search ads
Build an email list and consistently send emails. This long-term play also improves its performance over time. You can invite current customers to opt-in to your newsletter, add opt-in checkboxes to existing website forms, or package the content you create into a PDF that people give up their email addresses to download.
3. What resources, both human and financial, do you have?
This is likely the biggest question of all. If you have a limited financial budget to get outside help, or can’t hire additional people, your options are limited. As mentioned earlier, don’t expect adding additional lead generation work to people’s existing workload to be effective.
Whatever you decide to do, you need to develop a plan, write it down, get buy-in, implement it, continually test and improve it, and stick with it.
Always Work Towards Long-Term Results
In the blog post How to Invest in Marketing for Short and Long Term Results, I recommended investing in long-term marketing content and programs and not spending money on just short-term advertising and other expense. Even if you need to increase your sales in the short term, think about how you’ll continue to engage with the people you paid money to have them visit your website.
Expect a 3-5% response rate for a single direct mail piece and a similar conversion rate for people that click on your digital ads. You can turn these expenses into an investment in your audience if you continue to engage with them.