Investigating Effective Lead Generation Techniques

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1 Investigating Effective Lead Generation Techniques by BNET Editorial There is always some degree of turnover in any customer base. To keep a business growing, it is essential to generate new prospective customers, or leads. There are many ways of accomplishing lead generation, depending on the product and customer groups involved, but whatever the method, the primary purpose is always to obtain data on potential customers for subsequent follow-up. What You Need to Know What is the importance of lead generation? Lead generation is vital to the development of new business. Turnover is a fact of business life some customers just stop buying, or they move to competitors. Lost business must be replaced, and new customers added, if sales are to grow. Sales teams must have a constant flow of new leads in order to maintain or increase business levels. How do I compare various sources of new leads? The best source is the one that produces the highest-quality leads that is, those with the most potential to convert to sales. Some programs produce a high number of leads, but they might all be poor quality. A publication, a direct mail program, or an event that is precisely targeted can be an effective source of leads. Track the success rates of various lead generation activities to determine the right formula for your business. Does a lead generation program always have an incentive? Incentives are not essential, but they often help to encourage individuals to place inquiries. The incentive should not be overly generous, however, or it will attract too many poor prospects who are more interested in free gifts than in your products. What to Do Prioritize Direct Response To generate leads from marketing campaigns, include a response mechanism in every communication and make it easy for prospects to reply. Obtaining leads should be a priority, so ensure that your communications are designed to deliver. Leverage Advertising Campaigns

2 To generate leads via advertising, make sure the campaign includes a call to action. Sample calls to action include: send for more information; reply within seven days and receive a free gift; send for a free report; subscribe now and get the first two issues free; call for a free consultation; reserve now at a special price; order now and receive a significant discount; visit our Web site and learn more. To obtain high response rates, it must be easy for prospective customers to respond. The most popular response mechanisms for print media advertisements are addresses, toll-free telephone numbers, and Web sites. These are easy-to-use mechanisms that can elicit strong customer response. It is important to monitor the different response levels from various sources to determine which is the most effective for your organization. Try Reader Response Cards Many publications include a helpline number or reader response card. A reader response card is included in a publication and used by readers to indicate advertised products in which they are interested. For example, a particular product advertisement in the publication may include the message For more information, circle #15 on the reader response card. The reader sends the card, with any/all responses indicated, back to the publication, which then distributes the inquiries to individual advertisers for follow-up. Consider Advertorials An advertorial is a piece that runs in the press, describing a product or service, in which customers are offered the opportunity to win a prize in return for supplying basic data or completing a short questionnaire. This can be a cost-effective way of generating leads. The questionnaire might contain items such as Give three reasons why Product X is the best on the market. The information requested could be the customer s straight opinion, or an answer to a multiple choice question, based on information in the advertorial. Openended questions can provide valuable insight into customer attitudes. Solicit Radio and Television Response Increasing numbers of television and radio commercials now employ an integrated approach, including a response mechanism such as a phone number, or complementary media such as a Web site. This approach might direct the audience to a source of further information or a retailer, or it could incorporate a contest, survey, or other activity to further engage the customer s interest. The response mechanism must be clear, because the audience of a radio or television commercial has only a short time to note the details.

3 Target Prospects with Direct Mail Direct mail can be used at various stages in a lead generation program. When using a direct mail campaign to generate leads from lists that have not been previously qualified, be sure to include a response mechanism so that follow-up can take place. Include Offers with Product Packaging Product packaging presents another opportunity to generate leads. Special offers might be featured, where buyers send in a coupon or other proof of purchase, together with their name and address. While in this case the individual responding is technically already a customer, by identifying that person and gathering more information about them, you are able to start building a relationship. Lead generation is just as important in this context. Identify Visitors to Retail Outlets Visitors to retail outlets are another potential source of leads. Many retail shoppers remain anonymous to the retailers they patronize. Encourage shoppers to provide names and addresses by running contests, drawings, or other special offers. Promote Web Site Registration A Web site registration process can provide high levels of useful information. Request customer information when a customer visits your Web site. Registration forms can be easily completed online and submitted by . Offer customers an option to receive updates with details of products and services that are of interest to them, or notice of special offers and promotions. Incentives such as free reports, free software, or discount coupons can encourage higher levels of registration. Capture Information on Event Attendees Participation in exhibitions and other marketing events offers much opportunity for lead generation. Visitor registration should be an integral part of exhibition planning establish a process for capturing data on all visitors to the booth, table, hospitality suite, etc. Establish a database of event attendee contacts, and use it to plan a subsequent contact program. Watch the Trade Press Many business and trade publications feature news about recent appointments, or interviews with leading executives. These articles supply names of potentially valuable contacts. The appointments pages can also alert you to changes in personnel at one of your customer or prospect companies. Utilize Telemarketing

4 Telemarketing can be used to generate new leads as well as to qualify existing leads. A telemarketing team might contact target companies to identify the key decision makers. The team can also contact individuals who have made an initial inquiry, to qualify their interest and potential. However, keep in mind that in today s climate of do not call lists, many individuals react unfavorably to unsolicited phone calls which can lead to significant fines if they do not fall within the laws. It is very important to be contacting the right people when performing telemarketing. Combine Lead Generation and Other Marketing Programs As discussed above, lead generation programs can be integrated with other marketing activities such as an exhibition, advertising campaign, or sales call. With integrated campaigns, overall awareness levels among customers and prospects will be far higher, resulting in a greater chance of success. Refine Contact Lists Contact lists are typically obtained or derived from a variety of sources. To be of real value for ongoing programs, however, contact lists must be continually refined. To improve the coverage and utility of contact lists, follow these practices: make sure that new customer and prospect data are added to the list; include coupons and other reply mechanisms with every form of communication, and maintain the responses in your list; encourage the sales force to keep customer and prospect information current; maintain an active search program in appropriate Web sites, magazines, and newspapers to identify new prospects for your list. What to Avoid You Neglect Lead Generation Lead generation can be vital to your company s future. Without it, the customer base does not grow, lost customers are not replaced, and major opportunities in new or existing market sectors are missed. Only a small proportion of leads convert to customers, so lead generation must be an ongoing process. You Overspend The cost of a lead generation program can be measured by dividing the cost of the program by the number of qualified leads that it yields. Media costs for lead generation should be assessed and justified in the same manner as media costs for meeting other objectives. You Fail to Integrate with Other Marketing Programs

5 Lead generation programs do not work in isolation. Corporate advertising, for example, helps to raise awareness among the target audience, which can in turn increase the effectiveness of direct mail and telemarketing campaigns. Where to Learn More Books: Carroll, Brian. Lead Generation for the Complex Sale: Boost the Quality and Quantity of Leads to Increase Your ROI. New York: McGraw-Hill, Jobber, David, and Geoffrey Lancaster. Selling and Sales Management. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Prentice Hall, Web Site: American Marketing Association:

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