Lead generation seems to be the number one agenda for most people that I talk with. Companies try a lot of different mechanisms to drive lead generation, the most popular that I have heard of being cold calling. Cold calling has its own benefits, however, I feel it has too many negatives that we should be aware of, before we decide to sacrifice our company’s reputation and branding as we decide to go that route. I am listing some that I have on the top of my mind
1) Cold calling creates negative branding – At best you can get 3-5% results and for the rest of the 95%, you are creating irritation/annoyance because you are disturbing them from their current routines and are talking about something they have no interest in
2) Cold calling is extremely operator intensive – So if you do not have the best person (which is very rare, as turnover in the field is very high), then how he is communicating about your company does end up contributing to negative branding
3) Lastly, in this world, where, as a buyer, you can search what you want, someone pestering you for something that they want to sell sounds generally annoying and creates a negative vibe.
So then, what else should companies do? They still have their lead generation targets. Well, why not invest in content marketing
Noooohhh, that is too long term… I want my leads for this month, how can content marketing help me (common objection that I have faced) I will try to address some of the common objections and provide some tips on using content marketing to drive lead generation.
1) Inside out vs. Outside in
When you take the traditional sales approach, you are talking inside out. My product or service does this and is able to provide these benefits… blah blah… When you decide to take the content marketing route, you are trying to take an outside-in approach. In the current market situation, these are the challenges, and this is how you will be able to address them using my product/service. Seems simple, but how do you do this without being overly self-promotional while you seek to become a thought leader on the topic.
2) Plan content marketing themes in line with your brand positioning
What are the values your product stands for? Use these themes to build content themes, as you start to build following and thought leadership.
3) Research what the target market wants to hear about
Content research across competitors, media and events can help you understand what the buyers are worried about and want to hear more about. If you can address these topics and link it back to what you offer, in perspective, it is easier to get your content marketing to drive leads/inquiries for you.
4) Bring in the experts
People always value third party opinion. Rather than you talking and preaching about the topic, it makes sense to bring in views from the experts (that you have access to). Third party views bring in a lot more credibility to your content
A lot of organizations have used white papers, webinars, podcasts in the past, but in several instances, these have tended to be self-promotional in nature. It is possible to generate content that will provide resources/value to your target market in some way, and yet not be perceived as overly self-promotional.
At Xenia, through our services in marketing content management & content research, we have been doing that for customers and driving lead generation for them. Our hit ratios are still in the 5-10%, but the rest of the 95% do not get put off. They are only getting gradually closer and building affinity to our customer brands (because we are providing them immense value & not annoying them)
I hope you found this useful. Comments welcome!
Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Published with permission from Xenia consulting.