Marketing and sales are two different things. It’s the difference between cultivation and harvesting. But there is one place where marketing and sales come together: lead generation.
Here are several proven tactics for generating solid sales leads:
A keyword-driven, regularly updated blog is the best way to drive traffic to your website – because it attracts the attention of search engines – and having a popular website is essential to attracting and capturing sales leads.
“Regularly updated” is the key. Most blogs go dormant within three months of their start. Most of the rest are rarely updated – maybe three to four times a year. At a minimum, you need to be blogging once a month. Not only will search engines be less likely to rank a “ghost blog,” but visitors are quite unimpressed when they encounter one. You look like an amateur. At the Bradford Group, we blog an average of once week.
Getting your name in the paper (or online or on the radio or TV) is a great way to raise your profile, and thus attract sales leads. It works because publicity implies a third party endorsement.
That is, unlike buying an advertisement, which guarantees your placement in a news outlet, getting mentioned in a news story requires that at least one person whom you did not pay – such as an editor or news director – had to believe that what you have to say is worth sharing. Readers know this, which is why they are more likely to believe a news story versus an ad about you.
Speak in Public
If you have a business or you are responsible for generating business for someone else (otherwise, why would you care about sales leads?), you are an expert in your industry (otherwise, you’d be out of business).
Sharing your expertise by speaking at professional conferences, civic clubs, chambers of commerce and other gatherings is a sure-fire way to generate sales leads on the spot. In fact, I’ve never given a speech without at least one person approaching me afterward to ask for more information. And these requests for information often led to new clients.
Win An Award
Winning an award is like rolling up the benefits of publicity and public speaking into a ball of lead generation magic. Like publicity, an award tells folks that other people – who you’ve not paid – think you are pretty special. Like public speaking, winning an award gives people a reason to contact you – to simply congratulate you, if nothing else, but also, sometimes, to give you business.
How do you win an award? Well, you apply! Like blogging, most people never take the time to research and apply for awards they are eligible to win. This means you are probably competing against a small field for the award, which increases your chances of success.
Here is a sampling of national awards we have brought home in just the past 12 months for our clients:
- American Business Awards (The Stevies) – Company of the Year
- American Business Awards (The Stevies) – Silver Award, Customer Service Department of the Year
- One Planet Awards – Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, Most Customer Friendly Company of the Year
- CEO World Awards – Female CEO of the Year
- Best in Business Awards – Comeback Company of the Year
- Financial Service Centers of America (FiSCA) Awards – Corporate Citizenship Program
- Golden Bridge Awards – Corporate Social Responsibility Company of the Year
- CRN magazine 2016 Fast Growth 150
- Top 50 Midmarket Executives List
- Inner City 100
Do Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Everyone knows that word-of-mouth is the best marketing. Why? Because it is the most believable. Whereas publicity carries the implied endorsement of a journalist, word-of-mouth carries the endorsement of someone the sales prospect knows. When someone hears about your business from a friend or family member, they invariably become a warm sales lead.
But, word-of-mouth happens naturally, right? It’s not something you can control.
Wrong. You can generate word-of-mouth by 1) identifying people whom are likely to influence your potential clients and 2) telling these influential people your story in a way that motivates them to tell their friends.
The best way to do this is by forming an advisory council, in which you honor 10-15 influential people by inviting them to attend a regular meeting during which you tell them “inside” information about your business and ask for their advice on how to better serve your customers. You treat them like a real board of directors by paying them to attend these meetings ($200 – $300 per person per meeting), usually also feeding them and, finally and most importantly, by reminding them that they were selected to sit on your board because they are Very Important People.
When you pay someone for their opinion, give them information about your company that you don’t share with just anyone (not company secrets, but marketing plans and other non-proprietary operational information) and remind them how important they are, it is just about guaranteed that they are going to tell others what you told them. (People love to share information that implies they are special.) Before you know it, you’ve created your own word-of-mouth sales lead machine.