The other day I was conducting an educational workshop for folks interested in becoming Duct Tape Marketing Coaches. At one point I talked about presenting workshops as the primary way that coaches acquired customers and that it was an essential success factor for prospective coaches to consider.
One of the attendees then asked that, “if speaking for leads was the tactic that worked, why bother doing anything else?” And this, I fear, is at the heart of what trips some small business marketers up.
Lead generation, nurturing and conversion is a game of trust and momentum building and no matter the actual environment in which a customer is acquired, the path taken to getting them is usually lit with many other marketing related lights. In my example above, while it’s true customers often make the decision to hire a Duct Tape coach when they attend a marketing workshop, the decision process started perhaps, because the prospect had heard of Duct Tape Marketing, read about the workshop in the local paper, had a friend invite them to the workshop, and read testimonials and success stories on the coach’s web site. So, in effect, the workshop was merely confirmation that this individual might be someone that could help.
This is why I often talk about the need for lead generation to be approached from many different angles. It’s an approach that allows you to blend the factors of cost, control and credibility to make your business much easier to find. It’s my belief that every small business marketing plan should contain consistent forays into advertising, public relations, and referrals as a sort of strategic lighting of the path to your business. Of course, throw in the fact that more and more businesses are being found by way of online search and you’ve got an even more compelling reason to take this multi-faceted approach.
Advertising – used in highly targeted, trackable ways to promote awareness of your education based content, such as white papers, audios and seminars, advertising carries the highest cost and lowest credibility, but is the only lead generation tactic you can control completely. Advertising works when conducted as described and must be part of the overall mix.
Public relations – PR is such a powerful, credible and low cost tool and is an area that is often underutilized by small businesses. There’s no real magic to generating positive press. It’s a game of building relationships with a handful of key journalists and committing to putting announcements and small stories out every month using a combination of local press contacts and online social media tools.
Referrals – referral generation is mostly a process of finding ways to be more referable first. It starts with a mindset of making every customer a referral source and making it easy for them to do so. Once this is in order you can move to building a network of strategic partners that you can rely on to refer your customers confidently as well as receive leads of the highest quality.
While most businesses find they develop a primary lead generation tactic, it’s the thoughtful combination of repeated contacts, consistently placed, that leads to the greatest long term trust building marketing.
Image credit: Marc Smith
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