Key Ingredients of a Successful Lead Generation Campaign – Part One: Outbound Marketing

By Simon Brooks, 12 May 2015

In some circles, “advertising, “marketing” or “sales prospecting” are sometimes seen as negative terms, dirty words spat out disapprovingly by people who believe such things shouldn’t exist – or at least if they must, that they shouldn’t be subjected to them.

It’s interesting that most commercial organisations operate some form of sales or marketing activity to generate leads with which to feed their sales pipeline.

Yet how many times have you asked a colleague to ‘take a message’, or not returned messages left on your voicemail – or ignored the email asking if you’d be interested in a new business service?

It’s true: very few of us like to be the target of a lead generation campaign.

So if you run a business and want to sell your products and services, what should you be doing?

1. Identify the best approach for your business

Before you do anything, you need to decide which of the many outbound lead generation methods will work for your company or product.

There is no single set approach, and the effectiveness and conversion rates will vary depending on your niche or product. If you design websites, your service can be demonstrated using email marketing including links to your portfolio. If you’re a manufacturer, your products may be best exhibited and demonstrated at trade shows.

Traditional outbound marketing-based lead generation methods include cold calling (also called telemarketing) print advertising, direct mail, print, TV or radio advertising, trade shows, and trade shows, meetings and seminars.

2. Integrate across two or more channels

If your budget will run to it, avoid putting all of your resources into just a single marketing channel. The more places your intended customers come across you, the greater the impact will be.

For example, a classic outbound B2B marketing campaign would consist of a direct mail piece, followed by an email, followed by a telephone call. Three bites of the cherry.

It’s not a requirement to use more than two methods of reaching your target market. For many companies, just a single marketing technique is sufficient for generating leads; it really is just about finding the right balance that works for your business.

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3. Define and profile your target market

The effectiveness of your chosen lead generation strategy depends on the accuracy with which you define, profile and target your prospective customers.  If you’ve already got customers, and you want more like them, define their characteristics and profile.

Or if you’re planning to buy in opted in data from a reputable 3rd party data broker, define the job titles of the individuals that influence or make the buying decision, the specific market sectors they work in, the size of company they work for, and their location – as well as a whole lot of other demographic information.

If you already have your target contacts on a database, ensure that the contact details are correct and up to date; misdirected emails and phone calls are a waste of time and resources and can seriously affect your overall campaign success statistics.

4. Create a clear, concise message

A very key part of your lead generation campaign is a clear, concise message.

Don’t try and make a full-on sales pitch at this stage; instead, focus on highlighting the ways in which your product solves your customers’ problems, explain how it does this, and why it does it in a better way than the competition.

Use benefits to get your message across, not a list of features.

Crucially, use language that your target market speaks and understands; judge whether or not a formal or friendly approach is more appropriate; keep it tight, and avoid sales jargon.

5. Create a compelling call to action

Your message must also include a call-to-action.C4B-CTA

This is the action you would like the recipient to take as a result of your campaign. It could be to request a free trial, sign up for a newsletter or take up a free promotional offer.

Asking prospects to sign up for, register or request something has the added benefit of adding contacts to your database. While they may not necessarily be immediate sales prospects, such contacts may be future or potential customers – and so may respond to future marketing campaigns when the time is right for them.

6. Offer an incentive

The goal of many lead generation campaigns is simply to open the doorway to the next stage of the campaign – to gain permission to continue the conversation, to move one step further towards the sale.

For this reason, try using an incentive to persuade or tempt your contact to take that step to the next stage of the conversation.

Your incentive should offer value to your would-be customers, but be affordable for your business. Marketing history is littered with the remains of promotional giveaways that went horribly wrong. Remember the Hoover disaster in the 1990’s. Free flights to Europe and the US for anyone spending £100 spend on a new appliance.

Only trouble was that so many customers took the company up on it that the offer had to be pulled – and the resulting lawsuits cost Hoover nearly £50 million.

7. Test, measure, review, repeat

If you can’t run all your promotional campaigns like market research exercises, adopting the test-measure-review-repeat model is good discipline. In principle, it’s about trial and error – re-thinking and re-shuffling key variable aspects of your campaign and seeing what works best.

A/B testing or multivariate testing on sub-sets of your target data may prolong the overall process but eventually when you unleash your full campaign you’ll be as certain as you can be that it will achieve maximum effectiveness.

8. Get your timing right

The timing of your campaign can have a major impact on its success rate.

Despite many claims about the right time of day to send emails, this is only relevant a) if you want to get to people instantly while they are sitting at their desk and b) are making your emails appear to be personally despatched in real time by you. Otherwise, newsletters can be sent overnight.

Campaign timing should, however, be tied in with key events, seasons, and holidays that may tie in with your product or market. For example: If you’re marketing a new line of sportswear, time your campaigns to tie in with well-publicised events such as the World Cup or Wimbledon – though be aware, everyone else is likely to be doing the same.

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9. Be consistent with your branding

Brand consistency is the recipe for two key success factors in lead generation campaigns: recall and recognition.

The more consistent your branding is (and for branding read messaging, language, colours, fonts, imagery, logo) the more recognisable it will be, and thus the more easily your target contacts will be able to recall it.

Marry up the branding across all your marketing campaign media – email, direct mail, advertising, website – and, if you are using telemarketing, even your messaging – and in your consistency will translate into awareness, recognition.  People have been shown instinctively to trust brands that appear consistently – yours can be the same.

10. Enjoy your success and build on it

By following as many of these guidelines as you can, you will almost certainly build yourself a winning lead generation formula.

As long as you products and services deliver on their promises, the rest of it is ‘just sales and marketing’.

Once you’ve hit that winning marketing formula, repeat it, evolve it and reinvent it – but most of all, have a bit of fun doing it.

There’s nothing quite a plan coming together.

In our second article on the Key Ingredients of a Successful Lead Generation Campaign, we’ll cover Inbound Marketing and look at all the elements to consider when trying to attract buyers that are actively searching on the web.

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