When deciding on the most appropriate small business lead generation techniques there is a decision to be made between push and pull marketing. This post compares the two approaches.
Push marketing small business lead generation techniques
The main tactics used by small businesses trying generate sales leads in the shortest possible time frame are telemarketing, traditional advertising in local media and networking. The objective is to ‘push’ the message out to the consumer to raise awareness and ultimately generate sales.
For the small percentage of target customers that have an immediate need this approach can work well but it is important to weigh the costs against the short term returns. The majority of prospect will not remember the business over the medium to long term hence only short term returns are relevant.
The returns on advertising and direct mail are well known. For every hundred prospects reached perhaps one sales lead will be generated and that assumes the advertisement is appropriately targeted on the correct potential customer groups, has a well crafted message and a professional design. How much is the advertising, what is the cost of design and creative, how many leads are historically converted to sales are all important questions to ask before attempting to calculate the true ROI.
With telemarketing success is again directly proportional to the targeting. Where has your prospect data come from, is it first or second use, is it relevant to your target market, does it meet the required legal standards.
To take on the telemarketing task in house will not, in general, deliver the best ROI . Fitting in calls round other duties does not tend to work well. A high number of calls is required to deliver any meaningful results. Telemarketing is a skill and those with those skills are not as easy to find as may be imagined. That said, finding good telemarketing agencies can also be a major problem.
Telemarketing can be used at various stages in the sales funnel from generating raw leads through setting appointments to closing sales. The skills required increase and the success rate decreases as you move down through the sales funnel. As a guide, If setting appointments, a good telemarketer may manage to set 3 to 4 appointments in a full days work, given quality data to work with. To calculate the ROI it is then important to quantify the quality of those appointments.
Networking can deliver good results but again those results tend to be short term (will someone you meet at a networking event really remember you in 6 months?). The major issue is can you network with enough people to generate any real returns? Be honest with yourself do you have networking skills? Be aware, most networking meetings consist of lots of wolves chasing very few sheep.
The Alternative – Pull Marketing for lead generation
Now let’s assume the focus is only on pull marketing (inbound marketing) activities including social media, website, Email marketing, blogs, articles and Google My Business. A prospect typing a location based search term (Tax Accountant in Nottingham) into Google is actively looking for a product or service that may be addressed by your website, web based content or social media.
For the much larger prospect base without an immediate need delivering useful and engaging content, via the internet, and/or EMail can keep them engaged and aware of the business until they are ready to buy. The issue is delivering the right information to the correct target market and the costs involved.
The fuel for any inbound marketing process is information (content) that may be text, video, photography or even audio. The costs of creating that content to fuel a small business lead generation pull marketing process should not be underestimated. There are also significant resources required to keep a pull marketing process running over time.
The real advantage of inbound (pull) marketing is it engages those customers without an immediate need. Best case perhaps a maximum of 20% of the available customer base have an immediate need, pull marketing allows a small business to keep engaged with the remaining 80% until they are ready to buy.
The key to pull marketing is to identify the activities that generate the highest ROI and to focus efforts there and there alone. Otherwise the time involved is not sustainable for most small businesses
For most small businesses the most effective lead generation process is actually based on a small subset of the total range of marketing techniques available. The key is to combine the best pull and pull small business lead generation techniques for the particular marketplace that deliver the highest ROI.