When it comes to effective lead generation, the channel you choose is as important as your message. And it’s better to forgo lead generation completely than to use a channel that doesn’t align with your target market—and potentially waste resources. Take for example an EMyth Client named Melissa who recently reached out. She started her own mortgage company several years ago, and has always struggled to create an effective marketing strategy.
"Right now, I'm using direct marketing to buy leads and hired a telemarketing company to make cold calls," she told her coach. "I also bought an ad in the local newspaper that costs me close to $500 a month, but now I think that was a big mistake. I’m also talking to an advertising agency about social media outreach, but I don’t know much about using that either—I really don’t know where to begin."
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many entrepreneurs feel like they need to carry the responsibility of driving and converting leads. But that isn’t realistic or sustainable. Starting a business doesn’t mean you need to be a marketing expert—but you do need to understand some fundamentals to choose the best channels for communicating your marketing message. For Melissa, the first step was to avoid outside influencers who simply wanted her business to drive her marketing decisions, and to shift her thinking from a reactive Technician standpoint to a higher-level strategic Entrepreneur point of view. But without a firm internal understanding of what she actually needed, that’s hard to do. These three steps helped her identify what channels to select (and ignore), and how to track and measure their success.
1. Identify where your ideal prospect engages (and doesn’t)
Your lead generation strategy absolutely relies on you doing the necessary work to define and identify your markets. Maybe you already have a good idea of the target audience you’re trying to reach. If so, bravo!
If not, here are some questions to consider:
- Who are you trying to reach and what their lives are like?
- What do they love? What do they dislike?
- What do they read? What do they believe?
- What do they want, and what do they really need? And is that what you're promising them?
When you slow down and really think about the demographics and psychographics of your customers, you’ll see a profile begin to emerge of your ideal customer. This will help you think more strategically about what channel would most efficiently and effectively attract credible attention within your target audience, and be the best medium for what you want to communicate.
In Melissa’s case, this research and analysis led to a major breakthrough: Because she was sticking to typical marketing channels, she was completely losing her target market, who didn’t respond well to traditional forms of mass advertising. Instead, her market connected more to word-of-mouth referrals. So while she’d already (unfortunately) invested in various types of print advertising, she now had the confidence to pivot and redirect her funds towards refining her message. With her newfound knowledge, she could select the most appropriate channels for supporting personal recommendations.
2. Assess each channel option for the best fit
By better understanding your target market, you can then narrow your channel by using nine key criteria. The first four are clearly tangible, objective and measurable:
- Reach: Choose a channel that’ll offer you maximum exposure. A referral from a satisfied customer is a reach of one. A 30-second radio ad at rush hour can reach thousands.
- Market coverage: How much of your target market will be exposed to this channel?
- Cost: Obviously this is an important factor, but don’t reject any channels solely on cost before considering its promise. Does it have the ability to deliver your goals for highly qualified leads?
- Frequency and exposure: It usually takes more than one time hearing about your business for a prospect to “know” you. Consider your channel’s ability to provide the right level of ongoing exposure.
Besides the objective criteria above, improving your understanding of your ideal prospect’s life and preferences will help you make channel decisions. Here are some important subjective criteria:
- The channel’s fit with your market: All the frequency, exposure, coverage and reach that money can buy is lost if your chosen channel simply isn’t part of your target prospect’s life.
- Fit with your company: Does the channel itself fit the image you want to convey about your business?
- Impact: Is your target market likely to respond positively to telemarketing calls? Are they likely to take advantage of discount codes or printed coupons?
- Credibility: Here, it’s not the message, but the credibility of the channel itself. Would your ad for a meditation podcast be more credible to your target market if found in The New Yorker or on Buzzfeed?
- Intimacy: Is this channel really speaking to your customer? If they follow one of your social media accounts, does that strengthen the bond between you and your prospect—or the opposite?
3. Select and measure lead gen activities
After you’ve selected channels, it’s important to test, iterate and adjust. After all, you’re making a pricey investment in lead generation, so you’ll surely want to know what to expect as a Return on Investment (ROI). To track and quantify ROI, start by identifying promising activities: Which lead generation activities would result in the most quantifiable, useful information? Would social media campaigns and a regular blog be the best mode of reaching your prospects and tracking engagement? Or live events? Email marketing?
Next, decide what exactly you want to measure. There’s no limit to the metrics that you and your team can capture, measure and analyze: cost per click, cost per sale, cost per lead, average order value, etc. And while these numbers are useful, they have little intrinsic value outside the context of what you’re actually trying to achieve with your lead generation strategy. It’s your underlying intent that will ultimately dictate your ROI.
With a clear plan for lead gen activities and metrics, build a tracking sheet to measure by channel. Over time, this will not only help you to track progress and clarify your objectives—it’ll more crisply define the portrait of your ideal prospect. And aside from the obvious benefit of driving more leads, you’ll begin to build and strengthen meaningful relationships with your customers.
If you also feel overwhelmed by the many options out there, or still struggle with the difference between Marketing and Lead Generation within the Seven Essential Systems, reach out—we’re happy to help.