Lead Generation: Best Practices for Your Small Business
In her recent article, Mandy Edwards brings up excellent information about why businesses need leads, as well as ways to use social media for lead generation. I am going to piggyback and share a few recommendations for best practices. Marketers and small business owners understand the need for generating qualified leads in order to keep their businesses afloat. Businesses accomplish lead generation in a variety of ways, but it is important to remember there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
Businesses generate leads through two forms of marketing: (1) inbound marketing or (2) outbound/direct marketing. For inbound marketing, your business uses online activities such as blogging and posting on social media to attract leads to your company’s website. For outbound, or direct, marketing, you use more traditional marketing techniques such as phone calls, direct mailers or in-person networking to bring leads to your business. Businesses also use a combination of both, known as integrated marketing, in some cases. One way is not better than the other; the type of marketing you implement depends on your target market and your business’ available resources (i.e., financial and personnel).
Mandy and I are both members of a fabulous group of professionals and bloggers called Social Solutions Collective; SSC is a multi-author social business solutions resource and news site. My niche within the group covers lead generation, lead nurturing and lead conversion. I regularly read and research pertinent content and data in order to stay on top of the current trends in lead generation.
The following are two sources I trust to provide the most accurate and current best practices for your small business and its lead generation requirements. Here is what they have to say in regards to best practices for lead generation.
Eloqua suggests that lead generation begins very early in the buying cycle now. Many potential clients begin researching products or solutions online well before they are ready to purchase them. These buyers then begin seeking out organizations that offer what they need for the price they want to pay – but only when they are ready. The best practice Eloqua recommends is to provide potential and current leads with timely and relevant content over time – either online or off. Doing so assists your business with not only lead generation, but also lead nurturing.
Like Eloqua, Marketo believes the lead generation phase begins before, then extends beyond, a lead’s initial discovery of your business. Unlike Eloqua however, Marketo keeps its focus on inbound lead generation for businesses. The best practice advice Marketo offers revolves primarily around blogging, social media and your organization’s website. Marketo recommends that you become as creative as possible when creating content for your blog, social media platforms and business’ website. Doing so helps your business “cut through the noise” to become the top-of-mind choice for potential leads when they are ready to purchase.
Do you agree with these best practices for lead generation? I would love to hear what works best for you and your business when it comes to generating leads.