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Gaining The Lead

3 areas you can't afford to ignore when it comes to the all-important lead.

Generating leads is a numbers game--and a momentum game. You must generate and convert a steady stream of leads to grow your business. That said, there's no one magic way to generate a ton of leads. For some businesses, there are better ways. But on the whole, long-term effective lead generation comes down to finding the right balance between advertising, PR and a systematic approach to referrals--what I like to call the lead generation trio.

Over time, the most successful businesses employ numerous advertising, PR and referral tactics simultaneously to generate leads. You need to employ all three to generate the right kinds of leads--the kinds that are ideal for your business and that come to know, like, trust and fully understand your core marketing message.

Your ideal prospects benefit from being exposed to your message repeatedly and in different forms. But to fully understand why this blended approach makes such sense, let me introduce you to the three Cs of lead generation: cost, credibility and control. Each part of the lead generation trio helps you take advantage of one or more of the three Cs. By using them all, you get the perfect mix. Here's how to make the three Cs work for you:

  • Advertising: Advertising has a potentially high cost, often lower credibility and a high level of control, in that you can turn your ad on and off when you choose. Control is the best part about advertising; you can launch a promotion on the day you want or need more leads and then turn it back down when you don't.
  • PR: The cost of many forms of PR can be low, but the credibility is very high. Often, a tiny mention in a publication can bring more leads than a full-page ad in the same publication. Readers love the third-party endorsement, but it gives you less control because you can't really dictate when or if you'll get any media mentions.
  • Referrals: With referrals, your costs can be very low, and credibility can be high depending on the source of the referral. Control is somewhat out of your hands, as it's based on your ability to educate your referral sources properly.

Each member of the lead generation trio has its own pros and cons, but employed as a unit, they have the power to help you create the kind of marketing momentum that builds long-term success.

And since we're on this theme of Cs, I also suggest we add a dash of creativity to the mix and top the entire thing off with dogged consistency.

John Jantsch is a veteran marketing coach, an award-winning blogger and the author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide. Find out more at ducttapemarketing.com.

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

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This article was originally published in the October 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Gaining The Lead.

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