A “lead” means many things to many people. To some it’s a list of contacts based upon a specific
location, industry, age group or other demographic. While to others it’s the contact that has
completed an online form or responded to an advertisement. Yet to many sales people it’s
a person who has demonstrated need, budget, authority and a specific timeframe to buy a
specific product or service.
Wow, now that’s very diverse. There is no correct definition. A “lead” is really defined by what
the marketer wants the next step to be. If your next step is to send out newsletters to generate
awareness, then a “list” of leads is correct. If you are selling a complex item and trying to get
sales representatives an appointment, then a lead is much more defined as stated above.
Therefore before any lead generation process even begins, you should define your goal. The
definition of a “lead” should be the place a contact is just before that goal is reached. For the
newsletter, then a lead matches the specific demographics that make up your target list for the
newsletter. If you’re selling a complex item, then a “lead” is an organization that has a strong
defined need or pain your item addresses, has a budget to buy it, the people you are talking to
have the authority to purchase it and a specific timeframe to do so.
LEAD GENERATION IN THE OLD DAYS
In the “old old” days prior to the “web”, we have very limited ways to find leads. Direct mail,
print advertising, and trade shows. You buy a list from a magazine or attend a trade show, send
out direct mail with a “BRC” (business reply card) and hope for the best. Or run an ad and hope
someone called the 800 number. Then we handed that name to a representative to telephone
call that contact. Good luck!
In the “old” days being just 10-12 years ago, we started using email marketing and banner
advertising to drive people to our web page and hope they hit the contact us link. So a more
updated online “BRC” card was created.
Ok now just 8 years ago “search engines” gained strength as well as pay per click advertising
to drive prospects to landing pages where we can make an offer and again then capture their
TODAY’S LEAD GENERATION
Today we can do so much more.
We can go online and “network” without ever leaving our desk. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook
are the big names. But the best online networking occurs on sites dedicated to specific special
interest/niche groups and associations. You can listen, learn, interact and meet people in all
areas and levels. CEOs of Fortune 100 companies to entrepreneurs with fantastic new ideas,
mechanics, dentists and rocket scientists are all there. All interacting and networking. Wow!
You have online advertising tools that can track visitors throughout their travels online and
display your relevant ads where your target markets eyeballs are. Increasing your chances of
capturing their interest exponentially.
Now when we capture that person’s interest, we can use marketing automation tools like
Eloqua, Marketo, and others, to automatically respond with relevant content. That content can
be written and timed to nurture & educate a prospect towards a more qualified “lead”. We can
invite them to our webinars (there were no webinar in 12 years ago), seminars and events then
continue communicating afterwards all automatically.
Those same systems can adjust what is sent based upon the contacts interaction with the
last information sent as well as that person’s interaction with our web site, videos, blogs and
In addition, those same systems can score the prospect and when a certain threshold are met,
and send the prospects information to the correct follow-up person to make phone contact with
a complete profile & history of that person’s interactions with your content.
In my point of view, Lead Generation has not gotten harder. It’s become easier to not only reach your
target audience, but to generate those “leads”.
If you would to learn more about Demand and Lead Generation, the Technology Council of Southern
California, is producing an event on this topic, the morning of Thursday, March 15th. See this
webpage for more information.