What is a Lead?
Let’s start by identifying what comprises a lead. According to Wikipedia a lead is:
In marketing, lead generation is the initiation of consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business with the intention of turning the inquiry into a sale. A lead is the contact information and, in some cases, demographic information of a customer who is interested in a specific product or service.
A sales lead is a potential sales contact, individual or organization that expresses an interest in your goods or services. Leads are typically obtained through a direct response to advertising, publicity, or through an existing customer.
Lead generation is the cornerstone of building your business – and it’s essential for ALL businesses, from consumer/retail/service to B2B. Many small businesses start with referrals, in fact it’s how a lot of small businesses actually begin! You perform a service (or sell a product) to a small, select group of people – word gets out and before you know it, you’re building a business from that referral base.
Then what? If your goal is to build your business beyond that referral base (which, though extremely valuable, is a small and ultimately finite pool), that’s where marketing comes in. Marketing can generate targeted leads beyond referrals. The key word is ‘targeted’. In business, time is money and each lead specifically targeted to your business takes you one step closer to an actual sale. Targeted marketing refines and hones lead generation, so you don’t waste your precious time filtering out people who aren’t interested in your product. Once interest is created, the lead can be nurtured and ushered through the sales process, moving from prospect to client.
There are three key steps in the lead generation process:
Awareness – how leads become aware of your business and its offerings. Key activities include networking, public relations, advertising, content, partnerships, and social media.
Education (lead nurturing) – Once you have created an awareness of your business, you must build trust for your brand. Activities here could include a consistent newsletter, webinars, and blogs. These tools demonstrate your expertise, knowledge, resources, and experience over time.
Conversion – what most refer to as selling. This demonstrates to prospects how they can get desired/valued results with your solution. This step is about showing/proving the results of your brand, leading to purchase.
Marketing companies such as a Dose of Insight can help direct your marketing and sales plans and procedures to target those leads – creating a dedicated strategy for your business and guiding you towards the best ways to promote and build beyond referrals. In lead generation, as in sales, one size definitely does not fit all.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to use marketing to generate targeted leads, we’d love to help.