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From time to time, I’m asked to tell companies what lead generation options work for their industry. While I am a big proponent of inbound marketing, there are many viable lead generation options that are effective — from trade shows, to banner ads, from SEO to co-marketing. Effectiveness can be measured for any given industry and tactic. Wit that in mind, here’s a list of tactics you might consider.

Online Lead Generation Options:

Search – SEO and PPC: Your website is the best source of leads.  SEO is key to your success. We use SEO as a staple of our lead generation diet. We use PPC for faster results, or for getting visibility for very competitive (and therefore very difficult) keywords. Use landing pages, optimized per keyword/campaign for the highest conversions.

Banner Advertising:  Either targeted by website or with companies like Bizo. These are highly measurable, so watch your results carefully and continually optimize your program. Banner ads in industry or partner newsletters often do best.

Content Syndication:  Best when using late stage content to help qualify buyers.

Dedicated Emails:  Don’t buy lists.  That is considered spam. And in some countries, there are legal consequences. Instead, pay companies with lists of your target to send email on your behalf with offers.  More expensive than lists, but the right thing to do.

Social Media:  We think of social media as an enhancement strategy for lead generation. Make sure that your website is in good shape to convert leads before spending a lot of time in social media.

Blogging: Make sure you extend the reach of your blog any way possible. Writing a blog that doesn’t get read or subscribed to is a lonely and frustrating exercise. Once you can count on readership, this is an excellent way to create relationships and interact with prospects and buyers.

Virtual Trade Shows: The key to making these work is to be selective. Only participate when the topic is extremely relevant to your target audience.

Offline Lead Generation Options:

Telemarketing: I don’t like it, but it works. A professional firm will have better results than your sales force in qualifying leads. You can combine this with other campaigns including direct mail, email, etc. to generate about 20% of the deals that are not created by marketing.

Direct Mail: Direct mail when done to target campaigns as part of a broader integrated program can be very successful.

generating leads at tradeshows

Events:  Trade shows can be a good source of leads. But watch the costs. Best to have more than one reason to attend a trade show. Lead generation alone will not provide a solid ROI.

Relationship Driven LeadGen Options:

Referrals/Channel/Partner: Your second best lead source, referrals are critical to your success.  Regardless of whether they are from customers, partners or friends, the key is to make sure they are captured in a trackable way.  Formal partner programs are also an important lead source.

Co-marketing/Alliances:  Working with other companies that sell to your same target enables you to increase the size programs you can do, and also exposes tour company to another’s database without spamming.

Nurturing LeadGen Options:

Email Marketing: Since you should not email prospects who have not opted-in in some way, use email marketing only as a great way to stay in touch with and educate your prospects and customers (called lead nurturing).

Road-shows/Seminars: Any time you can bring customers together with partners you will experience success.  These type of events let customers sell for you, which leads to shorter cycles and higher margins.

Whatever you finally decide, remember to do your strategic planning first. Coming up with the best blend of these tactics is harder than it looks and the ultimate key to success.

Content Marketing

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