Anyway, in this post I want to compare lead generation back then to the lead generation of modern times. There are some huge differences nowadays, although the more I have thought about it, the more I think that the modern web is actually bringing us back to the days when we relied on person-to-person relationships to win business.
Only now, it's helping us do it on an unprecedented scale.
Also, just to say - before we start: I'm not going to be talking in terms of inbound marketing, direct sales etc in this post - I'm just going to talk in terms of active lead generation and passive lead generation. This is what I used to call them and I'm feeling nostalgic :-) You can chop and change terms where you see fit.
The Traditional Lead Generation Of Yesteryear
I think that in the late 90's and early 00's the term lead generation meant only one of a few things - as I said above, I used to think of them as being part of either 'Active' lead generation, or 'Passive' lead generation.
Traditional Active Lead Generation
- Door to door marketing
- Telemarketing work
- Business networking
Traditional Passive Lead Generation
- Newspaper or magazine advertising
- Local directory/business classified advertising
- Possibly some local radio or TV advertising
It sounds ridiculous now, although if you had the above covered, you were ahead of the game and you'd often see great returns from well planned marketing campaigns that used the above as a template.
- Intelligence-based telesales - yep, still worth it and definitely still works
- Business networking - come on, we all do it for leads and only leads
Modern Passive Lead Generation
- Organic search results
- Search engine marketing/PPC
- Banner/Display advertising
- Content marketing
- Video marketing
- Lead nurturing/Email marketing
- Social media marketing
So, here you can see that we have a lot more areas to take care of. Still though, they serve the same purpose as the 'traditional' passive lead generation methods mentioned above - we want them to result in prospects coming to us.
- We're still trying to attract new leads into our sales pipeline as we always have
- We do this by a mixture of active (direct) and passive (inbound) methods, just as we always have
Sounds rosy, right? Carry on as normal? Nope - the game has completely changed, forever.
- Who we were
- What problems they had
- What our products and services did
- Why they needed to buy our product
Back then, the average prospect just didn't have the information required to have control of the situation.
- Potential customers have already identified what their problems are
- They can go online and find their own solutions
- They can find their own preferred suppliers
- They have completed most of the buying process before they even come into contact with a sales rep
Secondly, It's About Content
- We don't tell any more
- We need to build trust
- We need to build rapport
- We need to show our prospects that we understand their position
- We need to help them understand that we can help improve it
We're Meeting Prospects Who Are Already Near The End Of Their Buying Journey
- Build rapport
- Build trust
- Show your prospect that you understood their problems
- Help them understand that you could solve them for them
Ultimately, I'm really excited about this shift. Who knows where advancing technology will take our lead generation efforts in the years to come - one thing for certain is that we will be able to get closer and closer to an person-to-person relationship with all of our prospects, no matter where they are or what part of the buying process they are at.
For example, let's take an already existing example - Google+ Hangouts (I'm just picking this service because I like it). To me, this is a perfect example of a platform that can easily get us 'Person-to-Person' with our prospects across the globe. After all of our content marketing and lead nurturing to warm the lead up in the first place, how refreshing to be able to quickly and seamlessly interact and arrange business one-to-one with our prospects. From e-Book download to Google+ Hangout - neither side is just an email or a number any more and we can really get back to the buzz of building real, authentic provider/customer relationships.
And who knows where we'll go from here. I don't think it gets any more exciting that that, for both sides.
Thanks for reading,
By Alan MacDougall
Got a nagging marketing question? Ask me here.
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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy advice blog, written to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.