Let’s face it: Marketing is a hard way to make a living. Every day, you are confronted with one obstacle after another. And here’s the biggest challenge you face: You are under constant pressure to justify yourself and your staff’s performance to your company’s CFO and CEO. So you need to remain flexible and agile. You can’t afford inefficiency. You need visibility into marketing campaign performance. The numbers have to work. And you have to deliver measurable value.

You also understand it’s your job to help Sales enjoy more success. You want to avoid the costly, frustrating conflicts the Marketing/Sales divide causes in so many companies. It’s in your best interest to do so. And it just might help you not only keep your job, but to thrive at it.

So, you want to help your company acquire and keep new customers. But how? Enter lead generation. Succeed at this vital marketing function, and your work will be much more enjoyable and rewarding. You will help ensure that you continue to have a job.

Effective lead generation won’t be easy. But you can succeed at it. Over the next three weeks, I’ll provide you – senior and mid-level marketing executives – a comprehensive review of proven marketing tactics that generate and convert more quality leads.

In this first installment, we’ll discuss the evolution of lead generation and using the right type of content as a strategy to bring in leads. Part two will focus on content marketing and gathering lead information, and part three will go over necessities like SEO, website design and multichannel marketing to find leads in all of the right places. Let’s get started!

What is Lead Generation and Why Should You Care?

First things first: What is lead generation? Simply put, it’s everything you do to get noticed by potential qualified customers, get them to raise their hand and say, “Yes, I’m interested,” and build and nurture a relationship with them until they are ready to buy. It’s how you get prospects into the sales pipeline. When you generate quality leads, you make Sales’ job easier and your job more secure — and more of your leads will be turned into revenue faster.

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Think about this quote and how it relates to your work. Generating a large quantity of high-quality leads is your number one objective. Please understand this. With the million other things that try to distract you every day, you need to focus on what matters most.

In the introduction, I mentioned the Marketing/Sales divide. It wreaks havoc in a lot of companies. You want to avoid it. Not only this, but you and your team want and need to go out of your way to help your colleagues in the Sales department succeed.

If nothing gets sold, your company will go out of business. If you don’t provide a steady supply of qualified leads, Sales is going to have a much tougher time closing deals. So, please make it your top objective to help Sales sell more. Effective lead generation is the number one thing you can do here.

As marketers, you and I always want to test and improve our results. Are you already succeeding at lead generation? Congratulations! Keep reading to learn how to get even better at it.

Are you struggling with your lead gen results? This article series is loaded with valuable, actionable knowledge that will help you bust out of your rut.

We’ve discussed that effective lead generation is crucial to your success and that you can win at it. You need to understand how it has changed in the last several years and how you should respond.

How Has Lead Generation Changed? What Should You Do About It?

Good news, bad news…

Thanks to the technological advances and breakthroughs of the digital marketing revolution, you and I now have more tools than ever to help us succeed in every part of our jobs, including lead generation.

But the flip side of this happy situation is that generating leads is, in many ways, harder than ever. The amount of digital information, including content aimed at your potential customers, has exploded over the last several years. The audience you are trying to win over will probably be tough to reach – they may be drowning in content and advertising. So how will you reach them?
Here’s another challenge: Buyers are now more in control of the buying process than previously. They have more information at their fingertips than ever (This, in and of itself, makes lead generation challenging). They can learn a lot about your company, its reputation, your products and what you can and can’t do for them, before contacting you.

To succeed at lead generation today, you have to boldly stand out. You have to get noticed. You have to differentiate your company from your competitors. You have to make them want to become a lead. Since they have so much control, you need to give them the content they want, how they want it.

Do they like marketing content delivered to them via email? Social media? Offline and in print? Give it to them. Don’t give it to them through the medium they “should want.” Give it to them through the medium they do want. Do they want short, “bite-sized” content chunks? Do they want longer, multi-page content formats? What about video? Then give it to them.

By the way, be wary of assumptions and marketing “conventional wisdom.” It’s easy to assume a lot of things we are told are true, because they sound true. But are they? For example, is email marketing dead? Some marketing “experts” think so, but it’s not. Far from it! Is long-form content a thing of the past, because “nobody has time to read it?” No. Case in point – you are reading this guide!

Focus on Your Readers’ Needs

When we are trying to generate and nurture leads, it’s easy to think we should impress readers by focusing our message on us. It may be counterintuitive, but if you want to impress your audience and keep them impressed during the lead nurturing process, focus on them, not you. Think about the pressing problem they have, the one that keeps them awake at night. The very problem your company can help them solve.

In very empathetic, reader-focused terms, talk about that problem. Then give them hope for a solution and, when you do talk about your company, talk about how you’ve solved the same problem for others.

A big problem modern marketers like you face is potential customers blocking out your messages, even blocking them out mentally on a subconscious level. The solution – make your message relevant to your audience. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes for a moment. If you see a message, whether on social media, email, a paid ad, even in a magazine or on a billboard as you are driving to the office, that talks to you about a problem you are tired of dealing with and gives you hope for a solution, do you really think you are going to file it away as irrelevant and ignore it? Highly doubtful.

This style of reader-focused writing will make your content much more engaging and compelling. It will boost your lead gen success.

We’re Just Getting Started

Creating an engaged audience who can translate to leads is just the beginning in successful lead generation. Break through the noise of content by focusing on answering readers’ specific needs and meeting them on their preferred platforms. Then, gather reader information to build leads. Meet me here next week to discuss better writing for content, landing pages and calls-to-action and gathering the right information from readers.