It’s the classic sales and marketing dilemma. How can I generate more leads to turn into more sales? When I worked in a marketing technology group one of my responsibilities was to connect digital media with B2B leads. I wanted to provide a framework and toolset to create leads for the sales team.
The question I kept asking myself was “where do business buyers research information at the beginning of their purchasing decision?” I wanted to insert credible information in front of buyers that created leads for my colleagues in sales. As I reflect on it, I wanted the answer to the question to have digital media somewhere in it. I wanted to justify marketing spend in areas of online content, social media sites, online groups, and online forums. At the same time I knew that successful sales employees create their leads through a strong network of people relationships, not electronic tools.
My plan was to use digital media sites and forums to plant information about products and services and then measure which ones were more effective in generating leads. To do this I first looked at membership in online forums, the content of the conversations, and the type of postings. I learned a few things and validated some others.
Know the etiquette of the location.
Don’t post sales ads in an online forum that is setup for discussion to solve. Online forums are for helping people solve problems and to present solutions to problems. Online forums are for learning and sharing.
Sales ads with call-to-actions for offers and promotions are more commonly accepted with email, printed materials, and case studies.
No surprises here.
Email can be a Trojan horse.
At the time many social media sites were blocked by corporate firewall and proxy servers. I could not create leads if prospective and buyers couldn’t participate. But email was a way to get to an inbox. All I had to do was to make sure that I didn’t violate spam rules. Recipients voted with clicks. If the content and offer were compelling then we could get click and maybe a lead.
Bring value to someone by solving a problem for them. Business is based on the exchange of services that provide value to both sides.
Solving the puzzle
I don’t think there is one right answer or one right prescription. People, industry, tools, and products are all part of the equation. I don’t have the answer but often consider the puzzle. Kudos to those that find a niche.