One of the most common complaints I receive from salespeople, managers and professionals is that their lead generation programs don’t work well. No matter what they try—cold calling, direct mail, email campaigns, advertising, generating word-of-mouth, attending trade shows, networking through organizations, or any other format, their results are substantially less than they had anticipated.
Most of the time when questioned, I discover, not surprisingly, that the root causes are a lack of long-term commitment to the program combined with a lack of experimentation to find the optimal message format.
Lead generation programs typically are not overnight successes. No matter the formats you choose to utilize, it takes time and effort to make a lead generation program work. Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic formula. But there are lessons that can be learned and applied from the major companies that will work—over time:
First, know who your prospects are and where they are. Although basic, many forget to analyze their lead generation program for its ability to reach exactly whom they want to reach. You hear about a lead generation format that has worked well for someone and you get excited and decide to implement a similar plan without thinking through the issue. What works for your best friend’s product or service may not work for yours. Define your ideal prospect and target them—where they are.
Second, use a combination of formats. Don’t rely on one prospecting method. Prospects are not all the same. Some will respond to one media while others will respond to a different prospecting method. Try to integrate two, three or four prospecting methods into a unified whole.
Third, be consistent in your message. For each target group, keep your message consistent throughout your marketing campaigns. If you have several different target groups, you can certainly have different messages to each group, but even then you must keep your message consistent within your lead generation program to that market.
Fourth, give your campaign time to mature and payoff. Running one or two ads isn’t going to produce results. Sending a series of three letters isn’t either. Marketing is a long-term commitment. It has been estimated that it takes at least 7 exposures to a prospect before they begin to act. Plan your campaign to generate a number of touches to the same prospect over a period of time that acclimates your prospect to who you are and what you do. This is where the consistency of message really begins to payoff.
Fifth, don’t be afraid to experiment with your format. If you are establishing a combination mail and email campaign, experiment with different lengths of letters, different days of the week and times of the month for your letters and emails to go out. The message is the same; you’re simply experimenting with the variables within the format you have chosen.
Sixth, keep track of what you do and the response you get. Over time you’ll begin to see patterns that you can take advantage of. You may find that a two page letter works better than a one page letter. You may find that sending you mailings to arrive early in the week works better than late week arrivals. Maybe your response is better with communications in mid-month than early or late month.
Seventh, be consistent. Don’t send out three communications and then give up because the response isn’t what you hoped for. Whatever your chosen methods of prospecting are, set out a campaign with a definite duration and schedule and stick to it. Consistency doesn’t mean you don’t experiment within the method—it means you plan and carry out the campaign to its end, giving it time to work.
The secret is simply to be diligent, consistent and creative. If you carefully analyze whom your prospect is and how to reach him or her and then carry your plan out over a reasonable period of time, you will begin to see the results you are seeking. Expecting overnight results will kill your efforts and waste the time, money and effort you’ve invested.