Marketing professionals are inundated with advice on how to invest their budgets to generate leads. Unfortunately, few of the people giving this advice have any knowledge of your marketing processes, what you’ve done in the past, or a clear understanding of how you define a quality, sales ready lead. Prioritizing your lead generation programs; therefore, is largely an internal process and should not be influenced by a seemingly “great opportunity” that is only available for a limited time.
To be clear, prioritizing your lead generation programs requires more than a calculator and being able to pay for as many programs as possible. It requires aligning those programs to your current marketing and sales needs to produce qualified leads that will ultimately turn into sales. And before you invest in any program, you need to answer this essential question:
What’s more important?
a) Acquiring new prospects; or
b) Converting more prospects into sales ready leads
Most people will initially answer “Acquiring new prospects”, but after really evaluating their marketing landscape, will change their answer to “converting more prospects into sales ready leads”. This is because most marketers understand the promotional side of marketing and how to acquire new names and lists, but few take the time to truly build a process for tracking, nurturing, and qualifying those leads until they are sales ready. In these scenarios, marketers are picking the low hanging fruit, calling it a win and moving on to the next activity.
A more cost effective solution starts with the lists you already have and nurtures each prospect through the buying process, educating them on the value of your solution, collecting specific information about their buying timeframe until they are ready to make a purchase. This shifts the focus of your marketing programs from broadcasting messages to an unknown audience hoping to identify a lead, to targeting your communications to the needs of a known, better qualified audience.
More importantly, the value of these programs to your business is far greater than almost any marketing program designed to acquire new prospects. This is particularly true for companies focused on B2B lead generation, where the total potential target audience is much smaller than their B2C counterparts.
That’s not to say lead acquisition is not important. All businesses need to refresh their marketing databases over time to replace prospects who become customers. Additionally, when you’re just getting started with marketing or entering a new market, acquiring new lists through outbound promotions or through market profiling is essential. But for most companies, they’ve usually done enough programs in the past that starting with existing lists will be a more effective way to prioritize your lead generation programs.