Marketing used to be easy. If you needed an ad, the local TV or radio station could produce it for you, your printer could design your brochure, and any local college kid could build your website. You spent a little money, the phone rang and you made sales.
Somewhere along the way, it got complicated. Building a website is only the beginning. Suddenly everyone is talking about SEO, SEM, social media and content marketing, video strategies, inbound marketing, AdWords and more. So where do you start?
1. Start with a strategy and a plan
Your strategy should outline what you are trying to accomplish. How many new leads must your marketing deliver? Setting objectives will help you decide how much you can afford to spend to reach your objective. Your plan also needs to identify what makes you remarkable, what sets you apart and why people should buy from you. Clearly understanding your value proposition will give you a starting point for your content, and it is this content which will serve as the center point of your lead generation strategy.
2. Content at the core
The decision to buy is often a complex one, which begins with a prospect feeling comfortable with you. Content, which might include blog posts, social media updates, free downloads and email newsletters, all work together to help clients feel more comfortable. That’s why your plan must begin with your content. To create relevant content, keyword research will help you identify phrases and themes to build upon.
3. Publishing is more than just a Facebook post
Researching your customers will help you decide where to place your content. Think bigger than just a post on Facebook: can you place a guest post on a blog which appeals to an audience you want to reach? No matter where you publish your content, there should always be links back to your website. And don’t forget Google AdWords; they can be a valuable part of your publishing strategy
Mix it up, drive visitors to your home page, blog or specific landing page where they can download more information or ask a question. Pay attention to the media outlets and keywords which drive people to your site, and the content they are most interested in when they arrive.
4. Lead generation doesn’t stop with that first contact
Your sales process needs to be ready to pick up with your website leaves off. Your email newsletter is an invaluable part of this next phase, but it can’t do all the heavy lifting. You need to be ready to send more information, respond to a question, invite someone to attend a seminar or webinar, and maybe even make a phone call or two.
5. Measure, measure, measure
Finally, you need to measure. You need to know what’s working and what’s not, and you need to be ready to adjust rapidly. Every time you make a move, you can be sure your competitors will make one as well.
The trick is to stay one, two or three steps ahead of them. Data from your website, email system and Google Analytics will help you do just that. Small business owners have always relied on marketing to drive leads, and it still can, if you are willing to put in the time to plan and develop the content to make it work.