What are the best ideas for B2B lead generation?
Do you have a tried and tested approach to produce genuine leads? Which channels have been most effective?
Firstly any strategy needs to consider your unique business situation. However here is my favourite and proven B2B marketing stategy.
If you sell business to business there is one marketing strategy that stands out above all others for effectiveness.
It's called the Dream 100 strategy (I first learnt this from American marketer Chet Holmes but have adapted it since then).
In simple terms you create a list of your best possible clients (often 100 but it can be whatever number makes sense for you). These are the clients you would love over any others and they may seem unattainable right now. Don't worry put them on the list.
Next find the best contact(s) for each of the prospects. The person must have the authority to say yes to your offer if they like it.
Next you need a Godfather offer. That is an offer that is near impossible to refuse.
Once you have all that together you sit down and map out a contact plan. It should cover a period of 12 months. Contacts should include:
- social media connecting/engagement
- creative direct mail
- follow up calls
- follow up creative direct mail
- in person meetings
The basis of this strategy is relentless commitment to marketing to the small group of dream clients. At first you will get crickets BUT if you stay the course you will get in front of many of your Dream 100 over a 12 month period.
The effort is worth it as most businesses are transformed by even landing one of their Dream 100 clients.
I can almost guarantee no one in your niche is using this strategy. Will you take the initiative and be first? I'm happy to answer any questions in this thread or you're welcome to message me if you'd rather ask them privately.
The Holy Grail of marketing - finding customers in market, ready to buy and attracting them to your business.
The thing is, customers are as diverse in their needs and stage of the buyers journey as they are with anything else. There's no silver bullet or simple solution which will instantly pour money into your accounts, but there are two areas you can focus on to ensure you're at least starting in the right place.
Work backwards - there's no point in pouring all of your ad budget into traffic drivers if you're driving them to a destination not optimised to convert. You wouldn't direct people to your physical store if they had to climb in through a window. Your marketing should be no different. Start with the destination you're driving to and ensure that is optimised to capture and convert, before you start investing in those eyeballs.
Nurture effectively - this kind of ties into the above, but once you're set up to convert you need to be providing support for each stage of the sales funnel (now the sales flywheel, but let's keep it simple). Customers will be at different stages of their decision making process so you need to cater to them all, in different ways to guide them on their purchasing journey.
- Attract: Educate and entertain them, build awareness and inspire them so you get your brand on to their radar
- Convince: Push past the awaress stage and get into the consderation mix. Show them you are the best solution to their problem through relevant case studies and benefits
- Convert: They're ready to purchase so create the final call to action and present your offer, to fulfil on all the messaging and brand positioning you've delivered up until this point
I started a global branding an marketing firm 18 years ago. Social media and technology are 24/7 so it is easy to get sucked into it but I think in lead generation less is more. I think it is a mistake to hide behind technology and CRM systems when prospecting. I prefer a more back to the basics approach by disconnecting from technology periodically and focusing on cultivating human, face to face relationships. Meeting for coffee or lunch can accomplish so much more than e-mail exchanges, social media posts, etc. and it is a great way to get to know people better, their interests, hobbies, and dreams. I have found that building relationships is what drives my business and technology supports them once they are solidified. Technology helps advance the conversation but it will never replace the human interaction that builds trust over time. I plan lunch meetings ~3 days a week and invite clients to events I think they might enjoy attending to spend time together.
Another way to find new customers is to go on a Listening Tour! Politicians do it all the time and it is great for business too. Make a list the movers & shakers, people you admire and prospects, ask a few smart open ended questions then sit back and take notice. They will be more than happy to tell you what is on their mind. If you listen to what they share with you there will be plenty of opportunities to help them. I did it when business slowed and picked up several new clients but you can do it any time. It is a great way to connect and a lot of fun too. Start listening with no strings attached, you'll be amazed what you find. It does not cost much, for the price of a few coffees and meals you will get an earful. I had no idea what to expect and got a lot of new work as a result. I did my listening tour the old fashioned way by sending out e-mails & picking up the phone then brought a pad & pen, asked a few open ended questions then shut up and started taking notes.
Content Marketing and Thought Leadership are also great ways to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and attract more clients. Activities like speaking at a conference, writing articles, building your following on social media all contribute increasing your awareness with potential customers and building your credibility with a larger community. Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try contributing regularly to existing well trafficked blogs in your industry or newsletters of likeminded organizations reaching the same target audience as you. Make sure you put your URL or contact info on it so they can find you and follow up. When your articles or talks become available online, make sure to send them out via social media to all your friends, followers and contacts. Start small and build as you go. For me I started speaking at local events and then submitted proposals to speak at industry conferences and trade shows nationally and eventually global events too. Same advice goes for writing start with small publications then move up the food chain to reach bigger audiences. People need to be on LinkedIn so that they can be found too. It adds credibility and transparency when you know the people you are meeting or working with know people in common. LinkedIn has become more than an online resume or rolodex, it is the foundation for building trusted relationships in the digital economy. You do not need to blog or be on all social media platforms but make sure you are active on the ones where you are. If your customers do not use Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to find you then you do not need to make them a priority. For many professional service businesses like mine, LinkedIn matters the most.
These ideas do not require big budgets but they do take time. It is a smart investment to get this right. It has worked for me.