Sue started with the point that lead generation is much more difficult when there is no brand awareness, and brand awareness starts with your story. If you want to build a successful business, you have to have a story; one that makes the audience feel something. A story doesn’t try to get your audience to buy, it gets them to buy in.
A story helps build brand awareness, or in other words it achieves buy in, if the audience feels it is relevant (it’s about a problem that they feel they need to solve) and if they can relate or identify with the people who are solving the problem using your solution.
The place to start building your story is to talk to your customers and find out what caused them to seek you out, and what results they are receiving.
Farimah explained that a recognized brand makes lead generation much more effective because it creates an element of trust, it keeps your company on top of mind when they have a problem you can solve, it creates leads by itself, and it makes other lead generation activities (such as email, cold calling, and conferences) more successful. Without brand recognition, and without an investment in brand recognition, all other lead gen activities are more difficult.
When it comes to the specific lead gen activities themselves, Farimah said that targeting is critical. Who owns the problem that you solve? Who has to fix it, and who pays the consequences if it is not fixed? Who makes the decision on what to buy to solve the problem? Who influences the decision? Who can be an impediment to the buying decision? Know your audience, and target your activities, messaging, and lists to reach that audience.
Many of Academic Business Advisor’s clients use conferences as both lead gen and branding activities. Put yourself in the shoes of conference attendees. If they glance at your booth as they walk by, is it obvious what you do and what problem you solve? Too many booths show happy or struggling kids or teachers, but fail to communicate what the companies do.
All successful lead gen activities make a compelling offer. Often good information (such as a webinar or free ebook on a relevant topic) is more valuable to potential prospects than an offer of some limited time free use of your product or service.
Farimah and Sue stressed that whatever activity you perform, your followup activities should be pre-planned. If you offer a webinar or go to a conference, have your followup emails queued and ready to go, along with some call to action.
Sue’s PR with Panache can help you generate a buzz that translates into business. Farimah (and my) Academic Business Advisors helps education companies develop and execute winning strategies to grow their education businesses. If either of these sounds like something you could use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.