Barely 20 years ago, purchasing power was in the hands of sellers. According to marketing software company Marketo, in the days before smartphones, social media networks, and the Internet, information was scarce; companies sought out their customers, and presented them with the information that they needed to make a decision. Decisions, in fact, were more intuitive and less based in logical reasoning, because it was simply too difficult for the average consumer to gain access to the ability to compare companies and make an informed decision.
In the age of information technology, purchasing power has shifted from the sellers to the buyers. Now, there is an overabundance of information and numerous ways to find it; buyers often find themselves inundated with hundreds if not thousands of options, and making a decision, although now more grounded in logic, is much more overwhelming. Ultimately, though, the major change is that buyers are now seeking out sellers – and it is up to sellers to distinguish themselves from their competition and make themselves known.
The process of gaining a buyer’s attention and encouraging them to do business with the company is known as lead generation, and it can come in multiple forms. A “lead” is a potential buyer who shows interest in purchasing from the company. Lead generation is not a new concept, but it has become especially important in the 21st century, because it allows companies to have a direct link to their customers instead of relying on traditional advertising methods that may be lost in the flood of information that customers find on the internet. Before you start lead generation for your company, take a look at these four things you need to know about lead generation.
1. There are numerous ways to generate leads.
When a company wants to build an online presence and encourage members of its target market to become “leads” , there are traditional methods, and there are methods that have evolved with the advent of social media networks and other online tools. The ultimate goal is to make sure that when customers go through the information-seeking process, the company has a way to generate interest and make itself known.
According to Entrepreneur, social media sites such as Twitter are some of the best ways to generate leads, because the direct interaction with the customers builds the kind of personal relationship that is important in the modern business world. Accounts should be updated regularly in order to maintain customer interest and maximize lead generation. Another option is the more traditional format of newsletters and blogs – but sending these out establishes your company as one that tries to reach out to its customers and gain their interest, which is crucial in lead generation. Other options that seem traditional, such as getting your company’s name out in the media and generating a strong brand image, are really ways to create leads, because they establish your business as a desirable one.
2. Lead generation can also mean reaching out to customers.
The Business Dictionary defines lead generation as the “process of collecting names and contact information about qualified prospects which will be contacted by the salespeople for generating orders.” This is because lead generation follows the recent trend of companies reaching out to their customers instead of the other way around; because customers have so much information to sift through, businesses that generate leads in this way have an advantage over their competition.
The process works when third-party agencies agree to promote a business (usually online, but also through traditional methods) and customers that see this advertising fill out an online request form that gets sent to the businesses. This matches up interested buyers and providers, which allows for a more successful business transaction, because the buyers are already “leads” – they already have interest in the company.
3. Lead generation is used in numerous businesses.
Lead generation is a process that benefits businesses in general, as every business has the goal of maximizing their profits and attracting the interest of their target market. However, the businesses that benefit most from this process are those that require a personal relationship in order to convince their customers to do business with them. These include businesses such as insurance companies and educational institutions.
4. Lead generation is fast and easy.
One way to generate leads is simply by creating your own materials, such as social networking sites, blogs, and newsletters. This is usually associated with minimal cost, although maintaining and updating these aspects of your business may take a large time commitment. However, the benefits are fast – after setting up the initial parts of the process, leads are generated very quickly, and the return on investment makes it worth the trouble.