Use education for lead generation. It takes time, but it’s been proven highly effective, even in tough markets.
There are dozens of marketing techniques you can use to generate leads. Many of them have been around for decades. Whether you’re marketing online or off line, many traditional marketing strategies can be used successfully today. Many of the current methods are based on proven direct response techniques. Direct response simply means that there is a ‘call to action’ stimulating the recipient to take some kind of action in response to the offer or initiative. We’re all familiar with:
- direct response advertising – those ads where you see a coupon or time limited offer
- direct response mail – letters, postcards or flyers that once again feature some kind of time limited offer
- direct phone sales
- direct sales (face to face selling)
- email marketing (can be direct response if it uses the above techniques)
- text message marketing
Most lead generation companies in years past used the first four exclusively to get business for their clients. Today’s lead generation services usually focus more on the electronic applications of direct response.
The object is to create an initiative and get a quick response and this has worked pretty well for the most part for many decades.
The trouble comes in when you have an ever increasing pool of suppliers selling the same thing, using the same methods to sell into the same, ever shrinking market. This is especially the case today with online lead generation which lowers the barriers to entry for all who use online methods of prospecting.
What can you do to differentiate your company from your competitors and make yourself visible so that you stand out from the crowd?
Although it’s not a ‘quick fix’ for B2B lead generation, B2C sales or any kind of online lead generation, there is one technique that works across the board.
It’s the educational technique.
While this is not a new concept, it’s also not one that is used all that extensively. While many marketers attempt to adopt this approach, few really implement it well.
The educational approach involves helping your prospects, and your existing customers for that matter, understand more about how to achieve their goals. The ‘angle’ is to provide them with useful information related to the services or products you supply without overtly ‘selling’. By providing them with this useful information, they become more knowledgable about the available options and how these might work for them.
It puts your prospect in the driver’s seat. They begin to feel in control of the process. No one likes to buy when they feel insecure. Feeling insecure is the product of not understanding how something works and therefore feeling vulnerable when you make a purchase. This leads to delay in purchasing and suspicion.
An example of how education can be used successfully in the lead generation process:
You’ve probably experienced this feeling yourself. For many of us who are not automotive technicians, we feel very vulnerable when we take our vehicle into an automotive service provider for an odd noise. We know that something is wrong and causing this noise, but we have no idea what that cause is, or what to do about it. We’re afraid that it’s something serious and we fear the vehicle breaking down in an inconvenient place at an inconvenient time.
So, we take it into our automotive service provider and ask for a diagnosis and / or a repair. When they come back to us we either accept their diagnosis and agree to the cost or we may feel that the cost seems exceptionally high. If it’s the latter, we often feel that we’re being ripped off because of our ignorance. We feel taken advantage of.
Many of the automotive service providers we’ve worked with over the years have adopted an educational approach to combat this fear and to not only secure new business from existing customers, but also to reach out to new prospects in their neighborhoods. We’ve used this same technique successfully for medical professionals (dentists, chiropractors, naturepaths etc) as well as in the legal, industrial supply, manufacturing. and maintenance industries (roofing, electrical, plumbing, construction etc).
They will do the following:
- send out an informational newsletter showcasing various common repairs and explaining how and why they’re necessary as well as how the costs are derived. These days this newsletter is done cost-effectively via email.
- hold online workshops showcasing the same subject – these days, video works well and both in person workshops as well as video can contribute to the service providers credibility
- whenever a repair is performed, the old damaged parts are kept and shown to the customer who is given a detailed explanation of how the part failed and what replacements were made
- have customers and prospects meet the technicians who work on their vehicles so that the customer feels a personal connection and can begin to develop trust
These are just a few of the ways that an ordinary offline business can incorporate educational techniques into their business development activities at little additional cost of either time or money.
The net result is that the customer begins to feel that they
- understand what’s happening
- are in control of the process by being empowered to make an intelligent decision
- are dealing with trustworthy professionals who respect them
They now ‘know, like and trust’ the service provider. This makes them feel less vulnerable, more confident and, grateful to the people who’ve put them in this ‘control’ postion. The service provider is now elevated from being merely a supplier to being a trusted advisor.
Who do you think that the customer will refer their friends and family to when their vehicles need service?
This same approach can easily be adapted to suit virtually every business model – especially those that rely on repeat business.
In fact, when it comes to lead generation, the educational approach is probably the most powerful, yet most under utilized technique in the marketer’s hand book.