Talk of Inbound is fine but how do you go about building the machine that will deliver leads to your sales engine?
Why do we even need an ‘Inbound’ Lead Generation system? There are many reasons, but no matter how long you look at business today, you come up with one simple idea – the customer calls the shots.
Once upon a time the salesperson was in charge. If a customer wanted to know about a product or a service or latest news they would pick up the phone to the salesperson. Marketing in those days did ‘advertising’ or ‘branding’. But those times are over. Customers use the internet where they used to use sales people and Marketing must now support sales by delivering leads into the top of the pipeline.
If that’s an acceptable background to the problem then I’ll continue.
“Anticipated, personal, and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk.” Seth Godin.
What do you need to build up in terms of capabilities within your organisation to ensure success with Inbound Lead Generation?
Let’s talk about Content first.
Above everything you need to have the ability to write content. Without content you have no Inbound. Put another way, content is the fuel for the Inbound engine. You need blogs, articles, e-books, infographics, videos. You need the capability to build this material on a consistent basis.
The second thing you need to develop is a deep(er) understanding of your customers’ issues, needs, wants, requirements, whatever. Your content, and how often it’s read, re-tweeted, shared etc., is a good indicator of what’s working. But to understand your customer in greater and greater detail is to research them and build out ‘Buyer Personas’. These are documents that define almost every aspect of your customer. They are in a sense, fictionalised characters who represent specific roles like CEO, CFO, COO, IT Director etc.
AWARENESS, CONSIDERATION AND DECISION
The third thing you need to be aware of is your customers’ buying cycle. In large companies you know these can be complex with multiple steps, but we are not talking about the Procurement Process. We are talking here about the three stages a customer goes through in the road to buying a product. These are Awareness, Consideration and Decision. Awareness is about discovering the nature of the problem they face and deciding to do something about it. Consideration is the phase of research and understanding how to fix the problem, how much it will cost and what will I get in return. The third step is Decision where the customers goes through the final steps of choosing a supplier, product or service to fix the problem.
Why is all this so important? Let’s think about Content again for a moment. We all tend to write content about ourselves – We tell the customers about our latest products or a free offer or our latest gong or someone we’ve recently hired. None of this stuff generally addresses the Awareness or Consideration stages. In other words it addresses the Decision stage. If you’re not addressing the Awareness or Consideration stages then someone probably is, and that someone will have a better chance of winning the decision.
Google likes content that asks questions and answers them. That means you need to stop writing about yourself and start writing content that customers actually want and need. That’s the stuff that helps them do their job better.
My last point – the problem is, if you’re still writing about GOPHERS you’re heading into trouble – because no one cares about that stuff, least of all your prospective customers.