I once worked with an event organiser that I had met randomly at a networking event. When one of my oversea clients needed to organise an event in London, she was, without a doubt, my first choice. We collaborated and as I expected it was just seamless… fast-forward five years on I still would definitely work with her (whenever possible, as she has grown her company to 11 employees under 3 years and no longer accepts events under 25K! BAM!).
Why her? Why haven’t I chosen one of my old agency event partners? What made her so special?
Here is my simple answer: she was the only one who made me feel special! Since the moment we met, I can’t even count the number of times she has exposed me to her brand. I have received birthday and holiday cards every year; I receive personal mails, messages; I see her brand popping up on my social media, her website cookies follow me everywhere; I receive special “old client” promotions and it’s always relevant and consistent. Not only that, but on every single step of the journey with her brand, she managed to strengthen our relationship with more in depth, more personalised ways of communication. So, when the timing was right for me, her name was the only one that I had in mind.
I believe that her methodical and persistent marketing and lead generation efforts are one of the main reasons why she managed to grow her company that quickly.
But there is a caveat to the story! Her background is in marketing and she knew exactly how to manage all the different channels to build strong traction. Alas, not all business owners have a degree in marketing or have worked in marketing for years. And therefore, what she could do with ease is a nightmare challenge for most of our members.
My objective here is to give you an easy-to-follow road map that you can implement immediately, so that you can see the transformational power of planned, consistent lead generation in your business growth.
There are three main stages of the lead generation funnel:
- Creating awareness
- Building interest
- Empowering decisions
The exercise of building a strong lead generation funnel is based on maximising your traction in each stage of that funnel. To do that, the customer needs to go on a journey of relationship building with you. Therefore, you have to define a clear purpose for each tactic, have a sharp message and a relevant channel for each stage.
So, now let’s take a look into the different stages and how to optimise your efforts in each one of them.
1. Building awareness
For microbusinesses and solopreneurs, this stage represents a lot of challenges, as it is the most time consuming and requires the most budget. It also creates a lot of confusion on how to choose the most efficient channels. As I mentioned in our blog [link], when it comes to channels, I have two pieces of advice: 1 – take the lead of your customers and 2- track and measure to find out which ones provide strong ROI. Because it is about building awareness, you need to reach larger numbers. Therefore, social media, content marketing, SEO / SEM, medium-to-large networking events or simply new networks are the channels of preference in this stage.
From a content point of view, consider this stage as an introduction to your audience Your job is to ensure that what you say and how you say it grabs attention so that people start to look at you and remember you. Therefore, don’t use this stage as a sales generator; this is not the moment to sell. Educational, guiding, relevant content is the war horse of this stage. Facts and figures, self-evaluation questionnaires (because let’s admit, everyone loves them), short articles, blogs and short stories are the type of content you should be sharing at this introduction level, whether online or offline. Unfortunately, listing your services and products might be actually the best way to lose your public’s attention. Instead, give them something of value, make them experience something. Once, at a networking event, there was a a lady who sang. I admit, it felt a bit cringey at the time but from that particular event she is the only one I remember! This stage is about creating a memorable brand experience to start building rapport with your audience.
2. Increase Interest
Congratulations! They are looking at you and they even remember you. Now, make sure that this initial attention turns into a solid interest. This stage is about prospecting; therefore, it is very important to give them right amount of information, care and opportunity to make them engage more with your business. A very simple example of this stage is landing pages. You see an advert on a social media channel, it grabs your attention, you click on it and you arrive on to a landing page. The clarity of the purpose on this landing page will define the efficiency. My advice is have ONE clear objective. The sharper your objective, the better your results will be. On a landing page, the call to action button is basically the objective: enter your e-mail to download our guide, click to get a free quote, enter your details for a representative to call you… Whether your objective is to collect personal information or drive to sales, you must be crystal clear about what is it and what happens once your audience satisfies the objective.
Lead magnets (free value driven content: free consultation, downloadable documents, etc) newsletters or credibility builders (testimonials, case studies) are other ways of building interest and engaging in deeper conversations with your customers. At this stage, your aim is to ensure that they begin recognising you as the best option to solve their problems.
3. Empower decision-making
Now it’s time to sell. The conversion stage is the hardest, as it requires you to convince people to take an action and commit. Your main objective during this stage is twofold: increase the desire and reduce the friction. What does that mean in real life? Offers, exclusive packages, loyalty rewards are desire-increasers. Free consultations and one-on-one demonstrations will also increase their willingness to commit, as you will personally be able to handle objections. Reducing the friction means ensuring a seamless buying process that is simple and fast for the customer. At this stage your channels are personalised channels. Text messages, e-mails, special newsletters, personalised cards and of course calls and meetings ☺ This stage is where you will be able to close your sales circle or at least create a new loop to allow you to come back later. (Because, as all good entrepreneurs know, a “no” is just a no for today!)
Data shows us that it takes an average of between 5 – 7 brand exposures before a customer makes their buying decision. Here is a challenge for you: why don’t you try to create your lead generation funnel with two different tactics at each stage? This would create in total six contact points that you can action every two weeks. And let’s just watch the results on your growth rates ☺ after three months.