In my career experience in more than 25 years I have found that there are 3 approaches attract potential customers to your sales funnel. Depending on which approach you choose, the strategy, the tactics and the budget are going to change. Discover what approach your company needs and which one makes the more sense to you:
To grow your company you need to generate new leads. There are a lot of tactics to do that. From sales and advertising to marketing and public relations. I wanted to simplify the principles of the three main approaches:
Prospecting is the oldest approach. It started with canvassing or knocking dor to dor in a neighborhood and hope to find someone who needs your solution. As the population grew and the products and services become more complex, the need of segmentation become evident.
Segmentation is based on common characteristics of your target group. So, it started with demographic, psychographic, geographic and behavioral segmentation lists.
The need to reach a large and geographically disperse group developed tactics like direct mailing and cold phone calls. With technology they evolve to massive email campaigns.
The modern approach is called Account Based Marketing. This is a strategy based on targeting companies in a specific niche. The focus is set on the biggest opportunities. The goal is to create personalized buying experiences for a set of high-value accounts. You need to understand the needs of a big company and then start nurturing the executives that need your solution. This way you will attract not just one executive, but a set of teams of the company.
Advantages of prospecting:
It is easy to calculate the return on the investment when you have the conversion rates and the costs of the media used to contact the potential customers.
It might be not so expensive. Lots of companies hire sales reps that will only charge a commission if they succeed, so you need to provide the lists and the technology to help them reach the leads, like in a call center.
Disadvantages of prospecting:
The main disadvantage of this approach is that the potential client might not be active for the sale. In other words they don’t need your solution right away. Or maybe they will never need it. It is mostly based on hope.
This approach has a very low success rate. You need to visit a lot of houses, make a lot of calls and send lots of emails. The success rate might be below 1%.
Sometimes it can be invasive, like the cold calls and emails. These will make you become SPAM. You need to generate some kind of value so you don’t become a spammer. This could be providing free helpful information, education or entertainment.
The sales and marketing teams need a great resistance to frustration.
In this approach you are trying to reach a big group of people through mass media channels. The principle is simple: Design a creative message that will explain your solution, repeat the message a lot of times, and as many channels you can afford.
Repetition is going to generate familiarity, and familiarity is going to become trust. And we like to make business with brands we trust. Also with repetition you will be in the top of mind of your audience, so, when a potential customer is in the need of the solution you provide, he will remember that you can provide the solution and take the next step.
This is the principle of advertising. Your message will reach everyone who might need your solution.
We all have been exposed to traditional advertising messages in radio, TV, news papers, magazines and billboards. In digital marketing the same techniques are being used in paid social media. The only advantage is a deeper segmentation based on the consumer tastes and preferences.
Other technique is sending people to websites and measure the impact of a specific mass media. In print advertising you make a QR code or a specific link that you can measure for that media or ad. In TV or radio you make a call to action with a url so people can connect immediately to your website, you can measure the specific url or correlate the visits in the schedule of the ad.
Advantages of reach:
It's great for awareness of you brand. You can actually make tons of people to be aware of your brand, solution and company. As an example think of Coca-Cola. They have been doing advertising for a long time, without interruptions and in all the mass media channels they can. Almost everyone in the planet know the brand, the product and the solution.
You can measure and have quick results. The timing of a campaign and the impact has a strong correlation with the results. This results are of short term. These campaigns are very good when you have stationary products that need quick campaigns.
Reach to large amounts of people. You can really reach a big audience in a short period of time.
Disadvantages of reach:
Unfortunately these approach is very invasive. Imagine that you are consuming the content in which you are interested at this time, and suddenly that content is interrupted with a message you are not interested in from a brand you don't know and they generate not value for you, or at the most they give you a little bit of entertainment with a funny and creative ad. Nowadays we call this SPAM.
Expensive and unreachable for many small or medium businesses. Because mass media costs are huge, they have to charge expensive costs to the advertisers.
Because you are reaching a wide audience, not necessarily everyone who receives your message will be your real customers, this is called spill over. Imagine the product of feminine pads, the male audience will never be a customer, but you paid so they can also receive your message, and be aware of your product. Ask a male if they know a brand, and you will see they know at least three brands.
Not all of your audience will be active for the purchase. That means they are not ready or in the need of your solution right away.
Internet search changed everything. If you need to solve an issue the first thing you do is you Google it, or use the search engine of your choice. This is revolutionary. You can attract people who are active and searching for a solution and they might be willing to pay for solving that problem.
When you ask a search engine a question they are going to give you 2 types of answers. The ones that say advertising and the ones that doesn't say anything but the information you are looking for.
Paid search results
The first results you see if there is an advertiser are the results that have a small banner that says advertising. Only 3% of the people click on these results. Because your intention is to learn how to solve a problem not to buy a solution at the moment.
Advertiser use search engine results when a person type a keyword they consider its related to their solution. As an example if someone searches for "Best running shoes for marathons" and your brand produce these kind of products you will buy and auction for the word running shoes. Everytime someone clicks on your ad, you will pay to Google or the search engine for that traffic link.
Organic search results
Organic search are the 10 results the search engine recommends that has the answer to your question. 97% of the searches click on these results. How do you position your brand in these results? With content marketing. We have a great article where we explain it more in depth, "How does Google works for demand generation", we recommend you to read it.
If you give a great answer, you have a lot of answers in your website around that topic, and you have a quick and secure website, the search engine is going to send you tons of visitors that are looking for the solution you provide.
Mix of techniques
There is a technique that mixes attract and reach, called Remarketing. Do you ever have the feeling that someone is stalking you? You had a conversation about travelling to Hawaii or enter a website that talks about what to do in Hawaii, and all the websites or social media you visit are full of Hawaii advertising. Well, that is remarketing. Search engines can track your searches and then advertise content that can be useful. NOTE: You can turn off these setting in your browser and control retargeting. Ask Google depending on your web browser.
Advantages of attract:
The most important is that people detected they have an issue they need to solve. They are active and searching for your solution.
Anyone can make a great content marketing strategy. It does not matters the size of the organization.
It is cheaper than traditional advertising.
You don't have spill over, every cent you invest in this approach goes to your real target.
Disadvantages of attract:
For organic search results the disadvantage is that you need lots of content in the shape of blogs, articles, videos, podcasts and website pages. The amount of content your website has is important in the search engine algorithm. Only websites that are constantly making new content and have lots of articles around the subject are important to the search engines.
Building all these content takes time. It is a medium and long term strategy. Gaining the trust of the search engines also takes time.
For paid search engine results the disadvantage is that you are bidding against other advertisers that are willing to raise every time the bid of the keywords. This means that your budget is going to raise every time you have competitors doing the same. So, every time you will pay more for the same results. The second disadvantage is that you are investing in only 3% of the visitors that made the same question.
For remarketing the disadvantage is that is very invasive and people don't like to be harassed.
Which approach fits your business?
The truth is that there is no correct answer. A good strategy involves the three approaches playing at the same time. Unfortunately not every company has the budget to do so. If your resources are not unlimited and you need to spend money wisely, which one makes more sense for your company?
Please leave your thoughts and let's start a conversation for your actual situation.
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