Lead generation is one of the top struggles for nearly every B2B company. In an ideal world, you'd retain clients with bottomless pockets for an eternity and you wouldn't have to hit the pavement looking for new leads. However, we all know that's not the reality in which we all live.
The truth for most B2B companies is:
- Lack of time and staff are huge obstacles to lead generation.
- Existing client's budgets change, so the need for new leads is ongoing.
- Allocating enough funds for lead generation often takes a backseat to tending to existing clientele.
Add to this, the challenge of knowing just where to start with lead generation. Along with the confounding rumors and anecdotal evidence about how to go about the whole business.
Let's dispel some of these myths today and give you a leg up on how to generate qualified leads that turn into actual customers.
5 Rumors About B2B Lead Generation - Dispelled
Rumor#1: SEO best practices are too complex and don't help generate real leads.
Although you may never hear any execs admit to believing this rumor, their actions (or lack of) may say otherwise. Content may be King, but it doesn't mean every company bows its knee to it. Content creation with an eye towards SEO may dwindle to a low-priority task if marketers don't understand its relation to lead generation.
So, let's dispel this myth.
Although it may be more difficult today to stake your digital claim than it was 10 or 20 years ago, it's certainly not impossible. It's much like putting money into a savings or growth account. Your balance accrues over time. An SEO-focused blog post you wrote today may not bring you instant fame with the Google gods, but over time, as its user value is established, you win big with rankings.
In a practical sense, here's what that looks like:
1. SEO-optimized blog posts are created (or even better, a cluster of them around one theme).
2. You share the posts on social media and with your subscribers.
3. You seek relevant, high domain authority sites to link to your content.
3. As your number of views increases, as well as time on page, and bounce rate are perfected, your blog posts are rewarded with a higher search engine ranking.
4. You display targeted opt-ins on your posts, gathering lead info, such as name, company name, email address, and job title.
5. In turn, you use that lead generation information to nurture your potential customers.
Rumor #2: Business to business companies need to address corporate personas to generate "serious" leads.
This is a rumor that needs to be accompanied with a Do Not Resuscitate Order. Old school mentality markets to accounts. However, there's far too much transparency in this world to be thinking that way. The account you're trying to land has actual humans running it, and as TTEC’s VP of Product Strategy & Marketing, Jeff Marcoux, stated, “Personas and segments don’t buy your product—a human buys your product.” (source: Forbes)
These humans have families, job frustrations and joys, and needs that your product may be able to fill.
In practical terms, marketing to humans rather than corporations looks like this:
1. You reach out personally -- perhaps via email, telephone, or at conferences and trade shows.
2. You might start a Facebook group that begins a dialogue about industry challenges or that is designed to educate. You invite leads and contacts who might benefit from the forum and you engage with them there.
3. Your overall brand messaging addresses challenges that the people behind organizations face, rather than speaking to the business as a collective.
4. You use a combination of marketing automation and personal follow up to nurture leads.
Rumor #3: Social media has little lead generation value for small- to medium-sized B2B companies.
Social media account maintenance is tedious work. Messaging needs to be developed and approved, images found, posts monitored, and comments answered. And then there's the whole business of growing followers and analyzing metrics.
There's a reason why social media is often outsourced to the pros.
So that begs the question: Is social media really a viable lead generation tool for your small or medium-sized business?
Absolutely! Remember that human element we just talked about? Well, those humans are on social media... even during work hours (shocker!)
If you want to connect with your leads, you must engage with them on social media. And encourage your employees to get involved, too. According to PostBeyond, "Messages shared by employees went 561% further than the same message shared on a brand owned channel."
In fact, Social Media Examiner reports that "by spending as little as six hours per week, 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media."
Rumor #4: Showcasing brand values are more important to lead generation for B2C companies than for B2B companies.
B2B companies are often thought of as the guys in the background. They're the ones that make the parts for the things we use - digital keys, machine parts, business software. So why do we want to know about them? We just want their products to work for us.
Here's where every B2B company can take a lesson from certain B2C companies. Take Uber's Moving Forward campaign, for example. When new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, took over in August 2017, his aim was to create a new culture -- one that highlighted safety and addressed the concerns of the community. We were able to get a little behind-the-scenes glimpse into the ride company's corporate structure and the people behind its name. Uber was humanized.
Imagine what putting a face to your nuts and bolts company could do. Executive branding encourages prospects to connect with you as a person; it establishes your company's mission and purpose.
Now you're speaking as one person to another, not as a faceless corporation to an unknown prospect.
Rumor #5: It's really hard to get viable leads from trade shows.
Trade show prep starts months ahead, and by the time you get to the show, you wonder if your hard work will pay off. The thousands of people wandering the floor are in a flurry, bogged down with in-house meetings, speaking events, and products and sales pitches. So, can you really get viable leads from trade shows? Maybe. Maybe not. That largely depends on what you do after the show.
Here's a little secret: "90% of trade show attendees received no follow-up within 12 months of their visit." (source: Skura)
So take advantage of every business card you receive and every personal contact you make and follow up after the show. You'll already be ahead of the competition.
Then, make sure to implement the above strategies by reaching out on social media, creating SEO content with your audience in mind, and continuing that personal connection.
The Nail in the Coffin
To wrap this up neatly, just imagine if you ignored all the lead generation rumors we talked about, and, instead, implemented the foregoing suggestions. Imagine the number of qualified leads you'd have in your pipeline.
Do you think you'd have to go back to your CFO next quarter or next year to beg for a bigger budget? Likely not. Your results would speak for themselves.
Would you stress so much when a client ends their contract? Granted, most of us will always stress about that. But, knowing you have dozens, or even hundreds of leads in the pipeline makes the bad news that much less painful.
Likely your biggest problem would be making sure you have enough staff on hand to manage all of the leads.
For many B2B companies, implementing all of these ideas at one time, although basic, may not be an attainable goal. So why not start with just one? If you need help organizing your lead generating strategy, be sure to download my ebook, 30 Proven Tips and Tactics to Get New Leads.