How to Build Your Prospect Lead Bank: Part 1

A good lead-generation campaign will bring you plenty of prospects who raise their hands for more information.
A good lead-generation campaign will bring you plenty of raised hands from interested prospects. 

In a 2013 eMarketer survey, 61% of B2B marketers said that generating more leads was the most important online marketing challenge.

But generating leads — getting the names and contact info, at least, of people and businesses that have raised their hand and said they’re interested in your product or service although not necessarily ready to buy — is essential. The more leads you generate, the more sales you’ll make.

Fortunately, there is a proven method for building a database of leads. You just need an effective lead-generating campaign built around an offer of something of value available on your website, by calling in or by logging in. Then you send out emails and sales letters and post ads spreading the news about the offer.

In return for offering that free item, you get contact information for potential clients and can maintain contact with those prospects to push them gently down the sales funnel, turning them from “prospects” to “clients.”

Even better, a successful lead-generation engine keeps the sales funnel full of prospects while you sleep.

In a series of blog posts over the next several months, we’re going to tell you how to create and manage a successful lead-generating campaign. Remember, the point of these posts isn’t to help you directly sell your product/service. It’s to help you build a database of prospects who you can turn into clients.

Create an Offer of Value

Today, we’ll start with the foundation of any lead-generation campaign: the all-important offer.

The offer has to hold some value for your prospects; otherwise, why would they download or access it? So, make sure your offer is informative and narrowly tailored to your prospects. Don’t make it sales-y — that comes later. For now, give them something they can use right now, and if it happens to be connected to your product, than that happens to be great. (Wink, wink.)

Other ways to make your offer more desirable:

  • Make the offer exclusive, scarce or in high demand. People like feeling like they’re getting something that others can’t get.
  • On the other hand, if everyone’s getting it, they want to do it, too. So showing that other people are participating in the offer can make it more desirable. We want what others have.
  • Capitalize on what’s hot, what’s in the news. A new trend in the industry? Jump on it.
  • Avoid corporate gobbledygook, jargon terms or phrases that have been overused and abused, rendering them meaningless.

Select the Best Lead-Gen Offer

Not all offers are equal. Some formats perform better than others at converting leads. Again, this depends on your prospect audience — what would they prefer, an e-book or a webinar? A white paper or an online demo?

According to Hubspot, here are the types of offers that generate the most amount of leads, in order of performance:

  • Ebooks or guides, usually published as a PDF. This document will explain how to do something or accomplish something, or walk them through a process.
  • Templates or presentations that make their job easier, lay out a step-by-step process, or provide them with a script.
  • Research and special reports, which tend to be more educational and are especially popular among service companies.
  • White papers that have a topic of high interest to prospects and usually about a new technology or innovation or about a new way of doing something.
  • Kits (multiple offers packaged together), the classic offer, is more in-depth and diverse. Often includes a brochure, CD with a demo, customer success stories, technical specs and more. These work best with prospects already know your company and are on the cusp of buying from you.
  • Live webinars and on-demand videos, which are really a white paper or special report done in an instructional format, usually 30-45 minutes in length. Certainly, keep it under an hour. You can bring in a professional speaker or expert, or you can use a subject-matter expert from within your company.
  • Blog that offers usual information and includes offers in the navigation bar or sidebar and has calls-to-action in the posts.
  • Middle-of-the-funnel offers: demo requests, contact sales, RFP, etc. — these are more sales-ready offers.

Printed books, audio files or DVDs aren’t as popular anymore because ebooks, mp3s and online videos are readily available, which decreases the perceived value of the offer.

It’s important to test different types of offers with your audience to determine what works best for your company.

Steps to creating an offer

So, you’ve decided you want to create a lead-generating campaign and you need to decide on an offer. How do you go about doing it?

First, decide on the format. Think about the place on the sales funnel. In the beginning, you want information offers such as a white paper or special report, something the prospect can download now and read/use right away. Engagement offers should be toward the middle or end of the sales funnel. Engagement offers are those where they’re actually talking to a company representative, such as a live webinar, free consultation or free quote.

When deciding on the format, consider the characteristics of the target prospect. Who are they? What are they about? Do they read white papers? Do they attend webinars? What is their daily schedule like? Also, consider what your competition is doing successfully.

Next, decide on your topic. This should be of high interest to your target prospects — and shine a subtle light on your product or service. Prospects want practical, tactical information that benefits them personally as well as professionally. Be sure to keep the topic narrow and extremely focused — it’s not enough to offer a special report that promises “15 Ways to Increase Sales.” Rather, make it narrow to a segment, individual job or industry. Or, even better, make it tailored to a segment and narrow down the tool you’re talking about: “15 Ways Real Estate Agents Can Increase Sales Using Social Media.”

The more narrow your topic, the more qualified leads you’ll generate.

Then, pick a title that communicates a big benefit (or benefits). The simplest title often works best. Your title is extremely important; the better your title, the better it will be received.

Then, it’s on to the heavy work — doing the research and writing the offer, or putting together the webinar, video or blog.

After the offer is ready, you need somewhere to put it where your prospects can access it. That’s where a landing page comes in. We’ll go over that next month. Until them, your homework is to visit various websites and look at their lead-generating pieces. You’ll find many sites have something.

For more information:

Do You Make These 10 Lead Generation Mistakes?

The Time-crunched Marketer’s Guide to Creating Lead-Gen Offers

Photo credit goes to Rabih.