I have spent a lot of time recently talking to business executives and marketers, and the number one complaint I am hearing is that “we are not getting enough qualified leads.” When I ask what they mean by a “qualified lead” the typical response is something like “someone (or a company) that is ready and has the financial wherewithal to purchase my product (or service).” So the question really becomes “how do you go about getting a person (or a company) to the point where they are ‘ready’ to make a purchase?”
A few years back you might have provided a prospect with a brochure or other marketing collateral. Maybe you did a demo or “a test drive” and answered any questions that came up. For the most part, you were in control of the process, providing them with the information and collateral in a certain sequence, and were even controlling the advertising and promotional materials they viewed.
Today the control point has shifted completely. In most cases, a prospect has control of the process. They control what information they get, and in what sequence. They decide what information is important, and what to trust and not to trust. The challenge for a business today is how to influence the process that the prospect is driving, build trust and credibility, and end up with a prospect that is “ready” to purchase from your business and not a competitor.
The good news is that, to a large degree, that is exactly what social marketing is all about – influencing the process through engagement with the prospect, building trust and credibility through thought leadership, and creating a “ready” prospect who wants to do business with your company. If you think about it, this is difficult to accomplish with more traditional marketing and lead generation techniques, and is why many businesses are having a hard time getting qualified leads. On the flip side, most businesses who successfully implemented a social marketing and digital strategy had no shortage of qualified leads.
So maybe Social Marketing should be renamed to be “Lead Generation 2.0.”
Very interested in comments and feedback!