Effective B2B Lead Generation Doesn't Sell Your Product

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This is a guest post by Susan Fantle. Susan Fantle is a 25+ year veteran marketing copywriter and consultant specializing in online and offline business-to-business marketing. Her firm, The Copy Works, serves clients nationwide. You can read more of Susan's wisdom on her blog B2BMarketingSmarts.com.

In the world of B2B marketing, there are three kinds of prospects:

1. Those in the last stage of the buy cycle and in the process of evaluating solutions.

2. Individuals with a pain or a problem that's big enough to take action to solve, but who are beginning to look around for information on possible solutions.

3. People just beginning to realize there's a problem, but the pain is not yet big enough to take action to solve.

When your company develops a product, its purpose is to provide a solution to a known problem. The thinking is, "Companies have this problem, so we'll create a solution that they'll jump on." It is logical, from that point of view, to focus all your marketing on selling the product.

Unfortunately, the only prospects this approach attracts are those that fall into category #1 -- completely missing those who are beginning their research or are just beginning to see a pain point. To generate the maximum number of leads in marketing efforts -- to build a long-term pipeline of potential buyers -- B2B marketing must reach all three groups.

To do this, offer valuable information that is relevant to your prospects' industry or job reaches. This content is a tried-and-true B2B marketing technique that should never fail if done correctly.

Many B2B marketers offer white papers/briefings, how-to guides, checklists, case studies, videos, podcasts, published books, Webinars, or a combination of these items to lure potential leads. This information is offered free and without any obligation other than a brief registration that tells you who responded.

Many B2B marketers advocate giving content away without registration. I agree that this approach does an even better job of positioning your company as a helpful, professional resource. If you don't know who responded, however, you haven't generated an actionable lead or grown your pipeline. You must offer some content that requires registration or it's not true lead generation.

Using content to generate leads, then nurturing those leads through the buying process, is a proven marketing approach. Here are a few guidelines to follow when writing content for lead generation.

1. Keep communications short and to the point.

2. Make it clear, quick and easy for prospects to act on what is being offered.

3. Speak to prospects in the first person and communicate the benefits they will gain from acting on the offer of informational content.

4. Be sure to offer information that has real value to your target market.

5. Communicate differently to different titles. Goals and problems vary from title to title. Communications should be versioned to address those differences.

6. Make contact often enough to keep your company/solution top-of-mind as your prospect moves through every stage of the buy cycle.

7. Give the prospect a clear 'next action' in every communication.

The content you use in your lead generation program doesn't sell your product. It gets interested, qualified parties to raise their hand and say, "I have the problem your content discusses and am willing and interested to learn about ways to solve it."

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