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An Introduction to Lead Generation 

 June 25, 2021

By  Eilidh McArthur

Here at Marketive, we offer a Lead Generation service. Lead Generation is an incredibly useful and invaluable tool for businesses, big and small. It can also take many different forms, so it can be used no matter the industry. However, what exactly do we mean by Lead Generation and what forms can it take? 

What is Lead Generation?

Lead Generation is the service we offer, and are exploring in this article, but to make it easier to explain, let’s break it down. 

What are Leads?

A Lead is a potential customer, who is interested in the products or services your business offers. We know they are interested as they have taken steps such as filling out a contact form, or subscribed to emails for your business. 

So Lead Generation is the process of generating these potential customers. We can generate leads in many ways, so there will be a way that fits with your business.  

The Different Methods of Generating Leads

Technically there are hundreds of ways of generating leads, however, we can generally sort these into 7 main categories. These categories are as follows;

  • Outbound – This is commonly used by the majority of businesses. This method includes contacting people via phone or email. This also includes the Nurturing of leads, which is where you keep in contact via emails to gently persuade them into buying. 
  • Online – Online Lead Generation covers a huge range of methods, such as; Contact forms, Blogs and Websites, Webinars, Social Media Marketing, SEO, Content, and different online advertising including Pay-per-Click. The Online method is wildly popular as it is efficient, as you can target lots of people at once. It is also generally less intrusive than unwanted calls or emails. 
  • Events – Events such as Conferences, Tradeshows, and Seminars are all Lead Generation as well. These events are designed to get business talking to other businesses and customers. Events like tradeshows allow businesses to show and sell products directly to customers. Events like these are popular as tasters are often provided so customers can try before they buy, and people can speak directly to the owner or employees of the business. 
  • Branding and Advertising – This can be a form of advertising, not online, and sponsorships, where a company’s logo is displayed on the sponsor. You see this on any sport live or shown on TV. 
  • PR – Press Releases, Interviews, Editorials and Speaking Opportunities are also a form of Lead Generation. These are popular for bigger brands in magazines, and local or smaller businesses in newspapers or booklets. Speaking opportunities and interviews can either be at events, or on TV or Radio.
  • Direct Mail – A lot of businesses providing home services such as roofing, gardening or window installation will post leaflets out. This is Direct Mail, which is often used during Elections as well. Invitations to events sent via post are also considered Direct Mail. 
  • Paid Third Party – This can either be by commissioning a Marketing Company (like us) to generate leads for you, or by buying leads from a Lead Broker. Lead Brokers generate leads for different topics and sell them on to businesses, which seems fantastic, although they likely sell these leads to multiple different businesses so there is no guarantee you will get a sale through using a Lead Broker. Here at Marketive, we will build a method fit for your business to generate leads, and we will only provide these leads to you, and no other business. 
  • Referrals / Word of Mouth – The oldest and one of the most powerful forms of lead generation is through word of mouth. When a happy customer talks about your business and recommends them to friends, this is a referral. This is powerful and people often ask friends for recommendations, especially when it comes to restaurants or bars, or work being done on their home. While this is great, it can also work against you. If a customer has a bad experience, they can steer people away from you. 

As you can see there are so many different methods of Lead Generation. Any interaction between a business and a possible customer, whether that is face to face at a market stall, a cold call or even just an advert on social media, is a form of lead generation.

What can Lead Generation be used for?

Lead Generation is used when you want to find new customers. A lot of new businesses need to focus on lead generation to get them up and running. Although, lead generation should be done continuously while the business is operating, so you keep getting customers. 

Lead Generation is primarily used to attract new customers to your business, although you can also use it to launch new products or services to an already interested crowd. You can use your leads to develop your business through surveys on service or products they want to see, or on how you operate as well. Leads are invaluable in business. Especially in today’s day and age where there is so much competition. 

If you are interested in Lead Generation for your business but aren’t sure how to go about it, then please get in touch with us! We are happy to help, and can offer you the best option for your requirements. 

A Brief History of Lead Generation

Many years ago when advertising or printing wasn’t used, business relied on the oldest form of lead generation: word of mouth. Most businesses then just served their local area, so it was extremely important for them to be trusted, have a good reputation and often a highlight product unique to them, so people could talk about it and spread the word. Therefore gaining the business more customers. 

During this time business also needed to rely on door to marketing or sales, and also being situated in an area with a lot of foot traffic so passers-by could also see the business, and possibly go in.

Once the printing press became available, Lead Generation took on many new forms. Businesses could print posters to promote their business, and leaflets to be sent out, so a bigger area could be covered without the cost or time having a person doing it. A great example of this is P.T Barnum. He used print to promote his circus and got a lot of attention. The Greatest Showman film is based on P.T Barnum, and shows well the power of print. 

Due to the increasing methods of advertising, brought about by the printing press, businesses quickly adapted and used newspapers, posters, direct mail, advertisements, and billboards to promote their business. Word of mouth was still a vital tool though, which businesses did not neglect. 

In the 1900s, due to the industrial revolution and rise of much bigger business, mass media also began. The Media and Journalism Industry came into their own, and businesses could now run advertisements in national publications. Radio started to air advertisements as well, so this again allowed businesses to advertise en masse in one simple advert. Magazines were now being made entirely focused on one topic, and this meant business could easily use targeted advertising in appropriate magazines. 

The rise of phones also meant cold calls began, and the start of phone books, meant you could target specific individuals. Word of mouth was still prevalent for all businesses, and direct mail adverts poured through letter boxes as strategies developed. 

The internet was created in the 1980s, but grew to a more recognisable version in the 90s. People had had enough of the leaflets mooring through the door and these direct mail strategies were seeing less results due to a flooding of the technique. People didn’t trust them with their big promises and very little to show for it. The internet came at the right time, advertisers and marketers quickly adapted, so lead generation and advertising evolved once again. 

Businesses could reach a global audience in one easy advertisement for a fraction of the cost. Although this meant adapting to new countries, learning about the culture and changing to fit local markets. Marketers had to do more market research, although the benefit paid off. 

The internet as grown massively since, and business can be constantly available and advertising 24/7 with the use of social media. Advertisements can now be targeted more than ever before, which is useful for businesses and also helpful for customers. 

Eilidh McArthur


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