Since Aepiphanni opened in 2005, I have had a lot of time to evaluate the small business marketplace. I’ve heard a lot of talks, attended workshops, read articles and the like on lead generation. Many people have told me that there are certain, specific things that have to be done in a very specific way that everyone is doing and therefore, I should do it, too.
My frustration has always been that “if everyone else is doing it, there is nothing unique about my approach, therefore, my results cannot be more than mediocre.” It appears like fishing for trout in a shark tank – everyone is trying to get the trout – including the sharks, so success has got to be dismal at best.
Simply put: this method isn’t sustainable, so I “went to work.”
The first thing I did was to begin looking, closely, at my target market. Sure – no brainer, there. But I also looked at how they purchase and what I needed to do in order to get in front of them when they are ready to do so. What I mean by that is:
- Will they make an impulse purchase, or will they need time to think and massage an offering to make sure that it fits with their goals. (Think about the level of investment – money, time and resources!)
- What is the typical company culture – which gives me insight into the first question. Like people, companies have personalities that are often an extension of the leadership’s own personality. So – of my target market, what types of companies have the type of culture that would match best (complimentary in my case) to Aepiphanni’s culture?
- What kind of revenue does the company need to have to afford my services? This is a question I often ask service providers: Essentially, what is the minimum investment a client can make in order to have a successful engagement, and what percent of their revenues (or gross revenue) can they afford to spend? This type of info can be gathered from a list service, such as Leadsplease.com, infoUSA.com or Zoominfo.com.
- What unique identifiers will help to narrow down that target even further? Is it that they are in growth mode, wherein you see press releases, job offers, etc., from their company? Could it be nearing tax time, a holiday season or a certain point in an industry’s season? Might they have posted a complaint about an issue via social media that you might help them overcome.
- How do they receive their communications, i.e., how do you make them aware of your offering and how do you get them interested in talking about it? I’ve heard people talk about a lot of different strategies – networking, targeting people and companies on LinkedIn, etc.. Well, from my perspective, there are two types of communications for your consideration:
- Mass communications, where you use advertising and PR as your bait and attempt to real people in. This tends to work well if you offer a commodity (something that someone can get anywhere and usually purchase on price rather than value) have a strong marketing program, and solid budget and your offering is for a wide audience. Coke (lots of cola companies), Target (lots of discount retail clothing stores) and Subway (lots and lots of places to eat) benefit from this type of communication.
- Direction communication, where you target specific companies, and specific individuals at specific companies where you can fill a specific need that they may or may not have. This works best if you have done the work described above. That said, the more you get to know these individuals or companies – aided, perhaps, through networking and/or social media – the more likely your endeavors will get you results.
- What language do they speak? Certainly, their verbal and cultural languages come into play. It is vital that you are aware of that.
- How do they communicate? What will it take for you to create an interest? Is it bottom line benefits? Is it crafting an interesting story? Setting up a dialogue? Do they purchase with their eyes? Do they like to see what everyone else says? The simple answer is YES! Which means that I needed to communicate in all of the ways mentioned above in order for my campaign to be successful. Depending on one method of communication would cause me to miss out on opportunities.
While all of this requires a significant amount of background work, I have found, consistently, that this method allows me to keep my pipeline filled, and moving prospects through my sales system. It works so well that even weeks that go by where there is no external activity, there is a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.
Of course, as a business leader, you can keep doing the same things everyone else does the same way that they do it and get the same results that they do, or you can step out of mediocrity, do the work and build an extraordinary business.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders DESIGN | CREATE | BUILD extraordinary businesses. We support our clients with management consulting, operations management support and outsourced services sourcing and management.
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