Monday, January 9, 2012

Why Persistence is Key to Effective Lead Acquisition

If you're like most marketers, lead generation will be one of your primary marketing objectives for 2012. Consistently acquiring enough new leads has become a major challenge for many B2B companies. Because business buyers now have access to a wealth of online information, they can easily perform research and gather information about products and services on their own. This makes them less likely to respond to lead generation campaigns.

The lead generation challenge is not entirely new. Lead generation has always been a numbers game to some extent. The old saying - "To find a prince, you have to kiss a lot of frogs." - is an apt description of the lead generation process. Empowered and independent buyers make the job even more difficult than it was in the past.

There is no simple solution for the lead acquisition challenge and no silver bullet that will completely eliminate the "frog kissing." There are, however, several steps you can take to improve your lead acquisition efforts.

First of all, it's critical to have an inbound marketing program that's appropriate for your business. Inbound marketing techniques are designed to make your company easy to find when a potential buyer starts to look for the kind of solution your company provides. In today's environment, not having a good inbound marketing program is the equivalent of not having a line in the water when you're over a school of fish in a feeding frenzy. I'll have more to say about inbound marketing in a future post.

There are also several ways to improve your outbound lead acquisition marketing. These are basic, well-known marketing principles, but they're worth repeating.
  • Define your target market - Understand what kinds of companies and buyers make your best prospects and focus your lead acquisition efforts on those buyers.
  • Use accurate data - Make sure that your prospect contact information is accurate. If you're planning to purchase or rent a mailing list, check the track record of your list provider for accuracy.
  • Make your offers as relevant as possible - Even at the lead acquisition stage, you should know several things about your target audience, such as the kinds of companies they work for and their job titles. Use that information to customize your offers to make them more relevant and compelling.
Following these three principles will make your lead acquisition efforts more effective. But there's a fourth component of effective lead acquisition that's equally important - persistence.

In the 1930's, the film industry conducted research and concluded that, on average, a person had to see seven advertisements for a movie before he or she would buy a ticket. Over time, this concept became widely used throughout the marketing industry and came to be known as the Rule of 7. In its current incarnation, the Rule of 7 says that a potential buyer must be exposed to a marketing message seven times before he or she will respond.

Seven may not always be the right number, but it's undeniable that it takes more than one offer to entice most potential buyers to respond. This is especially true in lead acquisition, where you are reaching out to potential buyers who may know very little about your company.

So, you need to treat lead acquisition as an ongoing process - a series of planned contacts that are regular and relatively frequent - rather than as a one-time campaign or sporadic event. When it comes to marketing in today's environment, the old saying needs to be expanded a bit:  "To find a prince, you have to kiss a lot of frogs, and you usually have to kiss the frogs more than once."


  1. David,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I never heard of "the rule of seven" before. I am in sales and I also understand that multiple touches are necessary to pique someones interest.


  2. Marc,

    Thanks for your comment. The "rule of 7" has been around for so long now that it's easy to forget.