Want the secret to growing your business? It's simple really. Know the strangers you want to attract, build the message they need, turn those strangers into the kind of loyal, satisfied customers who will not only return again for your product or service, but will recommend it to a trusted circle of strangers. Repeat the cycle until Forbes calls… (or until you meet your quarterly quotas.)
This isn’t a strategy about rivalling the growth of Kylie Cosmetics, or to become the next Apple equivalent, but rather, a strategy around giving your business a solid consumer base on which to flourish. Better yet, it has a name that’s easy to say and even easier to understand; lead nurturing.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is just the process of funnelling strangers through your business in a way that creates a strong relationship between themselves and your product. In fact, it’s almost a bit like dating. You do everything you can to catch someone’s eye, pluck up the courage to ask them out, pick the perfect outfit, and basically work really hard to make a good first impression. So if you really liked someone, you wouldn’t blow it by not remembering their childhood dog's name was Melvin or that their favourite movie was Frozen 2 on a second date???
My point is, that lead generation and dating have one thing in common; genuine human connection. Lead generation isn’t a sneaky sales tactic to trick people into investing in your own pyramid scheme. Instead, (excuse me as I channel my inner poet), it’s about two words: authenticity and specificity - the only cities you're going to want to be heading.
Your customers aren’t stupid, and if you think they are, flip that OPEN sign to CLOSED and save yourself the damn trouble. We live in a world where customers know that everyone is trying to sell them something. The goal isn’t to make a sale today, it’s to make a lifelong customer. Lead nurturing does this by taking every idea a marketing department has ever had and boiling them down to the two most important questions in the business: how can our offering be the solution to their problem, and how do we reach them?
Define your audience
Let’s start with the second of those two rhyming words: specificity. A bit like going to the farmers market, you walk through the arch of twisted branches – and hey, it might even be a real farm, with real animals - and suddenly, you’re hit with a dozen smells that are wonderful but don’t exactly belong on a farm: pastries, fresh bread, chocolate, polished leather, bolts of cloth and specialty oils. You’re the customer now, and everyone thinks they have something you want. Do they? Can you distinguish between the people who have the product for you and the guy trying to push that last jar of fig jam? It’s hard to tell when everyone’s yelling something at you.
Lead nurturing isn’t about making the most noise, it’s about finding the people who need your product most and meeting them where they already are. Some of them might be browsing for a reliable garden service on Facebook before they come across your ad, others might be browsing for a car repair service without ever knowing that your business could set them up for life.
These aren’t heads in a crowd at the market, they’re regular people living their lives, who may only signal in small, quiet ways that they have a need your business can fill. Your first job is finding them. Your second is helping them see why they need you.
Think customer need, not company goal
A business's needs and customer needs are completely different things. A business’s need is to make a sale, to bag a subscription, to get a signup or send a quotation. But that’s not what your customer needs? They need a product or service to solve their problems and make their lives easier not because it makes your sales report look more respectable.
So how do you convince them of a need? Let me take you back the dating analogy… You need to attract them, and make a good first impression. Attraction can take different forms. It can be a well written ad copy that focuses on how your service fits into a potential client’s life, it can be sharp branding that signals all the right tones under the words, it can be as simple as listing a service and slapping a reasonable price next to it.
The important thing is that it gives your audience information on the product, the need it fills and what they have to do if they want it. This is where a Call-To-Action comes into play, and leads us into the next stage...
Any lead nurturing strategy worth its salt is built around converting a high volume of highly-engaged members of your target audience into loyal brand customers. When your initial message is delivered – and remember, focus on customer need – it’s time to give your customers avenues to create further engagement.
It’s important to realise that with lead generation efforts, it's about recognising the stages your client moves through the buyer's journey, and to create content in anticipation for these stages, so that you are ready, when they are ready. As much as we hoped it to be true, not all customers will turn directly to a sales link. For many, the next step of engagement after becoming interested is to read up about your company’s story. Make sure it’s available to them, in a clear and easy to find place either on your website or social media platforms.
Other clients will look to reviews. Offering a good service is the beginning and end of all marketing, otherwise your entire marketing budget is going towards inviting people to a really bad party. For every customer who enjoys the product or service they purchase from you, make sure there are avenues for them to leave glowing social proof in the form of reviews.
Is lead generation worth it?
The simple equation is quality leads = potential sales. Implementing a lead nurturing strategy enables you to maximise the return on investment of your marketing efforts. When you can generate a strategy that only signals your business to the people most likely to pay for it, you avoid customers more likely to be dissatisfied and create a lead nurturing cycle by moving high-engagement clients through your business’ ecosystem. What a good lead nurturing plan will do for you, is to create a kind of growth that will continuously bring new (and happy) customers!