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If It Ain't Generating Qualified Leads, Don't Do It!

Small businesses can avoid wasting money marketingRegardless of glitzy campaigns, attempts to create videos that can go viral, no matter how many likes you have on Facebook or followers on Twitter, the ultimate purpose and very reason for the very existence of marketing is to generate qualified leads for sales.

No matter how exciting, attractive and ego-stroking your marketing programs might be, if, at the end of the day, they ain't generating qualified leads, you shouldn't be doing them! Qualified Leads are the fuel that drives the sales engine, which, in turn drives revenue.

For most growing entrepreneurial businesses, capital resources are always in short supply, so smart allocation of their use is critical. Marketing is an area where money frequently gets wasted. Even in "no-cost" areas like social media (yeah, right, no cost, if you consider your time or your staff's time free).

Plus, tell me again what is the formula for converting "likes" into revenue?
Now, I'm not saying spending money on marketing, in general, or social media, in particular, is a waste. I'm a fan of marketing automation using IFTTT, Zapier, Buffer, Hootsuite, and the like.

Only that it's often not spent wisely and usually without answering a critical question - "how will this create the most qualified leads?"

Everett Rogers, an eminent sociologist published a work called "Diffusion of Innovations," more than 50 years ago, which initially coined the phrase "early adopter."

How a prospect becomes a customer
It further describes the fundamental basis for how a prospect becomes a customer, going through five stages - awareness, interest, evaluation, trial and adoption.

A qualified lead, then, would be one that is aware of you and your product/service (maybe you've sent them multiple emails), has exhibited interest (maybe they've attended a webinar you hosted) and is may be ready to evaluate your product (which is where sales come in). And you know that your odds for a sale dramatically increase if you can get them evaluating your product.

Whatever marketing programs you have planned or in place, from your website to social media to your brochures, to trade shows to advertising, to p.r. should be judged on their ability to create awareness and interest in your company and its products and services. Hold your marketing programs accountable for enabling sales to move them through the five stages.

Here are some ways to ensure that whatever you are doing on each element of your marketing programs will provide the perfect opportunity to generate qualified leads:


Every element should be focused on being "benefits-based," i.e., delivering the message of what your company, products, and services can do to help address the needs and problems of your prospective customer. Don't just describe features. Describe how they translate into benefits.

Take the 10-second look at your website's homepage. Does it immediately tell a potential customer what you do and how you can help them? Or are there many messages of the same importance distracting from your one true value proposition?

Call to Action

Every element should have a "call to action," that enables prospective customers to learn more about the company, products, and services.

Having a call-to-action mentality creates an opportunity to get more information in front of the prospect and then to be able to use that as a springboard to a follow-up call and potential face-to-face meeting. In short, qualified leads.

A call-to-action could be anything from signing up for a webinar to finding out more about your products/services; the ability to get a sample version of your product, or downloading and using your product for a trial period.

Incentive to Do Business

Every element should point to an incentive or have its reason to do business with you. For example, tell them that if they sign up for a webinar, you'll send them a free copy of your newsletter or one of the giveaways you might use at a trade show.  All to further connect with them move them further into the interest phase toward evaluation.


Track every element by the number of qualified leads that come directly or indirectly from it. Every time a prospect interacts with the company, they should be asked where and how they first learned about the company, products, and services. Asking this will enable you to begin to understand what's working and what changes you need to make.

Marketing dollars can be the most cost-effective dollars spent in a small business but only if they generate qualified leads. Strip everything else away and it is the reason for its existence.

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things. He's been there. May success be with you!

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