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Lead Generation is an early stage in making a sale — an indispensable part of business writing. The process flows like this: Lead Generation → Lead → Customer

1. What Is Lead Generation?

Let’s take it from the basics. Working backwards, a Customer is someone who buys something from you. A Lead is someone who expresses interest in your product or service. And Lead Generation is the process of creating those Leads. That is, drawing newcomers to your offering; screening them to pick those who are interested; and collecting their data (name, e-mail address, etc).

Using Tinder as an example: Lead Generation would be your profile picture and description. A Lead would be someone who “swiped right”. And a Customer would be a person you’ve scored a date with.

 

Tinder Profile reading 'The name is bond, just bond'

Lead Generation is like a good Tinder profile

 

2. Why Lead Generation Is On A Whole New Level Now

Lead Generation is nothing new. For decades, salespeople have made cold calls, held multiple meetings, and networked a lot to obtain prospective leads. The process of generating leads, however, has been drastically streamlined lately with the growth of the Internet. Businesses can glean prospective leads in a more structured manner now. But, although the Web makes the process much less laborious, it doesn’t necessarily make it easier.

 

Business man on his laptop with a phone strapped to his ear

We’ve come a long way, mate

 

There are two major factors that have brought Lead Generation to a whole new level:

1) More Information = Less Attention (AKA Attention Economics)

The ability to “just Google it” comes at a price. EMC Corporation says: “The digital universe is doubling in size every two years.” But the rise in the quantity of information goes hand in hand with a drop in attention levels.

It’s important to note that everyone has a limit to how much attention they can give anything. This is in stark contrast to the limitless stream of information growing perpetually. Brent Leary, co-founder of CRM Essentials, expresses the predicament faced by most businesses aptly: “The attention economy (that is, people’s attention) is not growing — which means we have to grab the attention that someone else has today.”

So it’s not enough for your Lead Generation writing to be attractive. It must also be able to pull people towards you — away from what they were preoccupied with earlier.

 

Monks looking in away

Distraction is inevitable — in all walks of life

 

2) Intelligent & Web-Savvy Consumers

With consumers knowledgeable and self-directed nowadays, the buying process has changed drastically. Earlier, businesses found customers; now, customers find businesses. Therefore, the key questions to ask yourself are: Have you made yourself accessible to consumers? How easy is it for someone to find you in the first place?

A study by GE Capital Retail Banks found that more than half of consumers begin their research on a search engine before visiting a particular website. This means these consumers know what they want — but they haven’t decided where to get it from. Well-implemented Lead Generation helps you connect with this group of decisive but uncommitted people.

Furthermore, the study shows consumers can take an average of 79 days collecting research before deciding on a major purchase. During this period, they analyse products, compare reviews, and study what’s available in the market. Then they make their final decision — based on facts, not intuition.

 

Google research history

We are all innate researchers

 

3. Five Business Writing Tips For Lead Generation

To attain this new level of Lead Generation, you must ensure you have a solid digital presence. This means having tools like Landing Page Optimization, Pay-per-Click Advertising, Clear Call to Action/s, etc. These tools are not mutually exclusive; they have to be implemented concurrently for the best results.

But the single most important requirement for successful Lead Generation is undeniably Content. Your content’s creativity will grab the attention of your consumers, and your content’s quality will retain their attention.

There are five areas in business writing you should focus on for a higher success rate in Lead Generation:  

1) Become Like Wikipedia

Let’s first review what we already know about modern-day consumers. One: your website isn’t the only one they’ll visit. And two: there are plenty of other websites offering similar information and products.

Therefore, embrace these realities — and make them work for you. The one thing that all consumers appreciate (and at times value even more than good products and services) is convenience. Provide them convenience, and you’ll definitely reap benefits. Write about useful topics from an impartial perspective. Don’t bombard your potential leads with a long list of your product’s features and benefits. Instead, enlighten them on the advantages you offer, compared to what else is available in the market.

If you save consumers time and effort, you’ll gain favour with them. They’ll be more inclined to share their contact information with you. Because they’ll regard you as a friendly and valuable asset — rather than a lead-hungry business.

 

Wikipedia's logo

Be like a Wikipedia entry for your field

 

2) Build Trust

Potential leads will hesitate to give you their contact details if they don’t trust you. After all, while people fear fraud, they hate spam. So let prospective leads know how their information will be used, and what exactly they’re signing up for.

Trust seals are often used to build trust. And although most consumers don’t fully understand what a trust seal entails, it inspires confidence nonetheless. (Note, however, that such seals have been receiving some criticism of late for being misused by various websites.)

A more solid way to build trust with prospective leads is with Content. If you channel your consumers’ voice and echo their concerns, they’ll find it easier to trust you. Birds of a feather flock together; people trust other people who sound like them. So put yourself in your ideal leads’ shoes, and use that voice to address their concerns. Respond to them with relevant industry insights, and they’ll be assured that you have their best interests at heart.

 

Hand reaching out to a squirrel

Awww…

3) Stay Current To Grab Attention

Whenever you get a chance to draw parallels between your work and a current event, grab it. Don’t be shy to piggyback on a trending topic. As Brent Leary says: people’s attention isn’t growing. So either grab their attention altogether, or redirect their already dedicated attention towards you.

Here’s an example. When Joseph Schooling won his gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, it was huge news in Singapore. Depending on what your product or service is, you could have done an appropriate blog post on that victory. Suppose you’re a travel agency. You could then have researched and written about other countries that also won a first gold medal in Rio. Expanding your post, you could have even described how those other nations celebrated their respective historic wins.

How does making this effort benefit you? It serves as a preliminary “soft sell” — without directly selling your product or service. You’re showing potential leads that your business isn’t just about promoting tourism; you understand culture as well. This differentiates you from your competitors, and gives potential leads a good reason to provide you their details.

The trending topics you choose depend entirely on your targeted leads. They can range from short-lived social media phenomena like the bottle flip challenge to global policies like Brexit.

 

Face peeping through a newspaper

Keep a lookout for relevant current topics

4) Sense Of Urgency

Although this concept is straightforward, it’s poorly executed more often than not. The aim of creating a sense of urgency is to combat a common human weakness: inertia. Most of us tend to procrastinate whenever we can, preferring to stay in a state of “no action, no change”. But it becomes a different matter when there is, say, a deadline to meet or a final-straw situation. Then we can unleash speed and capabilities akin to a hungry cheetah at an all-you-can-eat meat buffet.

Urgency is often used in content writing to prod readers into taking immediate action. This usually consists of a standard two-pronged strategy: using “breathless” language (“limited time only!”, “save now!”, etc); and a deadline or fixed time frame (“valid for ONE WEEK only!”, “reply in THREE DAYS to claim this offer!”, etc).

This isn’t necessarily a bad approach — if used sparingly. Practising it frequently to generate leads, however, is unwise. Because this tack can not only backfire sometimes; it also carries the stench of a sales pitch. It’s pushy, and comes across as overbearing.

Therefore, we advise: don’t use urgent language and deadlines too often to garner potential leads; inspire instead. Keep in mind that people hate to procrastinate — but they do it regardless. So use their timeline, not yours. Make your potential leads understand that if they don’t commit to your Call To Action (CTA), they are delaying rather than dismissing. Convey the message that what you are offering is a one-click escape from debilitating procrastination.

As Michel Fortin said: “Never pressure people to push them into purchasing. Instead, use pressure to prevent them from procrastinating.”

 

A bottle of cut chilis reading 'Very Lazy'

Use procrastination to your advantage

5) Blog Regularly

Blogging regularly not only establishes authority, it also gives your potential leads a reason to return. Perhaps they didn’t input their details on their first visit. But if they keep noticing your brand name when they search for related terms in that particular field, you will start gaining the reputation of an industry expert in their eyes. So just a few random posts aren’t enough; this has to be a constant, ongoing effort.

To generate leads from your blog, give your readers the option to download details of the topic you are discussing in exchange for their contact information. Don’t go too in-depth in your post. Because a large percentage of your visitors will just scan through your content. The downloadable part of your blog should be aimed at a smaller percentage of potential leads who desire concrete information. These would be the people who are more interested in your product or service – further down the funnel of the buying process – making them excellent leads.

 

2 sets of computers on a desk for blogging

Blogging is a full-time job

 

Final Word

To generate leads successfully, write your content with a specific target audience in mind. Once you know who they are, and you understand them and their needs, implement these five tips — and then generate away. All the best! 🙂

 

Images: davidjdalleydiablos_catscottmacbride, carolsquirrel83, salvatorefioretti, balsooraraulsuarezjasoncarvalho, davemeier