For Small Business, Marketing Or Lead Generation – Which is Better?

THERE BOTH THE SAME I HEAR YOU SAY!

Making the mistake of thinking they are the same thing can be a costly experience. Let’s break it down to the two separate areas and lets see if we can find some differences.

1. Marketing: Usually something you have to pay for that is never guaranteed to get a return on your money.

2. Lead generation: Free or cheap methods to promote your business that may take nothing more than your time and the willingness to think out side the square!

I’m surprised at the amount of small business owners I have met who pay for marketing purely for marketing sake. What I mean is, they know they have to put the word out there about their business so they take a regular spot in the local newspaper or tv guide, come up with new sales pitches week after week and then sit back and pray that customers will come flocking in.

Don’t get me wrong this can be a very effective method as a way to brand yourself, keep your business name in people’s heads until they are ready to buy and occasionally stimulate new business, but the main problem I find is that when you ask the small business owner how much return are they getting on their marketing expenses, and they usually wouldn’t have a clue! They are spending money on marketing that they really don’t know if it is working or not!

Lets look at marketing types. Flyers, business cards, websites, newspaper ads, tv ads etc. These and any other marketing types ONLY become lead generators if someone is compelled to pick up the phone and call you, email you, or hop in their car and drive to your business to purchase your product or service!

Until this occurs then it is purely marketing! If it is not driving customers to purchase or enter your follow on marketing system (you do have a follow on marketing system dont you?) then it is “money generating” for someone else but not lead generating for you.

Business cards are a great example of a marketing tool that usually isn’t a lead generation tool. Someone asks you what you do you hand them your business card that has you pretty logo on it, your name with six different titles under it to look impressive and your contact details. They may be impressed with your logo or how many titles you have to your name and look you up, but in most cases the card will go in their back pocket, probably through the wash later that day never to be seen again!

You need to point out to the potential new customer that if they or someone they know, are interested in your product or service then on the back of the card are the details of how they can get something “special” if they call, email etc. You have to drive that customer to take action and generate that lead! In most small businesses the greatest lead generator is a satisfied customer that is more than happy to tell anyone and everyone about their experience with your business.

Most small businesses have sales systems, external marketing strategies, but very few have referral systems or strategies. Spending a little money on a referral program or reward system for customers that refer business is money much better spent. The customer takes ownership of your business if they are getting something in return, and the business they refer comes pre-sold on your products or services, much easier to get the sale!

The point is make sure no matter what form of marketing, advertising or lead generation campaigns you do, you have to come up with some way of getting the potential customer to take action. Every person that calls, emails or drops in to your business. Ask them how they heard about you so you can at least measure if your marketing budget is going to good use. It may surprise you to see the results!