B2B lead generation: it’s a tricky one! Much harder than bee-to-bee lead generation, which is mostly affected by ecological factors such as vegetation and local colony density.

Luckily for you, we’ve worked with over 100 B2B companies to drive leads, and we know what works and what doesn’t – and how the secret formula for success is different for every company.

Organic search engine optimisation (SEO)

Organic SEO (check out our SEO services) gives you the chance to capture prospects at the precise moment where they need your services. Do it properly, and it’ll blow your competitors’ faces clean off their skulls. If you’re ranked first (or thereabouts) for the right search terms on Google, you will see your brand grow immeasurably.

On the other hand, organic SEO is a long, lonely road (because of Google’s intermittent updates and algorithm changes, you might find what worked one day is killing you the very next – you have to keep doing it in order to see results). It also takes ages to see good results: ranking for key terms can take months, even years. Finally, securing the help of an agency that knows what it’s doing is easier said than done.

Paid search

If you need quick and dirty custom, a good way to get it is to pay for it. Promoted campaigns via services such as AdWords can be organised in as little as three hours, give you microscopic control over your budget – and offer many of the advantages typically associated with unpaid SEO, where you have to work at it for ages.

On the flipside, it’s pretty hard to find a genuine expert to help you rank within the first few results, the success – or failure – of the campaign depends largely on whether or not people are actually searching for your thing, and it doesn’t get cheaper over time, so if you’re struggling to afford it and it doesn’t work, it could be a pretty costly mistake.

Content/inbound marketing

When content marketing works, it works like nothing else. Good content, managed well, can coax customers over the line when they need your services; it can generate leads forever (or for as long as there’s an internet, anyway), and it’s pretty good value: you’ll have to put some money behind marketing software and actually producing the stuff, but there aren’t any ongoing costs to speak of.

On the other hand, while there are some general pointers that are always useful – don’t misspell things, don’t write anything inappropriate, etc. etc. – it’s really hard to find people who know how to do this effectively, in terms of hooking an audience, sustaining their interest, and, most importantly, making them act.

In-person sales

Don’t let Death of a Salesman fool you: people do appreciate the personal touch, so long as that touch isn’t too personal. Charisma, an easy smile, and a bit of gentle encouragement can win the day – even if your competitor has a better or more cost-effective product.

But be forewarned: salespeople can be expensive, and if they’re not attracting and converting leads on a regular basis, they’re essentially a financial metaphorical albatross around your company’s metaphorical neck.

Telesales

People really don’t like telemarketers. You almost have to admire the patience, persistence, and emotional resilience of those who do it. But there’s a reason it’s still a thing: if the outbound caller is good enough – and takes pains to do it in a non-intrusive way, i.e. following up about a gift sent in the post – they can get great results in a way that costs far less than direct sales.

Broadcast/print advertising

With the advent of digital channels – and with daily circulation and viewership dwindling – it’s easy to assume that old-fashioned print and broadcast advertising are on the way out. Easy, perhaps, but still a mistake: TV, newspapers, and magazines boast a wide reach, and offer you full control over your messaging within the ad space.

That said, it’s still pretty expensive, and you can’t tinker with it once it’s out there: it either works or it doesn’t.

Networking

A more surreptitious version of in-person sales, but useful because you’re talking ‘founder-to-founder’ or ‘marketing director-to-founder’, removing much of the power imbalance present when a junior salesperson is trying to impress a plainly disinterested CEO.

It requires a considerable investment of time and energy from senior members of your team, and you’re not guaranteed any kind of meaningful result. However, when networking works, it works.

Partnerships

Generating leads is a pain. Why not share that burden with a partner? It can be difficult to find a simpatico company, of course – and because you’ll have to forfeit some of your profits to your new ‘friend’, it’s understandable if you balk at the cost. But if you’re struggling, buddying up with another business can be a very easy way to generate high quality leads.

Trade shows

A room full of your target audience! What could be better than that? If you can get talking to the right people, you can come away from a trade show with a barrel full of quality leads and a belly full of gratis popcorn.

Of course, yours won’t be the only booth in the hall, and people are far more likely to walk past it without a second thought than indulge in a bit of stop-and-chat. It’s also pretty expensive to set up a booth at all: you have to pay exhibition fees, you have to lose members of staff for entire days to run it, and there’s no guaranteed ROI.

If you’re feeling more lost than ever after all that, don’t worry: it’s perfectly natural. Also unlike bee-to-bee lead generation, it’s more of an art than a science, and there’s no magic formula for success. To get ahead, you’ll need expert help. Luckily, we’re experts – and we’re very, very happy to help – get in touch.

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