Lead Generation Checklist: How to Get Started

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The beginning of a new year is a good time to refocus, rebalance, and to make a reality check of our previous years’ goals and where we want to move foreward in the new. As a marketer, I’ve focused on the basics of lead generation and have come up with the following checklist, which you can use as a baseline to help you build your next marketing campaign:

Building The List

“It’s all about the list.” You hear this over and over. And yes it’s true. If you don’t have the right list, then you are just throwing money to the wind. The “right” list, however, depends on several variables and/or demographics you can choose when creating it:

  • E-mail or hard-copy list? These days this question is more and more relevant. Depending on your targeted age group, or whether you are creating a B2B or B2C campaign, or whether you are targeting an high-income or low-income audience, you’ll want to ask which of these makes sense. Don’t forget however, that hard-copy lists are still very productive. I find that e-mail response rates lag behind those of direct mail response rates, measuring around 1% and 2%-3%, respectively.
  • Geography: Is your product or service specific to a certain type of climate?
  • Income levels: If marketing to a consumer audience, you may want to target specific minimum household incomes where you can assure yourself the greatest response rate.
  • Profession.
  • Educational level.
  • Age: is your product better suited to a senior audience or to teenagers?
  • Marital status: divorced? single? separated? partnered?
  • Sexual preference: this is more relevant and even en vogue to consider this demographic. For the past 20 years the gay and lesbian and bi-sexual and transgendered audience has been growing—fast and strong. Remember, gay and lesbian couples have kids too–and have significant purchasing power.


Which of the following media can you find the highest concentration of your audience (you may find you’ll need to do all of these or maybe a mix of two or three)?:

  • Print ads (journals/magazines/newsletters)–does your audience consist of highly-educated researchers who read quarterly professional journals or is it comprised of hands-on practitioners who read newsletters?
  • Co-branded e-blasts: would it benefit you to work with an organization that is aligned with but not competing with your own goals? This is also a way for you to get your e-mail blast past the filters. Rather than blasting an e-mail yourself to new list, a cobranded e-mail can get your message through.
  • Pay-per-click ads: this is an ever expanding medium with PPC now available not only via the major search engines, but also via Facebook, StumbleUpon and other social media and web sites that partipate in affiliate programs. Ask yourself, “is my audience an internet shopper, one who spends time on the Internet browsing for products?”
  • Direct mail–is your audience NOT internet saavy and actually prefer paper?
  • Mobile–the Japanese have developed the mobile market far ahead of the U.S., however, it’s catching on quick, especially for those who don’t have lap tops!
  • Tradeshow vs. seminar vs. meeting–is your product best suited to provide a demo at a targeted meeting? Or if you are a manufacturer of large products, would your audience need to see your products displayed on the floor of a major product tradeshow? You need to know this.
  • Social networking: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg—these are the new marketing channels that allow you “to be found.” Marketing has reversed itself from the seller searching for his audience to the audience finding the seller! This is where social media come in to play. As audiences move away from television and print media–they are increasing their “Google,” “Yahoo,” “Bing,” and “Twitter” searches, which means you have to have a message in the “twitterverse” and “googlesphere” to be found! This means creating landing pages, optimized Web sites, and relevant content!

The Message

  • Value proposition: Remember this is not a feature of your product, but the VALUE that your product brings to your customer. For example, let’s say you are marketing a book on how to complete an itemized tax return– the value isn’t in the how to do your taxes. Rather, the reader will find value in saving money or saving time or eliminating mistakes or saving him the aggravation of locating tax forms–or whatever the case may be.
  • Graphic: Yes graphics or photos are part of the written message too. Haven’t you heard the phrase “pictures speak a thousand words”? Often a well-designed graphic illustrating the concept of your product can communicate in seconds what several paragraphs would take to communicate in several minutes.
  • The Offer: Give your reader a reason (this is separate but tied in with your call to action) to respond NOW to induce him to provide you his contact information. “Receive our free how-to guide”, “Participate in our free webinar”, “download our helpful user checklist.”
  • Call-t0-action: Be clear how you want the reader to respond. Remember this is the heart of why you are doing lead generation: getting the contact information! Call a toll-free number? Submit information online? Submit a coupon requiring contact information via snail mail? Send a text message with his/her contact information? Visit your store by bringing in a coupon (at which point your sales associate can collect the contact information)?
  • YOUR contact information: As a general rule, ALWAYS include your contact information. Some organizations shy away from doing this in external communications, but when it comes to marketing your message, you better have a local contact address and/or telephone number and e-mail address! This earns you credibility and descreases the chances of your message landing in the “delete” box or waste basket!

Data Capture

This is what it’s all about! Getting the contact information. Make sure you have a mechanism set-up to capture response data. You can use a third party application to capture responses to your e-mail; prepare your telesales team to type in or write down information they receive via phone calls; use a barcode scanner to capture data from a direct response piece and have them downloaded into your data capture software; remember to rent the badge (or barcode) scanner provided by your exhibition management company so that you can scan visitor badges when they stop by your booth!

Guard this information with your life! This will forever be your bread and butter and the lifeline to the future of your business. Never share this information with anyone outside of your company. Considering the time and expense it will take you to collect this valuable information, you don’t want to give it away.

Tracking and Analytics

This is by far one of the most neglected elements of lead generation, yet tracking is the most valuable tool you can use to anlayze the effectiveness of your campaign. You’ll see trends after you have launched several campaigns. Tracking will also help you decide what types of messages or media have failed. DON’T forget to track!

  • Response code on direct mail pieces
  • Dedicated 8oo lines assigned to specific DM pieces
  • Google Tracking Codes on e-mail links or landing pages

I hope you found this useful! Please feel free to leave a comment. I plan on delving deeper into each of these checklist items in future posts to help you flush them out. But I think this is a good starter for you to create a future campaign. And finally, read, read, read! I still go to the bookstore and pickup books on marketing management–and have been doing this for nearly two decades.

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