Monday, November 08, 2010

Advertise all you want, but what happens to the leads?

Advertising a small business's products is great, but the leads you get from your advertising investment are what matter. I spent a morning at the Javits Center in New York City last week, thankful to be out of the rain for a little while. One side of the building was taken over by the super-fit marathon runners preparing for a grueling 26 mile Sunday with some retail therapy buying fitness clothing. The other side was largely taken over by ad:tech, a chance for media channels, technology and ad buyers to uncomfortably mingle in one place. It is interesting that LinkedIn ads occupied a booth maybe 8 times the size of Microsoft advertising.

For me, where the rubber meets the road for advertising is when all that spending pays back and you get solid leads. The ad:tech presenters I heard were so overcome with excitement that you could count and measure these leads, slicing and dicing them in every way, that nobody seemed interested that you might actually want to follow up on those leads. You know, see if the leads are real, what the potential customer's need are, start building a rapport with the buyer. Nope, the most exciting thing apparently is drawing a pretty chart so you can optimize your advertising messages the next time.

So, you all shout, "just put the leads into Salesforce". Yeah, well how many small businesses have got through the learning curve of Salesforce to actually make it a useful system? In a quick poll I made, only one had finally invested the resources needed to get it to work. Even then, the leads coming in end up being entered laboriously by hand from the website. But hey, they can now get fancy reports to see how many leads are in the funnel. And it only costs $25 per user unless your are considered 'professional', in which case start considering how it will impact the kids' college funds.

Along the same lines, I have to relay the little chuckle I had when I walked past an expensive ad:tech expo stand (I won't name the company). The rep was talking to some interested people about the service he was touting. They asked for a copy of a case study, which he didn't have to hand. So what did he do? Scribble the person's email address on the back of one of his own business cards and promise to follow up. "But if you don't hear from me, do drop me an email to remind me", I heard him say. Yeah, lost cause I thought to myself - I wonder how many leads like that were wasted?

So, Salesforce takes some effort to get start on. If you already have it and are advertising to get some real leads, bite the bullet and work out if it really will work for you. I use my own software to capture lead information received face to face and on the web, through a simple contact web page powered by Consected. It gets the information directly into a lead workflow, helping us follow-up and track the responses. Fancy analytics, not so much, but to be honest I wouldn't know what to do with them even if they were there. It takes a company investing way more in marketing than we do to be able to really make use of that information.

If your company would like to improve how it captures and tracks its all important customer leads, contact us and I can help you get up and running in about an hour.

A post from the Improving It blog
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