Sometimes it feels like you have to lug the proverbial 16 tons from the beginning of the sales cycle to the end. You have leads but not nearly enough. By the time you separate the chaff from the wheat to find qualified leads you are left with a bare handful, too few to sustain a business.
Manufacturers have an inherently long and complex sales cycle. Add this to a small number of leads and your marketing and sales ROI is in the toilet. But if you work smart up front you can ease that burden with these 4 steps to generating leads for your manufacturing company.
Step 1) Define Targets
The most basic tenet of successful selling is to know who your ideal customer is. Identify and define your targets by creating a buyer persona for each type of customer you need. This is more than a gathering of demographics; it is more like the culmination of a series of dates. You need to know more about your ideal customer than age, geographic location and title. You want to identify all the characteristics of your target that impact decision making behavior.
Unless you manufacture only one specific type of widget you will have more than one persona to define. Ask your sales representatives what customers ask about most, what they come to the table already knowing and how the sales cycle progresses. Where are the set-backs and who are the influencers? As you determine the problems your customers are hoping to solve you can fill out your buyer persona with specific information that will make it seem more and more like a real person.
Content created for a specific person is not only easier to develop, it is more effective because you are no longer trying to make one size fit all. You are offering a tailored experience in contrast with the off-the-rack tactics of your competitors.
Step 2) Develop Content
From your exercise in creating buyer personas you should have a list of questions and information needs to use in developing blog posts, articles, white papers, case studies, and other content optimized for search but written for people. Remember that content also includes other media such as video, audio and images. Depending on your products and services, a video may be more effective than a written piece.
Content development begins with keyword research. Once highly relevant keywords and phrases are selected they can be worked into content as appropriate. No keyword stuffing or other tricks. The keywords are there to increase the chance that your content will come up in the results and be selected.
Each persona and part of the funnel will respond to different types of content so make sure your production includes a variety of content types that will answer the needs found in these discrete areas. Someone in mid-funnel may need a case study as opposed to a general article about the industry.
Step 3) Attract Traffic
You have the content, now you need to go fishing with it. Content does no good until it is published and is not effective unless it is promoted.
Make it easy for readers to share your content by placing social media buttons on your blog and any articles you publish. And when you publish anything new promote it through social media as well. Every blog post should be tweeted and announced on Facebook or whatever social media your ideal customer uses.
Email is another tool for publishing and promoting content. Create a periodic newsletter for customers to subscribe to. Allow email subscriptions for new blog posts. Encourage comments and shares.
Step 4) Convert Visitors to Leads
Visitors convert to leads when they provide information about themselves with you giving you implicit permission to interact with them. Typically this is done via an offer such as a white paper or eBook that is valuable enough for the visitor to fill out a form to get.
Landing page design and content can be optimized in various ways to make it more inviting to share and download information. Landing pages have several main components:
The offer is the content, demo, or other valuable item you offer in exchange for a certain amount of information. The introduction and description of the offer should be optimized for both search and to entice visitors to want to download it.
The form should be optimized for particular types of visitors but the best thing to do is to only ask for information that is absolutely necessary. The more fields they must fill out and the more intrusive the questions, the less likely a visitor will be to complete the form. Think long and hard about whether you really need every piece of data you are asking for. Remember, after the visitor converts you will have other opportunities to ask for further information as he goes through the funnel.
The call-to-action (CTA) is a button or link that is the final urging to take whatever action you want: fill out a form, download an eBook or call a sales rep. The CTA should be highly noticeable and easily found on the page. This is what will give the final instruction about what to do.
All of this may sound like a lot of work…and it is. But the rewards come in the form of more highly qualified leads. The sales cycle will be shorter, saving money and time spent following up with potential customers. And the market-to-sales lead acceptance rate will also increase.
Today’s customer wants to do his research before he talks to anyone, especially from your company. Provide him with the right information and offers and he will self-qualify and be more likely to buy from you rather than a competitor.