According to HubSpot, lead generation is “the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in you company's product or service.”
But let’s get real. Do you really need leads to get ahead in business? And do you really need to generate them when you can just buy them? Sure, bought leads are ice cold and cold-calling is an outdated and ineffective business practice in the digital age, but that’s how business has been done for decades. Why change what used to work just because it doesn’t work anymore?
No, no, no, if you’re into that “Inbound” “Marketing” stuff, this is not the blog for you. If you don’t have a keen ear for sarcasm, this is definitely not the blog for you.
In this post, I’ll be walking you through the 10 simple steps that you absolutely need to follow if you’re looking to lose leads. Do not, I repeat, do not, do the opposite of everything I’m about to tell you. That’s very important.
1. Don’t develop buyer personas
Buyer personas are imaginary customers or clients that fit the perfect target audience for your product or service. I described buyer personas in my blog about the Zombie Apocalypse (yep, I wrote one of those) as a target you aim for when surrounded by a hoard of zombies. But just like, Zombies, these characters you’re creating in your buyer personas, they’re fake. Not real.
Lawyer Liam, Stay-At-Home-Mom Margie, College Student Sam are all developed to give the whole team—marketing, sales, production, R&D—a better idea of who they’re designing their product for, how that person will use it, and how they want to hear about it.
In addition to helping you hone in on your target, creating buyer personas humanizes your customers. By creating a full profile for your persona, who he is, what her challenges are, what they do for a living, you get to know your customers like they’re your best friends.
But here’s the thing, folks, imaginary friends are for children. You, and your customers, live in reality, so why waste your time on fictional characters? Whatever you do, do not waste your precious 9-5 time getting to know your perfect customer.
2. Don’t have a plan
Just because a defined, goal-driven marketing plan is a roadmap to moving the needle on your growth and brand objectives and keeping you focused on the activities that matter most, does that mean you should take the time to slow down and think? No! You’d miss out on so much aimless action if you did. And, the part where it all blows up in your face? Man, that’s the fun part!
Developing a marketing plan allows you compare big-picture goals with past performance numbers, and determine exactly what you need to do to contribute to company growth. This way you know exactly what your company wants to promote when crafting blog posts, emails, social posts, landing pages, etc. during each quarter.
But having a plan is booooring. People love spontaneity and go-with-your-gut action. Why else is the loose cannon cop who doesn’t play by the rules, such a popular archetype? Trust me, act first and think later, it’s never failed me twice.
3. Only focus on one stage of the buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey consists of 3 stages:
And each visitor to your site is in a different stage, so why bother doubling back for stragglers? Why hold their hand and lead them along the journey? They’re just holding you back, aren’t they?
We want customers who are ready to buy, and if they’re not ready to buy, you tell them they’re ready to buy and then you force them to buy. Who cares if they have buyer’s remorse later? No one takes the time to return stuff anyway.
All aligning your content to the buyer’s journey does is help your customers realize they have a problem and that you’re the answer when they decide to seek a solution. It’s an organic process that keeps the customer happy all along the way and turns them into promoters later on.
Sounds boring to me.
4. Don’t SEO optimize
SEO optimization allows consumers to wade through all of the noise on the internet and stumble upon your site, but why should you give them all the power?
If you have good, quality sites linking to your content, you make smart use of keywords your buyers are actually searching for, you write for people and not search engines, and your site is designed with UX in mind, then you’re just asking to be the #1 result on a Google search page. And nobody wants that.
Speaking of content, that brings me to my next point:
5. Don’t blog
Everyone’s blogging nowadays, and users will see right through that and find it terribly unoriginal.
Who cares if a blog allows you to provide prospects with exactly the answers they’ve been looking for and potentially turn them into buyers? Who cares if consistent, quality content can keep your buyers happy and turn them into promoters?
If you must blog, whatever you do, do not post consistently. Posting consistently helps alert search engines to your presence by creating a brand new, indexable page with each and every post you publish. And consistent, useful content does nothing but turn your company into a trusted authority on a topic your buyer personas are dying to know more about.
6. Don’t post on social media
If you, for some reason, decide to blog consistently, definitely don’t promote it on social media, especially if it’s top-performing content. Promoting your content on social media only increases your exposure and authority. Plus, it’s organic and free, and nothing about that sounds good.
If you do decide to post on social media, don’t bother customizing your message for each channel. It’s so much faster to publish the same exact thing on all social networks than to waste time customizing your message for different audiences. You don’t need to worry about hashtags vs no hashtags, all social channels are essentially the same thing and buyers don’t mind seeing the same post spammed across all social channels. You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard.
And, whatever you do, don’t follow the 80/20 rule for posting for social media. This rule states that you should post non-promotional content 80% of the time, and promote your own business only 20% of the time. But, how are you going to increase sales if you don’t constantly shove the need to buy your product or service down your consumers’ throats? I really don’t see the point in posting useful interesting content 80% of the time if all it does is engage your audience and help them see you as an authority.
7. Don’t engage with your audience
If you must post on social media, despite my advice, then never, I repeat, never, engage with your audience.
If someone leaves a bad review, ignore him. You don’t want to console angry customers by making them think that their voices are being heard. That gives them too much power, and you want to be the one in control.
While starting conversations with your social media followers keeps them thinking about and actively interacting with your brand, who actually has that kind of time? Sure, your customers have their own thoughts, opinions, and feelings, but what does that matter aside from turning leads into customers and happy consumers into promoters?
And don’t get me started on asking your followers to participate in any kind of social media promotion by posting pictures of themselves using your product or service. Free publicity is way too easy.
8. Don’t gate offers
Gating offers means promising larger-form pieces of content like e-books, whitepapers, and guides, in exchange for customer information. Gating an offer behind a landing page is one of the top ways to convert leads into customers because they’re willingly giving away their contact information.
Regardless of your industry, or the purpose of your offer, the landing page is there as a 24/7 sales person who wants nothing more than to push your leads through each phase of the sales funnel, the end-goal being to grab as much attention and information from the audience as possible.
Why bother hiding something that you’ve put so much work into, just to give it away for free? Seems like a lot of work for no guaranteed purchase. Sure, sure, doing this is going to warm up your leads, but where’s the fun in interacting with leads that already want what you’re selling? No way, skip this, keep your leads cold, and bask in the joy of arguing with an uninterested consumer later.
9. Don’t share the secrets to your success
No one’s interested in hearing your rags-to-riches success story. They especially aren’t interested in signing up for a gated email course about how to replicate your success. You want to keep your cards close to your chest so that your current leads don’t turn into your future competitors.
Giving back to the community just makes your company look kind and caring, and nice guys finish last and caring is for the weak. No, never let your buyers think that you care about them.
10. Don’t do the opposite of whatever this guide says
If you want to keep living in the past and focusing your time and effort on interjecting your product into the lives of uninterested consumers, please, I beg you, follow my guide to a T. Do that and I promise you’ll be losing leads faster than you can say “cold-calling.”
But, if you want good-quality, highly qualified leads knocking on your door and asking to buy, then that’s your prerogative. You’re encouraged to do the opposite of whatever I just told you to do in the last 1,500 words. Good luck, I guess.