- Ongoing research and customer buying behaviors have taught us that a singular approach to lead generation typically yields lackluster results.
- According to research from KL Kimerer & Associates, the most popular methods for lead generation include social media, e-mail marketing, direct mail, and content marketing.
- Marketing is all about balance—too few attempts to grab the attention of a buyer can dilute your marketing efforts, but too many attempts can compromise the value of your brand.
By Karen Kimerer
(Read Part 1 of this series.)
Every business needs new customers. Providing proof that our industry is no different, recent survey results reveal over half of print service providers (PSPs) have increased their lead generation budgets to address this critical need. Determining the methods that will work best is not as simple as reviewing a list of tactics and charts. At the same time, however, data does lend insight that can reveal critical strategies of high-growth organizations. So how are top PSPs allocating their lead generation resources?
Key Lead Generation Strategies
There are several ways to generate leads, and new tactics continue to surface each year. Some of the more traditional methods include social media, direct mail, e-mail marketing, content marketing, sponsorships, print advertisements, and events like webinars and lunch & learns. Ongoing research and customer buying behaviors have taught us that a singular approach to lead generation typically yields lackluster results. Recent research from KL Kimerer & Associates reveals that respondents recognize the value of blended efforts. Survey participants were given the option to specify the multiple disciplines that they used to generate leads. As shown in the Figure below, social media is the number one tactic that PSPs leverage to generate leads and support revenue growth.
Figure 1. Top Methods for Lead Generation
N = 145 Total Respondents
Source: Marketing & Sales Research for PSPs; KL Kimerer & Associates 2021
Regarding how the use of various strategies has changed over time, e-mail marketing has remained generally consistent. Meanwhile, the use of direct mail and content marketing are on the rise.
When we explore the survey data a little differently, PSPs that achieved 10% or greater growth in 2020 had slightly different priorities. Although social media was still the top response and content marketing was still the fourth, direct mail use was significantly more popular than e-mail marketing among PSPs achieving double-digit growth. Although this does not necessarily mean that direct mail is more effective than e-mail in generating revenues, these findings may cause some to question why high-growth PSPs are placing a greater focus on direct mail to bring in new business.
Making the Most of Lead Generation
Marketing is all about balance—too few attempts to grab the attention of a buyer can dilute your marketing efforts, but too many attempts can compromise the value of your brand. We have all experienced the wrath of an over-eager marketer and a near constant barrage of outbound lead generation activities. To get the most from your lead generation budget, it is important to employ the right mix of tactics and timing to improve the sales pipeline. Let us take a more detailed look at each of the top four lead generation practices.
There is no “one size fits all” strategy when it comes to social media. Choices in platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Pinterest provide plenty of opportunities to engage with current and prospective customers. Giveaway contests, surveys, helpful content, and enticing calls-to-action can quickly capture your buyers' attention and generate interest in your products and services. Social media marketing efforts don’t need to be complicated, but they do need to be consistent and deliver more than just your digital business card. According to the KL Kimerer & Associates survey referenced above, over 62% of PSPs report that they engage with social media on a weekly basis to generate leads.
e-Mail marketing is a popular strategy for lead generation, thanks in large part to its ease of use and low entry costs. Although some consider this strategy to be a bit long in the tooth, e-mail marketing continues to perform quite well. Effective e-mail campaigns include concise and compelling subject lines, followed by a personal greeting. To optimize engagement, it helps to fit the main message and call-to-action in the e-mail preview. According to HubSpot, message personalization is the number one tactic used to improve performance. PSPs that are following a deliberate lead gen strategy send e-mail campaigns out monthly.
“Walking the talk” has never been more important in our industry, if you want your customers to buy direct mail, you must lead by example and use highly effective direct mail in your lead generation efforts. When used correctly, your own direct mail campaign can serve as a proof source as well as a living case study. Personalization, relevance, and a familiar brand are key to getting the most from your direct mail lead generation campaigns. According to KL Kimerer & Associates, PSPs send direct mail to their target audiences on a monthly basis.
Sharing content is an ideal way to educate the audience you want to engage. When the content delivers useful information, it can help build relationships and position your company as a leader. A common oversight when using content marketing is the inclusion of a compelling call-to-action. Storytelling and story-selling are effective content lead generation tools, but don’t fall short of wrapping up the final chapter—convince your audience to engage with you! Content marketing can take many forms, including blogs, white papers, case studies, videos, and podcasts. Most PSPs use content marketing to generate leads on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, or quarterly).
The Bottom Line
When it comes to connecting marketing with business growth, what you say and how you say it have never been more important. For a successful outcome, lead generation tactics (whether collectively or independent of one another) require an overarching and strategic plan. The synergy comes from leveraging one tactic to increase the effectiveness of another. When each component of your lead generation program supports a broader effort, prospective customers will experience a consistent story be able to engage on their own terms.
Many businesses sabotage their own growth efforts by not having enough customers. Although developing a lead generation strategy takes work, it is a worthwhile endeavor. If this is your first time considering a lead generation program, a focus on increased brand awareness is a great start. If you already have a strategy in place but want to optimize its effectiveness, it might be time to reevaluate your channels, tactics, and messaging and make any necessary changes.
The buying behaviors of today’s customers have changed, and you need to get out in front of their s journeys. Address your customers’ concerns with content that solves their most pressing pain points, all while keeping your own goals and objectives in mind. If you put in the necessary effort, you can eventually have a sales funnel filled with qualified leads.
Karen Kimerer of Keypoint Intelligence has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry. She is well-versed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products.