How Much Should You Pay for a Sales Lead?

When planning a B-to-B lead generation program, you need to deliver leads to your sales team at an affordable price. A neat way to determine in advance how much you can spend on a lead is to calculate the Allowable Cost per Lead.

LeadsWhen planning a B-to-B lead generation program, you need to deliver leads to your sales team at an affordable price. A neat way to determine in advance how much you can spend on a lead is to calculate the allowable cost per lead for your campaign. This number can then be used as a benchmark for evaluating campaign investments, and deciding which ones are likely to work. If a campaign is looking like it’s not affordable, then you’ll want to make some tweaks, like find a stronger offer, or narrow your targeting.

Begin by calculating your cost per inquiry. Assemble the total direct campaign costs, including all fixed and variable costs that can be directly attributed to the campaign. Include creative and pre-production work, cost of developing and producing content, and the normal variable costs of campaign development and execution. Divide this amount by the number of expected campaign responses, and voila! There’s your cost per inquiry.

Then, estimate the costs associated with qualifying a lead. Don’t try to determine this number on a per campaign basis — it’s too hard. Instead, calculate an average qualification cost for inquiries over a set period, such as a year. Gather up all your inquiry-handling costs, including the direct headcount involved in inquiry capture, fulfillment, qualification, and nurturing. If your back-end processes are outsourced, gathering the data is as simple as adding up the bills. After you have a number for the year, divide it by the number of inquiries handled in the year. This number will serve as your average cost to qualify an inquiry.

Finally, go talk to your counterparts in finance and sales to gather several data points. You need the average order size, namely, the total revenue divided by the total number of orders. (If this number swings wildly, do the calculation by product category.) You need the margin (or its opposite, the cost of goods sold) and the direct sales expense per order, calculated by the total sales expense divided by the total number of orders.

Let’s look at an example of how this works. The chart works through some hypothetical numbers to arrive at a cost of lead closed and an allowable cost per lead, and compares the two. Your goal is for the cost of a closed lead to come out lower than the allowable — obviously. If it’s higher, you lose money on the campaign.

To get to Allowable Cost per Lead, it’s not actually necessary to know how many inquiries will be generated, qualified, and converted. But you do need to know the cost per inquiry, the cost to qualify an inquiry, the qualification and conversion rates, the net margin per order, and the direct sales expense per order.

 

Comparing your cost per closed lead to your Allowable Cost per Lead: A hypothetical example
Cost per inquiry (campaign cost/# responses) $100
Average cost to qualify an inquiry (lead management costs/inquiries per year) $50
Total cost per inquiry qualified (cost per inquiry + cost to qualify) $150
Lead qualification rate 25%
Cost of qualified lead (cost per lead/qualification rate) $600
Lead conversion rate 30%
Cost of a closed lead (cost of qualified lead/conversion rate) $2,000
Average order size (annual revenue/# orders) $10,000
Net margin per order (revenue per order x margin, 60%) $6,000
Allowable cost per lead (net margin per order – direct sales expense, $3,500) $2,500

 

In this hypothetical example, say the campaign spent $15,000 and generated 150 inquiries. Whatever the cost and the responses, the important number is the cost per inquiry. Here, we have hypothesized it as $100. Separately, the average cost to qualify an inquiry for the year was calculated at $50. We divide the qualification rate (25 percent) into the total cost per inquiry qualified ($150) to calculate the cost of a qualified lead. Then, we divide that by the conversion rate (30 percent) to get the cost of a closed lead ($2,000).

This number is then compared with the allowable cost per closed lead ($2,500), which is a simple calculation of the net margin per order minus the cost of sales (hypothetically set here as $3,500). In this example, the campaign looks promising, because the expected cost per converted lead is $500 less than the Allowable Cost per Lead.

If you put this information in a spreadsheet and play with it, you can quickly see how much leverage there is on the back-end, meaning after the inquiry has come in and you are working it through qualification and nurturing. A few efficiencies on qualification rate and conversion rate work wonders on campaign ROI.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Why Most LinkedIn Lead Generation Tactics Fail

Sharing relevant content on LinkedIn likely will not get customers talking with you about what you’re selling. Nor will commenting on the updates of others. Connecting with potential buyers and sending them “relevant content?” Commenting on discussions in LinkedIn groups? No and no. The truth is most of what experts say works does not. These ideas may engage buyers, but they rarely help us net sales leads.

Sharing relevant content on LinkedIn likely will not get customers talking with you about what you’re selling. Nor will commenting on the updates of others. Connecting with potential buyers and sending them “relevant content?” Commenting on discussions in LinkedIn groups? No and no.

The truth is most of what experts say works does not. These ideas may engage buyers, but they rarely help us net sales leads.

I’m not going to waste your time preaching what I think will work for you. Instead, let’s quickly examine how many of my students are building their businesses using LinkedIn.

Why I Failed on LinkedIn
I’m not afraid to tell you I failed on LinkedIn. I was doing what most sellers are doing, on my profile, in groups and with email messaging. I believed that sharing relevant content on LinkedIn would create sales leads. But it didn’t.

Because being seen as a trusted expert by buyers is the reward … it’s the outcome of a successful LinkedIn lead generation strategy. It’s NOT the strategy!

So what is the strategy? At the highest level, it has two components:

  1. Problem-solving and
  2. Direct response copywriting.

Before we get into the details let’s agree on the goal. On LinkedIn, you need to:

Attract customers (get them to engage with you) and (the part most reps and distributors are struggling with) get potential customers to respond to you. Not engage, respond.

The Surprising Key to Getting Response
Successful LinkedIn lead generation takes more than relevant content. It takes a combination of sharing knowledge that solves a problem and causing buyers to react … to want more from you.

We need to provoke thoughts like, “I never thought about it that way. How can I get more advice like that?” or “I wonder what else this person can help me do?”

Because once you’ve tapped into a buyer’s fear or ambitions you’re able to help them navigate toward (or away from) what you’re selling. By getting them to act on the reaction you just created.

That’s the copywriting part.

Make Your Target Intensely Curious
Getting customers to respond on any social platform is all about getting them intensely curious about you. By piquing customers’ interest in what you have to say you’re able to lead a discussion toward what you’re selling.

Here’s where to start. Entice buyers to reach out and ask the questions you want them to ask you. This earns leads.

For example, if I’ve done my job in writing this post, you’re craving more details on what I’m describing. You’re primed to watch a video tutorial and take action on the idea. So please do!

In this LinkedIn Lead Generation Training video, I’ll get into all the details on how you can begin improving your LinkedIn lead generation success rate.

Questions? Let me know here in comments or shoot me an email. Good luck!

From Views to Leads: Effectively Using Video in B-to-B Marketing

Tired of all the “guru” advice that doesn’t work when using video in B-to-B marketing? Getting views and subscribers on YouTube, but not enough sales? Here’s a simple, effective approach to get viewers to respond to videos and become sales leads.

Tired of all the “guru” advice that doesn’t work when using video in B-to-B marketing? Getting views and subscribers on YouTube, but not enough sales? Here’s a simple, effective approach to get viewers to respond to videos and become sales leads.

Focus on How You Speak, Not What You Say
It’s natural to focus on what we’re saying in videos. Yet it’s an approach that will sabotage you every time. Instead, focus on how you’re presenting knowledge, not the information itself.

We’re very busy being transparent, honest, showing our personalities and giving away our best advice using videos. But the truth is you must do all those things and do it in a way that creates response.

Otherwise you’re wasting time.

In my experience using video in B-to-B marketing, there is one reason why people fail with it. They over-focus on WHAT to say rather than designing what to say to trigger response.

“The HOW” is what makes the difference when using video in B-to-B marketing. Here’s what to do

1) Don’t engage—fix, guide, compare, serve! Contrary to what ‘the experts’ say, buyers don’t care about your personality, your passion nor how often you offer free advice. They’re selfish. They care far more about solving their problem or reaching their goal faster.

Let this be your guiding rule. If you want to get passed around a lot on social media go ahead-be cute, funny “engaging” and such. If you want to generate leads serve a purpose.

2) Talk about what matters (and nothing else). Get started by asking yourself these questions when using video in B-to-B marketing

  • What pressing problem can I solve?
  • What pain can I remove?
  • What pleasure can I help create?

The idea is to focus your video on the pain customers need to get rid of, or the goals they need to achieve faster.

3) Provoke response. The best way to start is claiming you can change the success rate of prospects. Then do it.

Tell them you can actually move their needle. Then prove it by showing them exactly how to do something important to them.

Show them how to avoid a risk, solve a problem, learn a new skill … step-by-step in the video.

The idea is to create confidence in them … get them to take action and experience some success. Because if they do *this creates trust in you.*

Over to You
So remember the formula for structuring your videos when using video in B-to-B marketing.

  • Tell customers you can increase their success rate.
  • Then, without wasting time, prove to them you can move their needle … give them results.
  • Give them an even better way to start right now … in return for a deeper relationship (a lead).

Do this with a clear call to action that gets them to take action.

Need an example? Watch this video!

A Weird, But Effective Shortcut to Generate Sales Leads on LinkedIn

See what I just did? You chose to read this article—probably because the headline provoked curiosity. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, the basis of effective copywriting. True, there is no silver bullet for generating sales leads on LinkedIn. However, there is one habit that consistently brings my students and me more success generating leads online: Giving customers a reason to click and take action—relieve that nagging pain or take a step toward an exciting goal.

See what I just did? You chose to read this article—probably because the headline provoked curiosity. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, the basis of effective copywriting. True, there is no silver bullet for generating sales leads on LinkedIn. However, there is one habit that consistently brings my students and me more success generating leads online: Giving customers a reason to click and take action—relieve that nagging pain or take a step toward an exciting goal.

Yes, creating curiosity that lures customers to act seems like an obvious strategy. So, are you and your team doing it?

Engagement Is NOT the Goal: It’s the Entry Fee
At the simplest level these are our goals:

  • Grab attention, hold it long enough to…
  • provoke engagement in ways that…
  • earns response (generates a lead).

Will you agree with me? If you don’t get response to content placed on LinkedIn, you’re wasting precious time.

Will you also agree engagement is not the goal on LinkedIn? I know we’ve been told it is. It feels strange saying it’s not. But engagement is the beginning of a courtship process.

Whether it happens on your profile or inside LinkedIn groups, engagement is the entry fee. It’s your chance to create irresistible curiosity—or let your customer click away.

LinkedIn can be a big time-saver. It can scale your ability to generate leads. But only if you adopt a successful paradigm, one where engagement is the beginning, not the end. I’m talking about a world where it’s easy to get response—using a system to get customers curious.

3 Steps to Generating Leads on LinkedIn
Here are my best tips on structuring what to say and when—so you create hunger for more details in potential buyers. Remember, intense curiosity is the goal.

The idea is to give prospects temporary satisfaction. When you post updates, engage in LinkedIn groups or dress up your profile, answer customers’ questions in ways that satisfy. However, make sure your answers cause more questions to pop into their heads. That’s when you’ll hit ’em with a call to action that begins the lead generation journey.

Here’s where to start—either on your profile or in a LinkedIn group where prospects can be found: Answer a question your target market needs answered in a way that focuses on a nagging pain or fear. The idea is to directly or indirectly signal, “this discussion will help you overcome _____” (insert fear or pain).

If responding to an existing question make your comment suggest, “I’m here with a new point-of-view” or “I’m here with a fresh, new remedy to that pain.”

When you communicate follow these guidelines:

  1. Get right to-the-point. When you start or contribute to a LinkedIn group discussion be like a laser. Don’t make readers wait for the solution. Hit ’em with it. However start by…
  2. Revealing slowly. When it comes to all the juicy details of your remedy take it slow. Slow enough to encourage more questions—to create curiosity in the total solution. When you do this, make sure you are…
  3. Provoking response by leveraging customers’ curiosity.

Yes, be action-oriented and specific. But avoid being so complete that readers become totally satisfied with your words.

Make Your Answers Generate More Questions
Think of this like a successful dating encounter. Masters of the courtship process have always known the secret to creating intense curiosity: Being a little mysterious. Suggesting “I’ve got something you might want.” Holding a little information back. Strategically timing the sharing of information.

We’re trying to get the other person to be curious about us. So the best way to spark curiosity is to answer questions in direct ways that satisfy—but only for the moment. Answers should generate more questions … spark more curiosity in what we are all about.

Of course, we need to be credible. We cannot risk playing games with the other side. Yet being a little mysterious is fair play. It encourages more questions. This is how to generate leads on LinkedIn.

In business it works the same. Your ability to start generating sales leads on LinkedIn will be determined by an ability to answer questions in ways that provoke more questions from the buyer. Good luck!

5 Steps to Generating Leads From Your Blog in Just a Few Months

“How long should it take to start generating leads on my blog?” The answer will surprise you. In many cases we’re talking about just a few months. Really? Yes, really. Here’s proof and five steps you can take right now to make it happen for you.

“How long should it take to start generating leads on my blog?” The answer will surprise you. In many cases we’re talking about just a few months.

Really?

Yes, really.

Here’s proof and five steps you can take right now to make it happen for you.

A Few Months? Really?
Ed Worthington of Action Business Systems sells office copiers and service contracts—faster and more often with his blog. It took him just a few months to get his first copier sales leads from his blog, Ed Worthington’s Baltimore Copier Buying Guide. Prospects found his blog on Google and contacted him.

What’s his secret? Ed blogs in question-and-answer format. This helps him get found by clients searching for helpful advice. He also writes blog articles that give customers guidance-making sure they don’t get ripped off. He steers them clear of risks.

But being helpful, transparent, honest and all that jazz is not the key. Ed explains solutions to problems customers have in was that creates clarity AND active curiosity in him.

This creates response! (leads)

Todd Giannattasio, of Tresnic Media, challenged himself to write 50 articles in 25 days. His results? 1,000 percent increase in targeted traffic to his website and, within a few months, business leads.

In some cases, it can take as little as two days to get listed on page 1 of Google … if you play your cards right. And if you have a track record of posting relevant, actionable content in ways the Googlebot can understand.

#INLINE-CHART#

Here’s an example of a video I uploaded, optimized for keywords and Google listed on page 1 in just two days.

How Can You Get Results Like This?
Let’s talk about what it means to “play your cards right” and start getting leads in a few months.

Here’s what to do:

First, I’ll be honest. I’m not getting leads from my Vimeo video listing that is 2 days old. But will I soon? Yes.

I know this based on my success with the below formula. Here’s what to do:

1. Do your homework: Understand how your prospects search on Google. I know many of my prospects are trying to start “using LinkedIn for sales leads.” Plus I see HubSpot has top placement here. This search term is important enough for them to be there, too.

2. Solve a problem. Ed Worthington knows people want to avoid getting ripped off when buying office copiers. And I know people need to find a way to start using LinkedIn for sales leads. Ed and I solve problems. This is essential for you to focus on when writing blog titles and articles. Right now, ask yourself: What pressing problem do I solve? What pain do I remove? What pleasure do I create? What freedom do I permit? What connection do I allow?

3. Create response. My videos and blog posts are structured to change the success rate of prospects. Materially changing prospects’ ability to move the needle was a game-changer for me. It will be for you too. Show prospects your “better way” and invite them to join you on a journey to teach them how to have that same success.

4. Keep it brief and ALWAYS make a call to action. My video (in the above example) is two minutes long for a reason. More importantly I go for it. I try to get a lead. Don’t be afraid to. You’re not selling-you’re helping prospects take a step toward solving their problem, learning a new skill or avoiding a risk. Make sure you don’t confuse your prospect’s strong desire to get some relief (for free) with their not wanting to be pitched what you sell. Short videos that scratch itches and contain calls-to-action (using URLs in the description and within the video) work. Period. Make sure all of your videos have calls to action.

5. Dominate. I’m currently dominating page 1 search results for this term. I’m not bragging. I’m saying, “Look … you can too!” Now, with this video, I have increased my chances of being discovered as an expert and engaged with. This leads me to … leads!

How long should it take to start generating leads on your blog? Yes, “it depends” but in many cases we’re talking about a few months. Good luck!

Using LinkedIn for Sales Leads: Getting More Response

Getting more response from sales prospects. It’s what we need. LinkedIn is helpful for lead identification and qualification but getting response from decision makers (on the approach) remains difficult. Using LinkedIn for sales leads can be tough. “Warming up” prospects using social media is a must and can be a game changer. By combining lead targeting with a practical listening system you (or your team) will increase email and voice mail response rates by becoming super-relevant. Here are quick tips on making it happen for you.

Getting more response from sales prospects. It’s what we need. LinkedIn is helpful for lead identification and qualification but getting response from decision makers (on the approach) remains difficult. Using LinkedIn for sales leads can be tough.

“Warming up” prospects using social media is a must and can be a game changer. By combining lead targeting with a practical listening system, you (or your team) will increase email and voice mail response rates by becoming super-relevant. Here are quick tips on making it happen for you.

Streams of Insights
Are you taking advantage of the “streams of insight” your prospects are putting out onto social platforms? You should be. These are the ways to breakthrough to grab the attention of prospects and hold it. These are ways to figure out what matters to prospects in real time.

Every day, prospects are telegraphing their fears, frustrations, ambitions, hopes and goals on these platforms. Probably a lot like you do!

Last year, I profiled how business process outsourcing provider, ADP is netting leads with Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve also profiled sales rep Ed Worthington, who’s figured out how to get copier sales leads. Each of these success stories has a common theme: Avoiding “going in cold.”

Let’s return to that example and vividly examine how you can get moving on “going in warm” (if not hot) with new prospects.

It all starts with using LinkedIn for sales leads in combination with a practical listening element.

Step 1: Include Listening in Qualification Research
When organizing your research on a given prospect be sure to include a “listening” field in your contact management system. This will allow you to keep things like Twitter handles, LinkedIn groups (that your prospect participates in), Google+ profiles and other “social streams of insight” in one place.

Be sure to take advantage of “streams of insight” where your prospects are telegraphing their fears, frustrations, ambitions, hopes and goals. This includes LinkedIn updates and Groups they participate in. These are the places where prospects signal opportunities to savvy sales reps.

So, when organizing your research on prospects, be sure to include a list of their social streams.

Step 2: Monitor the Streams
I know, I know. No kidding, Molander. Well, are you doing it? Are you using free tools like Hootsuite, Google Alerts, TweetDeck, Twitter search or any number of others? Take advantage of the organizational power of these tools by setting up a group (or Twitter uses “lists”) within your current set-up. Monitor your prospects. Call your grouping “Prospect streams.” Do it today!

Step 3: Listen for Demand
Many of us listen on social media for vanity purposes or to monitor discussions about a topic. Yet we can also listen for demand for our products and services. Are you?

Are you using Twitter search to discover prospects using phrases like “recommend a new supplier” or “switch to a new _____ provider” (prospects asking their network for a recommendation) … or “I need a new ____.”

These kinds of tactics sound obvious and they are. Are you (or your team) monitoring for these kinds of expressions among known and unknown prospects? Are you listening for near and long-term demand in social streams?

I monitor my active prospects across Twitter, LinkedIn, personal and professional blogs and Google+ streams.

Where to Start: Knowing What to Listen For
In most cases sellers already know what to be listening for. Good sellers know how customers express themselves on issues related to what they sell. The rest is simply organizing a listening approach and methodically “checking in” with the streams you’ve put in place—monitoring for insightful, actionable thoughts or expressions.

Start by writing down all the ways you already know customers express themselves. Think in terms of how they express thoughts and feelings about how they buy, consume, use, re-purchase or upgrade from what you sell. Think in terms of sound bytes or keyword phrases.

Then get to work being patient. In most cases it takes time to find the diamonds in the rough. Be diligent and patient as you continue to mine prospects’ social streams.

Good luck!

Blogging for Sales Leads: The No. 1 Reason Your Blog Isn’t Getting It Done

I used to believe in blogging authentically, transparently, telling good stories and being a thought leader, but these ideas consistently failed to generate leads for me. That’s because I was missing the one, essential piece that content marketing and blogging gurus don’t even know about: Use a blog to create confidence in the buyer—not me, my brand or my business.

I used to believe in blogging authentically, transparently, telling good stories and being a thought leader, but these ideas consistently failed to generate leads for me. That’s because I was missing the one, essential piece that content marketing and blogging gurus don’t even know about: Use a blog to create confidence in the buyer—not me, my brand or my business.

Today’s most successful B-to-B sellers are using blogs to do one thing really well: prove they’re worth investing in before customers pay a dime. They’re giving customers a few results and letting them experience what success feels like.

Blog to Help Prospects Believe in ThemselvesNot in You
The blogging gurus love to tell us to build trust with prospects using social media. Yet they never mention the best way to build enough trust to close a sale. (probably because they’ve never actually closed a sale)

I’m talking about helping a buyer get so confident in themselves—so sure that buying will give them everything they want—they can’t help themselves. They buy because they cannot argue against not buying anymore! (and of their own free will, of course)

Enter social media and all the bogus short-cuts we’ve been told will create trust. Telling stories, being honest, showing customers our “human side.” These things might help you foster trust but only if you apply them to help prospects get more confident in themselves.

Give Prospects Results In AdvanceNo Excuses
What’s the connection between convincing a prospect to buy through your blog and giving them overwhelming confidence? How do you execute this idea without wasting time? You create a process that manufactures “mini-successes” for prospects—in advance of their purchase.

This is the practical, tried-and-true strategy at the center of every blog that creates leads.

Start blogging in ways that prove your product or service is worth investing in. Start giving prospects a free taste of success before they purchase.

Help them do something that they really need to do, learn or accomplish. This gives them partial satisfaction (in themselves) and creates hunger for more. Not hunger for your product or service.

Hunger for more satisfaction in themselves.

Give It Away—All of It
If this sounds like a free trial you’re right but let’s say you’re selling a complex product or service. You’ll need to go further—convince prospects to buy based on what you’ve actually done for them lately.

I’m describing a situation where buying what you sell isn’t a point of consideration; it’s a logical next step for your prospect to take. Purchasing becomes part of the journey your prospect is already on.

By doing meaningful things for people that actually move the needle (solve a problem, teach a skill, etc.) prospects build a sense of achievement. Even if it’s a small one potential customers build trust in you based on this sense.

They begin to trust in your ability to deliver the FULL result if they were to actually buy from you.

Make sure your blog articles, video tutorials, white papers, ebooks and such are:

  1. Taking prospects on a journey toward (or away from) what it is you sell and
  2. creating confidence along the way by solving problems and/or teaching them new skills.

Lots of Examples…
This strategy is at the heart of thriving companies like HubSpot. I, myself, apply the technique to generate leads for a social media sales training program. Sure, money back guarantees help us close, so do customer testimonials. But nothing works better than giving away my best knowledge and helping prospects begin to experience actual success.

Nothing creates trust like having a material impact on your prospects’ lives before they buy. Nothing. Because it proves you’re able to create success for them and willing to prove it up front.

Again, all you’re really doing is building prospects’ confidence in themselves that they cannot argue with.

Look at every one of the social media sales success stories I’ve documented on this blog, in the magazine or on my other blog. Each of these B-to-B social selling success stories are finding a way to give out samples of results in advance.

Every successful B-to-B social seller I’ve found ever (and I do this full time!) is helping prospects get confident in themselves as buyers—before they’re doing anything else.

Let’s be honest. Can you really afford to not blog in ways that give prospects miniature versions of what it is you’re so darn good at? Especially when your competitors probably are—or are thinking of it?

How Less Frequent Blogging Is Creating More Leads for B-to-B Bloggers

Showing your human side, proving there’s a face behind the cold, maniacal business you represent, frequent blogging and telling stories about our businesses—it’s a shame these simple ideas aren’t generating leads and sales often enough. Yet, there is a better way to start generating leads with blogs. Winning new business in this anemic economy means creating “dramatic distinction” and irresistible curiosity with social media—giving prospects a reason to get a focused conversation started with you. Sometimes that means blogging less often.

Showing your human side, proving there’s a face behind the cold, maniacal business you represent, frequent blogging and telling stories about our businesses—it’s a shame these simple ideas aren’t generating leads and sales often enough. Yet, there is a better way to start generating leads with blogs.

Winning new business in this anemic economy means creating “dramatic distinction” and irresistible curiosity with social media—giving prospects a reason to get a focused conversation started with you. Sometimes that means blogging less often.

Content Marketing’s Biggest Myth
Want to stand out in social media? Do you have something honestly new to say? Well until you do, say less. Why? Because it works. You’ll become known for publishing less on your blog and, when doing so, releasing remarkably useful content more.

Tom Webster (one of the few wise voices willing to occasionally dissent) says the surest way to fail at blogging for sales leads is to write to a schedule, “and not in the service of ideas.”

“The tyranny of the content calendar is responsible for a lot of weak content on the Web,” says Webster.

He says, “keeping up that pace out of deference to some kind of received wisdom about publishing frequency” may not lead you to intellectual dishonesty, but it often does. At best, Webster says, it places dangerous stress on the system.

How to Stand Out—Fast
The key to success is giving prospects a compelling, irresistible reason to discover something new—a way to solve a problem that is contrary to popular wisdom. In other words, mythbusting.

Shutting-up until you have something honestly meaningful to say flies in the face of most content marketing experts. Sadly, many gurus over-emphasize the role of frequent blog posts, video uploads, etc., and point to keeping search engines busy crawling your site.

But having something new and useful to say works better and is the key to successfully using LinkedIn for sales leads, for instance.

Here is the mythbusting system in a nutshell:

  1. Make the myth clear up front: You’re dismantling popular wisdom to prove it wrong (just like I did in this blog post!)
  2. Offer proof of better way—again, up front
  3. Create a pathway for prospects to get more details (to create leads!)

The Role of Original Thought
No, no, no say the experts. Google demands a constant stream of content. Indeed, it does, but what those same experts avoid confessing is powerful:

  1. The role of original thought is becoming increasingly influential in search engines given how ranking algorithms factor in the spreading of thought-leading ideas by humans (prospects).
  2. Netting more and better leads means creating “dramatic distinction” and irresistible curiosity on your blow.

Ironically, infrequency of blogging and reaching beyond curating content is the it’s the key to getting found and making social media sell for you.

Follow These Steps: Take Action Now
Popular belief is powerful stuff. It’s what cements our habits … keeps them in place. Yet the status quo represents a big opportunity and always has. Social media gives B-to-B bloggers the chance to exploit the essence of truth-telling at the expense of every business’s enemy: mediocrity.

Mythbusting also works because it’s the story everyone wants to hear: “what you’re doing is popular yet not effective… here’s the secret on what actually works.”

This creates distinction in what you’re offering.

To generate a lead start blogging in a way that creates:

  • Confidence: Shine a light on the success your unique perspective brings; do it in a way that gives prospects clarity; help the customer feel like they can experience success too.
  • Curiosity: Explain your remedy in a way that creates clarity AND curiosity.
  • A Way: Give prospects a way to immediately act on the thought you just provoked; help them choose a pathway to make the needed change a habit in their everyday lives.

My clients and I are having a lot of success by focusing messages away from very popular (yet unproductive) beliefs that stymie our clients’ success.

For instance, I am currently mythbusting this false yet popular, positive-energy-filled belief that prevents success: “Storytelling and having a unique business personality/culture is what motivates prospects into engaging and doing business with you via social media.”

By calling into question what the elements of a good content marketing plan are on my blog (and amplifying it on other social media) I’m creating intense curiosity (about a more complete “way to get what customers want”) and presenting a clear way for customers to act on it (see the call-to-action half-way down the page).

Challenge yourself to go beyond messages and create tangible distinction by busting myths that stymie your customers’ success. Start today!

How to Generate Leads With Education Marketing

If you’re into content marketing these days, then you probably know a bit about using education to generate leads. But what makes an educational marketing approach actually work?  How can you be sure educating clients will ultimately generate leads worth following up? Today, I’m profiling Hubspot, B-to-B company that’s making social media sell and following the principles I preach in each of my columns.

If you’re into content marketing these days, then you probably know a bit about using education to generate leads. But what makes an educational marketing approach actually work? How can you be sure educating clients will ultimately generate leads worth following up? Today, I’m profiling HubSpot, a B-to-B company that’s making social media sell and following the principles I preach in each of my columns.

What Is Education Marketing?
The main idea here is to show, not tell, customers that investing in your product or service is worth every penny. But to be successful you’ve got to be willing to prove it for free, up front, by giving your customer a small but meaningful “win” right out of the gate, free. Why is this important?

When customers experience a success, no matter how small, they gain confidence in themselves (that they can reach the ultimate goal—one that relates to the itch your product scratches!) and at the same time trust of the educator (you). This confidence-plus-trust formula builds trust and persuades prospects that your paid product might just be worth it by giving them results in advance. Yet there’s more.

Education removes the “sales barrier” by transforming your product from a transactional consideration to an obvious “next step” in a problem solving sequence (the path to purchase). It all but removes the need to prove or persuade customers of your product’s effectiveness. You’ve already given an actual result in advance so why wouldn’t the product do the same?

Case in Point: HubSpot
HubSpot serves customers that are sales-focused online marketers of B-to-B and B-to-C goods and services. They’re probably a lot like you: everyday business people who need a better way to manage sales leads. No surprise, HubSpot sells a suite of software tools that helps them do that.

As a way to create sales leads for itself, HubSpot offers various “toolboxes” that solve common problems. Think of them as easy-to-use, educational utilities that can be quite addictive. How so? Well, it’s how HubSpot designs these tools empower customers with knowledge—practical information they can use to grow their business.

HubSpot’s free Web Site Grader tool allows a business owner to instantly understand how well their Web site stacks up against others. The Grader passes critical judgment on criteria like how many inbound links are coming into the site or how many of the site’s pages Google has included in its index.Yet HubSpot’s tool wisely scores qualitative Web site aspects too. It gives valuable, actionable feedback to site owners on things like readability level. It scores the Web site’s content … in terms of its ability to effectively communicate messages to target markets.

The best part of all is that the Grader’s scores are designed to induce more questions and expressions of need from the user. It is designed to help customers self-select themselves as business leads for HubSpot’s software product.