As a small business employs a marketing plan to generate new leads, it is important to continuously measure ROI. There are various lead generation tactics a business can employ- networking, email prospecting, web marketing, direct mail, cold calling, etc. A business owner must view their tactical plan like a financial portfolio, with returns being regularly analyzed to ensure the investment is justified. As results are being measured, it is critical to differentiate inquiries from qualified leads.
I meet many business owners that rave about a marketing program they have implemented. They talk about the number of calls, meetings or proposals derived from a specific marketing tactic. However, a marketing program generating inquiries that have not been qualified can cost time, resources and staff. Before an inquiry can become a lead, someone must determine if they have the budget, authority to make the decision and will implement in an appropriate time frame. If this is not performed early in the sales process, your sales team will spend too much time with leads who do not fit your ideal customer profile and are never going to buy from you.
As you examine your business’ marketing programs, which ones produce the most qualified leads? If you regularly attend a networking event, how many qualified leads and how many closed sales came from that group in a year? If you generate a healthy ROI, excellent. On the other hand, if the networking events just spawn more meetings with unqualified leads, you may need to reassess. The same rule applies for any lead generation tactic your business employs. Also, a tactic that was effective a year ago may not be effective now. You must continuously analyze and optimize your marketing strategy.
There is this false sense of accomplishment a small business owner can feel when they are busy all the time. They feel accomplished because they working 18 hours a day and are building numerous relationships. The key question is how many of these relationships help you reach your marketing objectives?