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Tuesday, 22 February 2011

ONE is the worst number in business

ONE supplier, ONE key employee, ONE key customer, ONE source of leads, and I could go on and on and on....each of these risky scenarios has impending financial disaster written all over them.

I was speaking to a potential client some months ago now, a conservatory manufacturer and installer, and he was advising me to use radio advertising. Now the reason he was advising me to spend thousands on radio advertising is that he said that it was working for his company, and they relied on it. In fact, they relied on it so much, that they had scrapped any other form of advertising and lead generation in favour of it.

Well that’s great if it’s working, and it certainly appeared to be working… “but”, I asked “what if a competitor comes along with a better advert, better radio slot times, more coverage, and offers something you don’t, what have you got in place to fall back on immediately?” He couldn’t answer.

Amazingly, some small businesses rely on one lead source, for example directories like Yellow pages or Thomson Local, and I’m sure many of them are doing great. But this is so dangerous, what happens if next time the directory is printed and there are 3 other businesses doing exactly what you do and their adverts are better than yours, or worse, what if there was a mistake and your number was printed wrong or you were omitted completely?  Your trusted source of leads has now GONE. Put simply, every business should be propped up by multiple sources of ‘Lead Generation’, or ‘Pillars’.

This is known as the ‘Parthenon Plan’. Bear with me ! The Parthenon of Greece was created over 2 millenia ago and was built on more than 60 pillars to withstand unknown challenges. In the late 17th century, it was used as an ammunition store and suffered a direct hit exploding the munitions inside. However, most of the building and columns are still standing.
It’s about realizing that in order to grow, or even survive, you must use 8, 10 or even more pillars of lead generation so that if one or three start to perform badly, then you still have strong foundations propping up your business.

But isn’t cost restrictive? Most businesses have a marketing budget and it just won’t run to adverts here and there, leaflet drops, internet advertising etc etc ; and anyway what else is there?

Ok here’s a list of what you can employ as lead generation pillars.

  • ·         Direct Mail
  • ·         Pay Per Click Advertising
  • ·         Search Engine Optimisation
  • ·         Leaflet Drops
  • ·         Telephone Marketing
  • ·         Email capture
  • ·         Autoresponder
  • ·         Direct Sales
  • ·         Joint Ventures
  • ·         Online Public Relations
  • ·         Run Competitions
  • ·         Open Days
  • ·         Systematic Referrals
  • ·         Internet Advertising
  • ·         Offline Public Relations
  • ·         Shows, Events
  • ·         Affiliate Programs
  • ·         Networking
  • ·         Teleseminar
  • ·         Print Advertising
  • ·         Radio and TV
  • ·         Newsletters
  • ·         Sponsorship
  • ·         Mini Courses
And on and on and on. I could fill this list with a HUNDRED ideas.
Action Steps –     

  1. Make a list of your existing lead generation strategies
  2. How much business do you generate as a percentage on each strategy ?

If you have less than 8 strategies (pillars) and any one of them (or two or three) add up to more than 40% to 50%, you don’t have a Parthenon, you have a Leaning Tower of Pisa, and you may have to prop it up.

The ideal spread would be to have 10 strategies, each bringing in 10% of your leads, but any spread is better than relying on one or even two key strategies.

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