Is one of your advertising goals to generate sales leads for your salespeople, representatives, distributors, or resellers?
Consider these proven sales lead generation techniques gleaned from working with over 170 companies and some of the best marketers in the business.
If you want more leads, don’t use image ads
Have you seen the ads showing butterflies and oil wells co-existing, illustrating the oil company’s concern for the environment? This kind of advertising may do a lot to improve the company’s image, but these ads don’t generate sales leads.
If leads are what you want, focus your advertising’s message on the benefits and applications of your products or services. Then let the layout and design of your ads enhance your company’s image.
Put benefits in your headlines
Put a benefit in the headline, and you’ll have a better chance of catching the reader’s attention and generating a request for more information. When reading the headline, if the reader can ask, “so what?” you probably described a feature instead of a benefit. The answer to “so what?” is the benefit.
Talk about applications
If your product or service is ideal for specific applications, say so. Then, when readers recognize their application for your product or service, they will be more likely to respond. For example, you’re more likely to get an inquiry from someone in a hospital’s medical records department if they notice that your barcoding software is ideal for tracking patients’ medical records.
Make your ads easy to skim
Everyone seems pressed for time these days, including the folks reading the trade publications you advertise in. So make it easy for readers to “skim” your ads and still get the message. Use bulleted copy, subheads, and illustrations or photos to communicate key points quickly.
Testimonial ads are king
I’ve seen testimonial ads boost the number of sales leads my clients’ ads generate by up to 700%.
Your prospects expect you to be biased. However, they trust their peers to tell it like it is. Use this to your advantage by including quotes from happy customers in your advertising. Or mention the companies you serve. Or use statistics like “chosen by 9 out of 10 design engineers.”
However, to be believable, you have to be specific. For example, give the full name, title, and company affiliation of the person quoted. Or list the names of a few respected companies who use your products or services. If you use statistics, be sure to back them up by referencing the source of the data.
Fractional ads in every issue can be more cost-efficient
If you want more leads, your advertising needs to be present when your prospects look for solutions to their problems. So, if your budget is limited, rather than placing only a few full-page ads a year, consider running fractional ads in every issue. Having ads in every issue also makes your company look more prominent and more successful.
Use “Wrap Ads” to get more bang for the buck
“Wrap Ads” are several fractional ads designed to look like new product announcements, all run on a single page surrounding an “island” half-page ad. This format can also work for half-page and third-page ads. Although more common in tabloid-sized magazines, this type of ad works equally well in standard-sized publications.
My clients have found that wrap ads can pull up to 400% more inquiries than a single ad of the same size.
Make them an offer they can’t refuse
If you want your prospects to respond, you have to give them a convincing reason to do so. Keep the phrase “what’s in it for me?” in mind as you’re writing your ad’s call to action. It’s what your prospects are thinking as they decide whether or not they will take the time or effort to respond.
Consider offering application notes or case studies showing how other buyers solved their problems using your product or service.
Offering a useful premium or advertising specialty can also significantly increase the number of responses. However, try to make sure your offer is of interest only to qualified prospects. For example, a tool for sizing rings would be an attractive offer only to people who use rings. However, everyone might want a free pocket screwdriver set and inquire only to get it, not because they need your product or service.
Many of your prospects may want to try your product before they buy it. Therefore, if you can cost-effectively offer samples or a trial version, you will generate more inquiries.
Choose your words carefully
The word “free” is a powerful inquiry generator. Everyone wants something for nothing. Take a look at just about any direct response ad, and you’ll see it used.
“New” is another word that is sure to attract attention and generate more inquiries. Legally, however, you can only use “new” if it is new and only for a limited period of time (usually six months). Again, check with your legal advisor.
Talk in the first person with the reader
Focus on the readers’ needs by using “you” and “your” in your copy rather than boasting about how great “we” and “our” products or services are. For example, the statement “You will get the work done 25% quicker” is much stronger than “Our product is 25% faster than the competition.”
Ask for the order
Any experienced salesperson can tell you, “You won’t get the order unless you ask for it.”
Create benefit-oriented offers such as “call, write, email, or visit our website today to request your free Component Selection Guide, designed to help you quickly determine which products best meet your barcoding needs.” Notice that even the words “Selection Guide,” as opposed to “brochure” or “catalog,” were chosen to offer the reader a benefit.
Give them a compelling reason to inquire right away
You’ll get more inquiries if you design your offer to reward those who inquire right away. For example, try something like, “If you are one of the first 500 to inquire, we’ll also send you a free booklet entitled, “fifteen ways to cut your inventory costs.” Or “Request more information before December 31st, and we’ll include a coupon good for $500 worth of free accessories.”
Match your offers to where the reader is in the buying cycle
When prospects are just starting to gather information, they may need literature but are often not ready for a sales call. However, when it is almost time to buy, prospects are usually anxious to speak with your salespeople, reps, resellers, or distributors, see a demonstration, or discuss pricing.
You can significantly increase the number of inquiries you generate by making offers that have appeal to prospects in all phases of the sales cycle. For example, consider offering Selection Guides, application notes, a newsletter, a demonstration, a test or analysis, samples, a sales call, or any combination thereof.
Merchandise your offer
Direct marketers have found that how you package the offer can be as important as the offer itself.
For example, if you’re offering literature or samples, show a small picture in the ad of what they’ll receive if they inquire. If you use a coupon, show a tiny pair of scissors cutting out the coupon. If you use 800 numbers in your ads, make sure the numbers are big and bold. That way, they stand out, and it’s clear that you want the prospect to call.
Don’t forget to mention all the ways they can inquire; “circle the number below, call, contact us by email or visit our website today for your free information kit.”
Make it easy for your prospect to respond
Offer multiple ways to respond so your prospects can choose the method they prefer.
For example, some people need your information right away, so they prefer to call or to go right to your website on the Internet. Some like the 24-hour convenience of emailing their requests. Others find it easier or more comfortable to use coupons or bound-in reply cards.
Art directors tend to hate coupons, but they work. One study showed that the same ads with a coupon out-pulled versions without the coupon by as much as 13%.
If you publish phone numbers in your ads, be prepared to answer the phone during business hours wherever you do business, or print the hours that phone service is available, such as “Weekdays from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm EST.”
Mention your Website
Make it clear to readers that they can instantly get the rest of the story about your products or services by visiting your website. Then make sure your website makes it easy for them to find this information.
In addition, have an “Information Request” button on every page that takes them to a form that allows them to identify themselves and their needs and to request that detailed information be emailed, downloaded as files, or quickly mailed to them.
Consider using a unique landing page for each ad you run, so you’ll know from where the inquiry came. Ask your Webmaster about this. Again, it is easy and inexpensive to accomplish.