[IMGCAP(1)]It used to be that one could send out 100 letters to prospects and get a few meetings, and perhaps even a client.  That is a far cry from what it takes to cut through the clutter that our prospects are exposed to these days. When I started in marketing, the statistic was that you had to touch a prospect seven times before they could become a client, and a few years ago that number was up to 13. I heard the number is north of 20 today. What does this mean for your lead generation efforts? A few things, actually (but not 20).

Be hyper-targeted in your message. People will discard and delete anything that is not right up their alley.  If your co-workers and clients are accidentally deleting your messages, just imagine how they treat perfect strangers.  This is the same with your prospects – people just don’t have the time to investigate all the information coming at them unless it is clearly within their zone of interest.

Utilize several tools for outreach. Due to the increased clutter, you need to consider multiple avenues to “touch” your prospects. Utilize social media posts, webinars, association participation, dimensional mail, and telephone calls. Your efforts must be integrated so that your prospects start to see/hear your name over and over again in different formats – because you never know which one they utilize the most.

Be unique.  Resist the temptation to do what your competitor does. I was involved in re-branding a CPA firm many years ago and we came up with a unique tagline that used the word “difference.” Within three years there were at least three direct competitors using a variation of our tagline with the word “difference” in it. Copying something your competitor does dilutes the power of the message, and is not a long-term approach to building your business.

Have a strong offer and call to action. Think about the first CPA who marketed a free one-hour consultation for prospective clients – he/she must have brought in a boatload of clients with that offer.  Today, that offer is irrelevant and a non-starter. Last time I checked, it took a really good offer to convince me to sit down and meet with a stranger for them to sell me something. One great example of something that many business leaders desire is benchmarking statistics.  And a great call to action is that you will have a comprehensive discussion of key benchmarking statistics from companies in the area/region and will leave them with a report they can share with others. But even this technique doesn’t always work, because there are plenty of sources of benchmarking statistics out there. So, you need to understand what is important to the buyer and make a play at helping them in that area.

Don’t stop. Singular marketing efforts DO NOT WORK WELL. “Once and done” is a great recipe for failure. Lead generation in today’s environment will require a dedicated and ongoing approach that wraps together many outreach methods with unique, well-targeted and strong calls to action over a long period of time before you can declare you are a winner or loser. 

Exhausting isn’t it? Well, unfortunately that’s lead generation in 2011. So, if your plan is to send out 100 letters and wait for the phone to ring – you will probably be waiting for a long time.

Art Kuesel works at Koltin Consulting Group, helping CPA firms across the country hone and maximize their sales pursuits and win more business. Koltin Consulting serves CPA, law, and financial advisory firms with strategic management consulting, M&A services, executive recruiting and strategic marketing and sales consulting. Art can be reached at 312.245.1745 or akuesel@koltin.com