Commentary

Timing Is Everything

The best leads clearly come about when the news shouts sudden change, and people immediately realize they need something.  When the markets tanked a couple of weeks ago, how did financial lead gen perform?  Surprisingly well for the investment and lead gen firms that thought ahead. Many had prepared copy and offers that featured strategies for turbulent markets or promoted safe havens like gold or even CDs.  These offers showed real growth in opt-ins as investors wanted to know where to run for cover.

Timeliness makes great sense for lead development, even in businesses that are less volatile than financial.  Retailers have always geared their merchandising to changing seasons or events like graduation or back to school.  But preparation for possible events can also work well in areas like security technology or insurance.  Think of users' increased awareness of security after a major computer virus is publicized.  Or how consumers' perceived need for insurance rises after a series of natural disasters. 

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There's usually a small window when you have the consumer's focused attention. Here are four steps to better prepare leveraging news or changes related to your category.

· List the what-ifs. Think about what could materially impact consumers' view of your product or service.  If you're in real estate, how do potential customers react to news of an accelerating bubble, or a drop in the housing market?  If you're in travel, consider how weather in one area can stimulate travel to another. It's easy to look at recurring events and strategize how your product would meet needs if they happen. 

· Be the expert. You can position your product or your company as the one with the answers to changing conditions while everyone is thinking about them. Prepare the white paper or the Webinar or the essay in advance.  One of our financial clients prepared an online guide to bear market strategies a year ago.  This sat on the electronic shelf while the Dow drove to 14,000.  But as fear took over, the guide was suddenly relevant and in demand.  Leads volume took off, particularly among people who rarely had responded to generic offers.  

Most marketers can identify five to 10 important contingency events.  Look at those that either have the greatest likelihood of occurring -- or would have the greatest impact if they did -- and put some material together.

· Be sure the copy captures the tone. News value needs to be written into the copy.  And copy tied to the event will enjoy increased readership and response.  Obviously, you don't know exactly what is coming, but work with basic themes and customize as the events occur.  Then leverage the immediate feedback online to test alternative copy around an idea. 

· Leverage your database. If you've been collecting information from respondents to prior offers, you may be able to identify who is most likely to be attuned to an offer related to an event.  For instance, tailoring insurance offers based on life stage, assets or likelihood to be concerned about a particular issue can boost yield.  And if you haven't started to gather more than contact information from respondents, this is a great time to start. 

Lead gen doesn't stand for "generic." In a dynamic marketplace, preparing for news that might occur can give you a significant advantage.

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