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How to generate leads with content marketing

lead-with-lead-generationWhen it comes to digital marketing in general and content marketing specifically, there is only one question that ultimately matters…

How many new customers can you acquire as a result of your efforts?

If acquiring new customers is NOT your top priority,  then you can stop reading this right now and I can show you a golden toilet to flush your money down instead.

With that said, there is no surprise that a new B2B content marketing report shows that the #1 and #3 goals of all content marketers is Lead Generation and Customer Acquisition respectively. 

The obvious reason why these are two of the the top three goals is because most marketers are now being required to provide measurable results.   Other marketing goals such as thought leadership, brand awareness, and website traffic all play into the old John Wanamaker adage that makes bootstrapping entrepreneurs like me cringe:

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half

Should you keep score or play for fun?

The days of John Wanamaker are long gone, and so too should this sentiment. Digital marketing is becoming top dog now and there are hundreds of metrics that can tell you what is working and what’s not.

The ability to keep score like this scares a lot of people still cut from the same cloth as the marketers from the Wanamaker days.  It’s no longer acceptable to treat marketing dollars like monopoly money. Only the uninformed believe that a marketing strategy worked because of the number of “impressions” it got.

Some marketers are still able to sell the monopoly dream by claiming that is too “salesy” to focus on the metrics that matter to the bottom line. They say that generating leads should not be the top priority.  Instead, you must wait until you build thought leadership and brand awareness in the community before you focus on customer acquisition.

I am here to tell you that this thinking is full of the same crap that’s in that golden toilet with the money flushed down it.

Any marketer worth his/her salt should be capable of doing branding, thought leadership, and customer acquisition simultaneously by leading with lead generation as the the focus.

Are you marketing or journaling?

Lead generation through content marketing is the art of providing relevant information to an audience that spurs that audience to want to know more or buy from you.

Of course there is an element of thought leadership involved.  Of course there is an element of branding involved.  Of course you have to drive traffic to make any of this work.

However, the only way to know if your thought leadership mattered, your branding mattered, and your traffic mattered is by making a sale or getting a lead.  If one of these two things don’t happen as a result of your content marketing efforts then you aren’t marketing, you’re journaling.

Lead with the lead by closing with the ask

I’m not suggesting you put selling up front in your marketing.  That’s a recipe for losers. The great thing about content marketing vs. traditional advertising is the ability to layer information.

Useful news, data, opinions, or “how to” should always be the top layer of content marketing.  This does not mean lead generation is an afterthought, however. Leading with lead generation has nothing to do with “in your face” selling either, contrary to popular belief.

Leading with lead generation is about writing content with a purpose.  It’s about telling a story that leads somewhere other than a dead end.  That somewhere is the ASK.

You can provide all the thought leadership you want, build all the brand awareness you need, drive all the traffic you desire, as long as you close with an ask.

It’s likely still too soon to ask for the sale, so the best thing to do is to ask your audience if they want more information.  If you are truly building brand awareness and thought leadership, then getting your audience to want more information should be a given.

Asking your audience this should never feel awkward.  It shouldn’t feel “salesy” either.  When you lead with lead generation as you plan your content marketing efforts, closing with an ask just comes natural.

For a simple 4 step process on how to incorporate lead generation into your content marketing, you can get our free 1 page guide by requesting a copy below.

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