Lead generation marketing is not about selling your product.

“Build it and they will come”

No, this post is not a rip-off of a Kevin Costner movie. It’s about product managers who think their company’s product is so great that just telling people about it is enough to generate sales. Unfortunately, those folks do live in a “Field of Dreams.”

A better product does NOT guarantee sales. The classic example of this is Betamax vs. VHS, the two rival home videocassette tape-recording technologies that battled it out in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Even though Betamax was generally considered a superior recording format, VHS’s better marketing and lower cost won out so many more consumers that Betamax was pretty much obsolete by the mid-1980s.

The main difference between a sales message and a lead-generation message is that, to maximize response, lead generation does not sell the product — it sells the offer that gives prospects a reason to show they are interested in getting the benefits the product delivers.

This is a difficult concept for product managers to accept. They are convinced that all a marketing message needs to do is tout the fabulous product and its innovative features and prospect companies will buy it. Actually, some will. But those that respond to a pure sales message are already deep into the buying cycle and are ready to buy — your message just happened to hit them at that magical moment. But that group represents a very small number of the total potential buyers.

Lead generation reaches those that are ready to buy. But, at the same time, it fills the sales pipeline with prospects from every stage of the buying cycle, including those that have not yet started researching solutions for the problem your product or service can solve.

A message that focuses on the offer reminds your prospects of the pain they are experiencing, then invites them to request information on how to relieve that pain.

Offers can be dozens of informational items from white papers to guides and checklists to Webinars with content that focuses on ways your target market can get control over the problem your product or service can solve.

Lead generation is the marketing approach that will maximize response and fill your sales pipeline with qualified leads. Once leads have been generated, then and only then is it appropriate to start selling the product.

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