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The process of buying online has consistently changed over the years. Before it was having a web/brochure page was enough. Today there is competition and you need to close those sales and bring these visitors in before they find somewhere else to go. Finding customers with mass advertising, email blasts or text marketing campaigns, marketers must now focus on being found and learn to build continuous relationships with buyers.
With the constant growth of the internet, the world has changed from one of information scarcity to one of information overload. In fact, according to Google chairman Eric Schmidt "there was 5 Exabyte's of information created between the dawn of civilization and 2003, but that much information is now created every two days and the pace is rapidly increasing".
The problem is that information overload equals attention scarcity. With all the noise out on the Internet it is harder to be found and heard by the people that might be looking for your products and services. This has changed the entire buying process for consumers and businesses. Buyers are overwhelmed with all the noise that is now available to them. They are getting better every day at ignoring the messages they don't want to hear and researching what they do want to learn about on their own.
In the old world of information scarcity, the concept of "lead generation" meant marketing found the names of potential buyers and passed them to sales personnel. Buyers expected that they would have to talk to sales and sales expected to speak to uneducated early stage buyers that may not yet be qualified. This has all changed. Today, buyers can do their own research online, and can find a variety of educational resources through search engines, social media, and other online channels. Through content resources, today's buyer can learn a great deal about a product or service before ever having to even speak to a sales person. So businesses must make sure that they build their digital presence.
Attention scarcity is driving a shift from "rented attention" to "owned attention". Historically, most marketing has been about renting attention other people have built. An example of this would be if you purchased an ad in a magazine or rented a tradeshow booth. But in the noisy, crowded market that today's buyers live in, rented attention becomes less effective as attention becomes even scarcer. Of course, this is not an either-or proposition; you will ideally use a mix of rented vs. owned attention for your lead generation efforts to be affective.
How do you build your own attention? The answer is to become a trusted advisor to your prospects by publishing and creating valuable content assets and thought leadership. That is the key to being successful with your lead generation efforts in today's complex buying landscape.
With the new buyer it is important to note that your marketing efforts don't end once a new lead comes into your system – what we call Top of the Funnel (TOFU) marketing. Many companies do a good job at generating leads, but the problem is that most new leads are not ready to buy yet. And if a sales rep does engage and the lead isn't ready to talk with them, it reinforces the notion that marketing sourced leads are not great. As a result, leads get lost, ignored, or snatched up by your competitors.
To prevent this from happening, good lead generation marketers will invest in lead nurturing and other Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) techniques to build relationships and trust—earning the lead's business once he or she is finally ready to buy. Engage these leads through relevant content and make sure that you get your timing right.
Lead generation has moved beyond simply discussing TOFU. In order to have a holistic strategy, MOFU marketing must be included in all your strategic discussions to make sure that you have a good process for turning leads into sales.