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A business owner trying to find the digital marketing silver bullet through buying leads online recently made me an offer. “Just get me qualified leads and I will pay you $”x” for each one!” I thought about this and responded,

To me, it is like this analogy. I do not want to get sick, so I say to the doctor, ‘just give me 50 more years of good health or 50 leads let’s say’. The doctor can say, ‘Okay, I can do that, but you need to implement this regimen of diet, exercise, vitamins, stretching, yoga, etc and you will get those years.’ I say, ‘No that is too hard… I will just pay someone else to do all those things for me and then just give me the leads…’

… the short answer of where I’m coming from is that if you are going to drive new business in a real and sustainable way, you have to invest in building a system that crosses channels and fills in gaps to help you have an omnipresent, healthy, local online presence. That requires, time, skill, effort, and it pays off over time. Or, you can just pay someone to try to go get you leads…

To be clear, this does not mean that you cannot outsource your digital marketing and advertising. It does not mean that you must do it all yourself. But it does mean that you need a comprehensive strategy. I believe that just buying leads online will not strengthen your digital footprint over time.

Why This Approach Will Not Work

Usually this requires entrusting your campaign to a provider that uses a proprietary platform or system that may be a black box and indeed can generate leads. Sometimes these are poor quality leads. Sometimes they are good leads. A couple things to consider:

1) Where did this lead come from? So, what is working. What is not working.

2) Do you (this business owner) own the content/creative built to attract lead?

3) Does the lead come through your domain so you can re-target and/or learn about some of that traffic?

4) How is this helping other aspects of my online presence? i.e. social posting, reviews, search engine optimization (SEO)

5) Is there any residual positive impact from the campaign?

3rd party lead generation inherently protects its process to remain viable for those that do not want to invest in solving this on their own.

Four Business Approaches to Digital Marketing

The Bloated

The Bloated Approach can result in business owners being inclined to buying leads online

This is the business owner that is trying everything and usually doing it all themselves. They are often trying to save money. They are usually super smart and know that they can handle the search engine optimization, website development, social media posting, Facebook advertising, Google AdWords, monitor the online reputation etc themselves.

They typically like to control it all. This usually means things are rushed, done erratically or sometimes done wrong. It also requires hours of the business owner’s time which is valuable and better spent on growing the business and taking care of the customer. This approach usually leads to chaos and burnout.

The Skeletal

The Skeletal approach results in a lacking online presence, outdated marketing methods, and no leads online

This business owner simply does not put resources into digital marketing at all. They may not have a website. They are still relying on “word of mouth”. They may be nervous about the unknown. They may not understand all the aspects of developing a great online presence and do not want to learn.

They would rather do nothing than do something wrong. They may have been “burned” when trusting someone else to do it for them. Again, this may simply be because they did not understand it. So, they avoid it altogether.

The Mercenary

This is the one that says just give me the leads. I give you money. You give me leads. This business owner typically sees the value of marketing. Has had some success with it. And is willing to invest in business growth. But they do not want to spend any more time than necessary in understanding the process or developing a comprehensive strategy. This is our business owner from earlier. 

The Mr.Goodbody

The ideal healthy example of an approach to digital marketing and getting leads online

Does anyone remember this character from the ‘70s TV show Captain Kangaroo? Slim Goodbody shared music and skits to entertain and educate children on hygiene, anatomy, nutrition, and exercise. This is the ideal for developing a healthy, robust and sustained digital marketing program for your business. Again, this can be outsourced considering accountability with a digital marketing partner. But it needs to happen in a holistic way across channels. 

Your website can help with search engine optimization. More reviews and review sources help your reputation. Social media posting builds your branding and engages your customer base. Display ads introduce your brand to targeted prospects. Paid search captures demand when people are ready to buy. All these moving parts work together to improve your overall online presence and generate more revenue for your business. 

Ultimately this approach is intentional. It is planned out and well organized. It begins with a “health” assessment, identifies goals and objectives, and then builds the strategy and launches the campaign. Regular checkups are recommended to review progress, evaluate, and modify the program.

This approach will lead to a holistic improvement to the company’s brand, presence, and marketing efforts. When this is done well, digital marketing and advertising programs run more efficiently. When your business is in shape, as you work towards peak performance, the past marketing challenges can be met more easily and with greater success.

In Conclusion:

Like improving personal health, honing a new skill, or building a great business there is not a silver bullet. There is not a quick and easy fix such as just buying leads online. It takes thought, effort, consideration, building a plan and following through with it. But in the end the effort, time, and money invested in doing it right will lead to long-term growth and success of your business.