This is the fourth article in a series called Biblical Principles for Sales and Marketing. In this series, we are taking the following five principles and applying them to different aspects of marketing. In this article, we are considering lead generation.
1. Love. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. Luke 6:31
2. Truth. A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight. Prov 11:1
3. Humility. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Philippians 2:3
4. Contentment. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
5. Service. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Ephesians 4:28
What is lead generation?
When trying to solve a crime or untangle a mystery, detectives follow leads to try to find the perpetrator or solve the mystery. These leads are clues or tips, some of which will prove to be dead ends, false trails that lead nowhere. But another lead may prove to hold the key to solving the mystery.
When a Malaysian Airlines plane disappeared from radar in a flight in 2014, investigators pursued leads related to the pilot, the passengers, the cargo, and electronic pings picked up by satellites. In 2015, when a small piece of debris from the missing plane was found washed up onto the shore of a small island in the Indian Ocean about 2500 miles from the search area, investigators had a new lead. Sadly, the mystery of the disappearing plane has not yet been solved.
Like a detective, you need to pursue your business leads. A lead is someone who is potentially interested in doing business with you, but you do not have a relationship with them. By not having a relationship with them, I mean that they’ve never talked with you in your store or that you do not have their contact information in your system. They’ve never bought from you or signed up to receive any of your marketing collateral.
Lead generation is a term for the methods you use to get more leads. You can think of lead generation as a little like calling turkeys. On a hunt, your purpose is to get a turkey to show interest and take a closer look.
To generate more leads, you need to get people to “raise their hand” and let you know they are interested. This can happen through a phone call, a conversation in your store or shop, an email, or communication through an online channel.
Many businesses rely on ads to generate leads. Advertising is an important tool in our marketing toolkit, but it comes with pitfalls we need to avoid.
The Marlboro Man cigarette ads of fifty years ago are a vivid example of brilliant—but worldly—marketing. The iconic images of a ruggedly handsome cowboy lighting up made Marlboro the top tobacco brand in the world. But those ads were untruthful to the core. Smoking does not make a person rugged and independent. Rather, smoking does the opposite, making a person a slave, dependent and broken in health.
Even though we don’t sell tobacco, shell out millions of dollars for a 30-second Super Bowl ad, or use pictures of half-naked people, worldliness and wastefulness can creep into our advertising unless we approach it thoughtfully and intentionally.
The five Biblical principles we’ve been exploring in this series can help us stay on track in our search for new customers.
The principle of love.
A preacher named Jonah D.Tangelder wrote, “When greed takes the place of love, a man is looked upon as a consumer, as a buyer, but not as a real person, a creature of God, with specific needs, problems, interests and ideals.”
Love calls us to look beyond our own needs to consider the needs and desires of the other person. This understanding provides the foundation for the messages we craft for advertisements.
Being you-first instead of me-first changes your advertising perspective. While you probably wouldn’t run an ad that says “Look at me. I’m the best,” sometimes we can fall into the trap of expressing that attitude, just with other words. This concept of not being self-centered overlaps with the principles of humility and service.
A better approach to advertising is showing that we understand the prospect’s problem, which gives the prospect hope that we can truly help them. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
The principle of truth.
It is common for a business to overstate what its products can realistically do. Instead of over promising, strive to under-promise and over-deliver. Make sure you can support your claims if you are questioned.
Be careful with superlatives, words like the following: best, greatest, last one you’ll ever need, unmatched, unbeatable, flawless, perfect.
At the same time, be clear about what you can do or what you have done for others. There is a quote that goes, “If you done it, it ain’t braggin’.” Honesty about both your strengths and weaknesses build confidence.
The principle of humility.
Continuing the thought from the last paragraph, be truthful without bragging. This relates to the words you use and your tone, the way you come across to others.
Remember that the Bible says, “What hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). We don’t get the credit for our accomplishments and success.
Humility as well as truthfulness involves recognizing that our product is not a good fit for everyone. Target your messages to your ideal prospect, and don’t try to draw in all the potential fringe buyers. They will come if your message is the best option they have. If they decide to pursue a purchase, the stage is set that they may not be buying the ideal solution for them, but it may be the best available.
The principle of contentment.
This has probably happened to all of us. We see an ad for a shiny new product. It sparks desire, and we think, I really wish I had that. At that point, several different things can happen. Maybe we consider it longer and decide, I don’t really need that right now, so I’m not going to purchase. Maybe we decide that the price is too high for our budget. Or maybe we decide that we do have a real need, and so we buy the product.
Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he posesseth” (Luke 12:15). In advertising, where is the line between inciting covetousness and inspiring someone to positive change by purchasing from you?
The Bible condemns worldliness: the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We should avoid appealing to or creating the following desires:
- Sexual lust
Worldly advertisements state or imply that owning their products will make you happy, but we know that true happiness springs from a heart condition, not what we own.
What should we do instead? The following desires can be appropriate buttons to push:
- Extending or leveraging ability to do good (save time or money, increase safety or health)
- Refreshment and wellbeing
- Appropriate aesthetic beauty
- Meeting needs
- Removing frustration
- Noble desires
- Appropriate wants
As we seek God’s help, He can help us to be advertisers of integrity.
The principle of service.
How can we apply the principle of service to lead generation? One way is to provide value for free. Be willing to offer something at no charge to serve your prospect and win their confidence. Not only does this give you an opportunity to demonstrate how you can help them, but it shows a winsome spirit of service and helpfulness.
I know we are a frugal people, but let’s be generous with our freebies. There is nothing wrong with helping someone who never makes a purchase. Isn’t helping others our purpose in life, anyway? This article, which is a form of marketing training, is one example. Through these articles, we have served many readers who will never do business with us, and that is all right. These articles have also brought many new customers to us.
Here are some valuable things you can offer for free to people to help them make a good decision:
- Product samples
- Appointment with a consultant
- Demos and test drives
- Information such as reports, statistics, and training
A good system for generating leads includes tracking results. It is simply good stewardship to test and measure the responses we get from our lead generation efforts. Before you invest time and money in advertising, consider how you will track the responses.
Tracking the following numbers for each lead source help us to make better lead generation decisions:
- Number of leads
- Number of conversions
- Dollars sold
- Profit margin
A Christian business’s advertising will have a different flavor than the ads we see in society around us. Not only is this good business, it is a business practice that provides salt and light to the world.