Content Strategy: How to Develop a Lead Generation System That Delivers Results

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Chances are you’ve heard the term ‘lead generation’ in the context of marketing your firm’s lawyers and services. You may have even have used lead gen to some degree. But what exactly does it mean? How does the practice actually work? And, most importantly, how can you develop an effective lead generation discipline that produces more and better leads for your firm?

To frame that discussion, let’s make sure we're all on the same page around the basic concepts of lead generation.

‘Lead’ is used to describe what you typically call potential (or prospective) clients. That encompasses just about everyone you know who could potentially hire the firm: the person who subscribed to your firm's news and alerts via a call-to-action on your website (a ‘cold lead’), the GC of a former client (a ‘warm lead’), or an in-house connection who's taken on expanded responsibilities at a long-term client (a ‘hot lead’).

‘Call to Action’ (or CTA) describes a form or prompt on your website that allows visitors to provide you with information – name, title, company, and email address, for example – in exchange for some benefit or information. Most firms keep this relatively innocuous, like a form that website visitors complete to subscribe to firm publications, but there are other ways to implement CTAs to gather contact details (say to register for a webinar or as a prerequisite for accessing a content portal).

‘Lead generation’ is the process through which you attract prospective clients and move them through the sales funnel, from cold leads to hot leads to clients. It involves multiple steps:

Developing thought leadership that addresses the issues facing the companies that you’re targeting for business, from blog posts and client alerts to webinars and in-person seminars to podcasts and videos, and everything in-between.

Delivering content to your target audience via email, social media, website downloads, webinars, presentations, syndication, etc.

Leveraging content to establish relationships with the people most likely to be interested in hiring you.

Nurturing relationships to convert leads into paying clients.

...focus on increasing the quality of your leads to make sure that they represent meaningful opportunities for client work

How to Generate More – and More Meaningful – Leads

Often lead generation is seen as a numbers game: the more leads you generate at the top of your funnel, the greater your pool of prospective clients, the greater your chances of actual clients. But, in the area of professional services, in which the service delivered is complex and nuanced, you should also focus on increasing the quality of your leads to make sure that they represent meaningful opportunities for client work. Here are some ways:

Focus Your Content. Thought leadership that addresses the specific issues your leads are dealing with will speak directly to them and demonstrate that you understand the challenges they’re facing. A webinar that talks about a recently-enacted medical marijuana law, for example, will teach attendees about the new rule, but a presentation on effective substance-abuse drug policies in light of the law will resonate with employers who need practical solutions for complying with the law while keeping the workplace safe. It’s all about well-communicated focus.

Implement a Comprehensive System. A lead generation process that generates more and better leads isn’t focused solely on the delivery of content. To improve the quality of leads, your system should both gather data – on all leads and on any specific lead – and share it as appropriate within the firm. Your system should track new leads so that marketers and business developers know when new opportunities arise. It should rank leads based on their position in the sales funnel at any given time. And it should support stakeholders as they engage with leads, nurture relationships, and take action that will convert them into clients.

Remain Flexible. The most important feature of your lead generation system? Flexibility. Trends change and opinions shift; the way to stay ahead of that evolution is to anticipate it. Experiment with the way you frame your thought leadership and how you deliver it, the layout and design of your CTAs, the tags you use to label content on your website. Consider different tactics when engaging with leads, like offering individualized training on a specific issue, for example, or inviting an important lead to co-present on a webinar with you. Keep your system as dynamic and flexible as the people you're targeting to ensure that you stay ahead of changing behaviors.

What is your firm doing to generate more and better leads? I’d love to hear about it.

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Katie O'Rourke is Regional Vice President, Sales, at ON24. Connect with her on LinkedIn; follow for her latest writing on JD Supra.

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