Gini Dietrich

Six Steps to Creating Content that Generate Leads

By: Gini Dietrich | June 26, 2012 | 

There is an interesting statistic that shows how effective content is in generating leads for companies vs. those who don’t use content at all.

The stat, from a study conducted by HubSpot and MarketingProfs, shows consumer businesses gain 88 percent more leads and B2B organizations gain 67 percent more leads.

It stands to reason then, the more content you create, the more leads you generate.

The study confirms this.

If you create new content just once a week, your leads will increase by 77 percent.

Not too shabby, considering all you know about fresh content and search engine optimization!

But it’s not as easy as saying you’re going to create new content every week. It takes a lot of time, a lot of determination, and some know-how about SEO, community building, and writing shareable pieces.

How Do I Find the Time?

How much time do you spend now making cold calls, going to networking events, and attending conferences?

How many new customers do you typically get from each of those activities?

How many customers come from word-of-mouth?

Would it be easier for you to take the time you spend making cold calls and going to networking events to create new content?

That’s all it is…a reorganization of your time, but to something that works more effectively (and doesn’t take as much time) than the traditional methods.

Where Do I Start?

Blogging is, hands down, the most effective way to generate leads. But it’s also the most time intensive.

Instead, I’d like you to think about using webinars to build awareness, create thought leadership, and generate leads.

Blogging can come later; when you’re comfortable creating content and can commit to doing it more than once a week.

Following is the process I recommend you use:

  1. Determine your webinar topic and invite an influencer in your industry to present on your behalf. Radian6 does a nice job with this with monthly webinars. They invite a newly published author to present information found in their book and they offer the webinars for free. It gets them new content once a month, the free price tag brings in several hundred attendees, and those people become leads for their social media monitoring software.
  2. If you have budget to create a postcard, do so and mail it to your list of customers, prospects, friends, and family. Do this three weeks before your webinar.
  3. Write a new release about your webinar and post it on Pitch Engine or one of the other free distribution services. Do this two weeks before your webinar.
  4. Two weeks before your webinar, send an email to your contacts (or newsletter distribution list) inviting them to attend. While some of these people will already be customers, some will be people you haven’t talked to in a while or prospects who lost touch with you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a while. This will serve as a way to get back in touch.
  5. Two days before your webinar, send another email to your contacts. But this time, remove the people who have already registered or who have opted out of your mailing.
  6. A couple of hours before your webinar, send one last email to your contacts, reminding them of the webinar. You’ll be surprised at how many people register the day before, and the day of, your webinar. Those last two emails will be your most effective.

The people who register for your online event now become warm leads for your organization. You want to be careful not to sell during the webinar, but to provide valuable information they can take back to their desks and implement immediately.

Remember how I said at the beginning you should be creating one new piece of content a week and then I only walked you through a monthly webinar? Well, all the content you’re creating around the webinar – the news release, the postcard, the emails – all count, if they also have a home on your website.

So get to it! Start generating some new leads!

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Hey Gini, great info (as usual!). I’ve been thinking of holding a webinar but worry that no one will show up. I know the webinar lives on my site for people to access after the actual date, but the thought of no one coming to my party still concerns me. For now I’m stepping up my blog schedule and waiting until I have more subscribers until I take the webinar plunge. I don’t know if that’s the right strategy or not and would love to hear your thoughts. Also, for those who use HubSpot I just found out their webinar app is now free for professional and enterprise customers.

    •  @Shelley Pringle I think it depends on your list, outside of your blog subscribers. Do you have prospects on there, who you either haven’t  connected with or have lost touch with? This is a great way to stay top-of-mind while providing them some really great value.
      Also, a little known secret. The only person who knows how many people are in attendance is you. So I recommend you do them, even if no one shows up, to gain the practice and get them on your site to download. 

      •  @ginidietrich I really like that last point! I am definitely going to move ‘webinar’ up on my To Do list.

        •  @Shelley Pringle I’m revising our inbound marketing program right now and one of the things I’m making visible are our webinars. People can sign up to receive notice of them, which does a few things: It builds our database, it gives them an easy way to see how we work, and it creates a reason for us to have them every month. 

  • ginidietrich

    @JefferyBialek Morning!

    • JefferyBialek

      @ginidietrich Good morning!

  • Preaching to the choir here, so all I can say is “Amen!”. People want the easy way out. The moment you start talking about creating content…their eyes glaze over. But it really can be manageable if you think it through carefully and have a plan.

    •  @KenMueller And you don’t have to do it all at once. Start small and add as you go.

      •  @ginidietrich When I talk about blogging, clients often look at me and say “But you blog every day. I can’t do that!”. I would never expect any of my clients to do that, at least not right away. I do it because it’s part of who I am and my strategy. If I can get them started at once a week, and get them to be consistent, I know they’ll see that it doesn’t have to be laborious. 

        •  @KenMueller I would never recommend a client start out every day either. It’s just not sustainable. 

  • MichaelBowers

    Great post! What I like about this for businesses is that the activities are much more like a traditional sales strategy. It should be easier to get buy in from higher levels in the organization because it is a familiar process. Plus it would be easier to come up with ROI as you will be able to see the leads and see the results from those leads.

    •  @MichaelBowers Great point about it being similar to a traditional sales strategy. The only issue we’ve had with stuff like this is generating leads the sales team doesn’t follow up with. That drives me batty.

  • While I can’t speak as a blogger, I can tell you that as a potential business consumer, the content generation for webinars works for me.  I attend 6-10 webinars monthly from those companies or agencies that publicize their webinars via email or direct mail. It also leads me to their web sites, blogs and other platforms where I bookmark, become a loyal fan and a potential customer. HubSpot works this is process in spades with the caveat of ‘free’ webinars and e-books. 
    It might not close the sale today but believe me I am watching, taking notes and making lists. You struck a chord with me on this post that may lead to making music down the road. 

    •  @annelizhannan Hubspot is a great example of a company that does it really well. They’re also very good at following up with you in a meaningful, not creepy, way. 

      •  @ginidietrich  @annelizhannan Argyle Social does it really well, too.
        From a content perspective, I don’t think Hubspot is doing themselves any favors with their overall quality. It’s become little more than a content farm, IMO, which is unfortunate because their SAAS is decent. 

        •  @jasonkonopinski  @annelizhannan I’m working on something that I think I like (a lot) better than Hubspot. More to come later.

        •  @ginidietrich You tease 😉 @jasonkonopinski Thanks, I need to take a hard look at Argyle but I have always heard good reports. Oh, my to do list, what to do, what to do first!

  • While not wanting to be too picky, I do want to point out an important distinction in the findings quoted at the beginning of this post. Creating new content just once a week may indeed increase ONLINE leads by 77%, but small businesses will almost certainly not have 77% more customers phoning or dropping in to learn more, just because they blog once a week.I have met several who have indeed generated content several times, but feel they did not see one new customer or lead from their efforts.
    Over the past few months, I’ve made presentations to about 300 small business that are either just starting out in social media or exploring ways to build on what they’ve been doing. They face a huge challenge of limited in-house resources and capabilities. The steps you outline in the article are great, Gini. However, many smaller companies — particularly the millions of one- or two-person at-home businesses that are out there — would find that list absolutely daunting.
    I’ve become more attuned to the frustrations that many of these business feel when they read our “just do this” posts. They sit there and think, “What’s wrong with us? Why can’t we find time to do this?” As simple as the steps sound to us, they require a minimum of a couple of days’ work, and some decent media relations or communications skills.
    I used to do some woodworking years ago, and would eagerly look through the latest magazines — remember those? — in the bookstore — remember those? — in our neighborhood. The thing that was often most helpful to me was the little indicator beside each project that would tell me roughly how many hours it would take, and the skill level required. Such an indicator on more of our “Six steps” blog posts might prove very helpful to readers, and to us as content creators as well.

    •  @LornePike I’m not sure I agree, Lorne. I run a small business. Doing these six steps around a webinar is much more manageable than writing a blog post every day or creating white papers or doing email marketing. It’ll take a couple of hours to get things set up, but then it begins to work on its own. Most of it can be automated so it doesn’t take time away from the small business owner running his or her business. 
      To answer your “how much time” question, I’d venture to say 10 hours to get everything set up and then two to two and a half hours every month to find the webinar speaker, write the new copy, create a landing page, and attend the webinar.

      •  @ginidietrich You do run a small business, Gini, but let’s also remember it’s a communications business. You have absolutely exceptional communication skills, and enough personality to be featured as a role model in top books on influence.
        And yes, many of the people reading Spin Sucks are also exceptionally skilled. But I’ve been surprised by how many of the businesses I’ve met lately — lots of them quite successful in their local markets — who are simply overwhelmed at what seems like basic social marketing advice to the rest of us.
        It’s been causing me to read social media posts in a new light. I guess I’m just thinking out loud as I work through this new realization of how challenging social media does seem to many people who read our posts, and how frustrated they get when they read how one new bit of content per week will bring in 77% more leads… only to find that it doesn’t for them.
        Or maybe I’m just being contrary this morning, as my Dad would say. 🙂

        •  @LornePike I’m going to say something and I mean it with love: It drives me crazy when people say I’m good at this because I have a communications business. We didn’t start out being really good at this stuff. In fact, when Lisa and I started doing webinars, they were a disaster. But we knew, once we got them right, they were going to work. It’s all about prioritizing.
          Where do small businesses spend their time prospecting for new business now? Yellow pages ads? Networking meetings? Chamber events? Cold calls? What if they replaced one hour a week of their more traditional outreach with inbound marketing? 
          I know how stressful it is to add one more thing. We’re revamping our email marketing and I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown getting started. But I took out something that wasn’t working and replaced it with this. And guess what? It’s working. Really, really well.

        •  @ginidietrich I’m trying to walk the fine line between seeing both sides and being completely wishy-washy. I share that frustration, Gini, of people who blithely say, “Yeah, but you’re good at it” as they shrug off suggestions that they should try something new in social media.
          Reading back over my earlier comments, I realize I got off track a bit. My primary concern was with the statement, “If you create new content just once a week, your leads will increase by 77 percent.” Industry-wide, and for organizations already drawing leads from their Internet presence, it may indeed be true.
          But for the many small businesses I’ve met who are still learning and reading and wondering where to invest their scant resources, I am confident many will not see anywhere near that kind of return on their investment. I sure don’t. My writing a blog post does not produce that kind of return every time, and I struggle to believe that most bloggers would be able to authentically claim that their content consistently does any better.
          One of the saddest phrases I hear clients say is, “We tried it and it doesn’t work.” I should write a whole series of posts about that statement. Yes, it’s half because they need to keep working and get better at it, as you and Lisa have done so well. But the other half is because they hear these depressingly cheerful assurances that lead them to expect instant results. They should be prepared to put in lots more work before finally yielding the results these statistics promise.

        •  @LornePike Yeah, I’m not sure how the research was quantified. Personally, I know our leads have increased significantly…and we don’t sell anything online. It helps us qualify leads and it significantly dropped my “pick your brain” meetings that never created a business opportunity. I should do a percentage, based on our experience, and see if it’s the same.
          But to your point about putting in lots more work before yielding the results the stats promise – I agree. It’s taken us nearly four years to get to this point. Most companies won’t have the time/patience/budget to invest four years.

      • rdopping

         @LornePike makes a good point. I work for a national architecture firm whose venture into social media has been sporadic. A lot of brilliant minds here with a communications team bar none but they have a hard time understanding the value because of the comittment (time) it takes to make it happen.
        I know it’s not the same but the ideas should be scalable. Maybe I need to get Gini to come and speak to the firm as a whole.

        •  @rdopping Thanks Ralph. I help businesses get started in social media, so I don’t mean in any way to downplay its potential.
          I just believe we have some responsibility to give substance to the expectations of the owners who read such stats. Otherwise, we’ll soon see yet another company jumping from one social media initiative to another — and yet another young professional feeling like a failure — as they wonder why their fledgling social media efforts did not generate the dramatic results promised in so many blog posts.

  • jennimacdonald

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I absolutely know the power of Inbound Marketing but this will be very helpful for me to get others to recognize the power. You would think that me increasing our leads 3-fold should have done it. : )

    •  @jennimacdonald I thought you were on vacation?!?

      • jennimacdonald

         @ginidietrich Tonight! Boyz II Men tomorrow : )

  • Whoa, that sounds way too organized and effective. Why would we want to do something so obvious? This is insurance, it’s supposed to appear complicated and hard. 
    We have partnered w/ a CPA firm and set up b’fast meetings around captive insurance programs and tax advantages by going green w/ your fleet. We had an ‘ok’ response and actually picked up some business; however, I can see where this approach might make it more ‘doable’ on many levels. 
    Of course, it would obviously require some work and I’m guessing if it’s going to happen at our place, it will be because of me. Sheesh, I’m kind of busy right now being popular; I don’t know if I will be able to fit this in.
    Plus, I don’t want to miss any networking events. I’m the working homeless and you know me and free food and drink. Throw some people into the mix and I’m ‘all in.’ 
    Thanks for sharing, all kidding aside it is very sage advice indeed. 

    •  @bdorman264 Wait. When did you go from being invisible to being popular?

      •  @ginidietrich In my own mind………where the party is going on……:)

  • Right on. I’m a webinar novice though. What software do you use? Have you tried Google Hangouts for this?

    •  @fitzternet We use GoToMeeting which has it’s pros and cons. (and is $99/month, but we also use it for client calls and meetings). You could use Google Hangouts but there is a limit to attendees. I want to say nine. and there is less control over the attendees. I’d say it’s good for informal discussions, but not a full-blown webinar. 

      •  @Lisa Gerber I think Slideshare introduced an option not too long ago, but I forget what it’s called… 

      •  @Lisa Gerber  @fitzternet Or video Skype works well, too. 

      •  @Lisa Gerber Ah… ok… But I guess you could embed your Hangout on your G+ page (or website?) and have an unlimited number of attendees who could watch but not ask questions. Unless it was via an embedded chat tool. I’m probably overthinking this, but I’m a webinar novice and I always like to save $99/month!

        •  @fitzternet  @Lisa Gerber You can even embed to YouTube (which I know you love). It’s pretty easy to do!

  • You can never have enough qualified leads but let’s not forget that what happens afterwards is significant too.
    Doesn’t matter whether they are good or bad if you can’t close them.

    •  @TheJackB I guess I thought that went without saying. 🙂

  • I have a very different challenge on my hands with trying to write copy for a home improvement site. I have been toying with the idea of a weekly blog post about how to paint your house…etc. I am thinking about doing a Q and A style blog for that. What do you guys think?

    •  @NancyD68 I love the idea personally. I think Q&A is a great format. You can also do how-to on things that are timely and seasonal for example. Curious what others think about this also. 🙂

    •  @NancyD68 I like that idea a lot. There is a ton you can write (or video) for home improvement that will really help people. Start by asking what current customers need to know. Then grow from there.

  • TheRealH0ward

    @ginidietrich ayyyy wuddup !! do u mind downloadin my mixtape 😀 RT

  • Great stuff – as always – and even the comment discussion is helpful. I’m curious about your thoughts on this question – we’re working on a 12-week online course (its one where people can start at any time they sign up) to start building a community.
    We’re working on our strategy right now and trying to figure out how to tie-in the webinars. Should we set up the content of the webinar as like the 13th week/content we didn’t cover? OR should we take one or more of the week’s content and create a webinar series for those who’ve participated in the online course? Just curious to see everyone’s thoughts on this ….

    •  @penneyfox I might do both…I’d need to know more, but I think it’d be cool to see one week as a webinar and also doing a 13th week.

  • rustyspeidel

    JUST did a pitch on this very thing today. Our focus was on using content to get in front of the customer’s objections throughout the sales funnel. Even referenced that same HubSpot study! The big questions centered around “finding the time to do all this extra work.” I am going to send them this post.

    •  @rustyspeidel And make sure they read the debate between @LornePike and me. I think it’s important to see all sides.

  • TheJackB

    @ginidietrich @spinsucks Pete the Tapeworm generates leads too.

    • ginidietrich

      @TheJackB I’m mad at @petethetapeworm. He’s SUPER ornery right now.

      • TheJackB

        @ginidietrich @petethetapeworm Is it because he is hungry or in need of a bike ride?

        • ginidietrich

          @TheJackB He’s been riding every day. I can’t keep up with the calories burned and he’s mad at me. @petethetapeworm

        • TheJackB

          @ginidietrich @petethetapeworm Well I have learned that women have a way of making men crazy… 😉
          All that riding sounds like a good thing.

        • TheJackB

          @ginidietrich @petethetapeworm Better to be grumpy because of calories burned than calories earned. 😉
          That’s why I have an appt. at the gym

        • ginidietrich

          @TheJackB I can motivate you to get to the gym! I’m having a super good riding season. Best ever.

        • TheJackB

          @ginidietrich That’s awesome. I don’t have trouble getting to the gym. My diet sucks. This is me when hungry

        • ginidietrich

          @TheJackB Ha!!

        • TheJackB

          @ginidietrich Betcha didn’t know I could run like that. 😉

        • PeteTheTapeWorm

          @ginidietrich your date is hungry.

        • ginidietrich

          @PeteTheTapeWorm you just ate!

  • I get emails on webinars and white papers all the time. As you well know from stuff I have shared people need to make sure what they present isn’t hokey, full of horse hockey, sensationalized, and if you are pitching why someone should choose you…make sure you have supporting facts.
    I say this because the fastest way to lose a lead is to present shoddy stuff.

    • kennedypittman

       @HowieSPM Preach it howie!

  • Gini, found this really interesting. My question would be what size of a list would you need before contemplating a webinar?
    By the way, I found the discussions on this post really interesting, so thanks to all for the valuable info.

    •  @John_Murphy You know, we started with nothing. Just a few tweets and a blog post. That was nearly three years ago. We’ve been building since then. So it’s less about having lots of people at your first few and more about creating content you can send out, after it’s finished.

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  • GranerCreative

    RT @ginidietrich: Six Steps to Creating Content that Generate Leads via @spinsucks #content #leadgeneration

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