Creating a message that really works for lead generation is hard.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is this. There is a process anyone can learn to get better at creating effective lead generation messages. Like everything else in business, creating good lead generation messages isn’t black magic. Creating good lead generation messages is all about discipline.
Discipline to do the work needed to understand the target market.
Discipline to zero in on the things what will persuade potential customers.
Discipline to test, measure, and refine based on what you learn.
An effective lead generation message is like a magnet pulling well qualified leads toward you.
Isn’t that exactly what you wish your advertising would do? Attract great leads.
I give you the five steps to a magnetic message.
Step 1: Know your target market
You already have a profile of your target market, right? If not, you need to start there. If you don’t know what makes your best prospects tick, you have no hope of creating messages that work.
Check out my post on the things you need to know about your target market if you need help.
Once you have all that information together, here is what you need to do.
First, review your USP (unique selling proposition) and positioning for this market. Your USP is your company’s core promise to its customers. The position is how it delivers on that promise. Reviewing these two things comes first because any message you create must be consistent with your USP and positioning.
For example, if your company is all about providing a premium product, you don’t want to create ads taking about making deals and having sales.
Next, review what motivates your target market. What are the things that are most relevant to them? These are the points and ideas that will attract and hold your prospect’s attention. In a previous post, I talk about why relevance matters.
Finally, review the target market’s demographic profile and behaviors. This information will help you decide on the right channel for your message.
Once you decide on the best channel. Make sure to think about its capabilities and limitations before creating the message.
For example, a message that relies on something visual isn’t going to work on the radio. A message that needs a lot of supporting proof for claims won’t work on billboards, web banners, or postcards.
Step 2: Create the content of your message
Now that you have a clear picture of your target market in mind, it’s time to think about the message content. Your content, no matter what form it takes, must be relevant and persuasive above all. This is the only way it will be effective.
At this stage, don’t worry about getting creative. Focus on working out the core ideas and facts you will need.
Think about your message having four parts.
- The attention-getter
- Information (facts about your product or service)
- Persuasion (your promise and indications that the buyer will get the gratification they seek)
- Call to action and a way to respond
The attention-getter is what causes your prospect to stop and pay attention to your message. This can take many forms.
It could be flashing lights and loud sounds (though I wouldn’t recommend it). It could be a provocative question or statement that gets to the heart of your prospects problems or fears. It could be a promise that a problem they have will be solved.
For example, the attention-getter for this article is the headline “Five steps to a magnetic lead generation message.” It works because it is a promise of a solution to a problem many small business owners have.
The information is the (short) list of facts that are relevant to the prospect. These are the points that help show how your product will solve their problem. You don’t want to put out a long list of product specs. You want to highlight the functions and benefits that will appeal most to the target market.
For example, if you know the target market cares about quality, you would talk about the exacting quality process you use to make your product.
The persuasion is where you make a promise that the prospect will get the gratification they seek. Here is where you also provide supporting proof that your promise is credible.
Examples of proof could be quality awards, high customer satisfaction ratings, actual testimonials from customers, or anything else that supports your promise.
The goal here is to promise a result to the prospect and make it credible with supporting items.
The call to action and way to respond is where you tell the prospect what to do next and show them how to do it. Don’t assume that a prospect will see the value of your offer and then go figure out how to take the next step.
Your call to action is where you make it automatic to respond. A great call to action seems like the logical next step when they get to the end of your message.
You see examples everywhere.
“Get more information”
“Call 1-800-123-4567” (please don’t. I made that number up.)
“Reserve your seat”
You get the idea.
Step 3: Develop the creative elements of your message
This is the step where you dress up the message in a way that is pleasing and relevant to the target market. This is the place where a lot of people get themselves into trouble. If you can afford it, this is the step where you might want to hire professional copywriters and designers.
If you’re a hard-core DIYer, there is no shortage of information out there on copywriting and design basics. Google is your friend.
But, seriously, this is not the place to be penny wise and pound foolish. I’ve seen lots of lead generation campaigns for good products fail because the writing or the design just didn’t do the job.
You would insist on the most qualified brain surgeon if you needed brain surgery, right?
Insist on the best quality copywriters and designers you can afford. The stakes for your business are that high.
I’ll put my soapbox away now.
There are three parts to the creative execution.
- The words. They need to be persuasive and concise.
- The images. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s true. The right images can communicate volumes about how a buyer will feel as a result of using your product.
- The other sensory elements. These will vary depending on the media you use. These could include colors, shapes, fonts, textures, smells, or sounds. Color, in particular, can be very powerful in communicating feelings.
It is critical that each of the elements support the USP and positioning for your business. It is also critical that they all work together to reinforce your overall message.
Step 4: Pre-test your message
Going to the market with the wrong message will be costly. Depending on the media you are using, simply getting the message out can be expensive. Even in media, like email, where the actual cost is low, the cost in attention and goodwill of the people you contact with the wrong message can be devastating.
If you can afford it, use professional market researchers to test your message. If you can’t, try to get feedback from a small number of people in your target market. The main things you want to understand are:
- Is the message relevant?
- Are the claims believable?
- How motivated are they to take action?
- How does the creative execution make them feel?
If the answers you get to these questions suggest the message won’t be effective, go back to the drawing board. Make changes based on the feedback you get and test again. Some extra time and money spent here can pay for itself many times over if it results in a better message.
Step 5: Track and quantify the results
Track the results from every message in every media.
This is how you will really know what works and how you will get better over time.
All of the things you could measure (along with how and why) will be the subject of a future post. Here is the short version.
Metrics for your lead generation messages:
- Reach: How many people saw your message.
- Frequency: How many times they saw it.
- Total exposures: Reach * Frequency
- Responses: How many people did the message’s call to action.
- Sales: How many people made a purchase as a result of the message.
- Cost per lead: What you spent on the campaign / # of responses
- Cost per sale: What you spent on the campaign / # of sales
- Campaign ROI: sales resulting from the campaign / cost of the campaign
If all you do is measure the items above and reuse the messages that perform best, you will be way ahead of your competitors.
If you want to take your message performance to the next level, do this. Spend some time looking at what the top performing (and bottom performing) messages have in common. By doing this, you will start to understand the recipe for effective messages.
For example, you might notice that messages with a certain claim get a much higher response rate than other messages. Or messages with certain types of images result in more sales.
Use that information to change specific elements of your messages. See what works.
Do you have a process for producing effective lead generation messages? I’d love to hear about it in the comments or by email.