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Online leads vs. word of mouth

What it takes

"Online leads Suck" is something I hear...

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"Online leads Suck!" It's something I hear more often than I would like. Its usually from a client that is new to digital marketing, or a veteran who still gets the bulk of their business from Word of Mouth or referrals.

We can all agree that we love Referral Leads, they close more easily, often for higher ticket values or higher level memberships. It is natural to compare the quality of these leads to other leads from other sources. There is a hierarchy to leads for sure but I am going to suggest that your lying to yourself if you think leads differ in quality or value.

What is the difference if not quality? Its EFFORT, your effort specifically.

"All leads are equal in quality, they always have a prospect on the other-side that needs what you provide."

Take a quick moment to do this experiment, write down the top 4-5 lead sources you have and rank order them by how well you close deals from each on the left hand side.

Now this is a little harder because we have to get real and honest, on the right hand side Rank order the lead source by the amount of personal effort you had to invest to get the lead to appear.

In almost every presentation I give, I use this exercise to demonstrate that if you really look at what it takes to get a word of mouth lead, it is far more time, money, and effort than almost any other lead source. It's often difficult to recognize the effort because we lump it in with what we do all day everyday.

Here is a good example, I have done a significant amount of work with Karate Schools, this is an industry that absolutely lives and dies by word of mouth and referral leads. What does it take for a school to get Word of Mouth business?

Quality Instruction, Quality Life Skills program, Consistent Execution, Consistently Clean School, Consistently Clean Bathrooms, Community Involvement, School talks/assembly's, Strategic engagement with parents, 110 classes per student a year, and 4-8 specific timely asks for referrals and I would be willing to bet the martial artists who run schools could add much more to that list.

Not surprising that referral leads close at a higher rate when you consider how much time and attention you have actually put into getting them. I often tell clients that leads from all sources require approximately the same level of effort to close. In the case of a word of mouth lead the effort mainly occurs prior to getting the lead. Online leads the effort almost exclusively occurs AFTER you receive the lead.

I promise if you have a plan of attack that recognizes this fact, you will close much more of the leads you get from other sources. Take the time to look at those lead sources you jotted down, what can you do to significantly increase the effective effort felt by the prospect? I can assure you if you increase the effort you put into nurturing the leads you will find that they can be just as good as those referral leads. I have seen it time and time again.

Be sure to leave a comment, agree? Disagree? I am sure folks would love to hear how you increase your efforts!