Jay Mattern

The Three C’s of Lead Generation

One of the fundamental roles of marketing is to generate new leads. For staffing firms, this effort takes on a dual role – not only identifying new client opportunities, but also connecting with qualified candidates. There are a wide range of ideas on how best to accomplish this. Many of them require multiple steps and complicated automation tools, often resulting in a situation where well-intended marketing efforts are derailed. In other cases, the staffing firm does not have the marketing resources to effectively execute a lead generation campaign. Moreover, expectations of how quickly and easily leads can be identified are frequently unrealistic. As we often say at TerraFirma, "results-based marketing is a process, not an event."

Begin with the end in mind

As with any successful endeavor, lead generation efforts must begin with the end in mind. What exactly is the outcome you are striving for? What is the objective? What will success look like? Without a clearly stated objective, you may very well get things done, but are they the right things? In the case of lead generation, the desired outcome is revenue growth. It’s not just about getting a new lead, but rather, the financial impact that lead can provide. With this end in mind, a successful lead generation program can be defined in three easy steps. A staffing company can plan and execute a solid program that consistently brings in new clients and candidates by following three C’s.

What are the three C’s?

We have simplified the lead marketing process for staffing firms to three words:

  • Capture
  • Cultivate
  • Convert

This results-based marketing program first captures qualified leads (client and candidate). Then, they are cultivated through a planned series of touchpoints. Finally, they must be converted. This is where the lead becomes a revenue-generator.

Capturing qualified leads

An effective lead generation program always starts with the audience and the message. In order to find leads that are qualified, we must know the characteristics of our target audience, such as motivating factors, needs, pain points, and digital behaviors. Remember, as a staffing firm, you have two audiences: clients and candidates. Therefore, this process must be uniquely considered and executed for each audience.

A common mistake is trying to be all things to all prospects. Identifying your unique audience is very important to the process of reaching and attracting the right leads. By trying to appeal to everyone, you’ll be memorable to no one. Once we know who we are communicating with in the marketplace, we can develop a message that will resonate specifically with that audience. That message is then distributed via the digital platforms and communities where the target audience spends time. The outcome of this first "C" is to grab someone’s attention, spark their interest, and motivate them to reach out to you. Now they’re on your list of qualified leads.

How to cultivate the leads

Once someone has expressed interest in your message and has responded to that message in some way, it does not immediately lead to the sale or the placement. An effective marketing effort requires patience and time. Think about your own experience as a consumer. You typically don’t buy something sight unseen. You become interested in a product or service and then you seek to learn more about it. The more you are reminded of it, the more likely your level of interest increases. This is the heart and soul of cultivating the lead and can be accomplished through efforts including email campaigns, targeted digital efforts or even personal calls to your top leads.

Many companies invest a great deal of time and money in generating leads (capturing them), but lack a process or system to manage the leads they create. Or, they don’t strategically cultivate them over a period of time in order to create opportunities for making the sale. Quite often, they view a new lead as an opportunity to immediately ask for the sale, and if the answer is "no" (which may really mean "not yet"), they dump the lead and move on to the next.

So, when do you close the sale?

The final step in the three C’s is to convert the lead to either a new client or a new employee. I’m sure you have received an email or a LinkedIn message from someone you don’t know and have never contacted, but they are asking you to make an immediate decision about their product or service. The typical response to this abrupt communication is to ignore it and categorize it as "just another sales call." Obviously, this negative impression is not what you want to convey.

How do you know when to ask for a commitment? Consider how you get to know someone. You first meet them (capture), and over time, interact with them in order to learn more about them (cultivate). Finally, you arrive at a comfortable relationship where you can confidently call them a friend (convert). The final "call to action" for your staffing leads is more likely to result in a favorable outcome when you follow this process. If done correctly, you may find that you actually do not need to directly ask for the sale – the lead will reach out to you first.

Putting it all together

The three "C’s" method is, like most marketing efforts, more art than science. We know it works, having direct experience with positive results. What we don’t know is the perfect message to capture attention at any given moment, the exact length of time necessary to cultivate, and just the right moment to convert. Each organization, with their unique offering, must put forth a dedicated execution effort and consistently monitor the results for potential adjustments. Applying the three C’s process will serve as your roadmap to success.

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