Nothing is More Expensive Than Cheap Leads

by Carl Melville | Today the VP of marketing at a prospective client opined that the robust inbound marketing system we proposed was a challenge to cost justify. As I probed his objection I found that he was comparing the TCO (total cost of ownership) of an inbound program to the purchase costs of supposedly qualified lead lists he had been using for his team. The fact that he wanted to ditch this method shows how well it has been working.

When you buy leads like potato salad (by the pound) you should probably have pretty low expectations. What many fail to see are the hidden costs of lost opportunity.

Having highly paid and presumably competent salespeople pursuing low value, low yield leads is a tremendous waste of energy, money, time and other resources. The bigger loss is what that same time and energy could have been pursuing and all the lost business that the errant decision of buying bulk garbage leads has cost the organization.

We would all stifle a laugh if we someone offered us highly qualified fax numbers. Such offers are clearly out of touch and out of time. Can qualified email addresses be far behind? Yet many would consider the pitch. The next time you get a call or email offering industry lists of pre-qualified buyers — hang up the phone or delete the email. It’s simply not worth your time.

Successful marketing is about execution, innovation and marginal value. There is no innovation or marginal value left in email list marketing, regardless of the level of execution. It is not just the tired lists; the world has moved on. Most prospects do not engage that way any longer. Give it up. There will come a time when inbound marketing falls to the same fate. Right now however, it is the single most effective way to generate new business revenue in many B2B sectors.

So, whatever happened with my VP of marketing prospect today? Well, to start with, we originally engaged via an inbound marketing lead – something I reminded him of again today. We went through another ROI conversation, and looked at all options. Good news: He’s moving ahead.

The bottom line is that good prospects are expensive…but bad ones will cost you much, much more. Avoid cheap leads.

Carl Melville’s firm, The Melville Group, provides strategic marketing solutions, including inbound marketing solutions, to B2B and supply chain organizations.

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