Ever heard of “Pistol” Pete Maravich, the legendary basketball star lauded by the basketball Hall of Fame as “perhaps the greatest offensive talent in in history”?
Though his basketball career ended in 1980, he is still the all-time leading NCAA Division I scorer with an average of 44.2 points per game.
Pete dazzled crowds with fancy shots and head fakes. Left jaws hanging with impossible, behind-the-back and between-the-legs passes. Amazed fans with his sizzling dribbling acrobatics.
Now get this: In 10 years as a professional basketball player, he never won a championship. In fact, in five seasons with the New Orleans Jazz his team never had a winning record.
It takes more than flash to win, and to win consistently.
Contrast Pistol Pete to Coach Norman Dale’s team in the movie “Hoosiers.”
Coach Dale, given a small squad of scrubs, is obsessive about the fundamentals of the game.
He’s unimpressed with offensive flash and drills his team on defense instead. He knows their best chance is to play as a team. He institutes a rule that they must pass at least five times on every offensive possession before taking a shot.
His unorthodox, slow, and fundamental style clashes with the team members and townspeople, who want him to “just let the boys play.”
But after submitting to his discipline and nailing the fundamentals, the team turns around. And when they’re joined by star player Jimmy Chitwood, they start “firing on all pistons” and eventually win the championship as underdogs.
Yes, Jimmy gave them much-needed scoring power. But their core strength was in the fundamentals.
Business owners and marketers wanting consistent website lead generation can learn a lot from their example.
Focus on the Fundamentals
It’s fun and exciting to get caught up in “cutting-edge” marketing tools and tactics: Flash websites, mobile marketing, advanced social media strategies, “creative” ads and videos, etc.
Any of these can play a role in your marketing strategy, but they can never take the place of fundamentals.
Your core website lead generation fundamentals must be executed religiously before you spend money, time, and effort on anything else.
Too many businesses chase “flavor-of-the-week” marketing and advertising ideas, while neglecting their fundamentals.
While specific details may change depending on your business, industry, and model, here are the fundamentals of Hub Mentality, which should be at the core of all your website lead generation and marketing efforts:
1. Consistent Offense (Build and Cultivate Your Database)
Who’s more likely to buy: the person who’s never heard of you, or the person who gives you permission to market to them on an intimate and regular basis?
Your first priority is to take care of the people who have chosen to hear from you. It takes so much time, money, and energy to get people to pay attention to you in the first place that you can’t afford to neglect your database.
- Do you have a database-building strategy (free download, special deals, exclusive content, etc.)?
- Are you inviting every customer to join your mailing list with every purchase they make, and highlighting the benefits of doing so?
- Do you have webforms integrated into your website, with a clear and compelling offer?
- Are you only adding people who have requesting to be added and give you explicit permission to email them, or are you spamming?
- Do you email your database on a regular basis? Do you have the right frequency?
- Is your content relevant, valuable, educational, authentic, and compelling?
- Are you educating first, and selling second?
2. Strong Defense (Inbound Marketing)
While it can be effective and appropriate, outbound advertising is very expensive.
With a few simple tools and strategies, you can make your marketing budget more efficient and increase your website lead generation by making it easy for prospects to find you, rather than you hunting far and wide to find them.
- Is your website optimized to get found by search engines (page structure, headlines, site map, keyword-rich content, keyword-optimized urls, backlinks, etc.)?
- Do you have a blog, and are you adding relevant content consistently?
- Do you have an RSS feed?
- Are you publishing books, e-books, white papers, and online videos?
- Is your content valuable enough to spread organically and virally?
- Are you known in your industry as a thought leader and educator?
- Are you consistently building and cultivating authentic social media relationships?
3. Teamwork: Strategies, Systems, Coordination
- Do you have clear strategic and marketing plans, or are you just throwing stuff up against the wall to see what will stick?
- Are your tactics aligned with your strategic plan?
- Are your messages focused?
- Are you building a brand around core, simple concepts?
- Are your offline and online efforts connected and coordinated?
- Do your back-stage systems fulfill your front-stage promises?
Do you want to be a flash in the pan or a consistent champion? Are you a flashy hare that fizzles out, or a dependable tortoise that wins the race?
Hub Mentality is your Coach Dale. Can you hear him yelling from the sidelines? “Five passes! Five passes before you shoot! Stick with the fundamentals! Tough defense! Run the offense!”
Execute Hub Mentality consistently in your website lead generation efforts and it’s inevitable: You’ll be lifting trophies under flashing lights.
As an entrepreneur, persuasive website copywriter and architect, and co-creator of Hub Mentality, I’m adamantly opposed to churn-and-burn, transactional sales mentality for website lead generation.
Thing is, it actually works.
That is, it works in the short term. It does make immediate sales.
The problem is that it doesn’t work over the long term. It doesn’t build brand loyalty. It doesn’t create raving fans that come back again and again.
It doesn’t posture you as a thought leader, nor does it create an educational hub that consistently draws and keeps new customers.
Rather, it makes people feel manipulated and drives them away over time.
It attracts price-centric bargain hunters who leave you as soon as they find a cheaper, albeit less valuable, alternative.
It makes people increasingly immune to your pitches, forcing you into a hamster-wheel business where you always have to find new customers, rather than keeping customers for life through honest and open website lead generation.
The following are four specific sales tactics often used by these types of businesses for website lead generation that always backfire.
Below each you’ll find appropriate ways to use the tactic.
1. Scarcity (Limited Supply)
“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” -G.K. Chesterton
Generally speaking, the perceived value of an item is proportional to its abundance or rarity.
By manufacturing scarcity–using the “limited-number” tactic–businesses can generate quick sales.
The problem is that sales-mentality businesses use this principle to manipulate.
In Influence: The Science of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini describes his observance of this tactic in an appliance store, where 30 to 50 percent of the stock was regularly listed as on sale.
When a prospect would show interest in a particular sale item, a salesperson would approach and say “I see you’re interested in this model here, and I can understand why; it’s a great machine at a great price. But, unfortunately, I sold it to another couple not more than twenty minutes ago. And, if I’m not mistaken, it was the last one we had.”
Disappointment would register on the prospects’ faces, and typically they would ask if there was a chance that there would be an unsold model in the back room or warehouse.
“Well,” the salesperson would respond, “that is possible, and I’d be willing to check. But do I understand that this is the model you want and if I can get it for you at this price, you’ll take it?”
“Therein lies the beauty of the technique. In accord with the scarcity principle, the customers are asked to commit to buying the appliance when it looks least available–and therefore most desirable.
“Many customers do agree to a purchase…Thus, when the salesperson (invariably) returns with the news that an additional supply of the appliance has been found, it is also with a pen and sales contract in hand.”
Sure, they could sell a few appliances this way. But how likely do you think people would be to buy from them again?
The Right Way to Use Scarcity
Credibility is the key to using scarcity appropriately.
People will see through manufactured, manipulative scarcity over time. But if you legitimately have a scarce offering, you absolutely should highlight that in your website lead generation efforts.
For example, I once helped to market an online event for Williamsburg Academy. Their webinar software has a limit of 500 participants. I highlighted that in an email and registrations shot up immediately.
Every time Wizard Academy markets an event, they highlight that they only have 14 rooms in their student mansion. The first 14 people to register get to stay there for free, and other registrants must pay for a hotel.
When I wrote an email to Atlantic Seafood Market’s database telling them that they only had 31.7 pounds of blackfish available, that was precisely accurate and therefore credible.
I didn’t manufacture scarcity to manipulate; it’s a commonly-understood reality of the industry that blackfish is hard to come by.
Their scarcity of bay scallops was another effective tactic, particularly since the scarcity was created by their fierce adherence to quality.
2. Urgency (Limited Time)
This tactic is usually accompanied by a low-price, “once-in-a-lifetime” offer.
When overused or used without credibility, this tactic quickly loses its efficacy. It trains prospects to only buy when things are on sale.
Prospects also suspect that these low prices are simply evidence that the business’s regular prices are too high.
And as prospects become immune to urgency, it takes increasingly cheaper (as in less profitable for the business owner) offers to interest them.
The Right Way to Use Urgency
Again, the key is credibility — the offer must be trusted as authentic, not fabricated or manipulative.
For example, on this website look for the 50% off ad that says “Take advantage of this limited time offer.”
Does anyone actually believe that it’s a limited time? It’s glaringly obvious that that always stays up on their website.
No credibility. While that may be a good deal, it’s not an urgent deal; you know you can get it at any time, so the effect of urgency is lost.
Credibility can be strengthened when scarce and/or urgent offers are predicated on things outside of the company’s control.
Simply put, reciprocity is the psychological principle that we feel obligated to repay gifts and favors.
And, once again, the abuse of this potentially powerful persuasion principle is rampant among short-term manipulators in website lead generation.
As is scarcity, reciprocity is covered in detail in Cialdini’s Influence.
He tells of his study of the Hare Krishna Society, an Eastern religious sect. Their early fundraising efforts were to simply send devotees out into the streets to ask for donations.
It didn’t work well, so they switched tactics. They solicit in public places with a lot of pedestrian traffic, such as airports and train stations.
Now, before a donation is requested, the target person is given a “gift,” such as a book, a magazine, or a flower. Only after invoking the reciprocity rule does the solicitor ask for a donation.
It worked phenomenally well — for a short time.
As Cialdini writes:
“…the reciprocation rule has begun to outlive its usefulness for the Krishnas, not because the rule itself is any less potent societally, but because we have found ways to prevent the Krishnas from using it on us.
“After once falling victim to their tactic, many travelers are now alert to the presence of robed Krishna Society solicitors in airports and train stations, adjusting their paths to avoid an encounter and preparing beforehand to ward off a solicitor’s ‘gift.'”
The Right Way to Use Reciprocity
Two Hub Mentality principles are used for appropriate reciprocity with website lead generation: permission and free content.
You give away valuable and relevant content in exchange for the permission to market to those wanting your content. Then, you continue giving them free content over time.
And implicit to the permission is their ability to opt-out of your database at any time — there is no manipulative chain of obligation hanging around their necks.
Not only does this engage reciprocity, but it also demonstrates your expertise, creates trust over time, and builds authentic relationships.
Free samples of physical products is an excellent way to engage this principle as well, as Atlantic Seafood Market did with their holiday open house.
Like scarcity and reciprocity, these related tactics are the counterfeit, transactional sales version of the principle of “Liking” found in Cialdini’s Influence.
The abuse here is to rely on smooth talk, rather than genuine, consistent action. We’ve all been taken by slick talkers who didn’t deliver what they promised.
It’s sad but true that these types have given legitimate salespersons a bad name.
This is why we’ve all learned to be suspicious of salespeople, and to put up defensive barriers when we encounter them.
The Right Form of “Liking”
This principle states simply that we prefer to do business with people we know and like.
But to use this principle for long-term customer retention requires much more than personality and being facile with words.
The key here is to let your actions speak louder than your words. In other words, earn your likability through integrity.
Be what you say you are. Do what you say you’ll do. Ensure that your backstage systems support your front stage claims.
Switch to Hub Mentality for Long-Term Persuasion & Retention
Charles H. Sandage said:
“Advertising is criticized on the ground that it can manipulate consumers to follow the will of the advertiser. The weight of evidence denies this ability. Instead, evidence supports the position that advertising, to be successful, must understand or anticipate basic human needs and wants and interpret available goods and services in terms of their want-satisfying abilities. This is the very opposite of manipulation.”
People can be persuaded through misguided and manipulative advertising and website lead generation tactics, but those only work in the short term.
If you want to increase trust and sales, improve your website lead generation, make your marketing dollars more efficient, retain more customers, and build a sustainable business, you must be authentic, trustworthy, and credible.
You must solve people’s needs, deliver what you promise, and be transparent in your offerings.
Properly architected lead generation websites keep visitors engaged and informed by providing elements for customer interaction online.
Websites that put off a ghost town vibe will not boost your conversion rate. Your visitors need to experience a personal and intimate connection with real people before you can gain their trust.
Your website should also act as an educational resource for your visitors rather than simply another channel that pushes product in their direction.
The key elements for customer interaction online include an active blog with an RSS feed and social media icons.
An active blog is one that is constantly being updated with relevant, compelling and educational content for your visitors. It serves an an information hub that provides them with the text, images, links and data that are becoming the currency of the Information Age.
Your connect with your web visitors by publishing information online while simultaneously providing them the opportunity to respond to you, your content and other readers.
An RSS feed is simply a family of web feed formats that automatically notifies your blog subscribers whenever new content is posted. It replaces the cumbersome method of bookmarking favorite websites where the web surfer had to do all the work of checking for updates.
Your active business blog (meaning your content is updated and freshened often) combined with an RSS feed enables you to syndicate your site’s message to an audience of people who’ve chosen to connect with you. They’re now your tribe.
Social media icons likewise enable you to interact with and inform web visitors but only if you are active in social media channels.
After all, you’re in business to make money, right? So how could giving something away actually boost your bottom line?
The answer is: when it builds trust and enlightens your customers.
We’ve all enjoyed free samples from food vendors or free trial periods to try out a particular product. If your experience was positive, you’re likely to come back for more.
A free marketing download for your website visitors is a great way to give away your best content, but that’s not the same thing as working for free. It’s an essential website element and it provides an incentive that invites them into your database.
You make this happen by giving away something of value–no strings attached.
The key word here is “value.”
Giving potential customers relevant, compelling information that pertains to what they need to know is how you create that value. Even first time visitors will recognize quality content. They’ll also be getting to know you and your business in a risk free setting.
Your free marketing download could be an e-book, a recorded webinar, an audio or video recording, a podcast or a white paper. The options are endless.
This is the perfect opportunity to educate potential customers about your company and your product. Don’t be afraid to show them the value.
Give away your best content to your prospects in a free marketing download and watch them become productive leads.
Instead of simply making a one time sale and then beating the bushes for new leads, you invite the prospect to become a long term subscriber to your brand. With the customer in your permission database, you can now make multiple offers over time.
That’s better than money in the bank.
The Website Architects can help you turn your small business website into a lead generation website.
Get your free website analysis now to see how.
To illustrate the power of a permission marketing database, think of your instinctive reaction when a telemarketer calls or a salesman knocks on your door.
For most people it’s some variation of “Not now. I don’t have time for this.”
An unexpected sales pitch is unwelcome because it is interruptive.
Contrast that scenario with a prospect who searches out your business online. From the moment they land on your website, the ball is in their court. The choice as to whether or not to do business with you depends upon whether they like what you have to offer.
If you wish to market to them, you must obtain their permission to do so. You’ll need to persuade those prospects to share their name and email address with you by having them subscribe to receive information from you.
By clicking on your lead capture offer on your landing page, prospects are asked for their email and then emailed another link they must click on to subscribe to your content. This means they are confirming twice that they give you permission to connect with them.
Your prospects must also be clearly reminded that their personal information will never be shared and that they may opt out any time they choose. Your goal is to capture a recurring audience of website visitors who have given you permission to stay connected with them through technology.
This contact data, captured by Customer Relationship Management (CRM) web-forms, now becomes part of your marketing database. The content you share with your subscribers is some form of free, educational, valuable, and highly relevant content that’s provided free of charge.
It can be as simple as a monthly newsletter, regularly sent to an engaged, ready-built audience of individuals who have given you explicit permission to market to them.
Cultivating your relationship with your permission database marketing subscribers creates a long term source of website traffic and revenue. Because unlike those intrusive telemarketers or door to door salesmen, the people in your database like you–they really like you.