Global customer searchOne of the first questions I ask with new clients is how big is your market universe?  Put another way, how many people in your market universe could actually buy this product or service?

I ask this not to determine how big of a budget they will need – or how big of a sale I might expect?

I ask it because I want to recommend a marketing strategy, and universe market size is one very important factor in that equation.

If their market universe size is large (I’ll try to define that in a minute), I usually recommend a traditional lead generation strategy.

If their market size is small, my recommendations moves past lead generation and immediately focuses on lead qualification and lead nurturing.  This often means a multi-touch strategy that builds awareness over time and generates fewer but higher quality leads.

Let’s take a closer look:

Defining market size

Describing a market size as large or small is highly relative.  To most people, a quantity of 100,000 contacts would be considered a large market, but in some circles, it is viewed as a small market size.

I prefer to look at market size in relation to your budget.  And so I ask this question:

If you wanted to contact your entire universe with one direct mail touch at 50 cents per piece, would your budget allow it?  If yes, how many times in a year could you touch each contact at 50 cents per touch?

A lead generation strategy

If you can only afford to reach your entire market universe once or twice a year (or less, which is often the case), then I would be leaning toward a lead generation strategy that is focused on producing a large volume of leads that could then be brought into your system to be qualified and nurtured.

It’s important to recognize that with a large audience, you can’t reach everyone with any frequency.  So instead, use lead generation to reel in as many interested prospects as possible.   Then use email and telemarketing to cultivate your relationships with your leads.

A traditional lead generation strategy doesn’t worry about the people who don’t respond.  It’s much more important and productive to focus on the people who raise their hands and want to hear from you.

The idea is to generate a consistent flow of leads throughout the year.  As you gather response data, you can adjust your mailing quantities to match your required lead flow.

A multi-touch strategy

But if your budget allows you to reach your entire universe several times a year, then there’s no need to generate leads first.  You already have the ability to get your message out to everyone consistently and frequently throughout the year.

Now your plan is to provide information, increase awareness and build your reputation as an authority.  You’ll still generate leads but you won’t be focused on volume.  Instead, you’ll structure your response mechanism to bring in only qualified, sales-ready leads.

Remember, with a multi-touch lead nurturing strategy, you don’t have to worry about your response rates.  If they don’t respond today, they’ll hear from you again in a very short time.

Why not both approaches?

In reality, using both approaches is very common.  For many companies, there is no one market universe.  There are multiple market segments that can be sorted in many ways, including by sales potential.

With this strategy, you would take the top segment of your market (those prospects with the highest sales potential) and treat them to a multi-touch awareness and lead nurturing strategy.

Then you would take the much large lower segment and focus entirely on lead generation.

Make sense?


Written by Bob McCarthy

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Bob McCarthy is a direct response copywriter and lead generation specialist.

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About Bob McCarthy

Bob McCarthy is a direct response consultant and copywriter with a focus on direct mail, email and digital marketing. Bob works with B2B, B2C and Non-Profit clients. You can download his free ebook, "Making Snail Mail Work: 13 Lessons in Direct Mail Strategy."