Traditional lead gen tactics still drive sales

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I watched a syndicated re-run of the popular sitcom "The Office" last week. This episode pits Michael Scott, regional manager at Dunder Mifflin, against his former temp and new boss, Ryan. Ryan is pushing for the sales force to use Dunder Mifflin's new company website to push paper orders and win customers based on pricing, while Scott firmly digs in his heels and insists good old-fashioned selling and relationship-building is the only way to go.

He proceeds to drive to lapsed clients' offices with gift baskets in hand, assuring them if they abandon Staples and come back to Dunder Mifflin, they will experience superior customer service.

Of course, it's laughable to watch the bumbling Scott and his fawning sidekick, Dwight Schrute, botch the attempt. In fact, the pair use a GPS to drive from one ex-client to the next, and when the device instructs Scott to turn right, he immediately does so and drives his car straight into a lake.

Explaining the debacle to Ryan when he returns to the office, Scott concludes that listening to - and relying on - technology will only spell doom.

Well, not exactly, but the lesson may not be entirely wrong.

Every marketer needs to generate demand for their products and services consistently in order to maintain and grow their business. Direct marketers have relied on traditional tools and tactics to generate new customer leads and upsell existing customers. Marketers are now beginning to leverage social media to develop leads as well and are seeing some interesting results.

This themed issue of DMNews focuses on the topic of lead generation in all its forms. Marketers including Avaya, Dell, the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society and Zephyr -- featured in our story on b-to-b lead generation -- are testing the social media waters in order to generate leads and strengthen business relationships. They're tapping social media to help them connect customers with like-minded people, products that resonate and information that can help with decision-making.

Marketers are wise to experiment with this format and these new tactics. Just as they've done in the past with channels such as search and e-mail, they should be determining how and in what ways social media can be most effective in boosting those metrics.

Just don't forget the basics. In our "Conference Call" feature, we speak to Avectra's Melissa Davies, director of marketing for the association management software company, and marketing consultant Mac McIntosh.

Davies tells DMNews she has found great success with traditional incentive techniques. Her favorite lead generation tactic? Cookies. We thought at first she was talking about the online kind. But no. We're talking the good kind. The mouth-watering, buttercream-frosted baked goods variety. Davies says sending cookies with a note that says, "Hey, I hope you're having a good day" may be "old-school," but it has a 70% response rate with hard to reach prospects. Beat that, Michael Scott.

That's success in my book. Enjoy the lead generation issue and feel free to keep all those cards, letters and sweets coming.

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