I was recently asked to participate in an online blog forum on Lead Generation for Small Business by the good people over at FutureSimple. Along with 12 other marketers, I gave my opinion on what lead generation tactics are working for small businesses. It’s very interesting to read through the answers.

When I first got started in marketing, most people thought of lead generation as direct marketing. Now, most of the answers are about providing the right content to the right people at the right time – and today that’s mainly being done through social media marketing and networks. Whether it’s pushing content to your audience or driving audience to your content, it’s clear that the game has officially changed.

Is direct marketing dead? No… not at all, but I think the way it’s used (at least effectively) has evolved. It’s not enough to send a postcard or letter to a qualified list with a sound offer. Today, you need to become part of your circle of prospects and customers; you need to engage with them in a meaningful way with information that helps them make decisions and form conclusions. I think direct marketing can play a role, but it’s effectiveness as a stand-alone tactic in generating a sustained lead flow is waning.

Today, more than ever, the words ‘fully integrated marketing’ are becoming standard marketing practice. Your site needs to be optimized with sound search engine optimization practices so your prospects can find you; you need to create relevant, optimized content that you share via social media networks; you need to methodically build these social media networks  and communicate transparently with your prospects and customers; and you need to build your brand reputation both online and offline.

As most of the answers from the panel suggest, it’s about engaging with and where your prospects are and being able to be seen among the clutter. We’d love to hear your thoughts on what you see in lead generation evolution… it’s an exciting time to be sure!