If most of your leads are from a single source (Angie’s list, retail intercepts, shows, etc.) your business is vulnerable. You can reduce that vulnerability with media leads, but they’re expensive, so the trick is finding a media source at an acceptable cost. When you do, you’ll usually find that its efficiency increases with time, and often it’s scalable — you can increase the investment and expect a comparable or better return. Media leads also build the brand awareness that supports your other lead generation efforts and improves close rate. The challenge is to find the right ones.

Selecting Lead Sources

Start by making a few calls to current noncompetitive advertisers who are speaking to your demographic. Then choose an offer that has proved to resonate with key customers. Stumped? The post-close in your standard sales presentation should ask what was the most compelling benefit or incentive that produced the sale. If you’re running a pay-per-click campaign, consider building your offer around the headline that produces the highest click-through rate.

Establish a test budget. TV is expensive to test and requires repeated impressions. If you can’t afford five impressions to the same viewer, with bookends in the same program if possible, keep the money in your pocket. Radio follows a similar pattern, unless you’re using an on-air personality as spokesman. Then expect faster results.

Print? Choose a space unit that dominates the page and gives you enough canvas to explain your offer. A special landing page on your website can track that print-generated traffic. Evaluate after the next issue reaches homeowners.

Direct mail stands or falls on the quality of the list. Unless you have a highly defined target such as retired homeowners with high equity, then marriage mail directed at a broader target such as upper-income homeowners is most cost-effective. The first drop will give you a good reading. If you’re mailing tens of thousands, you can project subsequent mailings with some accuracy.

Wait & See

Whatever the ad medium you’re exploring, don’t shortchange the test by settling for too few impressions and too little time for a full assessment of results, or you may be writing off a potentially valuable lead source.

John Stevens is a marketing consultant to the home improvement industry. jcsteven@bellsouth.net, 678.481.1660