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"Lead nurturing" is commonly referred to in marketing publications and blogs, and frequently discussed at B2B marketing events. Defined as "a relationship-building approach utilizing multiple media to provide relevant information tailored to prospects while engaging in an ongoing dialog until qualified prospects are 'sales ready,'" lead nurturing has become an integral component of an overall marketing strategy.

Though there is an ever-growing incentive to implement an effective lead-nurturing strategy with business partners and prospects, determining which specific tactics to use can prove challenging.

Listening to industry experts can be confusing and, in many cases, inadequate. Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to one of the industry's best-known speakers explain the lead-nurturing tactics that he has implemented for one of his clients. He defined lead nurturing and its benefits perfectly. However, as he described his specific tactics, it became evident that he was inappropriately grouping all prospects into one "nurturing funnel" and treating all prospects in the exact same manner.

For instance, he suggested calling all the prospects initially to tele-qualify them (a good first step!), but then he suggested putting all qualified prospects on the exact same schedule to receive the same emails monthly, calls quarterly, etc.

Part of the definition of "lead nurturing" is to "provide relevant information tailored to the prospect." Assuming that prospects have unique needs, priorities, and timeframes, scheduling batch communications is far from ideal.

For the past 15 years, I've worked in the marketing services industry. Part of my job entails consulting with companies about their marketing-lead strategies. Increasingly, it seems that companies are starving for information on how to implement successful lead-nurturing tactics.

One such company asked for my opinion on its internal group's lead-nurturing strategy. Its strategy involved using the phone (no additional media) to call each prospect every nine months to check in on the prospect's progress. Since lead nurturing should include multiple media and the contact strategy should be customized based on the prospect's situation, calling everyone in the same time intervals typically does not produce the best results.

Most marketing executives understand that lead nurturing is an effective way to cultivate prospect relationships and ultimately drive sales. Unfortunately, experts in the field have published very little in the way of practical suggestions for implementing and improving a lead nurturing strategy.

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image of Kathy Rizzo

Kathy Rizzo is vice-president of sales and marketing at TeleNet Marketing Solutions, a lead generation and lead nurturing company.

LinkedIn: Kathy Rizzo