Where startups are wrong about lead generation

For most startups, lead generation is essential. It is the central strategy they use to discover, index and contact people who might be interested in their products and services. Without it, they are basically in the dark, waiting for potential clients to find their startup on their own.

Millions of companies have reliable lead generation strategies that continually provide them with high-quality, promising leads. But lead generation is far from guaranteed success. Most startups that dabble in lead generation or develop a half-hearted strategy end up failing, or barely reaching profitability levels in terms of digital marketing ROI.

So what is it that most startups get so wrong about lead generation?

In fact, there are many things.

Some startups find lead generation indistinguishable from sales and marketing

First, they see lead generation as another name for sales or marketing (or both). While sales, marketing, and lead generation are certainly interrelated, drawing a line between these different concepts is essential.

If you don’t treat lead generation as the single, standalone strategy that it is, you won’t see the results you want. According to this, you need to work with a true lead generation expert, not just a salesperson or marketer.

They focus on quantity over quality

This is true for many aspects of sales, marketing, and revenue generation, but it is essential to focus on quality over quantity, not the other way around.

It is tempting for a business to focus its efforts on generating as many leads as possible. And on a certain level, it makes sense. Every lead is a lead for your business, so the more leads you have, the more potential revenue you could generate. But if you only focus on the numbers, you’ll end up with low-quality leads – people who don’t fit your target demographic. These people are unfamiliar with your brand and, ultimately, with people who are unlikely to buy from you.

They spend too much money on vanity marketing

Spending too little money on your marketing and lead generation strategies can be problematic, as you’ll end up with fewer resources than you need. But spending too much on strategy is also a problem, especially low-profit strategies.

Many startups fall into the “vanity marketing” trap. In other words, they spend all their money on strategies that make them feel good about themselves or look better in front of the general public. On some level, this is a good idea; increasing your reputation will not affect your marketing position. But if these strategies don’t deliver measurable ROI, they shouldn’t be your top priority.

Don’t sacrifice tried and tested tactics for cheap gimmicks that artificially alter your company’s image.

They expect CTAs to speak for themselves

Your product is so good that it sells itself, right? Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you can afford not to put any effort into lead generation calls-to-action (CTAs). If you want random people to sign up for more information or start interacting with your business, you need to hone those calls to action.

To consider:

  • Prominence. People won’t contact you unless you make the contact option clear and obvious. If your CTA is hidden somewhere out of sight, it won’t be effective.
  • Clarity. Your audience should also be able to intuitively determine what steps to take next. Simple guidelines, like clicking a button or filling out a form, allow this; don’t let ambiguity invade your marketing materials.
  • Simplicity. Simple calls to action are generally better than complex ones. Keep your content clean and minimal to reduce potential objections.
  • Urgency. Most people are procrastinators by nature; If you give your prospects a chance to reconsider, they will seize it. This is why your CTAs must carry a certain degree of urgency.
  • Value. Don’t forget about value. Most CTAs are a value exchange proposition; make sure you end up in the lead’s favor, or you won’t generate many leads.

Too many startups wait for the marketing work to be done.

They use only one channel or tactic

Most startups benefit from lead generation campaigns that are omnichannel, leveraging the power of several, or even dozens of, different marketing channels.

You should harness the power of direct mail, social media marketing (especially on LinkedIn if you’re a B2B company), PPC advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), and even cold calling or cold email. Each of these channels has its own strengths and weaknesses, and they all complement each other.

At a minimum, you should explore all of these tactics early in your lead generation campaign, to get a better idea of ​​what works and what doesn’t work for your business, specifically.

They focus too much on the present

The best lead generation strategies are those that are highly scalable. They work regardless of the number of leads you want to generate, the number of people in your target audience, and the potential reach of the channels you are leveraging.

It’s okay to start a lead generation strategy with a limited budget, a local audience, and finite, achievable goals. But all too often startups get stuck in this position. As a result, they focus heavily on adapting their lead generation strategy for the present, while giving little thought to the future. This, in turn, prevents them from seeing their full potential for growth.

Drivers fall prematurely

Let’s say one of your potential customers doesn’t open the first email you send them. Or they respond with a “no thanks” to your first cold call. Does that mean you have to quit leadership altogether? Many startups seem to think so; Your salespeople mark the lead as irrelevant or not worth pursuing and then move on to the next lead.

But startup marketers know that every high-quality lead has potential far beyond a single rejection or bad interaction. Therefore, it is better to recycle these leads for the second, third and fourth opportunities; A constant, automated drip email campaign might be all it takes to spark their interest and motivate them to buy in the future.

They do not measure or analyze your results

In all matters related to sales and marketing, measurement and analysis are crucial. It is not enough to hypothesize that your strategies are working; you really have to try it. For example, you need to measure dozens of variables related to your lead generation strategy, including the number of leads you generate from different channels, the quality of those leads, and how much you are spending.

On top of that, you should review this data regularly to rule out the tactics that aren’t working, refine the tactics that are a bit lagging, and refine the tactics that are currently leading to your highest ROI.

They have a fixed mindset

Lead generation strategies are not something to plan like an architect; you must build them to be fixed and immovable. Instead, you need to prepare them to be flexible and adaptable.

Over the course of your lead generation management, you will be surprised to learn new details about your target audience. You will see emerging strategies among your competition. You will also witness the development of new technology tools to help you manage leads effectively.

If you want to be successful, you will need to incorporate these new tools and new ideas into your approach almost constantly.


Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” lead generation strategy, and there is no clear advice that can make any startup successful with lead generation.

To be successful, you’ll have to do a lot of research, hire the right partners, and be on the lookout for missteps and pitfalls that have compromised the results of countless previous startups.

But at the end of that journey, with a perfect lead generation strategy, you’ll be much better able to get the sales and marketing results you’ve always wanted.

Image credit: Helena Lopes; Pexels; Thanks!

Timothy carter

Revenue Director

Timothy Carter is the chief revenue officer for the Seattle digital marketing agency. SEO.co, DEV.co AND PPC.co. He has spent more than 20 years in the world of SEO and digital marketing leading, developing and expanding sales operations, helping companies increase revenue efficiency and drive the growth of websites and sales teams. When he’s not working, Tim enjoys playing a few rounds of disc golf, running, and spending time with his wife and family on the beach, preferably in Hawaii with a cup of Kona coffee. Follow him on Twitter @TimothyCarter


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