Lead Generation in a Startup: Inbound, Outbound, or Brand Awareness?

Chris Gulbinovic
Chris Gulbinovic  |  July 31, 2018

In, out, or shake it all about?

You’re a startup with a great product and enough enthusiasm to fill a football stadium. You’ve even got some shrewd investors behind you. What more could you want?

Customers!

That’s right, you need customers, but how do you go about finding them. Which lead generation practice fits best with your business model? Inbound marketing, outbound marketing, or good old brand awareness?

Each one of the three options have their own pros and cons, but could making the wrong choice cost you dearly? Perhaps there’s even an argument for adopting all three strategies?

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Taking the inbound route

What is the inbound route?

A prospect is searching online for a solution to a problem.

Your business can solve their problem, and with the right inbound lead generation strategy, you can attract their attention.

With the inbound route, you can offer your prospects valuable, entertaining, and educational content through your website in exchange for their contact details. From there, the conversation can begin.

The inbound route is designed to encourage a positive customer experience, rather than a hard-sell strategy. The process is designed to create a customer who remains engaged for life.

Pros:

  • Using carefully created content, the lead comfortably engages with the sales process.
  • Inbound marketing can lead the buyer in the direction you want to take them.
  • Leads tend to become important, long-term customers.
  • Prospects identified through inbound marketing make for better leads, meaning they get the sales people’s attention first.
  • The inbound route gathers a lot of information on your leads, making communication far more effective.

Cons: 

  • Finding and creating valuable targeted online content to attract your leads can prove costly. Building the correct online presence can come at a high price.
  • Inbound campaigns take longer to produce visible results – not an ideal solution for a startup.
  • Understanding the type of customer you want to reach can be time-consuming for startups. Due to lack of hands-on experience, this can take time and money.
  • Learning how your leads behave can also be time consuming, and may even be a matter of trial-and-error.

Taking the outbound route

What is the outbound route?

Outbound marketing and lead generation for startups is a bit like casting a bait into a vast lake. You know the lake holds a lot of fish, but it’s hard to know if those fish will even notice your bait.

This form of ‘come-and-get-it’ strategy has been in existence ever since goods first went on sale. People needed to advertise their wares, and that’s what they did. Their goal was to get their products seen by the masses, in hopes that at least some might take the bait.

New tools, like sales customer relationship management (CRM) software, help marketing and sales departments conduct large-scale email campaigns to automatically generate leads. These leads can then be engaged with traditional cold-calling.

Pros:

  • In the B2B sector, trade shows and face-to-face meetings remain key strategies. Outbound lead generation relies heavily on the personal touch to build lasting business relationships.
  • Business relationships built in this way have a tendency to be strong and can even go deeper than business itself.
  • Customers can call sales reps directly to discuss any concerns or issues.

Cons:

  • Despite reaching large audiences, outbound marketing may not generate the number of leads expected for a startup. A lot of expense for little return.
  • Campaign timing may not match the leads' needs.
  • Aggressive marketing does not sit well with modern consumers.
  • Consumers have become far more wary of advertising ‘hype.'
  • Outbound takes a long time to generate leads. Many startups can’t afford the associated time or expense.

Creating brand awareness 

What is the brand awareness?

Ensuring that people are conscious of your product’s existence is never a bad thing.

Delivering quality news about your product or business is always a plus, and likely to be picked up by multiple media outlets.

Competitions; sponsorships; brand ambassadors; and good news about a product, service, employee, or innovations all help to build brand awareness.

Pros:

  • As a lead generation strategy – especially for startups – the faster your name becomes synonymous with quality, the easier your lead generation becomes. Regardless of the means behind this brand awareness, once the message is positive, the engagement process is made much easier.

Cons:

  • In the same way as positive brand awareness opens doors, negative news can destroy a business.
  • Having a disaster management policy is essential.
  • It takes time to build positive brand awareness and may involve great expense.

So, which lead generation method is best for startups?

They all are!

Firstly, startups need to build brand awareness, getting investors and news aggregators on-board. Spreading the word helps lead you to the next stage.

With your name known, cold-calling becomes far more readily accepted.

With the sales process up and running, you can now add the weight of a sales CRM to boost lead generation. Build your website and use the digital tools at your disposal to grow, and continue growing.

So, the truth is, there really is no one silver bullet.

The best advice available to startups wondering which lead generation strategy they should adopt is – try them all, and measure which one works best for your particular needs.

Chris Gulbinovic
Author

Chris Gulbinovic

Chris is a digital marketer and a growth hacker at Teamgate. He constantly looks for new ways for company growth using marketing tools at his disposal. He writes everything about sales management, online marketing, and growth hacking tactics.