When entrepreneurs consider marketing and lead generation, they tend to think of them as two separate and discrete disciplines. But, when you think about it, there’s some pretty significant bleed between the two. Leads are the lifeblood of any business. Just as a fire can’t burn without oxygen, the most talented sales force in the world can’t hope to be productive without leads to convert.

Many businesses view issues such as lead generation and search visibility as a problem that can only be solved by launching money at them or by subcontracting them to a third party service provider.

While there’s value in using a company like Rankology to improve your search visibility, and there’s even an argument for using paid email leads, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate lead generation into your existing marketing infrastructure in fun and effective ways to organically grow your business’ visibility making your profile go from invisible to unmissable without breaking the bank.

Content marketing- Never underestimate the power of your own voice

In this digital age, unlimited access to information from a range of sources means that potential customers have greater access than ever not only to your online presence but that of your competitors. In light of this, some businesses struggle to ensure that their brand’s identity is foremost in the minds of the undecided leads floating around in cyberspace.

Fortunately, nobody in the world is better at being you than you. Any good sales professional will tell you that customers come back time and again when they believe in people as well as products. Content marketing is an effective solution to the age-old conundrum of how to stand out amidst competitors.

It’s not just a great way of giving your business a unique voice. It gives jaded and cynical leads that all-important something-for-nothing. Exclusive offers via email sign ups, white papers, blog posts, tweets, Facebook page posts, digital guides; all of these are invaluable ways of creating your own incomparable brand identity while establishing and showcasing your market leading knowledge.

This can be outsourced fairly inexpensively, with an abundance of competent and experienced freelance writers available on sites like Peopleperhour. That said, there’s really no substitute to lending your voice and expertise to your content.

Cause advocacy- Make good while doing good

Many entrepreneurs support causes that are near and dear to their hearts, and if this is something that you’re already doing, then you can also improve your bottom line while doing it. Supporting a good cause is its own reward, but what if I told you that it could also positively affect your bottom line? Advocating a cause not only raises your profile and awareness of your brand but it also creates positive associations with your brand in the popular consciousness.

Advocating a cause not only raises your profile and awareness of your brand but it also creates positive associations with your brand in the popular consciousness. It  establishes you as having a real and legitimate interest in doing good rather than being a stereotypical corporate exec who’s concerned only with driving profit.

Public perception can make or break a business of any size. Stick a pin in a newspaper and you’ll find examples of corporations that have been taken to task by journalists, the public and even governments for unethical, dishonest or greed motivated business practices that have gone on to do lasting damage to their reputation.

McDonald’s, for example, are no strangers to having to clean up their public image. They raised their profile exponentially when they stopped buying birds fed onAmazon-grownn soy and thus saved more rainforest than the Brazilian government.

In the digital information / social media age your business’ reputation has never been more important, and a black mark against your business can be very hard to wipe clean. However, the benefits of advocating a cause that has personal meaning to you or is aligned with the goals and ideals of your business go beyond ethics and good PR.

Cause advocacy is a legitimate marketing strategy:

1. It’ll get people talking about you. Potential leads will be more aware of you, of course, but also competitors, journalists, owners of complimentary services and suppliers. With obvious caveats, any publicity is good publicity. Speaking of which…

2. It can reduce your marketing costs. A mission of advocacy can raise intrigue and awareness for your brand as well as creating the positive associations mentioned earlier.

3. It keeps your employees motivated and productive. Altruism is a great motivator. People are far more likely to turn up to work with a positive attitude when they feel like they’re making a difference. Cause advocacy can give your employees a sense of personal involvement and responsibility in the goals of your business. It also helps ensure that they’ll be vocal advocates for your brand. The boost to your reputation will also grant you a degree of prestige that means recruiting and retaining top talent will be that much easier for you.

4. You will influence your competitors. While your competitors wanting to emulate you may raise alarm bells, it’s unlikely that they’ll rob you of your USP. If anything they’ll seem like second-rate imitators in the eyes of consumers, which means….

5. Consumers will prefer you. Consumers are far more willing to part with their money if they know that this money is going on something more constructive than corporate bonuses. In fact over 60% of global consumers say they will switch brands to one that works with good causes.

6. You’ll drive innovation. Ethical business practices are a proven motivator for driving innovation and increasing consumer demand for the same. Just look at how electric and hybrid cars have progressed in the last decade, as consumer demand pressures the market to become more environmentally aware and invest more heavily in sustainable technologies (Volvo have vowed to make all of their new cars electric by 2019).

7. You’ll save money. Reducing material waste and energy consumption are not only  great ways of reducing your business’ carbon footprint that potential customers will appreciate, they will also consistently save you money.

8. You will be more desirable to suppliers. Suppliers will be more attracted to businesses that they feel will treat them ethically, and they’ll also want to piggyback on your good PR by being associated with you.