I think it was Albert Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This statement rings so true with online marketing. You would be insane to expect any changes to your online marketing results without putting in place a whole series of changes. But how does the current economic malaise affect what changes should be at the top of your list? What should you focus on now that 12 months ago you could easily avoiding spending time on?

At the top of most of our customers’ lists over the last few weeks has been the content they are using for lead generation. Specifically, the words and documents they use to tempt prospects who are in the early stages of their decision-making process. Attract prospects who are in these stages and you have a good chance of influencing them during their purchasing process.

Frequently, content offered at this early stage asks the prospect to break the status quo and take some action. This is usually followed with content that overviews the different options available to solve the prospect’s problem. This is all rounded up with additional detail on why your product or service should be chosen above the other options available.

Lead-generation content that challenges the status quo explains in detail the benefits that the prospect will miss out on if they don’t make a decision to progress. A prospect who is pondering the early stages of purchasing a new product or service will weigh up the time and money required to research and find a solution and compare this with the discomfort of doing nothing. If the benefits of finding a solution to their problem outweigh the discomfort of inaction (your content should expose and highlight these discomforts), there is a strong chance they will move one step further along the decision-making process.

However, in challenging economic times, the act of breaking the status quo can prove harder to achieve than would normally be the case. Part of the reason for this is the underlying media commentary that supports the view to sit tight and do very little. A growing level of apathy is your real competitor here. (Also be prepared for a double whammy later in the year, with the election bringing even more uncertainty to businesses.) Therefore, lead-generation content for this stage requires some extra punch to it to make it ‘bust’ a rather resilient ‘status quo’.

One way to add extra power to this content is to have a laser-like focus on the benefits your prospect will receive by taking action and/or the problems they will experience if they sit still and do nothing. You can achieve this level of focus by customising any generic content to be more appealing to your ideal prospect audiences.

For example, say there was a printing and design business based on the North Shore of Auckland. Let’s assume that their website offers a FREE report tasked with challenging the status quo by changing the prospect’s print supplier, called ‘Six ways to shrink your printing costs through better buying’. Let’s also assume that during the last 8 months a number of prospects have downloaded this document and have been nurtured with reasonable success into becoming customers. Everything is looking good so far.

Recently, however, things have slowed down, with the last report being downloaded just 2 weeks ago – and then, by a student researching a project for Uni. What was a reasonably regular online prospect flow has well and truly dried up. One suggestion would be to add more grunt to this content by altering it to better suit certain prospect profiles. For instance, the printing business may research its own customers and find that Motels and Dentists are two groups of loyal and profitable customers that they would like their lead-generation practices to attract more of.

Knowing this, they could then take the report and rewrite it to appeal to each of these niches. Perhaps something like ‘Printing Tips and Tricks for Dentists that Reduce Costs and Drive Patient Numbers’ or even ‘The Motel Owner’s Guide to Profit-Growing Print Procurement.’ In both cases, the core information provided in the report would remain the same but would be supplemented with case testimonials and/or specific print examples that highlight for each segment a) the unique needs of their business; b) the specific problems they experience with print suppliers and the opportunities they are missing out on by not using this business; and finally, c) an understanding that this business has specialist expertise in their industry segment, which is something that they could well will find difficult to locate anywhere else. Any one of these points makes the report itself more valuable in the eyes of those prospects in the chosen segments and therefore has a better chance of convincing them to take the next step and contact the printer for more details.

Yes, winning new business is harder now than it was maybe even just 6 months ago, but with changes like these your online lead-generation efforts can be bolstered to cope with the added demands it is facing. By putting a niche angle to your original ‘status quo’ content, your business can vastly increase the value of this content to your prospect audience and, by doing so, can improve its effectiveness.