7 Offline Channels for leads and their real cost 

So much ado has been made about leads and their real cost. But what are the channels that you, the business owner or salesperson, can use to get more leads?

The role of face-to-face event prospecting is in the business owner’s arsenal.

Face to face is the highest touch channel, and where you do this is at events or in organisations. Generally, as a method which is characterized by a higher conversion rate, but high time and opportunity cost, as well as a lack of scalability.

Face-to-face prospecting / networking is recommended for early stage B2B business owners and salespeople, or for business owners deal with a very large deal size.

Event Prospecting / Networking Real Cost Profile

Cost: Time

Business Stage: Early

Resources needed: Lead generating manpower (some training needed)

Scalability: Very low

Strength: Good rapport

Weakness: Severe lack of scalability and high cost

Ideal For: Large deal size (>100k)

Weakest For: Small deals (<5k), B2C businesses

Here Are Seven Useful Types of Events You Can Attend, Depending on What Kind of Product or Service You Are Selling:

1. Meetup.com / Eventbrite Events

Meetup.com / Eventbrite are websites where anyone can host and list events. There are many interest groups, training workshops, and other introductory events.

Meetup.com and Eventbrite are useful as a starter tool to get the hang of networking and for small scale products/services such as graphic / logo design, web design and some kinds of product photography.

To reach higher level decision makers, look for pure business owner meetups, training for specific course types (eg. increasing your HR productivity returns, or retaining staff in a down economy) or any which are more exclusive.  These are usually more prevalent on EventBrite.

Expect to meet a lot of financial planners, MLM, and real estate agents.

Pros: Free, Easy to Start, Meet lots of new people in a short time, leverage other people’s event marketing budget.

Cons: Much lower quality connections depending on how business focused the event is, lower-level staff with low concentration of decision makers.

Time/Money Consumed: 3-4 hrs per event, some events are free, others charge $10-20 for defraying cost of food.

Likely Returns: For lower quantum (<$2000) products and services a small number of leads per meeting is possible (0.5-1). For higher quantum products/ services it can be much lower (as low as 0-0.5).  Not very suitable for sales of over 20k.

2.BNI (Business Networking International)

BNI is a paid networking event/group specializing in lead exchange. Their motto is the Giver’s Gift, believing in paying forward and receiving leads in turn. They also limit all trades to one of each type, so that there are no conflicts of interest. It works a lot like a business cell group. Visitor’s days are low-cost, but here is an annual subscription to enter permanently join a chapter, and attendance is compulsory.

Very much dependent on the chapter you join, most of BNI is filled with entry to mid-tier salespeople, small business owners and sales managers. There are some who come into contact with higher tier leads, which can be useful, and the BNI directors are quite strong.

Pros: Builds longer term referral relationships with chapter members, exclusive trades, business focused networking (less time wastage), compulsory meetings means good event networking discipline is enforced.

Cons: Large time commitment for weekly meetings, sometimes very early meetings (some are around 7.30am), limited spread of network.

Time/Money Consumed: $900+ / year for membership, $15 per meeting, and around 3.5 hrs per event including transport.

Likely Returns: Strong and consistent return for deal size under $5,000, but only if your product or service is widely demanded (eg. web design).

3. Society Work (Non-profits / other organisations)

Do good for society in various non-profits and grassroots initiatives while meeting new people.

When being involved in grassroots or volunteer work, you meet a surprising number of high-level decision makers. This requires a heavy time commitment, so it is best to work on a cause that you really feel for and wish to help.  It’s a great way to give back to the community too! This is strengthened if you are in a position of responsibility in the organization.

Pros: Deep & quality connections, good general networking, help the community.

Cons: Massive time commitment.

Time/Money Consumed: High in terms of lots of time needed, consistent commitment over months or years.

Likely Returns: Deep, high-level connections. Due to time constraints, only one or two can be pursued at once. Be focused and choose wisely. This method varies in strength but can work for B2B companies with deal sizes well in excess of $10,000.

4. Luxury / Exclusive Events (Wine, Golf, Fashion, Luxury etc.)

Luxury events include high-class leisure activities, such as wine-tasting, gemstone / watch collectors events, private fashion unveiling events, exclusive premieres and product launches, charity gala dinners, and so on.

Luxury events tend to attract much wealthier clientele, and the more exclusive or the higher the price point to enter, the better. This is a good place to meet high-net-worth individuals in a relaxed setting. However, it must be said that these events / groups tend to spurn outsiders, so you would firstly have to prove your membership in their peer group (whether by being an outstanding achiever, highly-talented or versed in high-end hobbies, having very good taste, or by discussion topics)

Pros: Higher chance of HNWI (High-net worth individuals).

Cons: Can be costly or difficult to enter groups, high cost of hobby, might have to show evidence of peer groups, takes time to build up good relationships.

Time / Money Consumed: Moderate to High, depending on the cost of the hobby.

Likely Returns: Moderate, excellent for large deal sizes if given enough time.

5. Alumni Networking Events

The various school levels usually have some sort of alumni association, which holds quarterly to yearly events and things like fundraisers.

Alumni associations result in some of the quickest, warmest connections of all types. The reason for this is that every connection made within an alumni context begins with a basic level of common ground and rapport (of the school connection and culture). Pound for pound, networking in an alumni context is the most effective kind there is.

Pros: Best kind of network there is, extremely effective for lead generation and long-term collaborations. Senior alumni are very willing to help even very junior alumni.

Cons: There are a limited number of alumni associations each person can participate in.

Time / Money Consumed: Depends on the extent of commitment. Most of it is in terms of time commitment. Low for attending events, High or Very High for being involved in organizing events.

Likely Returns: High over the short and long run.

6. Paid Training Courses / Seminars

These can be any kind of training course or seminar, especially those that last multiple days. Some of them are certification courses and others might be seminars or boot camps.

These are moderately effective especially if the contacts of all class members are collected and coordinated in a group chat because of the shared experience that people go through together.

Pros: Shared experiences create bonding (sort of like mini-alumni), get certifications and extra knowledge.

Cons: Very costly to keep up, takes a lot of time.

Time / Money Consumed: High, but limited to duration of course.

Likely Returns: Depends on how it is used, could be relatively high if a good bond was formed, but could be quite uncertain if the bonds are not maintained properly through a proper structure such as the Course Network Capture Framework.

7. Speakerships & Running Workshops / Events

Speakerships and Workshop hosting means organizing events or speaking at events in order to share information, establish credibility, and promote your product/service.

Being the host or speaker, wielded properly, is one of the most powerful methods of building trust and credibility in a situation possible. Further, being on stage enables you to shift a large number of people to being leads, and even close some of them on the spot.

This method has the greatest requirements in terms of cost, preparation and training, but is potentially the single most powerful face-to-face lead generation method available.

Pros: Very powerful for building awareness, credibility and trust among a large number of people at once. Puts you at the centre of attention and creates warmed inbound leads.

Cons: Expensive to arrange, extensive preparation and training required, familiarity with public speaking needed.

Time / Money Consumed: Moderate with the right skills, expensive to arrange venues and market events.

Likely Returns: Very High, with warmer leads as a result.

In Summary:

All these 7 methods have their strengths and weaknesses, so it is up to you, the business owner, to decide which ones you decide to leverage at your business growth stage.

Authored by Kevin Ng

Edited by Christopher Lee Susanto

Kevin Ng is Managing Director of Thunderquote.com (ASEAN’s one-stop sourcing & procurement marketplace for businesses) and Hyron Infotech Pte Ltd (IT company which served prestigious clients including MOE and Gongcha with over 2 million hits monthly)

A veteran technology entrepreneur certified in project management and quality assurance(CAPM/Six Sigma), he has worked on over 5 technology product fields (including mPOS, event app engines, manpower scheduling, web ERP systems, and more).

Kevin was the GSEA National Champion representing Singapore in 2015, and was crowned one of the World Top 6 Student Entrepreneurs of the Year 2015 on behalf of Singapore.

A sought after speaker and media favourite, Kevin was the keynote speaker at YouthHack 2015 and shared his expertise with entrepreneurs there. He has also been featured in Zaobao (Aug 5), Huffington Post, Inc.com magazine and Yahoo Finance.

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