You’re an entrepreneur. You’re optimistic by nature. It’s probably one of your most appealing characteristics. Your optimism will serve you well as you build your business, and we love it too – it’s infectious, and we absolutely want to work with you.

But before we proceed, we need to be up front with you about what we can and cannot do. Specifically, we need to make sure that you are clear on the fact that we probably can’t bring in all your new business from scratch. We want to help you with lead gen (and we probably can), but we can’t take on all of that responsibility up front! If there was a company that could generate all the leads your new business needs, predictably and sustainably from a standing start, it would be the most successful company in the world. But sadly no such company exists.

Whether you’re after direct inbound leads or are looking to support your sales team in generating outbound leads we can likely help. But we will never commit to lead gen targets for your business until you have proven three things beyond reasonable doubt:

  1. That you have a solid product or service offering.
  2. That there is a market out there that wants or needs your product or service offering.
  3. That this market is prepared to pay the price you are charging for your product or service.

Once those things are proven, leads can always be generated. Before those things are proven, it might be possible to generate leads, or it might not, but I’m sure as hell not going to stake my company’s reputation on it.The best way to prove your product and your market is to find some solid first customers – your mother, cousin and Facebook friends don’t count. What you want is a handful of people you don’t know who are willing to pay full price for whatever it is you are offering: you find demand, and you show that you know how to meet that demand. As soon as that has been done, we know that lead gen is possible and we can do it.

We’re often approached by unproven start-ups whose founders can’t understand why we won’t take their money to run their lead gen. They are baffled that an agency would say no to their budget. But we would never be able to say yes. And here’s why:

  1. We don’t like to waste money – even when it’s not ours. So we don’t want to spend your hard-raised cash on trying to generate leads for something that isn’t lead-worthy – i.e. it solves a problem no one cares about; it’s overpriced; or it doesn’t work very well.
  2. If we take on this responsibility, you will blame us when it goes wrong, regardless of the source of failure. We really don’t want to take that reputational risk.
  3. We’re an ambitious business. We have places to go and people to meet. The only way we can achieve our growth objectives is by finding great clients for whom we can do outstanding work. These clients will be with us for years and they will naturally attract more great clients to us. So before we agree to start working with you, I need to be able to clearly visualise the amazing case study we’re going to publish in 12 months’ time. If you haven’t proven your product and your market yet, I can’t do that yet.

A while back, someone introduced me to the notion of the Sales Learning Curve (SLC), a theory developed by some smart people at Stanford University. The SLC is simple: before you can sell a product efficiently, your entire organisation has to know how people will acquire and use the product. For start-up success, therefore, pushing the product onto the market and hoping for the best simply doesn’t work.

If you’re at that nail-biting start-up stage, I highly recommend reading up on the SLC – it might dampen your enthusiasm, but it’ll save you a whole lot of pain: you will probably not start gaining market traction as soon as you have completed a beta product. You can learn this the long and hard way or you can go with the SLC approach – take your new offering to the market with the goal of understanding what the market values about it so you can tailor it into something they simply cannot resist. So your initial marketing objective is simply to learn. Once you have learned, you adapt. Once you’ve adapted you launch.

As an agency, we can help you gather this data. But it would be very irresponsible of us to sign you on for a lead gen contract before this has been done.

So to make sure we are completely on the same page…

We can:

  • Help you get your marketing collateral, messaging and marketing strategy in order to give you the best chance of winning clients (in the target market you have already identified).
  • Help you collect market feedback.
  • Generate leads once your offering has been proven.

We can’t (even if we want to):

  • Commit to winning your first batch of customers before you have won some yourself – there are so many lessons to be learned in this process, and marketing only plays a small role in getting a new business off the ground.

While we love working with start-ups and we have helped some go from pre-launch to multi million pound success stories, we can’t do it alone.

While launching your company is your responsibility, I love meeting new entrepreneurs and am always willing to have an informal and honest chat about what will work and what won’t – so please feel free to get in touch.