Lead Generation – Lists, Leads, and Qualified Leads 


“Every time I’m around an investment banker, a broker from a broker-dealer, a registered investment advisor, or even someone that sells insurance products, one of the top things they want to talk about is leads.” – JP Maroney, Harbor City Capital 

There are only 3 ways to increase business revenue. You can get more customers, sell more products to existing customers, or raise your prices. Any one of those 3 scenarios could conceivably bring in more revenue although raising prices might backfire and actually reduce revenue. 

For this article, we are going to focus on getting more customers. A new customer typically begins as a lead. One of the most important factors in growing a business is the availability of new customer leads.

So what exactly is a lead?

A lead is a person that has shown an interest in your product or service or in solving a problem that your product or service can help them with.

Let’s say you sell investment products to accredited investors. 

Would a list of accredited investors be considered leads?

No. Although presumably accredited, they have not actually expressed an interest in investment products. So this is just a compiled list.

Would a list of accredited investors who have bought investment products in the past be considered leads?

No. Although better than the first example, they still wouldn’t be leads. Even though they have invested in the past it doesn’t mean they are interested in investing now. These are not leads. This is a compiled list that may or may not be interested in what you have to offer.

Once again, a lead is a person that has shown an interest in your product or service or in solving a problem that your product or service can help them with. Leads are generated. Lists are compiled.

What is a Qualified Lead?

A qualified lead is a step above a lead. Remember a lead is a person that has shown an interest in your product or service or in solving a problem that your product or service can help them with. A qualified lead is a person that has not only expressed interest but has also met certain criteria that makes them more likely to purchase your product or service.

So if you’re selling investment products to accredited investors a qualified lead would be somebody who has not only expressed an interest in your product but has also indicated that they are an accredited investor. 

How Do You Generate Leads? 

Newspaper Ads – if you have a product that appeals to the general masses you can run newspaper ads. An example would be if you are selling cars. For our accredited investor example, you could qualify the leads by running your ad in the Wall Street Journal and stating in the ad that you are looking for Accredited investors. Newspaper ads can be quite expensive.

Magazine Ads – Magazines are good because they allow you to target a certain niche to generate a more qualified lead. There are magazines for gun enthusiasts, people into cars, people into health and fitness, people into making money, investors, etc. Magazine ads can be expensive and it may take months before your ads appear in the magazine.

TV Ads – If you have a mass appeal product and a large advertising budget, TV advertising might be for you. Local businesses can advertise on TV with cable TV ads that can be targeted to a geographic area. TV ads can be expensive but you can sometimes get a deal on unsold ad space. This is known as remnant advertising.

Radio Ads – Like TV advertising, radio advertising is better for mass appeal products that lots of people would be interested in. You can do some targeting by picking certain radio stations and specific shows to advertise on. For our accredited investor example, you would want to advertise on business talk radio and shows where they discuss money and investing.

Direct Mail – Direct mail has been around forever. You can purchase a list of prospects that meet your criteria and send them a postcard or direct mail piece with your sales message. If they’re interested they will go to your website or call you for more information. Direct mail is expensive but can be well worth it.

Calling Lead Lists – Just like direct mail, you can purchase a list. With this method, you would be calling them instead of mailing them. The downside is it can be very time consuming and you have to have thick skin because you’ll face a lot of rejection. 

Phone Broadcasting – You can purchase lists and send them a phone broadcast with a message describing your product and service. If they are interested they can press 1 for more info. If not they can press 2 to be removed from your list. Warning: there are strict laws regarding this and we don’t recommend it. We are listing it here for informational purposes only.

Education-Based / Content Marketing – a great way to generate high-quality leads is through education-based content marketing. You can create a bunch of articles, videos, blog posts that will appeal to your target audience and educate them with great information. This will build trust with your target audience and establish you as an expert in their eyes. When it comes time to do business, they will think of you.

Online Advertising – one of the best ways to generate qualified leads is online advertising. Using search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo and social media sites like Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram it’s possible to generate leads quickly and economically. You can drive the leads to a website where you qualify them before you even talk to them. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Final Thoughts

The lifeblood of every business is new customer leads. There are many ways to generate them, both offline and online.

A list is a compilation of people that MIGHT be interested in what you have to offer. A lead is somebody who has indicated that they ARE interested in what you have to offer.

A qualified lead is somebody who has expressed interest in what you have to offer AND fits certain criteria which make them more likely to become a customer of yours.

We hope you enjoyed this article.

It was inspired by an interview with JP Maroney, CEO of Harbor City Capital, who has decades of experience in the lead generation and marketing space.

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