There are two types of businesses out there in the world – those that sell products and those that sell services. Either you’re selling an item that serves a need, or you’re selling a service.
Ok, I know there are more types of businesses out there, but for the purposes of this blog, let’s just focus on these two.
When marketing a product, you need to prove to the consumer why this product will make his/her life just a little bit better. You can describe its usefulness, how shiny and pretty it is, and why life will be so much better with it in your life. You need to create a desire in the consumer — yes, owning this product will make my life easier. It’s no longer a want…it’s a need.
That is if the marketer does his/her job right.
However, marketing a service is different. First, the consumer is at a point where it’s a need. I need to get my apartment clean, so I need a qualified cleaning service. I need to get my toilet fixed so it stops running constantly. I need an attorney to create an estate plan.
So instead of describing how shiny and pretty your service is, you have to show the consumer why your cleaning service or plumber or attorney is better than anyone else out there. Look at these testimonials! Check out all the awards! Take a look at our credentials. See how we helped similar people in need.
A Quick Definition of Lead Generation
One way service providers can market to those who need them the most is through lead generation. In its purest form, lead generation is the beginning of the sales funnel – you’re capturing the interest of the consumer for your service and directing them to look your way instead of your competition.
Lead generation consists of using several digital channels such as social media, email newsletters, and even websites devoted to capturing the person’s information to later send to the highest buyer. And as you can imagine, the system has been taken advantage of time and time again.
Case in point – a recent article in Search Engine Land found that the majority of listings for car accident attorneys on Google are lead gen companies trying to capture leads. These spammy companies take advantage of a flaw in the local ranking algorithm to rocket to the top of the map searches.
It’s almost a slap in the face to all SEO specialists who tear their hair out wondering why their clients are not ranking — you know, the people who work the system correctly with quality content, backlinks, Schema, and reviews. Thanks, Google!
The scenario explained above highlights the problem with lead gen – there’s always some shady individual out there taking advantage of the situation. And unfortunately, when these practices are under scrutiny, the legit marketers are the ones who suffer.
Case Study: Patient Brokering in Florida
If you never heard of this concept, let me explain before continuing with the study. Patient brokering is a tactic where an addiction treatment center pays a third party vendor for getting information on a patient interested in going into a treatment program. The patient was led to believe they were being referred to someone with their best interests at heart; instead, the information was sold to the highest bidder.
Ever since the opioid epidemic hit critical mass, patient brokering has been running rampant throughout the United States, especially in California and Florida. Lead gen companies would create a quick landing page, throw some PPC on those bad boys, and then sell that information to addiction treatment centers. And so, the centers get rich, the lead gen companies really get rich, and the patient doesn’t get the quality care he/she deserves.
It became such a problem that Google stepped in and put its foot down. Citing the growing misleading promises by many of the vendors, Google announced in 2017 it wasn’t going to take paid ads from addiction treatment programs unless that center has the proper certification.
The Florida government took it a step further by creating the Florida Patient Brokering Act. This state statute imposes criminal penalties for compensated patient referrals. A violation of the act carries a first-degree felony charge with a $500,000 penalty.
Although the new policies and legal remedies are beneficial for all involved, it does make addiction treatment marketing very difficult.
Lead Gen Done Right
Not all lead generation services are spammy or corrupt nor is it a bad practice to use a lead service. You need to know the following:
- Who exactly are you working with?
- Does the vendor have a stellar representation with plenty of testimonials?
- Where is the service getting the leads?
- Is the way it’s capturing the leads a legit practice?
If you need help with your lead generation, ENX2 Marketing can help! We have years of experience getting you the clients that you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a site audit.