Yes, this is pretty obvious. But we often overlook the importance of leads and lead generation. Also overlooked is how central lead generation is to the business models of many of the Internet's most successful companies - and how lead generation is changing media and marketing.
Google is, of course, all about leads via adwords. So is eBay and all the other online markets. For example, I just made a restaurant reservation using Open Table. It is a public company worth $600 million that gets a big chunk of its revenue generating leads.
We recently posted on social game companies. Rapidly growing rapidly and hugely successful, these firms are lead generation platforms disguised as casual game companies.
On the marketing side, firms that provide lead generation services are thriving while traditional marketing agencies struggle. Hubspot, a successful Internet marketing firm that is an agency/services/web analytics hybrid, is a good example.
The shift towards lead generation is also a major driver of the disruption of the media industry. Traditional media's marketing strengths are awareness and branding. Not good when advertisers are focusing on lead generation. Most new media companies tightly focus on generating leads for their clients.
The trends driving the need for leads are diverse and strong. Increased competition is a key driver, as is the growing consumer and B2B customer immunity to traditional advertising.
Enabling and driving this trend is the the increasing power of analytical software and the growing reach and data intensiveness of the Internet. These tools and data are making it easier for even small businesses to run sophisticated lead generation programs.
Like most trends, the shift towards lead generation is not new. Many of the online methods and approaches considered innovative today were in use decades ago by the direct marketing industry. But despite its age, the shift towards lead generation is just beginning.