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It’s Time for Lead Generation to Evolve

2 min read

Published - October 11, 2022

Clay Sharman

In prehistoric times, leads were generated on stone tablets using giant woodpeckers as writing implements. We know this because noted explorers Hanna and Barbera showed us these “technologies” in their acclaimed 1960s docuseries. Stone lists were limited by size and weight and it was labor and time intensive but costs could be mitigated if a person was working in a stone quarry.

The reality is that people didn’t mind being called at this point because SPAM hadn’t been invented yet (no mail!) and the concept of annoyance, while likely around, had not been adequately defined.

The Age of the Machine

“Obstacles cannot crush me; every obstacle yields to stern resolve.”
– Leonardo da Vinci

Leap ahead to the15th Century, where a machine was invented that changed everything. Old man Gutenberg was a shrewd businessman. He realized that in order to sell his true passion, Oatmeal Cream Pies, (an opportunistic Little Debbie later found his recipe and turned it into an empire!), he needed a way to reach a larger base of potential eaters. Hence, his printing press. But the problem was he had no way knowing who he was selling to or where they lived, so, he had to invent the White Pages too. In short, Gutenberg came up with the first printing press, AND the first direct mail marketing campaign. True Story.

From Machine, to Machine Learning (ML)

Now, we are poised to take the next great leap forward thanks to the ability of a machine to “learn.” I’m not talking about AI and the idea that it knows better than we do…no, I’m talking ML, and the ability to study outcomes, determine elements of success or failure, and adjust the way it models the new outputs so that WE make better decisions. AI is that snotty know-it-all high school teenager we all hated but ML is the recently college graduated know-it-all with some humility and self-awareness. That awareness extends outward to all of us in the form of understanding. We can now use data to understand human behavior and improve all aspects of our lives…including lead generation.

The Lead Generation Upgrade

“This town needs an enema!”
The Joker, from the movie ‘Batman,’ circa 1989

Lead generation used to find its way blindly, traversing vast oceans of data with few instruments to help them navigate. It was a “this is how we always have done it” mindset. But, now, we can equip lead generation with advanced tools that can accurately map and humble those oceans, process data in ways that allow us to understand what to avoid as well as what to pursue further. We only need to look to our past to see how far we’ve come. The future is never about today or yesterday. It’s always about tomorrow. It’s time for us to look at lead generation that way too.