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A New Generation of Leads

RBII’ve worked in a lot of different business media environments. Almost every organization that I’ve encountered is loathe to be associated with the “low class” function of lead generation. Traditionally, business media organizations, especially editors, want to be thought of as expert commentators on high-level issues of their day, and the iconic apex of their art form was the long form feature article–a linear, generalized, impersonal information experience that will eventually go the way of the radio play. The dirty mechanics of generating customers and sales always took place outside of the tent.
I’ve always been fascinated with the dirty mechanics, including lead gen, indexing functions (like directories or buyers guides), and community building (all building blocks for successful events, of course.) That’s why I was interested to read about RBI’s new focus, and apparent success in the area of lead gen, which they claim now accounts for one third of their online revenue.
We’re witnessing the ongoing disintermediation of business information (actually all information), and the collapse of traditional media. But we’re definitely not seeing the end of business marketing. If anything, we’re on the cusp of an explosion of new, personalized, targeted, real-time marketing tools and paradigms. The more I talk to media professionals, the more I’m convinced that great things are in the works.
I’m currently working on both online, live and hybrid media models with performance-based vendor participation. On one hand we sell networking opportunities; on the other hand we plan to sell lead-generation for vendors. So it’s important that we engage in a process of user-approved matchmaking, and avoid any perception that we reveal user data without permission. I’m interested in hearing about online approaches that turn lead-gen into high-quality networking. This issue could benefit from some serious academic investigation.

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