How to find great prospects

An excellent article by Lucy Hogarth, founder at the Marketing Centre

Find the full article here

Let us tell you a secret.

There’s an industry dedicated to finding small and medium-sized businesses a load of great, qualified leads. This may seem like a mysterious art, a flick of a wand, a few magic words and hey presto, awesome leads. The end result looks like magic. The methodology, like all illusions, is not.

It’s time for The Marketing Centre to be thrown out of the marketing magic circle forever…

The Illusion

This trick is really all about common sense. You’ve probably got clients who you wish you could clone. Clients who buy big, pay on time and cause no hassle. Wouldn’t it be great to clone them?

Well, you can. And without a magic wand or top hat in sight.

The trick starts with segmenting your customer database. Typical things to note down are:

  • Your clients’ industries
  • Their size and estimated turnover
  • Their geographical location
  • The geographical scope of their markets
  • The age and job title of your key contacts in each.

Ascertain your most profitable and loyal clients and look for common threads in the details above.

The Technique

Take this information to a business data organisation, and they will find and deliver you a database of contacts sharing these characteristics.

This is the magic other companies will charge you for. Don’t tell them we told you.

For B2B businesses, our favourite data providers are Thomson LocalEquifax,and Dun & Bradstreet. While their customer-profiling and acquisition services vary slightly, the end result is the same; a bank of hot new contacts for your business, closely aligned with your best existing clients.

Briefing your data provider properly is essential, otherwise you will receive a dataset which can only be partly used. Remember the following:

  • First, make sure the customer profile traits from which you want to create your new dataset are ones that fit your longer-term business strategy. It’s no good looking for new leads in an area of your business you’re about to retire.
  • Second, be specific in your brief. You will get more value for money from a data search focussed on a limited selection of business traits. One that covers too many will pick up irrelevant contacts, which you will then have to sort through.
  • Shop around; the best, most reliable data providers will charge more for high quality data that represents a good return on your investment (and this should still be less than unscrupulous customer acquisition firms will charge). What represents good data? Qualified email addresses are a great place to start. You shouldn’t be getting any email addresses starting info@….You want good quality targets. Make sure this is in the contract.
  • Finally, be aware that purchasing information of this kind comes with a responsibility to protect your data. Secure any new data you receive, and only share with your data provider information that your customers have consented to give and/or distribute.

The Reveal

You’ve now got your hands on the raw data that our customer acquisition friends would have charged good money for.

All you have to do now is vet the information you’ve been provided with, if this hasn’t already been done by your data provider. While this will require additional resource, it shouldn’t be skipped: the results will be worth waiting for.

There you have it: B2B business magic. Time-consuming, true – but much more impressive than pulling a rabbit from a hat.

We don’t claim to be magicians here at The Marketing Centre, but we do focus our marketing activities around growth and return on investment over the long-term – something our proven part-time Marketing Directors can do, which marketing consultants cannot.