Any marketing or sales campaign begins with a list – a list of contacts that fit your “ideal customer” profile, or that you suspect may be in the market for your product or services.
Many businesses will rely on word of mouth to build up a list of loyal customers and simply market to them through an email newsletter or other promotional material. This should definitely be part of your strategy, as it’s far easier to get repeat business out of your previous customers than it is to get new business out of cold leads.
But word of mouth is difficult to control, and usually a slow-burner. You also need a targeted means to expand your network and reach new audiences.
This is where some businesses purchase a list of contacts from a marketing database. A quick solution, but also expensive and the quality of these lists can vary significantly.
But there is an alternative – it might take a bit longer, but it will be more targeted, more reliable and more successful when utilised well.
Here is my simple but effective strategy to create a targeted prospect list for your business:
1. Define your search criteria
The first thing you need to do is define your search criteria. For some, this can seem the hardest part, but all it really means is picking a target industry and a target geographical area. For instance, “architects” in “Dundee”.
2. Search Google Maps
Now you take your search terms and head to Google Maps. First, type your target area into the search box, zoom in/out until the whole area fills your screen. Next, type your target industry into the box. The map should become scattered with red dots – these are all businesses in your target industry, in your target area.
3. Write down a list of companies
Then you need to methodically hover over all the dots and write down the company names on a bit of paper. You can transfer these to a spreadsheet or database later. Keep going until you feel you have a long enough list for your intended purposes.
4. Start filling in the blanks
Now we can start filling in the blanks. Type each company name into Google, navigate to their website and see if you can find out the names of key team members and their contact details. Many small businesses will display these on the website (marketing gold dust!), but you might find it tricker for larger businesses. If you can’t find them on the website, go back to your search results and look at online directories, news sites and social media pages to see if you can find those details. If you can’t find a person’s name, then take down the general company contact details anyway. Work through the list of companies until all the contact details have been found and your list is complete. Now you have a targeted list of companies that you can use for marketing purposes!
5. Rinse and repeat
Once you have covered one geographical area and industry, move on to other ones and repeat the process again.
Hints and tips
This is a straight-forward process for building a list, but the list alone doesn’t guarantee sales success. Remember, these are still cold leads. For best results, to cultivate good relationships, we recommend seeking out a warm introduction to individuals and companies from a mutual contact before contacting them with your marketing materials. An easy way to do this is to search LinkedIn, or even Facebook, Twitter or Google+, to see if you have shared connections.
Once you have a list in place, you may want to filter it down further by setting more detailed criteria than simply industry and location. You may also want to find out their staff size, their turnover and their current activities, all of which might be available from press releases or Companies House.
I hope you find this strategy helpful when you’re marketing your business! Have you found success with prospecting in the past? Let me know in the comments!