Do we need people to talk to in our business adventure? Does a bear sit in the woods? Well, read on if you want to learn how to find prospects....
How Can I Find Clients and Prospects? Use an Effective List
By Ilise Benun and Peleg Top
It may seem obvious, but when you introduce yourself to a new market, the most important tool at your disposal is a list of your prospects. Without that list, there's very little you can do.
With that list, there is much you can do. You can make cold calls. You can send personalized e-mail messages. You can do a mailing of your brochure or promotional package. Or, you can do all of the above. In other words, you can use that list for a campaign.
Where do these lists come from?
There are many resources for a list of prospects, especially if you don't need thousands of prospects. But the most effective list is generally one you create yourself, based on the criteria you've chosen, such as the size of the company, possible revenue or the number of employees. Although it requires a bit more work on your part, compiling and collecting names for your own list will make for a much more effective and profitable list.
Be wary of someone selling "prospect lists" because although they sound good and are often very inexpensive, the people on the list may be someone's prospects, but they usually are not yours.
You probably have access to lists that you may not be aware of, so look first to your own resources, which may include:
· Industry and trade group directories. Almost every trade group publishes a directory, either online or printed. As a member of a group, one of the benefits you get is access to (and inclusion in) the member directory. (Some groups make their directories available for a fee, so you don't even have to join.) You may not realize it, but this is one of the most valuable resources and best reasons to join a group. Directories are invaluable because they pre-qualify your prospects and give you the name of someone to start with, which saves your valuable time. Calling a company and trying to find the person who hires or buys the services you're offering is very time-consuming.
· Attendee lists to industry events. Often, a list of attendees will be published and distributed to attendees of an industry event or conference-it's one of the perks of attending. This is another invaluable resource that you should do more than just glance at to see who's in attendance. Make this list your bible. At the event, use it to find the people you want to talk to. Get familiar with the names. Mark it up. Write notes to yourself about who you met, as well as who you didn't meet but can follow up with later. Then, when you get home, use that list. Make cold calls using the conference as your connection. If you didn't meet them, your opening line when you call or e-mail could be, "We both attended the AMA meeting last night but we didn't have a chance to meet, so I thought I'd call and see what I can find out a bit about what you do." That connection usually makes them open to listening or reading further. (There is usually a caveat not to use the list for "mass marketing," but you can use it to make contact with people.)
· Resource lists published in trade publications. Many trade publications offer (usually around year-end) annual lists of the top players in a particular industry, complete with contact information and details about the products and services offered by the company. This is not only a great source of prospects, but also a good overview of an industry that you may be considering getting into.
BHD: Should I rent a list?
Any list broker can rent you any of the more than 30,000 commercially available lists. But renting a list won't necessarily make your marketing profitable. The minimums are high (generally 5,000), and you just don't need that many names to work with.
There are lists available specifically for businesses targeting marketing communications prospects. These lists are best if you're willing to pay for someone else to provide the names and contact information for prospects because it saves you a lot of time. Start small, with 100 or 250 good prospects, to get your marketing going.
Many designers buy or subscribe to these lists but don't get the most out of them. They may do one mailing, get very little return and proclaim the list worthless. It's not the list's fault; it's the designer's. The list is just one spoke on the marketing wheel. Use the list to develop relationships with these prospects, communicate with them consistently over time and your efforts will be successful.
You've no doubt received e-mail messages offering e-mail lists with millions of names. Well, don't do it, ever. Not only is using these lists considered spamming, but these lists are not qualified for your purposes. The chances that your prospects are on them are one in a million-not great odds.
How to Build Your Dream List
How much would you pay for a list of people who need your services-and know it-and who are so close to being ready to buy that they've already made the effort to contact you? Wouldn't that be worth a lot of money? Maybe even invaluable?
The best list for you is the list of people with whom you have already begun the process of building a relationship. Don't underestimate its value for a minute, even if the list is small. These people already know you, and may even trust you (at least more than those on the mailing list you're thinking of renting), which means that the amount of time it will take to make the sale is shorter.
There are two strategies for building your dream list: First, you choose your prospects by compiling names from e-mail messages lingering in your inbox, old invoices, business cards, attendee lists from networking meetings and little bits of paper strewn about your office (you know the ones). The names you want to capture are quite simply those of everyone who's ever expressed interest in your work.
While you're building that list, also be using marketing tools that motivate qualified leads to raise their hands and ask you to market to them-tools like e-mail newsletters, publicity and press coverage, a toll-free number and offers of free info.
Ilisse Benun & Peleg Top
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