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I’ve been doing a lot of marketing workshops lately — seminars, webinars, group coaching, you name it — and a question that keeps coming up again and again is, “How do I find prospect names?”
If you market a service to businesses, perhaps you’re struggling with the same issue. You want to call, email, or send a direct mail letter to potential clients in a particular niche market. You have the company names. But you don’t have the names of the appropriate decision makers inside those companies that you should be reaching out to.
How do you get those names?
Well, there’s a slow way. A quick way. And a few other ways that are in the “happy medium” category.
The slow way is to do your own research. Basically, that means scouring company websites and press releases, and even cold calling companies, to find out who you should be contacting about your services. Now that’s very time-consuming and, frankly, not a lot of fun. But it’s an option.
The fast way is to buy the information. For example, you could go to a business information service, such as Hoovers.com, and purchase a list of prospect names.
But that’s expensive. To get decision maker names and contact information from a good business information service, you’re looking at around $1 to $2 per contact. Maybe more.
That may actually be worth the money — if you have the budget.
But what if you don’t?
Well, then you have to look at list building solutions in the “happy medium” category, where you’re doing some of the work and maybe even investing a few bucks, but you’re keeping the time and money you spend to a minimum.
Here are my favorite five of those list building strategies.
1. Google alerts.
Google has a great feature where you can be alerted via email whenever a particular topic is mentioned in the news.
This is a great tool for building your prospect list. If you’re targeting HR managers in the transportation and logistics industry, for example, you can set up an alert for those keywords. Almost immediately, you’ll start getting links to press releases, web pages and other information — a good portion of which will contain the names of the prospects you’re after.
To find this tool, just Google “Google alerts”.
2. Google’s advanced search.
Often the decision maker’s name that you’re after is on the company website. Somewhere. But where? It’s time-consuming to search every page manually. And some B2B company websites have hundreds of pages. And you don’t want to spend hours going through all those!
So let Google do the work for you.
Go to www.google.com/advanced_search. There, you can do a search that’s limited to a specific website. Search for “marketing manager” within UPS.com, for example, and you’ll quickly find dozens of names. (UPS has lots of marketing managers!)
3. LinkedIn search.
Most business professionals have a profile on LinkedIn.com. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find one of your prospects who isn’t on that popular social media site.
On LinkedIn, you can do a search for company names and job titles that can yield dozens of prospect names. The information you get will depend on the “connection” you have with that person. And there are some other limitations, too. Still, LinkedIn can be a great list-building tool.
A few months ago, a coaching client I was working with lamented she couldn’t find the names of marketing and communications managers at a large company she was targeting. While on the phone, we did a search in LinkedIn and found all the names in seconds.
Jigsaw.com is a business information service, similar to Hoovers.com and InfoUSA.com. Basically, you can go there and buy a list of prospect names. But I put it here in the happy medium category because Jigsaw can be very affordable, depending on how you use it.
My friend Ed Gandia (my co-author of The Wealthy Freelancer) often recommends Jigsaw. And I’ve spoken with several other business owners who also endorse it.
5. Professional associations.
My favorite way to identify prospects is to join the professional association they belong to. For example, if you’re targeting the non-profit sector with your grant writing and consulting services, you’ll find that a lot of your potential clients are members of the Association of Fundraising Executives.
When you join a professional association, you often get access to the membership list. And, of course, there are usually restrictions as to how you can use that list. But for less than $500 — the average fee to join most associations — it’s still the best list-building deal in town.
So there you have it. Five ways to build a prospect list without having to spend too much time and money. Try a couple of these techniques and see how they work for you. Keep in mind, however, that building a solid prospect list is never easy, no matter how you do it.
It’s not easy. But it’s worth it.