Prospecting: it’s a tricky thing, no? In today’s digital era, there are so many ways to cast your net into an open sea of contacts. This has been a focal point lately for my own business (I was able to build a client base rather quickly, but surely don’t want to rest on my laurels). As such, I’ve been researching, speaking with colleagues and attending webinars to find fresh direction for prospecting success.
Several approaches have served me well in the past: networking at tradeshows, reaching out to old contacts, InMailng key decision makers at companies within my niche market. The more I prospect, the more it sinks in that it’s not how, but who you prospect. After all, you can’t attract new customers, let alone retain them, if you don’t have a solid understanding of who they are or how they think. It’s such a simple concept, yet one that can be easily forgotten in an aggressive pursuit to grow.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t put yourself out there (just as important as understanding your target audience is knowing that the best opportunities can be found in the unlikeliest of places). It’s just that knowing your target audience—really knowing them—will make a drastic difference in your prospecting efforts. Starting big and working backwards helps brands gain a clear view of people within their target audience: their needs, preferences, behaviors, budget and more. Think of it as a less fancy version of behavioral targeting.
Let’s use my business as an example. For all intents and purposes, I’m a B2B service provider targeting companies across a range of verticals, but mostly technology (i.e. software vendors, telecom providers, IT/networking companies).
First, I’d want to analyze my existing client base with some questions:
- Which companies do I get the most work from? Which the least? Why is that?
- What are some unique characteristics of those clients I get the most work from?
- What are some predictive indicators?
For my business, examples of unique characteristics can include: having a well-defined content marketing strategy in place (sign of content marketing maturity); being based internationally, versus domestically or locally; and having multiple content teams, versus a single department or one-person team.
Next, I’d want to consider what these findings indicate to me about these clients. For example: their annual revenue is high ($1-3 billion per year); they put out at least 20-40 content assets per month; they have at least 4 executives who consistently publish blogs, perhaps ghostwritten.
Next, I’d want to identify companies with similar characteristics (a Google search can get the ball rolling). Then ask yourself: what are their main pain points? For me, I might want to do a quick search of their site. For example, if their last white paper was published in Q2 2017 that means they may need support in this area.
After this comes the content: produce blogs, white papers, email drip campaigns, infographics, etc. that target these perceived needs. Get these pieces of content in front of your target audience, and then fine tune your strategy as needed!
This is just a taste of how you can begin deconstructing to find and keep clients that need your products/services (and are willing to pay for them).