How to Narrow Your List of Prospects

I often talk about the importance of prospecting for new clients — even when you’re busy.

And generally, it’s not that hard to do some research and find lists of companies in your target market.

But once you have a list in hand — a list that has hundreds and hundreds of prospective companies you could target —what do you do with that?

I suggest narrowing the list to 50 or 100 companies. Anything more than that and the task becomes overwhelming.

How do you cull that big list? Here are some ideas.

  1. Companies strong in content marketing

Identify companies that are doing a good job in the content marketing arena. You can usually figure this out by doing a quick review of their website.

You might think that a bad website would indicate a need for content marketing (and it does).

But it also signals that the company hasn’t been willing to invest in content marketing. It’s not a priority for them, so they’re not likely to bring you in to help.

And it’s not your job to try and convince them. That’s a recipe for frustration and disappointment.

There are exceptions, of course. Maybe the company is under new management. Or maybe they’ve recently shifted priorities and approved a new marketing budget.

But in most cases, a bad website is a red flag when it comes to content marketing.

  1. Companies selling products or services that are new, innovative, expensive and/or complex.

Products and services that are new, innovative, expensive and/or complex don’t sell themselves. They need marketing content — sometimes lots of it — to support the sales process.

Also, look for companies that are innovating in other ways. Maybe they’re taking a new approach to common problems or applying a different business model.

These differentiators will need to be explained to their target markets, and they’ll need marketing content to do it.

  1. Midsize companies

Generally (again, there are exceptions), global companies can be more difficult to work with. Often, they already have their own internal writers. And when they do look for contract writers, the wheels of approvals and permissions can turn very, very slowly.

Startups often have the opposite problem. They’re agile and can make decisions quickly. But they’re often all over the place with messaging and marketing.

And they may struggle to allocate budget for content marketing. (Beware of equity offers in lieu of payment!)

I’ve found the sweet spot to be somewhere in the middle. Midsize companies are typically big enough to have a marketing department and a decent marketing budget. They make decisions quickly and appreciate outside expertise. But they’re not so big that you’ll struggle with bureaucratic processes, a huge revisions team and a lot of red tape.

Reach to Prospects on LinkedIn

Once you’ve narrowed your list to some good-looking companies, you need to figure out who to reach out to.

LinkedIn is perfect for this task. A quick LinkedIn search can often reveal several people in each company’s marketing department.

To make things even easier, consider upgrading your LinkedIn subscription to Business Premium or Sales Navigator to speed things up (yes, it’s worth the investment if you’re serious about doing a good amount of prospect research).

Find at least one marketing director for each company and send out a personalized connection request.

If your connection request isn’t accepted within the week, look up that person’s email address and send them a warm email.

Prospecting Takes Time and Commitment

To some extent, prospecting is a numbers game. You have to send out lots of connection requests and emails before you actually land a client.

So, the only way to tackle this task is to do it consistently over time. Don’t wait until you’re desperate for clients before you put this to work.

But if you keep at it — and choose your prospects intelligently — it can open a whole new world of possibilities.



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