By: Shiva Attah
To successfully find new clients and grow a steady flow of them for your products and services, you’ll need a hard-working prospecting program that reaches out to qualified prospects and moves them through the sales cycle from cold to warm to hot and finally into paying clients. Your program must incorporate a range of marketing tactics that, over time, bring prospects incrementally closer to a decision to hire you.
While it’s true that networking, referrals, and other relationship-oriented marketing strategies are superior ways to build a professional services business in the long run, the reality, however, is that it takes time to build a network, nurture individual relationships and generate referrals and, if you’re new in business or your pipeline has dried up, you may not feel as if you can wait for those budding relationships to mature.
One of the questions I’m asked the most by my clients is, “What is the quickest way to build my prospect list?”
My answer is, find someone who’s already reaching your target market in large numbers, and use THEM to build your list!
It’s a good bet that there are prospective clients all around you. You just need to identify them and get in touch with them. Launching a prospecting campaign can produce great results in generating new clients.
So, to help you on, I have put together a step-by-step remedy to grow your prospect list for marketing.
STEP 1: Determine exactly who your ideal client or customer is.
The more expressive you can be here, the better it is. For example, don’t just think “men”. Think “men’s ages 25-40 who like sports and working out”; in the same way, don’t just think “small business owners”. Think “women owners of professional service businesses that do less than GH¢1 million a year”.
Can you take on clients or customers who fall outside of this description?
Of course! But you need to know who the best clients that you’re going after are.
If you know exactly what you’re going after, and you know where they hang out, and understand what they like, then you’re much more likely to get your wish. The same goes for reaching your target market.
STEP 2: Find other people, companies, or websites that are ALREADY reaching to your target market in mass.
Sit down with a cup of coffee one weekend and do some online research regarding your target market.
- What sites are they already visiting?
- What newsletters or magazines do they already read?
- What TV or Radio Channels do they listen to?
- Who are the key players and thought leaders in that niche?
Come up with a list of your top five places that they gather in mass – the top five websites or companies that are already reaching your ideal client or customer.
For example, if your target market is a Ghanaian teacher you can consider:
- Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT)
- Universities that offer teacher training programmes
- Recruitment agencies that specialise in teacher recruitment
STEP 3: Reach out to the owners of these websites and organisations and see if they will:
- REVIEW your book, products, services, newsletter or blog for their readers. If so, send them a review copy and follow up a week or two later. Request that when they run the review they mention your name or offer and direct people to your website to sign up.
- Accept guest ARTICLES. If so, then submit one of your best posts, with a short biography that links people back to your website to sign up for your email list.
- SWAP adverts or recommendations for each other’s websites, products, or services. If you have a newsletter that reaches the same target market they want to reach, this is a great win-win.
- Do a CO-REGISTRATION deal. If you already have a good amount of email subscribers and website traffic, they may be open to adding your newsletter to their own signup form if you do the same on your part. (Ideally folks should just check a box to subscribe to the additional newsletter automatically.
- Run a recommendation or advert in exchange for a COMMISSION on resulting sales. For example, you give them the advert to run, tagged with a link that lets you know if any sales comes from it. (This is easy to do if you have an online affiliate program)
- Accept PAID advertising. Banner adverts, text adverts, and other paid placements obviously cost you money, but if it’s your only option and you really want to reach these folks, go for it. But be sure to track your results so you can see if it’s working. (You’ll need a link tracking application or a tracking number to do this.)
And these are just a FEW ideas to get you started, but there are more things that you can do. Below I have listed additional ways to start building a prospect list and accelerate your marketing today.
- Use advertising directories. Look up companies by category in directories such as the Yellow Pages or those published by your local Chamber of Commerce or other business groups.
- Review membership directories. You can find both consumer and business prospects in the membership directory of any group you belong to. Don’t forget your alumni association.
- License a compiled list. Services like Text Ghana or ghanayello.com can provide you with targeted consumer or business lists for direct mail or telemarketing.
- Explore “Top Company” lists. Publications such as “Daily Graphic” and your local business journal regularly publish lists of the top 100 companies in many industries.
- Read the press. Make note of who is being quoted as an authority in your community or market niche. Compliment them on their ideas when you make contact.
- Publish a print newsletter. Producing a complimentary newsletter gives you a persuasive reason to ask people for their contact information in any environment.
- Launch a survey. Create a survey for your target market and offer to share the results with everyone who completes and returns it with their contact information.
- Write a white paper. Researching a white paper on best practices in your field will give you an excuse to seek out prospects, interview them, and ask them to refer you to others.
- Write an introduction letter. Write a warm letter to everyone that you know, introducing your new service, program or offer, and ask them to see if they can recommend it to anyone, who may find it useful.
- Add everyone who contacts you. Even those who sell their own services can be valuable prospects.
- Use the search engines. Search for companies in your target market and geographical area.”
- Explore Social Media. Use Linkedin to find companies or contacts organised by category or location.
- Subscribe to business directories. Register where they offer online editions.
- Offer a bonus. To entice people who visit your site to subscribe or register, offer a complimentary e-book, audio recording, video, e-course, or other exclusive content in return for their name and email.
- Publish an e-newsletter or blog. People who like what you have to say will forward it to others. Those people will come to your site or contact you to subscribe.
- Publish articles online. Submit your articles to websites or e-zine so your prospects can read them. Your biography should offer readers a gift if they visit your site.
- Post to blogs and message boards. Answer questions posted on sites aimed at your market niche. Include in your signature a mention of your complimentary bonus, e-zine, or blog.
- Ask people to opt in. Provide a way for people to subscribe or register on every page of your website and suggest that they do so in the signature of every email you send.
- Find lists. Chambers Of Commerce, British Council and Registrar General Department. These organisations can help you find the prospects you’re looking for.
- Attend networking meetings. Focus on collecting business cards, not just handing them out. Pick up any flyers or brochures you see displayed; those people may be prospects, too. Make sure you follow up with everyone.
- Join a mastermind group. Meet regularly with a group of other business owners to share contacts, leads, and referrals.
- Canvass on foot. Visit office buildings or industrial parks and collect information about the tenants. Pick up literature you see displayed or ask the receptionist for it.
- Sponsor a contest. Ask people to enter a drawing for some valuable prizes or a competition where you will acknowledge the winners and publicise the results.
- Exchange lists with a colleague. Trade contacts with someone who shares your market but isn’t a competitor. Or jointly sponsor a campaign using each other’s lists to promote you both.
- Offer rewards for referrals. Affiliate programs, referral fees, and discounts on future services can all be incentives for people to pass along leads.
Remember, your #1 goal is to get people on your site or blog to opt in to your newsletter or email list, because THAT is how you guarantee the chance to market to them repeatedly and win more clients over time!
Shiva Attah is the founder of Winners Solutions. Get her FREE Marketing Training at WinnersSolutions.com or call her team on 0508938330, 0249618776