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How to find your best B2B prospects

Before I begin my post, I’d also like to invite you to the next Biznology webinar on July 10th, where Mike Moran is going to interview me about trends in B2B marketing.

Lead generation is a major preoccupation of the typical B2B marketing department.  Indeed, most B2B marketers report that leads—with an emphasis on quality leads—are their primary goal.  So, let’s review the top prospecting tools and techniques that are working for B2B marketers today.  And if you have any that I’ve missed, please chime in.

  1. Model your most profitable customers. Use analytics to build a profile of your best customers, and use that model to find lookalikes.  Find a data company that also offers modeling services.  Your lookalikes can be modeled at the contact level and the company level.
  2. Beef up your LinkedIn skills. LinkedIn is a treasure trove.  You can research prospects by all kinds of variables—title, function, skills, groups, industry, company—and reach them with ads, sponsored content or email.
  3. Attract them with killer content. Develop content that helps them do their jobs and solve their business problems, and that they are likely to be searching for online.
  4. Use Google display ads. Google lets you “describe” your ideal prospects with keywords and hunt them down all over the Internet.  Use their keyword planning tool to generate likely phrases from your website and those of your competitors.
  5. Ask for referrals. Business people like to share valuable ideas and do favors.  So make referral requests a standard part of your marketing communications and your sales scripts.
  6. Partner with a reliable data broker. Preferably one who has experience with your target audiences.  A broker can introduce you to the most productive prospecting data sources and lists.
  7. Add an offer for a piece of irresistible content at your website. Gate it with a web form.  Visitors to your site have demonstrated an interest in your category, so make sure you capture their names and begin developing a relationship.
  8. Keep your prospecting data clean. B2B data degrades especially quickly, so regular updates and attention to hygiene is critical.
  9. Build a target customer profile. The three most predictive B2B variables are:
    1. Industry
    2. Company size
    3. Job title/function
  10. Enrich your customer and prospect records with appended data. More complete and updated records give you fresh insights into customer needs, as well as improved analysis and modeling.

This article is adapted from Ten Tips: How to Find Your Best B2B Prospects.

Ruth Stevens

Ruth Stevens advises clients on customer acquisition and retention. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the business accelerator in New York City. Ruth is an author and contributor to many notable business publications. Her books include B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results and Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, Trade Show and Event Marketing, and co-author of the white paper series “B-to-B Database Marketing.” Ruth is a sought-after speaker and trainer, and has presented to audiences and business schools in Asia, Australia, and Latin America. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff Davis, and IBM.

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