There are no two ways about it.  You have to find new prospects if you want to start or stay in business.  But with so many obstacles in your way, how can you even begin to get your business moving when you can't even get to first-base and have a conversation with a decision maker?

8 Top Tips to Building the Perfect Prospect List

In this article, we are going to look at the following:

  1. First asking for permission to market to your suspects/prospects
  2. Acquiring a database
  3. Cleaning up the list
  4. Identifying your marketing assets
  5. Starting to film vlogs and writing blogs
  6. Building out your Socila 444 plan to creating all content in advance
  7. Connecting to your ideal audience on LinkedIn
  8. Testing direct mail

Any promoter of cold calling will tell you, that this approach is an essential part of your marketing mix.  They will tell you that the most effective method is to make multiple contacts, e.g. numerous mailshots, endless emails and persistent telephoning, until you get a positive response.  However, as you may have already discovered, cold-calling, in all of its forms, is a waste of time, simply because of the odds are not stacked in your favour and the returns are diminishing. 

And the problem is, with everyone attempting to do the same, your efforts appear as "noise".  And, like the noise on social media (Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn etc), you have to find a way of rising above it to get noticed.  Strangely enough, waving a flag in the middle of the street can be more effective!

1. First things first, ask for permission to market to them

Why is spam so annoying?  Well, apart from 99% of it being total rubbish, the 1% that might be remotely interesting is still unwelcome and intrusive. And why do we feel this way towards it?  Because the the spammer didn't, wouldn't or couldn't be bothered to ask for permission.  And this,  according to author Seth Godin,  is our primary purpose when it comes to marketing our respective businesses; we must ask for permission first.

You only need to think about how you feel when an univited and unwelcome email arrives in your Inbox.  It's no different when messages are sent to your prospects. You must ask permission to market to the select group of people or businesses your have chosen. If your attitude is polite and your manner is genuine, you're more likely to endear yourself to a prospect and encourage them to accept your marketing material if you asked for permission first. It's rare that you would buy anything the first time you landed on a site; you normally take your time and build up a picture of who or what you're considering.  And your prospects are no different; how can any sort of relationship start if you haven't first had the manners to say "please may we market to you?"

Even when you do obtain permission, you still need to ensure that your content is relevant.  And by obtaining permission, you ultimately stand more of a chance of selling your product or service to a prospect than any other approach.

And don't worry about the best way to do this.  Simply ask in plain English - and then automate the process. If you have the facility, activate the double opt-in option on your email registration software.  This will help with GDPR compliance.

2. Next, acquire your database

Buy a list from a reputable list broker like Dun & Bradstreet.  The cost is about £100 per '000 and they have a minimum charge of about £300 (please do check the pricing). Basic information is standard, however, if you want the name of the managing director or any senior management, then the cost increases.  It is possible to obtain lists from publishers, so, if your target market has a publication, it may be worthwhile speaking to the publishers to find out the cost.  They normally have the relevant contact details.

Remember, 1% of your chosen vertical market is looking for your type of product or service right now.  Therefore, if you have a 10,000 name database, 100 businesses every week are looking!!!

3. Clean up the list - Absolutely NOT

This would entail telephoning every company and confirming that you have the correct names and details; and it's impossible.  Also, iIt is generally accepted that 30% of the names on a database will be incorrect six months after cleansing because of job changes etc so, you need to make sure that your names are correct.

This is why our recommendation is to set up a live streaming broadcast, to enable you to reach out and connect to more people than you have ever been able to in the past. 

For more information about preparing content in advance, take a look at our Alternative B2B Marketing Strategy and start planning you content strategy now.

4. Identify what are your marketing assets are

If you want to attract new business, what are you going to use as "bait"?  (Please forgive the fishing analogy!)  What is it about you and your company that is attractive?  Why should they consider you at all?

To begin with, prepare a list of marketing assets you already have followed by a list of what you need to create.  There needs to be a variety of marketing content as you will be sending this to your prospects over a period of time.  These can include:

  • White Paper
  • eBook
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Toolkit
  • Multi-Part Email Series
  • ROI Analysis Calculator
  • Webinars
  • Seminars
  • Demonstration
  • Free Analysis or Review

If you are a reseller of another product, speak to your dealer or area manager and ask them for anything they have that you can use.  The point here is to create a list of marketing assets that your customers can really use and benefit from.  Based on these items, you can build them into the offerings to establish "what's in it for me'.  No one does anything for nothing, so give them a reason and something tangible in the process.

5. Vlogs vs Blogs

It might seem like a tall order, but video is part of the overall strategy and a necessity if you don't want to waste your time cold calling and pounding the streets!

It might not seem ideal, but using your Smartphone camera to produce videos can have just as much impact for a small business as all the bells-and-whistles productions of a larger company.  Prospects want to see you, know you and find out what your business is about, so in many cases having a full production team can be a bit overkill (and really expensive!), unless you’re Gary Vaynerchuk.

There are a number of smaller companies setting up that offer a walk-in video service at a very reasonable cost, however in the long term you may wish to consider buying your own video equipment and lighting.  In a recent survey, it was found that video increased engagement on LinkedIn by up to 400%, so it's well worth considering.

To give an idea of the video duration, use the following as a guide: -



30 sec to 1:30

Company Intro


2-3 mins



2-15 mins



2mins - 3 hrs

Case Study


2-3 mins

Animated Explainer


1-3 mins



5-30 mins

Landing Page


5-30 secs

Some ideas for business videos or vlogs are as follows:

  • Product highlights and demonstrations
  • Interviews
  • Funnies
  • Events
  • How to...
  • Advice
  • A day in the life of...

When it comes to blogs, i.e. the written article, they’re still highly valuable.  It’s important to understand what intellectual assets your company has in terms of business intelligence and then transpose this intelligence into blogs accompanied by diagrams, tables and graphics.

It is accepted that long-form articles hold more weight than short articles.  However the real issue is readability; is the article any good?  It’s far better to output engaging short articles than long rambling ones.  The point is, keep writing, keep the content coming and don’t worry too much about whether you think it’s good or bad.  Let your readers decide as you can’t please everyone all the time, and be prepared to take onboard any feedback - good or bad.

6. Getting the show on the road – The Social 444 Content Plan

One of the big problems most companies have is getting to first base.  The big question is “How do I get our company’s name out there, almost from scratch.  We have no real social presence, so how do we get traction?”

Firstly, your content needs to be authentic and you need to prepare plenty of it in advance.  It cannot be spontaneous and appear like all the content is ‘off-the-cuff’ as this will neither look polished nor professional.

Here’s the 444 Content Plan; three pieces of content, posted three times per day over four weeks

  • Prepare No.30 articles with engaging title graphics that include your company logo and branding and post these to your blog. Ensure that your blog page has the facility for someone to provide their name and email address if they want to receive further notifications.
  • Prepare No.30 vlogs/videos Create branded graphics for the beginning and end of the 30sec-1:30min videos including the call-to-action URLs pointing to landing pages
  • Prepare No.30 Podcasts about you, your business, your customers and any current or relevant issues you feel customers and prospects would want to hear about.  Incorporate adverts throughout the podcast. 

As we have done, prepare all your graphic thumbnails to accompany each article and review them all together.  This helps you recognise your tone of voice and how you will appear to prospective customers.

Post one of each of the above content pieces every day for 30 days on LinkedIn and Facebook and repeat for up to three months.

For more information about preparing content in advance, take a look at our Alternative B2B Marketing Strategy and start planning you content strategy now.

Using this method means that, having prepared everything in advance, you can post consistently for up to three months and significantly raise awareness and your profile on the social sites.

But it doesn’t stop there…

7. Connect & Follow on LinkedIn

After the first week or so of posting the articles, adverts and vlogs, instruct your sales team to connect on LinkedIn with the identified audience on your database.  This can be a bit ‘hit-and-miss’, but if you have a subscription to LinkedIn you can send Inmail inviting the companies you’re targeting on your database to connect with your team on this platform. 

They will see that you’ve already posted consistently over the past seven days and will continue to see what you’re posting over the next month or so.  This strategy is all about presence and getting noticed.

8. And finally, prepare a direct mail campaign

Nothing too grand, just a single page letter, unless you already have brochures printed.  The point of this is that too many marketers opt for email.  We’re all flooded with copious emails every day, so a brief letter introducing your business and offering a link to a landing page is all that’s needed, and it may well be a welcome change.

The people you would write to would be carefully selected in terms of business size, location and any other factors you choose.  It is not necessary to write to everyone on a database list; a small segment will provide enough valuable information to dictate what you would need to do to scale your approach. 

The ‘letter’ approach is also GDPR compliant as you are inviting the reader to engage with you.

Get planning, get writing and get shooting

By preparing everything in advance you are able to read, critique and review everything before it is posted online.  This will highlight a consistent ‘tone-of-voice’ for your company and will enhance brand awareness.  If something doesn’t fit or flow, change it.  

Finally, there are three main technology platforms required, the first of which you may well have already: -

  1. CRM platform like Salesforce or Zoho to sort and manage all data from the list you have purchased and act as an email service platform
  2. Landing Page platform such as Unbounce or Leadpages to capture email and therefore permission in order to deliver your content (if you absolutely must gatekeep your content!)
  3. A social media content distribution platform like SmarterQueue that will sequentially post to social platforms once it is 'loaded up' with your library of 90 posts.

Good luck and most importantly, enjoy...

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