Bringing in new business. It’s a huge, and often mystical, part of an accounting marketer’s job. When you’ve been tasked with creating (and managing) a good prospect list, it can be challenging to know where to start and who to add.
One of the most important things about having a prospect list is adding “right-fit” prospects and keeping current. You can have a list of 1,000 names, but if the work is not right for your firm, the list is useless.
The good news is having a prospect list (and knowing what to do with it, which you can read about in our Seasoned Marketer article here) can be an extremely effective way to showcase your marketing expertise and bring in new business at your firm. Here are few tips to get you started.
Analyze Your Current Client List
There is no better place to start building a prospect list than your current client list. Start by asking your professionals for their top ten favorite clients to work with.
Next, dig into what makes these clients favorites. What do they have in common? Do they utilize a specific service or type of work? Are they a similar size or from the same industry? This will give you insight into the types of companies you should be adding to your prospect list. You can use the information to identify potential clients who will be both a good fit for your firm and for your people.
Look at industry publications to find companies that are in the industries you are looking for and…
Do Your Market Research
Market research begins with looking at the businesses that are growing and prospering in your area. Is there a new industry (the more specific the better) that you can start to target? Which companies are experiencing the most growth and have the most need for the types of services you are offering?
If your local business publication offers a “Book of Lists” like the fastest growing businesses, most successful female and minority-owned businesses, or largest construction companies, this can be a great resource for finding prospects.
What are Your Competitors Doing?
When it comes to finding prospects, sometimes it can be beneficial to look at what your competitors are doing to find gaps and opportunities. Programs like Erisapedia and Audit Analytics can help you find this information when it comes to audits.
Take a look at your competitors and see who they are targeting. If there are four firms of your size in the same area who are all targeting construction companies, it will be much harder to differentiate and be seen. However, if you are the only firm who is looking for dairy farms, you will have a much better chance of not only reaching your prospects, but also creating effective marketing strategies that are targeted and specific.
Look for Connections
Communication is key when it comes to building a solid prospect list. As you begin to add businesses and contacts to your prospect list, don’t forget to communicate within your firm. Share the list to see who your colleagues know. They may have contacts at the businesses you have already identified, or they may know similar companies to add to your list. You can also use LinkedIn or talk to your referral sources.
If you’re anything like me, you get hit up for sponsorships day-in and day-out. Many make no sense for my marketing goals and appear to hold little value. However, when chosen strategically and with the right follow up, sponsorships can help you significantly grow your prospect list. While having your logo posted on a banner can be good brand awareness (depending on who is seeing it), the key to growing your prospect list from a sponsorship is the opportunity to gather information. Look for opportunities to capture emails by offering a giveaway, having gated content on a website, or getting access to all attendees’ contact information.
The second key is having a follow-up plan. Add these people to your prospect list and then create a drip campaign or follow-up handout after an event. For contacts who seemed very interested or who you have contacted before, consider asking a professional to reach out personally to answer questions or invite the prospect to coffee. Either way, make sure you are adding these people to your growing list of prospects.
Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up
I already touched on following up with people you meet through sponsorships, but don’t forget to follow up with business you did not get. Consider making a second prospect list (or moving current prospects over to a second list) if your firm is connected but does not get the business. Quarterly check-ins and sending these people thought leadership that they might find useful will keep your firm top-of-mind when and if they decide they are not happy with the firm they chose.
More is Not Always Better
The longer the list, the more overwhelming. Consider creating a lead scoring system that helps clarify where each prospect is in the buyer’s journey. Don’t be afraid to remove people when you are just not getting anywhere. No opens and no responses may mean it’s time to just let it go and remove them from your list to make space for someone more likely to want to work with you.
Building a prospect list may feel overwhelming at first, but if you find the right prospects it can be a very effective way to make sure that you are communicating and nurturing new business. Check out our Seasoned Marketer article to learn more about what to do with the list once you’ve built it.
About Emily Taibl
Emily manages Sweeney Conrad’s marketing department and is the lead on all brand strategy both internally and externally. She handles all marketing activities for the firm including planning, client outreach, content management, website, recruiting, and social media. Prior to Sweeney Conrad, Emily ran her own boutique PR/Marketing firm specializing in the restaurants and non-profits. She serves as the Chair of the Association of Accounting Marketing’s monthly newsletter, the AAM Minute, and is on the Marketing/Business Development Team for Allinial Global.