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5 Key Factors for Identifying Your Ideal Prospect

by Stu Heinecke


There's a reason why I illustrated this article with a cartoon of a couple on a date, because finding the ideal prospect for your products or services is all about finding the right match.  Just like dating, without that proper fit, the relationship is likely to fizzle, which drains your marketing resources.

 I've been supplying the monthly cartoon to the SLMA site for a long time, so many of you know me merely as a cartoonist.  But you probably didn't know that I have been using cartoons create record-breaking marketing campaigns for more than 30 years.  Cartoons are powerful devices that often lend an unfair advantage to various types of campaigns.  That is particularly true in the e-mail channel, where we see cartoons routinely doubling open rates for new users.  It seems like a no-brainer, then, to offer marketers the opportunity to test our "cartoon device" for free, as a way to build the member base in our e-mail marketer program.  

But not if we aren't connecting to our ideal prospects.

And clearly we're not, at least not in all cases.  My ideal prospect is anyone who is already committed to e-mail marketing and now wants higher opens and greater engagement with their list members.  Simple, but not so simple to find.  So I think it is instructional to share with you some of the pitfalls and lessons we're finding, to see if it can offer some insight for your own lead programs.

Be Specific

Identifying your ideal prospect is easy once you've taken the time to write out the parameters that make a prospect ideal.  I thought I had my own ideal prospect description firmly in mind until I attended a group exercise last week, when we were all asked to tell it to the group.  If you're not able to explain who your ideal prospect is in a single sentence without fumbling for words, you need to get to work on a simple, but very specific definition.  Identifying the right prospects then becomes much simpler, and your follow-up much more efficient.

Be Selective

Even when you're being specific as you define your ideal prospect, it's tempting to worry that you're leaving business on the table if you exclude certain prospect types or sources.  Just as dating is far more shall we say, productive, if you're being selective, leads need to be parsed in the same way.  A person who loves you, loves your product or service and is your biggest fan, but still lacks the ability or authority to buy should never be allowed to waste your marketing resources as a viable prospect.   There may be other ways such a person can benefit your operation, but don't waste time on them trying to generate a direct sale.

 Why it Matters 

Cartoons are powerful devices that often lend

an unfair advantage to various types of campaigns.

It is particularly true in the e-mail channel, 

where cartoons routinely double open rates. 

Be Tough

Being specific and making tough choices demands that you yourself be tough.  I know.  There are always sentimental favorites and they're usually a waste of time.  One of my sources is a fairly large

list of fans that I regularly include in my twice-a-month cartoon deliveries.  Even though I include the free test offer at the bottom of the page in a section labeled, "For marketers only," I'm still getting fans signing up and they're wholly unqualified as leads for my e-mail marketer service.  Since I include a measure of personal touches in my follow-up plan, it's clear I will need to keep this source out of the free offer track.  It's a tough decision, but that only means the right decision is obvious, but tough to enact.  Be tough with your sources as well.  Cull the ones that don't belong in your funnel.

 Be Open

Okay, now I'm going to contradict what I've said in the earlier three sections.  But I have to say, surprises can come from anywhere.  I recently had someone join our program from a speech I gave last summer.  Those leads weren't even on my radar, now that it's nearly spring the following year.  But it turned out, she'd spent much of this time convincing her marketing department to devote budget to my program, and they're just now ready to commit to a membership.  The same thing happened with a prospect I've known for years, who suddenly activated after reading an article that mentioned my service.  The lesson here:  be open to surprises coming from any and all sources, and make provision in your plan to keep all contacts active.  So be tough, but be smart.  

 Be Fully Committed

Is it just me, or do you sometimes find yourself generating a lot of lead sources and not spending enough resources to actually making the sale happen?  I confess, I'm guilty of this one -- and it's a mistake that can be very costly.  Once you devote resources to prospects, make sure you're committed to converting a certain percentage into paying clients.  I can't stress this enough.  Whether you're a rep, manager or company owner, you must hold yourself accountable for producing the results you say you'll produce.  It's critical to your survival, but also to the success you seek to build.

Building client relationships starts with a selective process.  That can be a frustrating exercise if you don't know who your ideal prospect is, because it leads to a lot of wasted time, money and other resources that should be focused on the leads that will add to your success.  Be specific, be selective, be tough, open and committed to a stated outcome.  But above all, be ready to make your lead conversion process as efficient as it can possibly be.  Your career and the success of your business depend on it.

 About Stu Heinecke

Stu Heinecke is SLMA's own humor relations guy.  He is also one of The Wall Street Journal cartoonists, a DMA Hall of Fame-nominated marketer and author of Drawing Attention and Big Fat Beautiful Head.  He is also the President and Founder of CartoonLink, Inc., a service that seeks to bring an unfair advantage to marketers through the magic of cartoons and the benefit of 30 years and millions of dollars worth of record-breaking campaigns and utterly unduplicated test experience.  Would you like to put the CartoonLink "cartoon device" to the test in your e-mail campaign for free?


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