Warming Up to Cool Prospects
By Joyce L. Bosc
In any marketing effort, there is a pool of prospects deemed more attractive than the others. In a business-to-business marketing effort, these hot prospects enjoy the greatest benefits of our direct marketing attention: frequent, consistent communication; expensive (and often elaborate) direct mail campaigns; seminars; lunch invitations; and other all-out efforts to create face-to-face opportunities or otherwise motivate the prospect into becoming a paying customer.
But what about "cool" prospects? Especially in the b-to-b market, there is often a much larger pool of prospects who have been designated as less qualified, more difficult to reach, or generally not worth the time and money we are putting into our hot prospects—even though we recognize that this group could make use of our goods and services, if the timing is right. With marketing budgets, staff resources and time constraints tight today, this hot- vs.-cool prospect situation is no surprise. It happens all the time. But that doesn't mean shunning cool prospects is the smart move.
Take a step back from your b-to-b campaigns for just a moment and look at the cast-offs you have created in your prospect pool. Draw a pyramid diagram of your entire prospect universe, with the hottest prospects at the top. Now take a good, hard look at all those cool prospects floating around at the bottom of that pyramid and ask yourself these questions:
• What do they have in common?
• What channel will reach them?
• How can you access that channel quickly and efficiently?
If you can focus on simplicity as you examine this group of cool prospects, oftentimes a low-cost, high-return method will surface for reaching and marketing to the very businesses you thought were outside your scope or not worth the effort.
Hot tips for cool-prospect campaigns
Now that you've recognized the possibilities, where do you start? Even though we are excited now about their potential, these are still cool prospects. You cannot approach them in the same manner as you would your hot prospects if you want to end up with a viable return on your cool-prospect investment. Cooler prospects require careful examination of your options.