While discussing idea boards, I suggested populating them with materials from online discussion venues.
Let me repeat that list and add to it a little bit:
- Amazon.com comments
- Disqus comments
- Quora answer comment threads
- Facebook Groups
- LinkedIn Groups
- Google Groups
- Twitter hashtags
- LinkedIn hashtags
- Instagram hashtags
- Slack communities
- Discord servers
- Software support forums
- GitHub discussion threads
Just reading this list can be thought-provoking if you ask yourself: where on here are my ideal clients discussing things?
Part of the idea with the idea board post was to find in these online discussions some emotionally charged language – to use in your marketing copy.
But online discussion venues are also a place to find prospective clients. They are a form of what you’d call a “lead pool”.
What is a lead pool?
A lead pool is a sort of abstract BizDev prospecting concept that describes any place where you find a group of potential clients.
If you’re selling B2B products and services, you should have at least an ambient awareness of these other categories of lead pools:
- Job sites (e.g. Indeed)
- Online talent marketplaces (e.g. Upwork)
- Hiring and salary boards (e.g. Glassdoor or PayScale)
- Conferences/events (e.g. SXSW or the “AICPA Corporate Finance and Controllers Conference”)
- Technology/Platform-usage data sets (e.g. BuiltWith)
- Paid lead databases – the traditional lead source (e.g. Owler or LeadFuse)
- Audience intelligence (eg. BuzzSumo or SparkToro)
- Government procurement publicity websites (SAM.gov)
- Custom datasets built through scraping the web
That’s not even a comprehensive list. It’s an oversimplification. There are literally dozens of categories you can carve out.
By the way – we won’t worry about whether the categories overlap (Indeed.com provides salary intel, LinkedIn is a talent marketplace and a paid lead database. etc.).
What matters is understanding and studying this landscape, which contains probably thousands of lead pools, many of which could be useful to you.
Ideate your own lead pool
I define ideation as the practice of fusing of two or more elements (such as lone facts, data sets, ideas, feelings, or observations) in order to summon new, valuable ideas.
That’s exactly what a good prospecting approach will do that others won’t: take at least two lead pools and mash them together in some way to create something new.
It’s one of those situations where you don’t know what you’re looking for until you find it.
If you’ve ever designed and run a Facebook advertising campaign, it’s the closest thing to this process – using creative thinking and targeting parameters, you build an audience.
But this time, you define the targeting criteria yourself, using any data you want.
You’ll get a much more differentiated audience than you ever would using just one lead source.
For B2B products and services firms, a common application of this type of lead pool ideation is: conference attendee list + paid lead database.
Let’s look at a slightly more detailed example.
As with all kinds of ideation, you start with the problem.
You provide, let’s say, group courses in workplace wellness for companies with an “office culture”.
So who’s your market and what’s their problem?
There might be a problem is turnover. Turnover is painful, stressful, and costly. Quite a bit more costly than your courses, ideally.
Their problem might also be productivity.
Or just general happiness.
For a company to afford to purchase group courses, they need to be of a certain size, and they need to gather their workers into traditional offices.
And they also need to believe in the value of wellness.
Here’s what a company like this do to make their own lead pool:
- Find the top two dozen HR and Wellness conferences across the country and acquire their attendee lists. Now you have, say, 4,000 company names.
- Use LinkedIn to determine
- which of those companies have 10 employees or more
- which falls into one of an industry category like to still use office culture and to endure high-levels of stress: finance, healthcare, and law
- That might leave you with 2,000 companies. Use that list to figure out which companies have the highest turnover and lowest satisfaction, on Glassdoor
- Take that list, now down to 1000, to LinkedIn and find HR executives
- Take that list of HR executives, now back up to 3,000 – because you’re using an ABM approach – to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, and find out which ones have an interest in wellness-related subjects, such as yoga, cross-fit, diet, meditation, etc.
- Take that list, now back down to 1000, back to LinkedIn and use lead-gen tools like Hunter.io or Skrapp.io to get contact information
Et voila – you have a unique lead pool for your wellness coaching courses.
But I left something out – the insight you get from executing this process instead of just writing about it. The qualification or quirk no one else would think of that gets you an even better custom list.
And that insight is also for designing your outreach strategy itself – and even a content strategy.
But I’ll save that for another email.
Have a great weekend,