Marketers looking to acquire new customers, or generate sales leads, typically rely on outside data providers for lists and contact data to give them access to new markets. But when they place an order for prospecting data—whether it’s email, telephone, or postal addresses—marketers often end up with data that isn’t exactly what they had in mind. What happens then? They have to order again, wasting time and money. Or worse, they may use the data in a campaign and wind up with suboptimal results.

With a bit of planning and strategy, these problems can be avoided. The secret? Get your prospecting campaign ducks in a row before ordering the data. Think through where you are going and why. Key elements to consider:

  • State your campaign objectives, with specific goals and time frames. For example: Generate 45 qualified leads, at $350 per lead, in the quarter.
  • Identify the target audience. A great way to refine your target audience is by profiling your current best customers. Your data vendor may offer profiling as a free service.
  • Select a compelling offer that will motivate the target to respond. Offers are most powerful when they are unique, tangible, perceived as valuable by the prospect and related to the key benefit of your product or service.
  • Determine the key campaign messages. Craft campaign messages based on the key benefits that are valued by your target audience.
  • Plan how you will handle campaign responses and follow up. Plan a series of follow-up messages to deepen the customer relationship, and to stimulate retention, repurchase and referral.
  • Prepare a pro forma estimate of campaign results and ROI. If your pro forma estimate does not show a satisfactory result, then tweak the other elements to improve the campaign: Select a narrower, more targeted audience. Find a more compelling offer. Identify more powerful customer benefit statements.

This pre-planning process may seem counter-intuitive. You know that the target audience is the single most powerful driver of campaign success, so you’d think that specifying the audience should come first. And that’s true. But experience shows that working through the other elements—the offer, the messaging, the projected results analysis—often results in refinements to your thinking about the audience itself.  So don’t actually place the order until you’re comfortable with all the other elements of your campaign.

This article is excerpted from the white paper “How to Place an Order for Prospecting Lists and Data That Ensures You’ll Get Exactly What You Need.” Get your own copy here.

About Ruth Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools in the U.S. and abroad. Crain’s BtoB magazine named Ruth one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc., the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association.(BIIA) Learn more at .   

This article was published recently in Biznology