When it comes to networking and ‘building your list’, which is more important: quality or quantity? My 3000+ clients have often said to me: “I want to market to the right type of person.” For example, with regards to B2B marketing, this could translate as senior decision makers, within certain types of companies, within a handful of industries. Or it could be small business owners.
There are multiple challenges here. Firstly, at any given moment, typically only 3% of the members of a market segment are actively searching for your kind of product / service. And it gets worse: of that 3%, a third of them probably can’t afford you (unless you are as cheap as chips). And another third already have a supplier in mind (so you are in danger of becoming a ‘tick in a box’, if they never single source).
The same logic holds for consumer marketing. Most of us tend to be loyal to certain brands (even if we are not really aware of this). Brand marketers put a great deal of time, effort and money into getting consumers to make the leap and try a different brand. Having achieved this, they then do their best to retain brand loyalty.
So that leaves 1% who are A) in the market to buy and B) will take a serious look at what you have to offer and would realistically buy from you if all of the other factors (including functionality, price, trust etc) are in place.
Sales people are often hunting for the elusive 1%. You will know this, if you receive cold calls. The chances of them calling me, on a day when I am looking for whatever it is that they are selling, getting through to me and surviving the first 12 seconds of the call, is about as slim as me becoming the next President of the United States of America. I would hazard a guess that they would have the same luck with you.
On this basis, my answer is to have a big network / list, because the stats then start to work in your favour. In my case, I have over 14,000 connections within Twitter; several thousand LinkedIn connections; a strong newsletter subscription list; a CRM that currently has 7161 contacts within it (dating back over a thirty year period); and the The Marketing Compass website for business owners who are interested in learning about marketing, which has thousands of members. If I get bored, I can flip through my business card files, but I haven’t had the time to do this for several years.
The other key factor is that I communicate regularly, i.e. via a monthly newsletter, our interactive website and via the social media platforms. I connect with people, exchange views, let them know what I am up to and invite them to free to attend marketing events. I relentlessly give marketing information, tips and ideas away for free. These strategies help to build my list. In amongst the 99% is the elusive 1% who are looking for marketing consultancy / training.
Yes, of course ‘quality’ is important. However, wouldn’t it be nice if the decision makers were hearing good things about you, via shared connections, over a sustained period of time? Remember that this is like an iceberg: you can’t see / hear the vast majority of what people are actually saying about you. However, if you have a great product and you communicate consistently to a large network of contacts, the buzz surrounding your brand will rise in volume – until it reaches the ears of that elusive 1% on any given day.
“The best list you will ever have is your own list: built one contact at a time.” ~ Nigel Temple
Written by marketing consultant, trainer, speaker and author Nigel Temple.
3,000+ clients over a 30 year period.
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