When you define a target audience for your business development program, you will probably use criteria like CPG, Hospital system, Fintech, or startups with a minimum of $50M in total funding, $100M+ annual sales, 100+ employees, Midwest, $3B+. There are many strategies to segment your potential new clients, including criteria that help identify short-term revenue opportunities or long-term growth. Today, short-term revenue is the strategy du jour.
We build lists on quantifiable data points that allow you to sort prospects into groups that resemble your current or ideal clients or categories where you want to grow. But what if you want to target an emotional quality, a belief, or a passion? What if your agency wants to work with marketers responsible for launching a new sparkling beverage and have a driving passion for fair trade, sustainable farming, and the planet? How do you segment those needles in the haystack?
Marketing has entered a new era, a social-cultural coming of age. More brands are taking a stand. Marketers are increasingly championing issues like social justice, environmental stewardship, diversity, and others as a part of the brand and corporate positioning. Consumers have been awakened to the injustices around them and hold corporations responsible. That has inspired both opportunistic and well-meaning executives to seize the opportunity. Brands are coming under increasing scrutiny to take a stand or act, and consumers are shifting preferences and loyalty to those who do.
Conscious consumerism is here to stay, but these new qualities make list-building more challenging if you want to target marketers acting on it. For example, what if your agency only wants to work with marketers who proactively support climate change initiatives? According to PWC, 90% of CEOs believe sustainability is essential to success. Can you find those CEOs and their marketing leader? I am not aware of any lead source that segments that way. If you are, please share.
I tried LinkedIn's Sales Navigator. They do not have any search filters for climate change, sustainability, or green products. You can use keywords, so I tried climate change as the only filter and searched among their 900 million members. I got only seven results. I tried human trafficking and got only three results. I went down the list of popular causes, and each returned only a few results; some had zero. I tried other list-building platforms and had no luck. I found some organizations, non-profits, associations, investor watchdogs, and others with various kinds of lists.
One of many examples is Just Capital. According to its website, JUST Capital measures and ranks companies on the issues Americans care about most so you can then act on that knowledge. It rates and ranks corporations on those key issues and shares the information on its site. They have a decent list that is sortable by industry and can be used to cross-reference when building your lists. It adds a few steps to the process, making it slower and harder to scale. I am certain these kinds of factors will become standard filters, but until then, it's manual work.
What if you want to find marketers who are passionate about health equity? That is much more elusive. Several organizations have a point of view on it, have researched the effects, or laid out a strategy for change. Still, no one is holding companies responsible or highlighting those making a difference.
Another approach is using personality traits more commonly in people actively supporting a cause. For example, Winmo has recently enhanced its search criteria to include personality insights, social demographics, and intent signals. These attributes and media analysis helps identify marketers with the right personality characteristics and intent. You can also view their historical media choices and ad placements to define a mindset that aligns with a particular cause. While it's not a perfect science, it can get us closer and help scale.
With all the hype about AI, it may be the answer. I asked ChatGPT to provide a list of companies and their marketing head who are passionate about health equity. It returned a short list of non-profits, NGOs, and other organizations dedicated to fixing health equity. I asked for their marketing leader's contact information, and ChatGPT did not like that.
It did provide helpful suggestions on how to get contact info. My favorite, "Remember that building relationships take time and effort. Approach these individuals with respect and a genuine interest in learning from them, rather than just seeking their contact information." Someday this will be a good solution, but not today.
The good news is that targeting in this manner allows you to go across industries regardless of your vertical expertise. Targeting with cause-related knowledge, passion, and dedication can open many new doors that were previously shut. The market opportunity is ripe because companies, brands, and marketing heads are under increasing pressure to take a stand. And most importantly, having experience, a process, or a protocol for delivering is what most marketers admit they need. Carpe Diem!
Today it requires much manual work, research, and self-selection. I'll take the non-profits, associations, investment platforms, watchdogs, and any other resources to build my lists. I'll continue to ask ChatGPT, Bard, and other AI programs to help, as well as Winmo and other lead sources. In addition, I'll rely on marketers inclined to identify themselves by responding or reacting to emails, posts, articles, and commentary that appeal to like-minded people. Prospecting is always a hit-or-miss proposition. Our job is to land in the hit column much more than not.
Targeting a mindset isn't new, but it is a much bigger opportunity for agency business development right now, and we are leaning in. How will you use it? Where will you take it? Is this the most exciting time for ad agency new business since the two-martini lunch?
Are you struggling to reshape your business development approach? Are you considering a specific consultant or firm? Need a sounding board? Regardless of whom you are considering or where you are in your planning, I promise an honest, objective POV no matter which path you take. Check my calendar and find a time most convenient for you. Remember to sign up for my new business newsletter if you aren’t already. Find me on LinkedIn for daily tips and insights. #LetsGrow!