Moving beyond standard selects

In today’s crowded marketplace, “reaching” your audience is not enough. You have to identify the exact decision-makers and influencers, address their pain points and offer them a whiz-bang solution — all within a very narrow time frame in order to hit the “I’m ready to buy” sweet spot.

Sounds easy, right? Especially with sophisticated technologies at our fingertips. Just program your systems to reach your audience with the right offer at the right time. Unfortunately, despite our technology, we face a huge challenge: data gets outdated as quickly as it changes.

No matter how sophisticated your tools, your campaign is only as good as your list selects and your data.

In the past, industry classifications like SIC and NAICS provided us with sufficient segmentation. Today’s marketers need more. The business world is changing at a breakneck pace, and SIC and NAICS classifications can be too broad to capture newer markets — such as network equipment, Internet services retailing, financial data services, virtualization technology providers and many other emerging industries. So how can you reach potential buyers in these lucrative markets?

Fortunately, creating lists using Boolean searches across robust business information databases can help. For example, if you’re targeting heads of technology, instead of searching by title “CIO,” try a Boolean search for “CIO” or CTO or Information Technology.” Many services will also let you filter results by job level (e.g., “executive”), for even more precise results.

As another example, instead of searching titles for “patent attorney,” try searching people’s titles for “attorney or lawyer,” or adding “patent.” Keep your searches broad, and use fielded data (such as location) and list-sort features (such as revenue ascending/descending) to narrow your list.

You can also find otherwise-missed prospects by using a list provider’s auto-complete or related searches feature. If you’re targeting C-level executives, typing “chief” into the title field can expose a complete list of titles that start with that word. Depending on how the b-to-b database is fielded, you can also create lists of prospects that attended a specific college or are involved in various nonprofit organizations (perfect for creating lists of possible donors).

Today’s b-to-b marketer has access to more data and better tools than ever before. Yet, to truly maximize conversion, we must take a fresh approach to searching and find new ways to work with the available data and tools — so don’t forget (even with data selects) to use that good old-fashioned magic ingredient that has always driven successful marketing campaigns — your creativity.

Kathy Sexton is VP of marketing at ZoomInfo, a provider of information on businesses and employees.

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