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Now that I've figured out who my market is, how do I connect with them?

I've figured out that I need to be targeting small development/design agencies that are:

  • Growing from ~3-10 employees (including freelancers and owners) to a larger staff

  • Moving from taking on a handful of large projects a year to several larger, more complex projects a year

  • Looking to add or restructure the services they offer

  • Taking on a new or unusual project and need more management capacity to accommodate it

  • Struggling to find a process, system, and/or software that fit the company's needs

The problem is now how do I find them?


So far I've tried Yelp and LinkedIn, but neither was designed for the kind of searches that I need to do. I know that city and state governments have databases that might be mined since all businesses need to register a license. But I have no idea how I would go about doing that.


Any ideas? Has anyone on this board solved this problem before? If so, how?


9 Replies

Maris Murphy Ehlers
1
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Maris Murphy Ehlers Entrepreneur
Principal at Outside Insights Consulting currently seeking new opportunities
Amy, one opportunity is to target people on LinkedIn who work for this type of agency / industry. You can find them in networking groups (online and offline), are there conferences / trade shows that they attend or are interested in? Hope this is helpful. Maris Ehlers Outside Insights Consulting Marketing Strategy for Small Business Sent from my iPhone
Cynthia Hammersley
2
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Managing Partner at GiveRight LLC
With access to a library card you can get FREE online access to a database of 16M US businesses that you can search by size, industry, NAICS or SIC code, number of employees and many other criteria. The source is reference USA.

Searches against this database can be downloaded to excel and imported to CRM tools for follow up. The list will come with address, phone and occasionally a contact email. For additional emails you can contact the parent company INFO USA and they will append emails to your list for a very small fee ($100 or so depending on list size).
David Telleen-Lawton
2
0
David Telleen-Lawton Entrepreneur
Using Customer Discovery to mold innovative Master of Technology Management degree
Amy:
Perhaps I can help.

Except for your first bullet under target qualifications, there is NOT likely to be a database that shows a firm a) moving to more complex projects, b) looking to restructure services, c) taking on new or unusual projects, and d) struggling to find a process that fits their needs.

What might be possible is an annual list of dev/design agencies with their contact information and their SIZE. Then, if you had several years in a row, you could see which ones were growing.

But until you figure out if that listing exists and whether you can get one, you need to do the hard work of finding ONE such target company, review what you did to find it, figure out if that is repeatable, if so, repeat it, and if not, modify how you found the first one and find a second one. Rinse and repeat. If you already have a few prospects, then you are there and you can ignore the next paragraph or two.

If you do not have the first prospect...

The first question that jumps to my mind is...how about all those agencies that you communicated with to determine that you needed to call on agencies with the five characteristics you posted?

You suggest you know fairly precisely who can benefit from your product or service...if you did this by talking to agencies, then call on those first...some would be prospects, right? Or were they telling you what other agencies would want, but they don't want it? Those agencies could at least tell you who they were thinking of when they told you what was needed.

I fear -- based on your question -- that you have determined your target without actually communicating with any target prospects. You may very well be a fantastic guesser on their operations, problems, and the features needed to address them, but it's not likely.

To summarize so far:
If you have validated your offering with prospective customers, then start with them. Also, leverage their knowledge of the industry to figure out how to find others. That would work with agencies outside your target market, too....they may know firms that fit your profile.

Figure out what organizations they attend, etc. Who they would call if they needed extra capacity, etc.

If you do not have those connections, then your target characteristics for your product are somewhat suspect and you thus you will NOT likely be wasting time to call on ANY local development/design agencies.

Local, because then you can visit them in person. After two or three meetings, exploring with them whether they have the problem you solve (they might), you can also explore with them how you might find others that meet your criteria.

You just have to do this hard work, one company at a time until you discover a pattern or a source. The fastest way to get to a lot of companies is to find the first one...not try to find a list of 50.

Another way is to talk to a senior person at a company that also sells to your target market and ask them how they find them. This is also a question when you meet with the agencies...what else do you buy, who do you buy from.

Contact me directly if you want clarification or want to discuss in more detail.

Can you see this would NOT be a major issue if you started with solving a problem you know someone had and then did customer discovery...because you would be developing your sales funnel as you developed the product?

However, if you are at stage 0 prospect-wise, then you need to realize there is no short-cut to finding the bull's-eye. First you find one, then two, then you figure out how to find two-at-a-time, then more, etc.
Vijay Goel, MD
0
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Vijay Goel, MD Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)
Couple of approaches I haven't seen above:
a) Look for industry groups/ meetups/ vendor conferences with high concentration in your target industry. Many of the folks creating small companies will be part of these communities (online or offline)
b) Use targeted advertising against the industry or use case (FB/ linkedin vs. google) and let them respond to your call to action.
Shel Horowitz: Shel AT GreenAndProfitable com
1
1
I help organizations thrive by building social transformation into your products, your services, and your marketing
This seems like a perfect opportunity for OFF-LINE networking. Example: Join your local Chamber of Commerce or tech workers support group or BNI chapter. Invite the director out for coffee and ask if s/he knows people who fit the description. Then start attending Chamber meetings and meeting people. Listen more than you talk. Don't ask if they need the service. Chat them up about what they do, what challenges they face, do you know anyone who can help them. And BTW, do you know anyone who fits this description. Word of mouth is probably going to be your best sales tool here.

Of course, you'll have a great website in place, and maybe some seminars to roll out ;-).
Scott McGregor
0
0
Scott McGregor Entrepreneur • Advisor
Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.
pay a market research company to do a focus group with target customers. Then when you do the focus group ask each person HOW and WHERE they would most likely search for solutions like yours, or to find out about solutions like your if they were not actively searching. Answers might be places like trade shows or events where they congregate with peers, tradition media (e,g I read Advertising Age...) or social media (on Twitter at #localad, etc). Also see if a competitor uses a PR firm, interview them and get them to tell you what spend plan they would recommend for someone like you... Scott McGregor, [removed to protect privacy], (408) 505-4123 Sent from my iPhone
Ernesto González Torres
0
0
Technomarketeer / Entrepreneur / E-Business
Today is the best time to reach your target market.....The digital world provide with detail information of each of us, so brand can find us, but the real true is we find the brands.

Tip one: Word of Mouth = Word of Mouse - ask actual client for referral, nothing work best that your target market talk about you and share with their peers. Here
Social Media / Public Relations is key.

2. Hire the best sales person in your field, a good sales person is a investment they will bring to the company no only new clients, they paid them self with all the business they bring. Again I mean a great sales person.



Phill Wess
0
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Phill Wess Entrepreneur
Helping entrepreneurs make 2,3 or even 4x more sales online by leveraging their existing websites
Hey Amy,

if you zoned in, on your target audience deepest needs and desires, my suggestion would be to start with "value strategy" first.

Create content that's addressing your ideal target personal and promote it on Facebook, Linkedin.

That content shouldn't have any sales pitches, just use it as indoctrination bridge, while making sure you have retargeting pixels on your website.

For the next phase - start promotional campaign offering, audience that read your content, to sign-up for a special goodie (free strategy call, ebook, pdf - again, something that solves at least part of the problem your audience struggles with)

Last phase - now that you have their personal data, and they are familiar with your brand, move to a soft pitch...

This is just overview of one strategy you could use.
David Ogletree
0
0
David Ogletree Advisor
President at WME Training
Careful with company size on LinkedIn there are many companies that don't have a size set and if you pick a company size in your search you will miss a bunch of companies. I would try to find a list of web design companies and find the people that work for them on LinkedIn.

You can also go to conventions and trade shows where they hang out. You can also just do a search in google for Web Design.

There is no way to get a list of people that meet your target. Your just going to have to narrow it down to what you can search for. We would all love to have a list of just the kind of people that we want to talk to.
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