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Building A List Of Prospects

Oct 28, 2007
There are hundreds of different types of businesses out there and they can be classified into a virtually infinite number of different categories. But one of those classifications revolves around whether or not the business has a retail storefront or not. Generally speaking, if you have a retail storefront, you're hoping people will come to you. If you don't have a storefront, you have to go out and find your customers.

Regardless what your business is, the first step in finding your customers is making a list of prospects. And therein lays a problem. Of course, there are lots or providers out there that will happily sell you list of your potential customers but it's going to cost you some money. For most people starting a business, saving money is priority one. This article will outline some basic strategies you can use to develop your list for free.

Many people are familiar with a company called InfoUSA. This company has an enormous database of information and they sell that information to people like you and me. We can tell them our specifications and they will sell us the list we're after. And these lists aren't cheap either. You can easily rack up a bill of hundreds or even thousands getting the list you're after.

This is an excellent example of the resources our government makes available that almost nobody knows about. Turns out; the same company - InfoUSA - has contracted with the government to make their database available through our public libraries. They've given it a different name - ReferenceUSA - but it's the same database and you can access if for free in any public library. In fact, in some cases, you can do your searches right from home through the libraries online platform.

Obviously, this is a great way to put your list together for free but there are other options as well. You can go to Google and put in your keywords along with the word directory and see what comes up. In most cases, directories exist that have the information you're after. You need only copy and paste the information into Excel and clean it up into a useable list.

There are a number of tools available through Excel that can make this task a lot easier. Don't get me wrong; it will be tedious regardless but you're getting the information for free so a little monotony is okay. By using basic formulas and the horizontal look up function, you can quickly reorganize a vertical listing to a multi-column database.

Another great resource is Switchboard.com (or you can also use Yellopages.com). In either case, you can use their advanced search function to isolate the professions you're looking for and then copy and paste the information into Excel. In a variety of different fields, I have used these platforms to put together lists of literally thousands of prospects in a single afternoon.

Your list is your starting point when getting a business off the ground. Once you know who you're after, you can plan mailers, drop-bys or appointments. It all starts with your list. Rather than paying big money for this information, try being a bit more resourceful and pulling it together yourself. Not only will have you a higher level of familiarity with the list but you'll save yourself a lot of money too. You'll find more tips for growing your business on my website and I hope you take advantage of the information available there.
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