Joanne Gore_printmediacentrby Joanne Gore

In a recent article, I shared some tips to assist you and your sales team understand what I expect from a Print vendor (well, any vendor for that matter) soliciting my business.

And it got me to thinking about how I, as a marketer, spend a good part of my day researching prospects, testing messages, coming up with compelling offers, and encouraging interaction. I tap into a wealth of resources, both traditional and bleeding edge. Because I am entrenched day in and day out in this wonderful world of mine, I often forget that many are unaware of the vast opportunities available to truly help get to know a prospect better. Because if Google is your primary source of information, then you’re missing out on a whole online world of facts, figures, bios, pictures…and opportunities.

Some of the sites I’m sharing clearly apply to the company itself; the Better Business Bureau is a good example of that. Others enable you to research the company as well as individuals. LinkedIn is a great example. And while you’re at it, make sure you research your OWN company too. You might just be surprised at what you find (or don’t find!)

Better Business Bureau – an oldie but a goodie. The BBB should be your #1 destination to determine a company’s reputation. Because if there have been lots of customer complaints, I would bet there are an equal, if not greater, amount of vendor issues.

LinkedIn – THE place to research individuals as well as companies. research_prospectsUnfortunately, most companies are woefully lacking when it comes to populating their pages. TIP: set up a company page and fill it with product info, video, content…anything you have. Because your prospects will be checking you out too!

Twitter – Clearly some companies do a better job than others when it comes to tweeting. But if your prospect DOES have a twitter handle (either personal, business, or both) then you need to find, follow and learn.

Wikipedia – Not always accurate content, but certainly worth the effort. Companies are very protective of their brand (and if they aren’t then, as a printer, you are in an ideal position to teach them), so it’s likely someone has fact-checked.

Slideshare – You can learn an awful lot about a company by the presentations they post. And you can learn more by what their competition posts. Share your findings…share your value.

Facebook – Facebook isn’t just for kids anymore. In fact recent studies have shown that more than 11 million young people have fled facebook since 2011. This makes it a terrific tool for researching your adult prospects. And smart companies have Fan pages. Do you?

Vizify – a site that literally aggregates your own info from social media sites of your choosing, to create a snapshot of who you are, what you do, what you’ve done, etc. Once you’re satisfied with your profile, you can share it (with prospects, on websites, LinkedIn…you get the picture). And even if you don’t have a Vizify profile, the search results are very comprehensive. Check out mine:

Pinterest / Instagram – I know, you’re thinking “huh”? But think about it. If you’re selling print…you’re selling images. And what better place for images than Pinterest and Instagram? (hint, hint)

At the end of the day, the more information you have, the more you can engage your prospect, understand their challenges, and provide a one-of-a-kind, value-add service.

Where do YOU do your research. More importantly…think about where your prospects do theirs.

About Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore has nearly twenty years of marketing and communications experience, including corporate and small office environments. A true mentor, Joanne marries her passion for marketing with clear, creative feedback and inspiration. Joanne develops lead generation and conversion programs, re-brands product lines, implements social media strategies, manages PR and media relations campaigns, overhauls websites, develops highly targeted marketing campaigns, and delivers results.

Follow Joanne on Twitter: @joannegore121

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