Turn Prospects into Clients with the List-Kickstarter Matrix

When you're a new B2B writer or copywriter, one of your biggest challenges isn't finding prospects to approach. Rather, it's about narrowing down your field.

At times, it can feel as if everyone's a prospect. And even when you've decided to focus on the corporate market, that still leaves you with millions of potential companies you could contact.

So where do you start? And whom do you target?

The secret is: you have to prioritize. I'm about to show you an extremely powerful prioritization tool that will save you countless hours of wasted effort. And it will dramatically increase your chances of getting quick wins. It's called the List-Kickstarter Matrix (LKM).

The LKM will not only help you prioritize your outreach, it will also help you build that initial list of prospects. Let me first explain what each quadrant represents by giving you examples of who belongs in each quadrant, and then I'll show you how to use this to create your list.

Golden Nugget

Let's say one of your all-time best friends is the marketing director at a midsize medical equipment company. They produce a lot of written materials. This makes them an ideal Golden Nugget. However, at this stage in your journey, even someone who could use your services in their own business could be a Golden Nugget.

For instance, let's say that your real estate agent is pretty marketing savvy and puts out a lot of content for his prospects. Or maybe a relative of yours owns a pretty successful IT consulting business and seems to know a bit about marketing and the importance of copy and content. As you move through your launch journey, these types of prospects may not be ideal. But for now, as long as you know them well, and as long as they appear to understand the importance of marketing, they could be classified as a Golden Nugget.


Your next-door neighbor is VP of operations at a logistics company. He's obviously not a marketer, but he may be able to refer you to his marketing VP. Also, he's very well connected in the local business community, so he can probably refer you to prospects who would be well-suited for you.

Solid Prospect

You have a key contact in an organization that produces a lot of written content and where your particular work background and experience could make you an ideal freelance resource.

Helping Hand

Your sister owns a small bakery. She wouldn't be a prospect. In fact, she doesn't really understand what you do for a living. But you're confident that she'd be willing to hear more about what you're doing and possibly refer you to some of her personal or business contacts who may be a better fit for you.

Poor Connection

Your friend Nate introduced you to his cousin at a party last weekend. His cousin seemed like a very nice person. He even gave you his business card. But (a) you just met him, and (b) he owns a very small landscaping company. So he wouldn't be a good prospect or even a source of referrals.

How to maximize the LKM approach

Here's how you can use the LKM to prioritize and organize your prospecting efforts.

First, focus on people you already know. Here's how to do that:

  1. Grab a notepad and divide a blank page into three columns. Title the first column "Golden Nuggets," the second column "Connectors," and the third column "Helping Hands."
  2. Open your contact management application (or your Rolodex, address book, etc.). Go through each name, one by one, and decide if it fits into one of these three columns.
  3. Try not to judge too much at this point. Remember, you’re not just looking for Golden Nuggets. You're also looking for potential Connectors and Helping Hands.
  4. Don't ignore or write off Helping Hands. One of the Helping Hands in my network is completely responsible for my being where I am today in my business. That gentleman introduced me to someone who referred me to yet another individual who hired me 14 years ago. And that particular job was the impetus for my going freelance in 2006. I probably wouldn't have had the success I've enjoyed had I not reached out to one specific Connector early in my freelance career. That lady introduced me to the company that ended up becoming my longest-running client (seven years!).

Next, make an initial list of 10 Solid Prospects. Again, think of Solid Prospects as companies or organizations that produce a lot of copy or written marketing content … and where your particular work background and experience could make you an ideal freelance resource.

In other words, you don't know them, and they don't know you. But because you chose them a bit more carefully, they have a higher probability of being receptive to your message than a random prospect from the Yellow Pages or a local business directory.

I found it's better to start with a small batch. That's why I recommend you make a list of only 10 prospects (for now). If you try to assemble a bigger list, you'll never take action. Instead, work with a small initial list, make the outreach, add to the list, take action, and so on.

Because you're going to be adding and removing names from this list over time, it will be a dynamic list. It will evolve and change. And it will be the list you'll spend the most time on because you'll keep adding to it.

Here are the basic criteria for assembling the first group for your Solid Prospect list:

  1. They have to be a decent-size company (i.e., they have multiple departments, as opposed to a small, local company where the few employees wear multiple hats).
  2. Also, look for companies that produce a lot of written materials (as evidenced by what they have posted and what is available on their website).
  3. If you have a defined target market (or markets), focus on companies in those industries.
  4. Target companies you think might be receptive to your outreach based on your overall work background and experience AND based on the nature of the products or services they sell. So when you look at your background, experience, past clients, etc., consider:
  • Which industries sell products and services that are fairly expensive? (When a product or service is relatively expensive, the value needs to be explained and justified. And that creates a need for marketing content.)
  • Which of these industries is more prone to sell products or services that don't just sell themselves? In other words, they're not commodities or products that can are typically purchased off a website. Instead, they're "considered" purchases.
  • And finally, which industry from your background products and services that are complex? (Your potential client has to spend time and resources explaining those products and services … and what those products and services DO for their customers.)
  1. Don't overthink this. You're NOT trying to come up with the optimal list of 10 prospects. That's impossible at this point. Just come up with 10 that look promising enough based on the criteria I just gave you. If you end up with more than 10, that's fine. But try to come up with at least 10.

That’s it! You’re ready to pursue the best prospects for your business and start landing clients.

This article, Turn Prospects into Clients with the List-Kickstarter Matrix, was originally published by B2B Writing Success.

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Published: March 10, 2016

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