I can say I have 100,000 US architectural, engineering and construction businesses in my database, because I do. A few years ago, I purchased a list of emails from a service provider who delivered exactly what he said he would deliver.
Of course, having these names means almost nothing for my business, other than (if I wish) asserting inflated distribution claims to potential Design and Construction Report advertisers.
If I tried to send a promotional email to this list, the most likely consequence is my Internet Service Provider (ISP) would permanently disable my email account because of spam complaints.
On the quality side, our business has a 29-year-relationship with the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA), and I’ve been actively engaged with the Ottawa Construction Specifications Canada chapter. We can count hundreds of thousands of dollars (in fact, possibly millions) in revenue through the years through relationships, referrals, contracts, and repeat business opportunities.
In general, quality trumps (possibly a bad pun in light of the name of the current US president) quantity with business development and marketing. But you need to be careful that the quality really is there if you want to assert a small quantity of potential leads/opportunities is good enough (and often you are deluding yourself, unless the clients really have and will continue to do business with you.)
The key for effective marketing is to turn quantity into quality and that requires some common sense and thoughtful approaches to the problem.
For example, that massive US database has some value when we launch our regional titles. We can segment the list and send email communications only to people in the relevant state, with much more focused and relevant content. It’s still a numbers game, but now there are ways to provide automated, yet useful content, and even if a small percentage of the focused readership responds, then we have the basis for some profitable leads.
With consistent and reliable publication of useful information, for us, some of the names turn into leads, and a few turn into profitable long-term relationships. We’ve turned quantity into quality.
You can achieve quality in other ways. For example, with determination, effort and real talent, you build your reputation as the industry leader/expert in a niche, with lots of media publicity, awards, and clients raving about your service. (There’s some quantity there as well.) When you get to that level, you don’t need to stress too hard to find new clients — they’ll knock on your door, and generally not worry too much about your price.
I think there’s merit in thinking both in terms of quantity and quality in defining your business strategies. If you can, certainly compile a list with as much raw information you can about the universe of potential clients for your products/service or professional skills, and make it easy for anyone on that list to find you, with a solid website, visible presence, and where appropriate, outbound/outreach email campaigns.
Use automated processes if possible to build the connection and rapport with the “maybe” prospective clients, until that magical point arrives when you have won recognition for your quality, and you have obtained a high-quality new client.