#BlogSomething2012: Finding prospects

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Higgins Armory Museum

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to hold a polearm like this halberd, you know they’re not light weapons, often in the 5-10 pound range. To swing a halberd in battle, you have to be reasonably sure of your target, because if you miss, you leave yourself open to counterattacks while you reposition it. Even lesser armed and armored opponents can take you down with relative ease if you swing and miss. If you want to get a feel for this, hold your average heavy broom by the last 6-9 inches of the handle and swing it around.

Likewise, in marketing, getting someone to make a commitment (even a tentative one) isn’t easy. People have limited resources – time, energy, money – and asking them to make a commitment is like asking them to take a swing with a halberd. In order for them to do so, they have to be reasonably sure of their target, and that means that you have to give them an opening, give them an obvious target, an obvious reason to make a commitment.

Take a look at this selection of pay per click ads based on the search term “social media marketing”.

social media marketing - Google Search

Many of these ads are like battlefield warriors proudly shouting out their clan name and lineage, announcing their readiness to do battle and conquer the customer (and then take their wallet). Guaranteed resuls! Social media marketing experts! Voted best social media agency!


As someone with a halberd, I don’t see an opportunity and I see plenty of risk, so I’m not going to take a swing. I’m unsure of my target, unsure of what’s going to happen. Retreat from those battles is the logical choice. But look, there’s one that’s offering a free white paper. There’s an opening, where I see a clear benefit to me. That’s the one at which I’ll take my swing because I’m reasonably sure of my target.

As the marketer, it’s our role to give someone a reason to take a swing, give someone an opening or an opportunity to make that commitment. Take a careful look at your marketing copy and ask whether you’re out there shouting out your readiness to conquer your prospective customers or whether you’re inviting them to make the first commitment with an obvious, valuable target.

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


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