Marketers are always eager to try some new acronym or acrostic to describe their process, formula for success, or complex idea.
I’ll admit, I’m no different.
For years, marketers used the word BANT (budget, authority, need, timeline) to qualify prospective clients. This meant understanding whether a prospect had the budget, the authority to decide, the need for the product, and an active timeline that was moving forward.
While these are great qualifiers, the problem is that many prospects are self-educating in other places around the Internet rather than on a company’s site, because most people don’t want to be sold to. They want to do their own research, make their own decision, and ultimately buy from someone because they feel it’s their own choice. When prospects research elsewhere, companies have been in the dark about whether a prospect was interested in them or even their competitors.
So we developed an acronym, FIRE to describe our own methodology of finding prospective customers for our clients. Matter of fact we recently released a FIRE Ebook.
Using FIRE means you’re going into the market in a whole new way, looking at new factors, and creating a new algorithm for who’s ready to buy and who’s not. FIRE measures these four dimensions:
- Fit: Is a prospect is a good fit for your product or service? A coffee shop doesn’t need a high-powered document management system, but an attorney’s office does. Not every business or person needs what you do.
- Intent: The customer is actively seeking your product or service. They’re doing online research, reading articles, attending webinars, and educating themselves. They intend to buy soon.
- Recency: When did they start showing this intent? Long recency times probably mean you missed the boat, so it helps to be able to find these people right away.
- Engagement: Are the customers engaging you through channels you owned (e.g. your white papers, your blog, your webinars)? Are they ignoring you or actively avoiding you? Prospects who are high FIR, but low E, are not likely to buy since they’re probably not aware of what you offer.
While each of these dimensions alone are not strong indicators of a customer’s interest in buying, when combined they can indicate a stronger prospect than the old BANT method or any other clever acronym you’ve heard.
Fit alone would indicate if the company is qualified for you to market to or reach out to in some way like cold calling, but in reality, there are a lot of companies that could be a good fit for your business. You need a way to sort and prioritize.
When you combine fit and Intent (i.e. the company could use your product or service, and they plan to buy) that’s a really good sign. It’s very much akin to combining Fit with Engagement. That is, a strong prospect coming to your website and submitting some sort of inquiry or request.
All successful companies know who is a good fit for them, that’s the easy part. The hard part is knowing when is the exact right time to engage them. It’s a lot like dating. You might meet someone who seems like the perfect match for you, but they are already in a committed relationship, so they’re not actually out there actively looking for a partner. The perfect relationship comes when you find someone who is a great match and they’re actively looking for someone else too.
That’s Recency. Did your prospect start researching you 10 days ago or 10 months ago? This gives you the power to strike when the iron is hot, or deciding to market toward them or cold calling them to see if they ever found a solution. By combining Fit and Intent with Recency, you would be able to get much higher positive results.
The problem is that only spells FIR, and while we like pine trees (Go Stanford!), we thought FIRE was a more powerful acronym.
Engagement is by far the easiest measurement to follow up with as it is a prospect moving into engaging with your owned channels (e.g., your social media, website, digital ads, etc.) The more engagement you can get from a prospect, like whether they responded to your initial email, visited your website, downloaded a white paper, and so on, the more likely they are to buy from you.
But they won’t show up just because you have a nice website. They’re looking for a lot of high-quality, informative content, and if you can’t provide that, they won’t engage with you for very long.
To really impress a prospect and turn them into a client for you, you need all four elements to make FIRE. If you use it right, that’s when your lead generation can get really hot.