• Rebecca Hourihan

How to Create a 401(k) Prospecting List



In any successful marketing campaign, the first step is identifying your target market. By understanding your target audience, you can plan your approach strategy and how you intend to help address their needs, concerns and problems. Then your campaigns can provide helpful solutions, actionable ideas and problem-solving remedies. Thankfully, in our industry, there are key ways you can begin to create a list, identify your target market and approach them with confidence.


Where Do I Begin?

Start by defining a territory. Your territory may focus on any of the attributes listed below. Remember that you can be as targeted as you wish, so feel free to group attributes together to refine your list.


  • Physical geographic territory

  • Plan asset size

  • Plan characteristics

  • Niche markets

  • Similar workplace culture

  • Plan design commonalities

  • Or really any defining identifier


How Do I Find the Companies?

Next, decide on the channels you are going to use to track down all the prospects in your territory. To get the specific company names and information you’re looking for, you can manually research them. But honestly, there are much easier ways.

Contact one of your local wholesalers and ask them to run a search form 5500 list. Many recordkeepers and DCIO firms have access to excellent list generation tools. If you want to access this information on your own rather than through a partner, here are some great companies to speak with and learn about their form 5500 search tools.



Aim for a minimum of 500 leads that meet your territory definition to start your prospecting list.


What Should Be Included in a Prospecting List?

As a best practice, your list should include basic contact information such as company names and those of the decision-makers, email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses, plan assets, number of participants and other plan data. Some nice-to-have information also includes the titles of decision-makers and their LinkedIn profile URLs.


What Else Should I Consider?

Good question! Whenever you’re starting a marketing campaign, also consider your current clients and existing contacts. These are the friendly faces on your contact list. To find their contact information, look inside your CRM. Download your client information and their email addresses. This is a great group to begin with as it’s going to help your digital campaigns reach inboxes, increase your open and click rates and boost overall engagement. For additional contacts, look at your LinkedIn account. Deep within the settings feature, you are allowed to download your contact list, including email addresses. Now that LinkedIn keeps changing the way to find this information, here is an updated guide to check out. From your clients and additional contacts, aim to have an additional 500 people on your distribution list. When you combine your lists, you should have around 1000 to 1500 names. That is a great start!


Refining Your Data

Alright, so you now have prospects and current clients downloaded. As you compile all of these names, it’s important that they be organized and manageable. You want to make sure all names are properly spelled and capitalized and that each contact is segmented into a category. This will make for easy communications when you start to interact with them. A simple way to do this is separate them into lists of current clients, prospects and centers of influence.


Expanding Your Social Reach

With your list of 401(k) prospects, take the information and utilize it to expand your social reach. This could include connecting with the C-suite and decision-makers at each of the listed companies that meet your defined territory. You could follow that company on social media as well, which is great for turning cold prospects into warm ones. The LinkedIn algorithm rewards engaged members, so when you go on and like and share your prospect’s posts, the site is more likely to show them your content as well! After you have connected with the decision-makers from those companies, you will see your number of connections increase, which helps circulate your content and builds your digital reputation. Now, it’s time to post relevant and interesting retirement plan related content into your newsfeed and garner the attention of your newfound prospects. Pick topics that speak to your defined target market and use related content to address their problems, needs, and issues. Post helpful solutions, actionable ideas and remedies to help them better manage their company’s retirement plan. Types of social media content include curated articles, blogs, practice guides, graphics, videos, webinars, social cards, memes and other educational materials that speak directly to your prospect audience. If you’re looking for more ways to expand your digital reach, use hashtags to widen your audience while you remain within your intended target market.


Inbox Updates

Now that you have a substantial list including your target prospects, existing clients and centers of influence, it is time to put that valuable list to work. Choose an email automation site, like MailChimp, HubSpot or Constant Contact to send out regular emails, using your segmented contact lists. These sites make it easy to upload the data sheet you have built with hundreds of contacts and send communications to all (or segments) of them. By keeping your clients and contacts informed of retirement plan trends, changes and alerts, you can stay top of mind while delivering valuable information that they will appreciate. Email campaigns are a tried-and-true way for advisers to demonstrate value that reinforces your retirement plan knowledge and expertise.


Maintain a List To Market

Now that you have a defined prospect list with 500 fresh companies within your defined territory, market your experience and insights towards them through email campaigns and social media posts.


Additionally, don’t ignore the power of referrals and favorable introductions. Our business is still very much referral based, which is why it is equally important to consistently stay in front of your clients and existing relationships.


This two-prong approach will strengthen new inbound activities, which will generate new prospect introductions and help you earn new retirement plan clients. Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing!


About Us

401(k) Marketing is the modern marketing agency for the retirement plan industry. We are proud to support our clients through custom engagements, content marketing campaigns, sales material innovations, thought-leadership consulting, interactive workshops and speaking events. Our mission is to empower the retirement plan industry with high-quality marketing, ultimately inspiring Americans to become financially prepared for their future.


Retirement Plan Marketing is the solution for retirement plan advisors looking to generate awareness, streamline sales opportunities and earn more 401(k) business. This comprehensive, strategy driven marketing program includes digital content and sales material specifically designed to help retirement plan professionals attract the right decision makers.