This article is part of an occasional series from leading voices about key issues facing marketing today.

My friend Charlie loves to fish. Last week, he told me about an expedition that produced a huge haul of fish. When I pressed him for details, he eventually confessed that he used a fishfinder—a combo sonar-radar device that tells him exactly where to drop his line to catch the big ones.

I'm not much of a fisherman, but I am a marketer, and something about Charlie's story resonated with me. In the marketing profession, many of us spend our days fishing the murky waters of the marketplace for sales-qualified leads. I've done that for decades without the equivalent of a fishfinder. Sometimes I land a big one, and other times it's been tough to score a nibble.

But it turns out that there are fishfinders for marketing. I'll get to that in a sec.

The Old Way to Get Good Leads

Before I realized that marketing fishfinders exist, my lead-gen approach had always been to cast a wide net. Essentially, I dropped a bunch of baited fishhooks (marketing whitepapers, SEO pages, outbound email campaigns, etc.) in the water, crossed my fingers, and waited for a fish to bite.

Over the years, I've tried every marketing tactic other than TV ads and blimp ads to land great leads for my B2B clients. I've bought more lead databases for clients than I care to admit, and I've thrown a ton of marketing at those cold leads hoping to warm them up, lure them into my client's funnel, and catch something that ultimately converts to enough-to-justify-keeping-the-agency revenues.

Honestly, I was feeling pretty good about my lead-gen game until I discovered buyer intent data, at which point I realized there's a world out there most of us didn't know existed—that there really is the equivalent of a fishfinder for ready-to-buy-now marketing leads.

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image of Ken Gaebler

Ken Gaebler is CEO and founder of B2B tech marketing agency Walker Sands. He has developed B2B demand-gen programs for some of the largest tech companies in the world. Contact him at

LinkedIn: Ken Gaebler

Twitter: @gaeblerdotcom