Nature is our greatest teacher. After spending a couple weeks on a small lake in Vermont this summer, I saw how fishing provides a framework for prospecting – the process of finding and converting a lead to client.
My eight-year old daughter loves to fish and over the years she’s gotten better, largely from practice.
Watching her catch fish after fish reminded me of the patience, persistence and intention needed to get leads.
To keep it simple, there are three components that influence your ability to generate leads: location, bait and the ability to reel them in. These three components, put into practice, significantly improve your ability to generate organic leads.
The steps to catch a lead:
1. Go to where your ideal leads are.
2. Show up consistently to increase your chances of success.
3. Offer something of value to get their attention.
4. Use bait they uniquely like to motivate them to bite.
5. Once you get a bite, quickly work to reel them in with the right process and messaging.
6. Take care of your catches so they don’t go bad.
Go to where your ideal leads are
If you are spending time and resources on marketing that isn’t delivering results, you may not be “fishing” in the right spot. Increase your chances of success by showing up in the places online and in-person where your ideal targets are and especially where they may be open to professional connections and inquiries.
Be clear about who you want to attract. You may have a niche or an easy target opportunity. Creating a target audience doesn’t need to limit who you serve, but it will help enhance your ability to find the right people and provide relevant value.
Digital marketing is very effective for targeting and it tends to be cost-effective and measurable. Use titles, industries, companies, zip codes and demographic data to find people. Leverage and learn from the groups, people and topics that your target audience is already following. If you are looking to quickly ramp lead generation using digital advertising or content marketing, partner with a firm that specializes in digital targeting and retargeting. They may have databases and ways to find specific types of clients with a high degree of accuracy online.
Show up consistently to increase your chances of success
Research tells us people need to see something many times before they notice it. The rule of thumb is seven times. You need to consistently show up to get noticed. This is why doing advertising for a short period of time or showing up in the media a couple of times often doesn’t have an impact.
Frequent and consistent key messages reinforce the things that matter to you – who you serve, how you serve them, what type of value you deliver.
If you’re using social media to increase awareness, or to generate leads, post at least a few times a week. Advertising can be more often if you’re running a specific campaign over a month or two. Once the campaign is over, don’t disappear; continue to be present via email, social or other channels.
Keep showing up, keep providing value and be clear and consistent on your messaging and brand.
Offer something of value to get their attention
This is another area where I see many advisors miss the mark. They put in the effort to show up but their content is generic and irrelevant.
Put yourself in your ideal clients’ shoes: What keeps them up at night? What are their needs and fears? What new perspective or actionable solution can you provide? How can you package this in a compelling way?
Titles, headlines, subject lines, lists and statistics are powerful ways to gain attention.
When it comes to email, subject lines drive open rates. Catchy titles and scannable text increase engagement with articles and blogs. Providing a sneak peek or preview on social media with a clear call-to-action to access more drives traffic to your website. Using social media to start a conversation or actively engage by using topics and tagging people is another way to increase the number of views of your posts.
Asking a question, offering a guide or tips, or simplifying your advice into bulleted key points are a few ways to package your content in a way that’s compelling.
You don’t need to spend all of your time creating content. If you have a handful of great marketing pieces, repackage them over and over. You can also curate content from other sources if it is relevant and additive. Original content is always best. If you need inspiration on topics start with the questions or challenges your clients are facing.
Use bait they like and is worth taking a bite
Always have a link or call-to-action (CTA) to encourage engagement – no dead ends. Make it easy and low-risk to engage early, click through to an article, a video or freebie. Different CTAs have different commitment thresholds and can provide you useful information about how engaged someone is (or isn’t).
Offering valuable and relevant bait in a logical order helps keep leads engaged and motivated as they move down the sales funnel.
Once you get a bite, quickly work to reel them in
Once a lead bites by giving you their name or requesting more information, quickly jump into action. Speed and persistence in follow-up is key.
Follow up within the first 24 hours and continue to reach out 5-7 times over the next two weeks. Specifically, I’d email 3-5 times and call up to two times, if you have their phone number.
Having a sales process in place to manage your pipeline and follow-up can be helpful. Read my article, You Have a Lead, Now What, to gain insight into how to build a sales process.
Take care of your catches so they don’t go bad
There is nothing worse than smelly fish.
The same goes for the lost opportunity, especially early in a relationship. Once you convert a lead to a client, leverage the opportunity to make a second first impression. Their onboarding experience, first quarter and year are important to developing loyalty and eventually advocacy (advocates refer).
Read my article about how to Build Advocates with a Service Model that Delivers.
Generating organic leads isn’t easy. However, with an intentional strategy focused on location, bait and the process to reel in a lead you will increase your chances of generating high-quality new leads.
If you’re going to spend the time and resources to “go fishing,” set yourself up for a big catch.