Lead generation and fishing pools

If you’ve ever gone fishing at a small pond or stream, you know that there are a certain number of big fish, a certain number of medium fish, and a whole bunch of fish you don’t want.

Fall Photos

In the beginning of the season, fishing is awesome. You catch some big fish, take a few selfies, and enjoy some pan fried fish. As the days go on, the fish get smaller on average, until the pool isn’t really yielding great catches any more. After you’ve caught the fish you do want, there’s not much else to do at that fishing pool. You have to leave it until the little fish grow up to be big fish, and there’s no way to hasten that process. You go off and find a new fishing hole and come back to your favorite little fishing hole later in the season or the next season.

Lead generation functions very much like this. The first time you find a new lead source, whether it’s an audience on Twitter, the listeners of a podcast, an email newsletter you can contribute to, etc., it performs great. You get a fair number of the big leads. You get a lot of the medium leads, and you get a fair number of the small leads, too. Then over time, lead quality begins to decline. The volume of leads goes down. Pretty soon, the lead source performs no better than general advertising, and that’s because the only new leads in that pool are coming in from other sources.

What this means for you strategically is that you’ve always got to have another lead source, another fishing pool you can move to. Once a source begins to dry up or show signs of tapering, you can move to the next pool… and then the next pool. This is also one of the reasons why you need a balance of inbound and outbound marketing; inbound marketing methods are effectively only a handful of pools (like organic search and organic social), and switching pools can take a fairly long time. Outbound marketing with paid media allows you to switch pools rapidly – just swipe your credit card and turn on ads in a new pool.

If you’re in a situation where your existing pools have been fished out, pack up your gear and start walking, because you need to make it to the next pool before you or your business get really hungry.

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Effort signals intent

One of the peculiar features of the new Ello platform is that it’s missing controls that we take for granted now on social networks. You can click retweet and instantly send someone else’s message to your followers. You can click twice in Facebook on the Share button and the message spreads. You can hit the Forward button in Google+.

What do you have to do in Ello? Copy and paste, plus manually attribute to the author:

Content credit: Steve Garfield

Oddly, this isn’t a failure to me, because effort signals intent. My cat can accidentally retweet something just by playing with the computer mouse or stepping on my phone. Bots and scripts can and do reshare and retweet effortlessly all of the time, and that word signals the problem: when something is effortless, you don’t have to commit anything to it. When you don’t have to commit time, energy, effort, or resources to something, it has very little value. How much, to a brand marketer, is a retweet from my cat worth? Even if you’re selling cat food, my cat can’t read, so while the metric says yes, you got some social engagement, the reality is that you got a random cat paw.

If you have to work a little, that puts up a very small barrier to entry. That puts up a tiny speed bump – but to an audience looking for mindless and instant, you may as well have put up the Great Wall of China.

Think carefully in your own marketing about what kinds of engagement require effort and what kinds don’t. Measure carefully those that take commitment and effort, and make a special effort to reach out to those who do commit to you, because they are signaling much greater intent. That intent might be evangelism, might be purchase intent, might be a new personal relationship waiting to happen. Reward it! Reward people commensurate to the effort they make towards you, and keep those who work hardest on your brand’s behalf closest to you.

Not all digital activities are equal!

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Social is as social does

Amidst all the chatter about new social networks and how brands should be interacting with audiences, a simple lesson has been missed, one courtesy of Forrest Gump.


The fictional character’s famous quote, stupid is as stupid does, is one equally applicable to social media: social is as social does.

When marketing managers and directors are looking at numbers, charts, KPIs, and metrics about things like social media engagement, interactions per hour, new followers, etc. and wondering why social media isn’t delivering its fabled results, the answer can usually be found in that aphorism. Social is as social does.

Take a look at this simple chart of a national brand and how many questions on their Facebook Page they don’t answer, as well as the response time:


Social is as social does. If you’re taking half a day to answer fans’ questions, and answering 1 out of every 6 questions, then don’t be surprised when your social media engagement metrics are in the toilet, when your audience stops talking to you, when people give up because you don’t interact with them.

Being social means doing the basics of human civility, the sort of thing that you tell a four year old.

Say hello and goodbye to people.
Answer questions when you’re asked.
Talk about the other person more than you talk about yourself.
Don’t interrupt other people talking.
You have two ears and one mouth; use them in that proportion.
Be polite.

When marketers say that social is all about “being human”, that’s what we’re talking about: accomplishing the basics of being a functional human being. It’s not magic. It is effort.

The next time you’re looking at your social media marketing metrics and you’re not happy with the results, ask yourself if you’re being as social as your audience wants you to be.

Social is as social does.

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