Lead generation and fishing pools

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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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