How to Fish for Leads...the right way and the wrong way

Fishing is uncannily like marketing.  Sounds controversial, doesn’t it?  But before you write off the idea, keep reading and see if you agree.

We can learn a great deal about marketing from fishing.   Like fishing, marketing for lead generation must be a strategic and often omni-channel practice that, done well, can provide handsomely for your family and for your communities.

Sure, marketing today is more complex than ever before and deserves a more in-depth discussion than one article, but we’ll cover some foundational thought-starters.

Who are you fishing for?

Before you head out to fish, decide who you’re fishing for – your target audience(s).  To be effective, you’ll want to narrow your targets down to a few well defined audiences.  Let’s say you decide on 1. Prospects, 2. Family Members and 3. Clinical Referral Sources.


Rule # 1.  It’s all about the fish/audience.

Who you’re fishing for determines where you want to fish (location), what they are hungry for (message/bait), and what strategies you will use (line, net or spear) to get the best results.

One thing is certain.  You have to go to where the audience is.  Gone are the days where you could “build it and they would come”.   And with fewer and fewer exceptions, the Internet is where people go to learn, research and communicate.

87% of people will check you out online before they contact your community.

Multi-channel represents yesterday.  Today, your online presence must be delivered “omni-channel” in order to get the biggest bang for your buck.  What I mean by that is create an attractive and attention getting bait (message), and then use it throughout all channels simultaneously.  People need to hear, see and read something a minimum of 3 times before it even registers with them.  And your message registers even better if they are exposed to your message through different channels.

Now when I mention online marketing, most people immediately think of their website.  And it’s very important to make sure that your website is more than just an “electronic brochure” designed to give you a “feel good” pat on your back.  While the effectiveness of SEO is currently under hot debate these days, there are certain steps you need to take to make your website search engine friendly.  Beyond that, you can take advantage of paid SEM (Search Engine Management) for Pay Per Click and Retargeting advertising – which can get pricey, but can be very effective if it’s strategic, well thought out and executed carefully.

The bait/message.

Getting people to your website is only half the challenge.  What happens to those precious leads when they get there?  What you do now determines if your online ROI is high or a disappointment.

Keep people on your site longer.  Make your site helpful and easy to navigate and read.  But most importantly, offer plenty of ”fresh bait”, targeted resources and relevant messages for all your target audiences throughout your website to get them to “bite”.

For example, an article about “How to talk to your aging parents about senior living options” is a relevant resource for your adult children.  A checklist of “5 Hidden Ways to Pay for Your Retirement” will attract prospective residents who are thinking about senior living.  By contrast, a video on “7 Signs Your Patient May Need Assistance at Home” is a great resource for Clinical Referral Sources.

Video bait.

Consider using an “explainer” video to tell your community’s story or explain a misunderstood topic like Alzheimer’s.

65% of us are visual learners. Why not explain your community’s personality in a way that speaks to the majority?

Video testimonials are also a very compelling resource for anyone thinking about your community.  Happy residents and clients can tell your story much more effectively than you ever can.  And they are more believable than if you said the same thing.

In fact, recommendations from friends and family trump every other marketing message.

But don’t stop at your website – think “omni-channel”.  Reuse and link those videos everywhere!  A video channel on YouTube is a great place to post a video playlist of effective lead generators.

“How to” videos on YouTube are growing at a rate of 70% year over year. 

And most people prefer to watch a video over reading an article – especially if the video is interesting or entertaining.  You can also offer those same videos and articles as bait on your community Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Education is always a popular form of bait that can be utilized through omni-channels.  Since “How to” topics are so hot, also offer classes on what your audience cares about – either at your community, at civic organizations, online through mini e-courses or webcasts, or even through recorded videos.  After all, there’s a reason they’re called “schools of fish”!

The hook.

No good fisherman would hook a beautiful tarpon and just leave them at the end of the line.  When your audience takes the bait (downloads the article or watches the video, etc.), what you do with them next is more important than anything else.  You’ve got to reel them in.

If you contact your web leads within 5 minutes of them reaching out to you, you’re 100 times more likely to engage them than if you wait just 30 minutes.

Capturing your lead’s information, engaging them in relevant communications and steering them into your community is the most critical part of the fishing process.

We use our proprietary Sticky Points to instantly capture Internet lead info and put them into our system automatically.  Then we leverage TaskoMatics to immediately start the process of engaging the lead in relationship using personalized email and calls.  You’ll be engaging your leads before your competition even knows they have one!  Once you engage them, your discovery will help you determine the best next steps for that contact.

If they’re a Prospect Resident, you’ll want to put them on follow up goal pertinent for Prospective Residents.  We created Predictive Follow Up that uses a proprietary algorithm to suggest the next best follow up step for that Prospect based on what has worked in the past.  If they’re an Adult Child or Family Member, you’ll want to communicate with messages that are relevant to their concerns (safety, communication, etc.).  And if they’re a prospective Referral Source, you’ll want to engage them in a trust relationship so they will feel comfortable about referring you prospective Residents.

Are you listening?

Great fishing is a two way sport.  You have to listen while you’re fishing.  Use Twitter to practice “social listening” for what people are saying online about topics of interest – such as Alzheimer’s.  Or even “listen” for the mention of company names, like your own.  If you are listening for mentions of your high value referral sources, you can congratulate them or reach out when they receive an award, get great press or are mentioned in the news.  How smart a marketer does that make you?

There’s a million more “fishing for leads” strategies you are likely using.  Use them strategically so that they work in conjunction with each other.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with content.  And, most importantly, make sure that once you have your leads “on the hook”, you have a plan to engage them, follow up with them and reel them in.  Nobody wants to hear about your “fish that got away”!

Now let’s go fishing!