It’s Monday — that means it’s time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

Today, we go back to the basics — getting leads and clients…

It’s Monday — the day I open my mailbox and answer YOUR questions about marketing, selling, copywriting, business-building, and more.

To have your question answered in an upcoming Mailbox Monday issue, click here.

Today’s question…

Hi Roy,

My biggest challenge is in converting people into leads, and leads into paying clients.

I hope you can speak generally about this process in a Mailbox Monday.



This is pretty much the essence of marketing and selling in a client-based business…

Now I’m not necessarily saying that as a bad thing.

Because it’s critical to cover the basics for two reasons.

First, because there’s always SOMEBODY who needs to be indoctrinated into the fundamentals for the first time.  So, from time to time, we go back to the basics, cover them, and lay the foundation for someone’s success.

But secondly, because even the world’s greatest pros at any skill know that the foundations are STILL the essence of success, at the highest levels of competition.

What do professional athletes do in the off season?  What is spring training?  It’s fundamentals and foundations work.

What did Bruce Lee said he feared?  The man who had practiced one kick 10,000 times.  That’s someone who has built the foundations into muscle memory.

At the highest levels, I don’t hear A-list marketers talking about the latest whiz-bang tactics and technologies.  No, they talk about sharpening their skills and getting great at the simplest of foundational skills.

If you can master a foundational marketing challenge such as converting members of your market into leads, and those leads into clients, you have the keys to the kingdom.

So let’s dive in.

Let’s go fishing…

Let’s imagine for a minute that instead of marketing, we were talking about fishing.

In fact, I’ll tell a very real story from my childhood.

When I was young, my family used to go camping at Camp Carol Joy Holling, near Ashland, Nebraska.

This camp had a small lake, and that lake had lots of fish, including catfish, bass, and bluegill.

Well, we primarily fished for fun, and so we’d load worms onto our hooks and just fish for whatever that brought in (mostly small bluegill, which we’d catch-and-release).

So I’m there fishing with my dad, and after a bunch of nibbles but no fish, I reel in my line.

I’m there waiting for my dad to load a worm onto my hook, while he’s finishing up whatever he’s doing.

Being a bored kid, I don’t just sit still and wait patiently.

Instead, I’m there tapping my hook — with the smallest bit of worm still on it — onto the water’s surface, near the shore.  I’m not doing it to catch anything.  With how little bait is left, I figure nothing will be interested.  Rather, I’m just doing it to kill time until my dad is ready to load the hook back up.

Then — SNAP!

Something bit my hook!

Surprised and excited, I hold my rod, tight.  It pulls, hard!  It’s got more fight than most of what we’ve been reeling in all day, so we figure it’s something bigger — maybe a bass.

After a minute of trying to get it in, we realize — it is a bluegill — but it’s HUGE.

(Note: bluegill are usually no bigger than an adult hand.)

We eventually get it out of the water.  My dad spreads it across his hands — and it covers both.

We end up taking it to the local bait shop.  The shop owner measures it, and it’s big enough it qualifies me for a Master Angler fishing award.  He’s never seen a bluegill that big.  He actually wants to keep it.  Either keep it alive in his shop’s fish tank, or mount it.  I’m a kid who knows what he wants, so I say no.  I decide to take it back to camp, cook it, and eat it for dinner.  (Kind of ridiculous in hindsight, but I respect my dad’s choice to let me make that decision!)

What the heck does this all have to do with marketing?

We’ll stick with the fish metaphor, and tease out the lessons…

LESSON 1: Go where the fish are.

Now, I can’t actually claim to have earned the title of Master Angler.  I got the award, yes.  But it wasn’t due to any superior fishing abilities.

But there was one thing I had going for me.

That lake was full of fish.  It was a haven for bluegill.  And among those, there was a really big bluegill.

If I’d been fishing for swordfish or barracuda, I’d have never caught one in that lake.  If I’d been at a lake that didn’t have any fish in it, I also wouldn’t have caught anything.

It was only because I was at a lake that had that bluegill that I caught it.

In marketing, you need to make sure that you’re going where your market is.  That is, you need to be putting your offer into the water where it’s likely to catch something.

LESSON 2: Do what it takes to attract the fish.

Hopefully you’ll be more mindful than I was in catching that fish (although be ready for the unexpected as long as you’re doing something).

Why did what I was doing work?

Well, in hindsight, my hook hitting the water probably looked a lot like a bug.  And if fish are eating bugs that land on the water all day long, something that looks like a bug landing on the water is likely to attract their attention.  (This is the whole principle behind fly fishing.)

Also in hindsight, that new worm I was waiting for may not have caught that same bluegill.  It was looking for bugs to eat, I presented something that looked like a bug, and it went for it.

What are you presenting to your market and target audience?

Will it attract their attention?  Will it look like something they want, and would be going for anyway?  Will it appeal to some hunger or need inside of them?

Don’t be afraid to try lots of things — even some that only have an off-chance of working.  You never know when you’ll hit on just the right choice to start catching them.

LESSON 3: Don’t forget your rod, reel, and hook.

That hook hitting the water — that looked like a bug — was enough to get the bite.  But it wasn’t enough to bring in the fish.

A rod, reel, and hook are a system designed to grab onto a fish that’s just bitten your bait, and bring them in.

This has critical comparisons to marketing (although, as an adult with some sensitivity to animal pain, I’ll say I hope your marketing “hook” is a little less painful!).

So, once you’ve put bait in front of a prospect and they’ve shown interest, perhaps by clicking to your website, how do you “set the hook?”  Maybe you offer an appointment booking (I use and recommend Book Like A Boss) option for a consultation call with you.  Maybe you offer an application.  There should be some way that they can actually get connected with you.

Once the hook is set, you need to reel them in.  This requires your rod and reel, and line that pulls.  This is your offer.  Consider this.  In fishing, line strength is critically important.  Fishing line is sold based on test weight.  This is the amount of force the line can withstand without snapping.   I liken this to your offer strength.  If you’re fishing for big fish (big sales), your offer’s test weight (perceived value) must be high enough that it can reel it in.  Your rod and reel (actual product value) must also be strong enough.  You can always bring in a smaller fish with a stronger rod, reel, and line, but never the other way around.

In other words, your offer should be strong and compelling enough that you don’t have to sell it hard.  Once the prospects understand it — and how it is the solution to their problem — they should find it only natural to move forward and become a client.

I know I risked being too obscure with the fishing metaphor, so let’s recap…

First, make sure you’re actually speaking to a market of qualified prospects who want and need what you’re offering.  Then, appeal to them in a way that will capture their attention and engage them in a powerful way.  Then, systematically get them to raise their hand, express interest, reach out (through whatever mechanism), and engage with you.  And make them a compelling enough offer that you don’t have to strain yourself to close the sale.

When you get this right, it happens almost automatically.

When you have some element of this wrong (most often it’s the market-offer match), there’s almost nothing you can do to fix it.

That realization can be a huge breakthrough.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr