Drop-a-Fish-a-LineFishing is a pastime that I have learned to enjoy; whether it’s with family, alone, or even watching Tim Farmer on the TV show Kentucky Afield. I know I’m in the minority of people who call it a sport, but I truly believe it takes practice, dedication and drive to succeed.

Would you plan to take a client, prospect or referral source fishing? Would they think you are crazy or would they enjoy a change of scenery on a beautiful day?

Fishing analogies work. After all, “teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime” has been around since the mid 19th century. It teaches us that in order to succeed, you have to be willing to learn. This is very similar to communicating in a business setting, and can be applied to your communications.

If you are willing to drop your potential fish a line, odds are you may catch him. And by catch him, I don’t mean hooking him and not bringing him onto the shore. In order for a catch to be successful, you have to leave with a smelly hand and a photo.

Consider treating your clients, prospects and referral sources in this manner. If you aren’t consistently dropping them a line (albeit a newsletter, email, phone call, or direct message on Twitter / Instagram), then why would they be interested in you / your services?

There are a few things to remember when engaging with your audiences to ensure they don’t feel hooked:

1. Invest in Letting Them Get to Know You / Your Firm

It takes approximately 21 impressions to get someone’s attention. Statistics from 2013 show that the average attention span of most adults is eight seconds. You have eight seconds to grab someone’s attention before they’re on to the next thing. Is your marketing structured to do that? If not, don’t do any more marketing until you craft your message in a way that will work!

Many firms spend a large amount of time building content, but if the content is not relevant to the recipient, then it’s not going to hook the fish. My advice: spend time segmenting your mailing / email lists to ensure the messages you are sending are relevant to the recipient. Then and only then, focus on messaging to entice them to want to know more.

2. Don’t be a Stalker

By sending too many messages, that aren’t relevant, firms can become stalker-ish to their recipients. In most cases, the recipient reacts by unsubscribing or calling your receptionist and urging their removal from all your lists.

To avoid a mass exodus, in addition to being relevant, you must be aware of the frequency of messages being sent. This is where the marketing mix can be very effective! You don’t want to send a weekly email as your only form of communication. Consider adding mailings, postcards, telephone calls, invitations to upcoming events, or a person invitation for them to join you at a charity, business or social activity.

If your messages are sent via mixed medium, you will catch the attention of the various parties. Let’s face it, we get too many emails, postcards (especially around election time) are easily pitched and telephone calls can be easily avoided. So, get creative on sending your messages, consider:

  • A handwritten note
  • A special envelope / invitation that stands out
  • Passing along an article that would help their business
  • An email congratulating them on recent news about their firm or professionals
  • A basket of goodies / stress relievers / bouquet of fruit

3. Don’t Constantly Sell – Be Personable and Loveable

If you are like me, I don’t like it when the old bait and switch happens. Once, an investment professional invited me to lunch. This gentleman was personable and even loveable upon first impression, so why would I not want to get to know this guy more? We sat down for lunch, ordered our drinks and began conversing about family, friends in common and a little about business. Once our entrees arrived, we were joined by a colleague from his firm. This guy was not personable, loveable or, in my opinion, not even likeable. His approach was to shake my hand and then dive into my personal life, so he could find a solution to my financial needs.

It took me about two minutes before I was shoving him off, shutting off conversation and educating him on my husband’s career with Fidelity Investments in order for him to stop filling out his form (yes, he was writing down every word of my life – without my permission). As if that wasn’t bad enough, I continued to get emails and monthly calls from the NOT personable and loveable guy. However, the personable and loveable guy who invited me to lunch was introduced to several people in my network who either hired him or passed him to others who inquired more into his services.

As you begin planning out the best way to communicate with your existing, potential, or referral fish, consider drop them a line like no one else. After all, they may be a Blue Gill fisherman now, but they could quickly grow into a Champion Bassmaster and call you!