There’s a showdown happening right now at the O.K. Corral, but don’t look for any sightings of Cowboys and Indians.  

Instead, the showdown is happening between traditional media (print, television and radio) and digital media (the internet, websites and online marketing). And the prize is much bigger than control of any small town — it’s control of mindshare and lead generation in this new Wild, Wild West.

Trust me. There’s a new sheriff in town. And he won’t be tolerating any old-fashioned tactics that no longer work. Gone are the days when you put up a wanted poster or a simple ad and people flocked your doors. You need a better plan to compete in this economy.

This wild, wild west is the uncharted, untamed territory of digital marketing. It’s exciting and scary, fraught with danger and reward. Its lure is the promise of gold (many leads) for the pioneers who dare to take the challenge and conquer new territory.

But being a pioneer is not for the faint of heart. And it’s not for the unprepared. To be successful, you’ll need more than a hunch; you need a clear goal and a smart strategy.

There are some important rules for the gunslingers who survive in this new world.

1. Dancing girls attract prospects.

Okay, don’t take that literally, but in the spirit of the Wild West, it’s much more effective to attract your prospects with enticements than it is to put a revolver in their backs.

Translation: Find innovative ways to attract your prospects with information, useful tidbits, valuable resources and other things that will help guide them in their journey. Put yourself in their place. What would be helpful and attract you if you were “in the market” for what you offer? What can you offer that would make you stand out from your competition?

2. There’s a different gun for every gunfight.

One size doesn’t fit all. For example, the needs and content you use to attract a senior living resident who is looking for a “carefree lifestyle” would be quite different from what would attract or entice a family member who is concerned about the safety and security of a loved one.

Likewise, a potential referral source — such as a doctor — would have an entirely different vantage point. Perhaps information that helps them evaluate their patients for Alzheimer’s would be the right approach to take with them.

3. You’ll need to be at the stagecoach exactly when your prospects arrive.

Like in the Wild West, you can’t always predict exactly when your prospects are going to arrive, be ready for youor request your information. But unfortunately, if you can’t or don’t get to them when they are ready, someone will — and that someone may be your competition or a third party that will sell your hostages … err, prospects, back to you for exorbitant fees.

And statistics show that if you contact your web leads within five minutes of them reaching out to you, you’re 100 times more likely to reach them, engage them and sell to them.

Like Tonto, this is where your sidekick, “new-fangled” technology, has your back. Intelligent automation can capture those leads the moment they step off the stage coach, start your relationship by communicating with them immediately and let you know instantly when it all happens. Your competition will never know that you hit gold!

4. Don’t leave home without your map and compass.

Many organizations head out for the Wild West with a romantic notion but no concrete plan for where they’re heading or what their actual goals are. Those are the people you find wandering aimlessly in the desert with a spent budget and empty pockets.

Think of your digital marketing strategy the same way you would any other offline marketing. Always start with your end goal in mind and work backwards.

Is your goal to create brand awareness, generate senior living leads, establish a referral source base, reach family members or generate traffic to an event? Be very clear. Once you identify your goal, you can work backwards to create messaging, content and bait for that specific target audience and a plan to mine the gold you uncover.

If you follow these rules, carefully plan your objective and work smartly to extract your leads, then you will be successful in conquering the Wild West, and you’ll be rewarded her finest treasures. So the next time someone — especially your competition — tells you that they’re thinking about doing digital marketing, you can just smile and say, “Safe travels, ‘Partner’!” You’ll make John Wayne proud!

Mona Hilton is CEO of Genesis Global Technologies, authors of the Occupancy Advantage sales and marketing automation systems.