Step One, Market Identification – If you are going for flounder, you have to go where the flounder go. How do you identify these targets?
1) Guess. Just throw your line in the water and hope for the best
2) Follow other fisherman, see where they hang out, and fish near them
3) Conduct research on the Web and social media sites to find where flounder have been hitting
Similarly, when attempting to acquire new clients, you need to identify the market, then the territory, and finally the specific targets.
Step Two, Create Awareness – Once you identify where you want to fish, you have to use the right bait to attract flounder. Simply put, you set your boat in a certain area and let the tide move you and the fishing line, in a tactic called drifting. You throw out your line, which has bait and a weight, and you hope to capture the flounder’s attention while the weight drifts on the bottom of the ocean.
In today’s business environment, we essentially follow a similar process. We begin the new client acquisition process with a message – our bait – to attract the interest of the buyer. We then use a variety of tactics, like Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, content marketing, public relations, and advertising to get our message out into the marketplace. Then we wait, hoping to be in the right place at the right time to get a nibble from the buyer.
Step Three, Catching the Big One – If we have selected the right fishing area and used the right bait, then it should be only a matter of time before the fish bite. Even then, our work is not done. We have to reel them in carefully, or they can get away. We don’t know whatis on the end of the line until we land it in the boat. It could be a huge flounder or a little shark stealing the bait. In New Jersey, to keep a flounder, the fish has to be over 18 inches.
Now think about new client acquisition. After we have developed a targeted message and sent out the communication, we sit and wait until we get a response, or a bite. Once we do, our work still is not over. We have to set nurturing activities in motion to reel them in. At first, we don’t know what the opportunity is. Is the lead a keeper or a time-stealer? We must further qualify it using our criteria before it can officially be labeled a Sales Qualified Lead, or “keeper.”
So I am a Fisherman!
The similarities between fishing and new client acquisition are interesting to think about. In fact, these basic processes can be used for many areas of business and everyday life. The best part of this aha! moment for me was that, for many years, I had trouble explaining to my young kids exactly what I did for a living. Then I thought about the similarities to fishing. I walked them through the fishing analogy, and they finally got it. My ten year old said, “Now I understand, you fish for businesses; you are a business fisherman.” I can’t wait to explain this one at the next Parents Day at school.