July 7, 2010

How To Get Bigger Clients, Elephants, Whales Or Fish

son fishing 250x400
Of the three ways to make more money, catching bigger fish leads to the most stories and awe. Even if it gets away --- and big fish tend to escape --- there's still a tale to tell and ears eager to listen.

The two other ways to make more money are
  • catching more fish: relates to efficiency looks boring (like Wal-Mart)
  • keeping more of each fish: relates to creativity and looks hard (like tax-saving strategies)
To catch bigger fish, you must be effective. You need to
  1. get a bigger boat
  2. be patient
  3. throw away the wrong fish
(Warning: this post contains mixed metaphors)

A Bigger Boat

"You're gonna need a bigger boat" 
 If you've seen Jaws, you've heard that line in reference to catching a shark the size of the movie's antagonist. Since special opportunities are rare, you want to be ready.

Your boat needs the right engine, crew and equipment. This takes an investment before you earn revenue. If you're selling a service, you're selling the invisible. What shows matters even more.

Compared with what you have, do prospects expect nicer surroundings, faster service, better quality printing, nongeneric email addresses or frequent contact? The list varies depending on your business. You send many subtle but visible clues about whether you belong on the short list of preferred providers. Your clothing matters and even what you drive. You can argue these superficialities ought not matter or you can change to accommodate them.

Recently I saw insurance proposals with premiums of $170,000 dollars. The advisor used cheap paper and printed colour content in black & white. That's inconsistent with the target market. So were flubs in a seminar with a $500,000 ticket.

Catching bigger fish take proper skills. Where should you upgrade? Are your skills as good as your competitors'? What makes you a better choice? How does anyone know you're good enough? They won't take your word as proof. You'll want visible proof such as testimonials on LinkedIn (not just on your website).

Catching bigger fish requires a team. Do you know how to delegate to outsiders?

You needn't spend yourself out of business, but you can't look look or feel cheap according to the standards of your target market. You need that little extra like music in your store.

Be Patient

You're planting seeds and nurturing them. That takes care and time. (Yes, I realize that gardening doesn't have much to do with fishing but I don't like analogies using bait and hooks.)

Bigger clients have many choices. They rarely need to rush. They may be stuck in their comfort zone with current suppliers. Making an impression won't happen quickly and may not happen at all. The exception is the first impression you create (which may occur when you're not there).

Throw Away The Wrong Fish

If your organization allows, throw away fish that don't meet your profile. This won't work if you're in retail since customers won't appreciate getting shown to the door.

When you specialize, you must refuse fish which don't fit your target … even if that hurts your revenue in the short run.

Whether you're after whales, elephant or fish, the same principles apply. You need everything in prime working order. There's little tolerance for shortcomings. Your targets won't wait for you to get ready. You may not get a second chance.

Eventually bigger fish can become your normal catch. Your success won't be a fluke. Others will eagerly listen to your stories and spread them. Then bigger clients will come to you on their own. That's marketing.



  1. I enjoyed this post Promod. Excellent copy.

    Great video clip to support your fishing analogy.

    I know what you mean by the bait and hooks not being as nurturing as the gardening metaphor. Fishing is somewhat ruthless, as gutting and eating follows the catching.

    Still, love your size of fish connection, or whales as they call them in Vegas.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Dr. Joe.

    It's tough to find an analogy that's simple, visual and respectful :)