Seven Secrets to Catching the Hungriest Fish

A teacher read a story to her second grade class about a village of fishermen. “Take out a sheet of paper,” she said, “and I’d like you each to draw a picture of the lake and the fishermen from the story.”

The class began drawing big blue lakes with boats scattered across the water. As the teacher walked around, she noticed the work of one girl. Instead of scattering the boats across the water, the girl had drawn all of the boats clustered in one small cove of the lake.

“That’s interesting,” said the teacher. “But why are they all bunched together like that?”

The girl looked at the teacher with weary patience. “Because,” she said, “that’s where the fish are.”

Smart girl! She knows what many marketing professionals seem to forget: You don’t catch the most fish by fishing every square foot of the lake. You do it by figuring out where the fish are—and dropping anchor.

There has never been a better time to fish where the fish are than right now.

Here are seven secrets to finding and catching the hungriest fish—the customers who will add to your bottom line instead of nibbling from it:

  1. List ten markets by profit. Identify your highest-quality current customers—those who make you the most money and refer you the most. Break them down by whatever information you have.
  2. List geographic areas. Identify the geographic areas that offer the most opportunities for you. If most of your best clients live in a certain part of town, call a list broker and get a mailing list for that area, then work it hard. (Why? Ask the smart little girl.)
  3. Identify parallel tracks. Once you’ve identified your best market niches, find the parallel tracks. Do sporting goods wholesalers like the bait you’re using? Then dangle your line over wholesalers in other markets. Is your local DHL office a happy client? Try to hook other delivery services.
  4. Ask top customers. You’ve got a bucket full of happy fish in your boat already. Why not ask them where their friends are, and what kind of bait they like?
  5. List customers who fire you up. Identify customers who you like working with most. Ask what you can do for them in return for bringing more just like them in the door.
  6. Buy a parallel market list. Use Dun & Bradstreet NAICS codes to help identify spin-off markets and sub-categories of your existing clients’ markets.
  7. Find commonalities. For each of your best client groups, hire an intern to research who they are and what they do—not just for a living, but in all areas. What they do in their spare time? What clubs do they belong to? Do they go to certain churches, have kids in certain sports leagues, shop at certain stores?

This is the information that can define your perfect fishing hole. Here’s hoping you catch your limit.

Oh, and PS: There is no limit!

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