There is an old adage around fishing circles that always comes up on those days the fish aren’t biting – “that’s why they call it fishing and not catching.”

growing an ad agency

Fishing, like new business, is both mystifying and always occasions for hope.

Fishing is a sport that has frustrated many. Over and over, we amateurs go out to “wet-a-line” in the hopes of landing the big one. Be it sport fishing for a monster Marlin out in the deep blue or just fishing for a little sunfish with your child in the backyard pond, we’re hooked. There’s always hope. There is always that chance of catching a monster – the trophy fish.

The pros make it seem so easy: the TV shows always capture them landing one great fish after another. The walls of the bait shop are full of the lucky few with a grin from ear to ear and a huge fish in their arms. We all get that to be great at fishing it takes smart strategy, skillful techniques, and the right lure for the conditions and fish you’re after. It also takes the tactical understanding about the time of year, the weather conditions, and what the fish are doing, where they’ll be hanging out, and what will likely attract them. That’s the easy part. Still, we call it fishing and not catching for a reason– most of the time it’s hit or miss.

Why do the Pros seem to catch fish more often than not?

It’s not just because of having the right knowledge or the right equipment or the right lure or even being in the right spot. That can help… and on the days the fish are biting it seems so easy. More often, however, you end up spending the day trying one thing after another, and nary a bite to show for it. There must be something else we’re missing– some secret that only the pros understand.

The problem is that fishing, real fishing, the pro-level fishing, is an art. The pros feel the fish. It’s in the finesse with which they cast, how long they let it sit, drift, and how they reel it back in. In other words, they have a skill. Not just the right tools, not just the right tactics, but they know how to get the fish to bite. And they make the rest of us look like fools if we’re ever in the same boat with them. This is a humbling experience I can tell you.

Just like fishing, there is a real art to understanding how to win new business – to luring the trophy account into an agency. There are many advertising professionals out there who understand the basics, the tactics, the various strategies, how to read the trends, and can even land a good account off and on. Some will get on a roll, landing several accounts in a row. They feel as if they’ve, finally, cracked the new business code. But times change; the old tactics no longer work. The days turn to years, and still no bites. No wins. It’s why we call it fishing and not catching.

Growing an Ad Agency is a Skill.

When the economy is booming and the money flowing, new business is easy. The prospects will bite anything you toss at them. But some agencies always seem to struggle. Win a few, lose a few more. These agencies are always looking for that magic formula to make it easy. Perhaps it’s time to call a professional, someone who has done nothing but focus on angling for new business.

The problem is you are dealing with a smart, sophisticated, but very wary prospect. This is a prospect who knows more about their environment, their industry, their brand then you will ever know. You will never be able to educate yourself to their level. Prospects don’t know you, don’t trust you, and won’t bite unless you can present the right combination of tactics to win.

In new business, the prospect is looking to finally find that one agency that best meets their expectations. They are looking to find and hire a firm clearly different than what they’re currently working with – one that can quickly ramp up and solve their problem. All prospects have a mental perception about what an agency should be, in part driven by Hollywood, in part driven by the agencies themselves.

They call it fishing, not catching for a reason.

Fish are smart; they know the best place to be and can sense if something is off with the bait. Unless you’ve spent your life looking for them, they can be tough to find. Over the past 30 years, we’ve done nothing but focus on winning new business. We teach more marketing communication firms, including ad agencies, PR companies, design firms, brand consultancies, and internet agencies more about new business than any other firm. The largest and best-managed marketing communication companies use us as trusted advisors to help them grow their organizations. Many of these assignments include teaching their top talent how to fish for new business.

Your new business program should be customized to your situation, your team’s expertise and abilities, and tied to the objectives you want to hit. Your energy should not be wasted on activities that do little with actually growing the firm. After thousands of agencies, pitches, wins, we’ve seen just about everything that works, and what doesn’t. Isn’t it time to reach out and learn some from a pro? Reach out to info@sandersconsulting.com now and schedule a call.