What I Learned About Getting Clients From Fishing With My Dad

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When I was 5 years old my dad took me fishing for walleye.

Warm coat and boots.  Check

Plastic toy fishing rod with floating bobber from Sears.  Check.

Worm on the hook.  Check.

Imagine me standing on the dock, sky grey and drizzling, shifting my balance from foot to foot in a rhythmic dance of childhood innocence.

fishing for prospects

Then suddenly….BOOM!

My plastic rod bent fully over, the tip nearly touching the water below the dock.  FISH ON!

This was no walleye…I was nearly pulled into the lake.  My dad grabbed for the hood on my jacket out of instinct.   He murmured something about hanging on and to keep the tip up and to keep reeling.  I was 5 years old, powerful adrenaline pumping through my 45 pound frame.

The water boiled 8 feet from the dock.  I saw the flank of a whale just below the surface.

“It’s a pike!  It’s a big one!” my dad laughed.

I fought that freshwater predator for what felt like an hour, but I’m sure it was closer to a minute.  The perception of time is mysterious, isn’t it?

I cranked that little reel attached to my plastic rod.  I can’t remember if it was a G.I.Joe or Bionic Man Steve Austin rod.  I’m sure it wasn’t rated for this!

All of a sudden we both heard a loud CRACK!

The rod snapped in half.   The line shot out of the tangled mess.  And I stood on the dock with a busted rod and no whale.

Across the dark inky lake you could see a tiny plastic ball, half red and half white.  It was the bobber.  It was still attached to the giant northern pike by the line.  For the next 10 minutes we watched it zoom around the shoreline until it vanished below the water.

It was a big fish for such a small boy.  And it got away.

My dad seemed pleased.  He took the bit of broken plastic rod and threw them in the garbage can near the cleaning table on the shore.  He looked at me and said, “No more toy rod for you.  You get to use a man’s rod now.

I don’t remember how many walleye we caught that day.  I know we got a few, and they were delicious.  I remember how the seagulls all collected around us at the end of the afternoon to eat the bits after we filleted the fish.  I remember telling my mother about the big one that got away.  And how I got to use my dad’s rod and I was a big boy now and no more toy rod.

What does fishing have to do with getting more clients for your landscape design business?

To catch a fish, you need a hungry fish.

To attract a client, you need to promise to solve their problem.

There are hundreds and hundreds of potentially wonderful clients within a few miles of your front door.  But if you have the wrong bait, or worse yet, no bait, you’ll never catch them.

Pretend you’re that big northern pike that I almost caught.  Do you think it cared what brand of rod I was using?  Do you think it cared about what car I drove, how many awards I had won, or how long I had been in the fishing business?

All that pike cared about was solving his hunger problem.  My worm looked great.

I learned so many years ago that the greatest talent a fisherman could possess was patience.  If your rod is in the water you will eventually catch fish.

What bait are you using?

Let me give you an example.  In order to attract landscape and garden designers to my blog, I give away a free cheat sheet with 5 quick tips to grow their business using the internet.  In exchange for them trusting me to give them incredible content that can help grow their design business, I give them a small gift that can solve a problem.

I’ve tried giving away 4 hours of training videos filled with marketing tips.  I’ve tested giving away entire 50 page e-books loaded with actionable content.  For most landscape design company owners, it was too much too soon.  They just wanted a taste.  A small bite.  

What are you giving away for free to YOUR potential clients?

About 4 times a month I give away my best ideas to my newsletter subscribers on exactly WHAT to give away to their prospects.  If you’d like your own copy of my cheat sheet and the monthly tips, click here and download it on the next page.


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