top of page
  • Writer's pictureCooper Shattuck

What is Fishing in a Stocked Pond?

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

There are many different ways to fish: deep-sea fishing with a line, trolling with a net, trotlines, fly fishing in a stream or river, spearfishing, etc. Everyone has their preference depending many times on what they are trying to accomplish. The same is true of marketing. If new clients are your goal, what and how are you going to land them?

Your goal for marketing your legal services should be to get the most bang for your buck. How can you get the most qualified leads or potential clients for the least amount of cash and effort expended? This depends in large part on your target audience, your potential-client-rich environment, and this varies from practice to practice.

Commercial Anglers vs. Recreational Fishermen

Some firms are set up to bring in the largest number of potential clients, weed through them all, and pull out those that best match that client criterion. This requires a great deal of infrastructure and staff to effectively and efficiently handle the volume of contacts. The more potential clients you bring in, the greater the chance of landing the largest number of clients matching the firm’s goals. This type of marketing is more akin to commercial fishing trawlers with sophisticated tools to locate the schools of fish, and the large nets and equipment necessary to haul them in. This marketing would include mass marketing, such as broad advertising campaigns through billboards, digital advertising, and television. Few firms are able to handle this type of campaign simply because of the financial investment involved. However, there are other ways to catch fish.

Smaller firms and solo practitioners cannot compete with the large commercial anglers. So, why take a rod and reel out to sea? Unless you are fishing for sport, hooking that Blue Marlin for the fight of your life and potentially a trophy mount for the rec room, you are better off fishing in a stocked pond. If you want to land the largest number of fish, what better way than fishing in a stocked pond? Marketing is no different.

Examples of Fishing in a Stocked Pond

From a marketing perspective, fishing in a stocked pond is seeking clients in a target-rich environment. This can come in many forms.

Former & Existing Clients

One is by reaching out to existing and former clients. You don’t have to educate them on who you are or what you do (unless you want to do something other than what you did for them). You don’t have to sell them on your unique skills, personality, style, or experience. They should be an easy sell. And they can provide you with new business in more ways than one. You can provide other services to them. And, they are great referral sources. Who better to recommend you to a potential client than someone who has used you?


There are other stocked ponds in the legal marketing world. Once you have identified your target audience, look for marketing opportunities where these individuals are to be found. If you are looking for white-collar senior executives as potential clients, you aren’t likely to land them with ads in the farmer’s co-op magazine. One reason digital advertising is so effective is that it allows you to be very specific (granular) about your target audience – who will see your digital ads. The more specific you are, the more effective your digital ads. If you are looking for business clients, an advertisement in a Chamber of Commerce publication is an example of fishing in a stocked pond.

Clicks vs. Leads

Another way of thinking about these stocked ponds is thinking about what they are stocked with. If you are out for catfish, fishing in a pond stocked with bass is not the right idea. The same is true of marketing. While newspaper ads (or digital ads on a newspaper’s website) might in the broadest sense be “effective”, if our target audience is young people, your ads aren’t likely to bear fruit. Remember, when it comes to advertising these days, effective means that it generates qualified leads (potential clients) not just “views” or “clicks.”

What are your goals? What are you able to spend? Who is your target audience? How can you get the most bang for your buck? Identify your stocked ponds and start fishing!


bottom of page