Fish@15: The story continues…

This is Fish’s 15th year, and last Fish Wrap, we laid out the humble beginnings of Fish—in a basement with folding tables for desks—and its growth in the first five years.

Now we’re looking at the next five, from ’08 to ’13, with Nate Parr, a partner at Fish and the VP of Brand Leadership. Nate was just out of college when he started at Fish in 2003, primarily doing account coordination and public relations.

A photo of Nate Parr with braces as a middle schooler

Nate, a couple weeks before starting at Fish.*
(*Not really. But it’s not THAT much of a stretch.)

Here are a few things Nate learned in those second five years:

1. Diversification, diversification, diversification.

Most agencies know that it’s important to have a broad range of clients—if you put all your eggs in one basket, either with one client or one industry, and that client or that industry tanks, you’re left holding a very sad basket.

But there’s another reason: Strategy.

“Every client and industry excels at something totally different, marketing-wise,” Parr says. “One industry might have cutting-edge ideas in digital or how to garner strong leads, and another industry hasn’t even heard of those techniques. You take in all of it, and you can bring ground-breaking ideas to your clients.”

2. Know every job in the agency.

“A good account person should know 30% about every position in the agency,” Parr claims.

You don’t have to know 100% of every job—no one can, unless they’ve done all of them. But you can’t pay five people to be in every client meeting, so how deep should the Brand Manager go?

“He or she should have the knowledge to answer at least 70% of the client’s questions,” Parr says. “If they can answer 100%, meaning all the media questions, all the creative questions and so on, they’re doing too many people’s jobs.”

And nobody likes a control freak.

3. If you can, go full-service.

“When you’re selling hammers, everything looks like a nail,” says Parr. “If you’re a social agency, you have to think that every problem can be solved with social media, and that’s simply not true. Not true of traditional media, either. Every tool has a specific use, and when you have every tool in your belt, you’re able to solve almost any problem.”

A head shot photo of Nate Parr

Nate, all grown up and throwing down some marketing knowledge.

In its second five years, Fish officially became a full-service agency for small businesses, which is still what it’s doing to this day. Stay tuned next Fish Wrap for the final five years!