Since 1995, I have been fortunately to have done a fair amount of fishing on both a fun and competitive / tournament basis on our boat "Kid's Stuff" as well as with some great captains. Our trips have taken us to the Atlantic Ocean offshore canyons from the northeast down to Virginia; to Nantucket in search of giant blue fin tuna; to Southeast Florida, the Keys and the Bahamas; to the Pacific (Costa Rica) and finally Madeira, an island in the Atlantic off of the coast of Africa.
From these trips and experiences, I have learned all too well that fishing and marketing have a great deal in common. Fish start out as shoppers and, when they get cough, become buyers. Like shoppers or prospects, fish know what they want and they can be wary and even skeptical when they look but do not "bite" (buy). When they like like this, they cause you a great deal of frustration as you search your mind for the right thing to do to get them to bite (buy). Using this comparison as a foundation let me take it to some more specific similarities:
1. Preparation – What many anglers over look is the preparation that needs to take place before they venture out on a fishing adventure. Things like developing your plan; checking the weather and fishing charts; gear and supplies must be reviewed before you even think of starting the engines and leaving the dock. The same is true when you launch your marketing campaign. You need to develop your plan and budget; fine tune your message and identify the strategies you will use to get your message out first. Preparation is the first step to take to develop and launch a successful marketing program.
2. The Bait – to attract and catch the desired species you must have the right bait – ie what will solve their hunger problem. In this example, the "bait" is your "value" message and the "desired species" is your "ideal / perfect buyer". In marketing, the essence of your message must be directed towards solving a problem that your buyer is dealing with. They have to see "what's in it for them" clearly. If you can not make it clear to them, they will look an then swim away to another bait that will address their need (buy from another competitor).
3. Finding the Fish – sometimes fish will gather in the same spot in the ocean. It could be related to currents; water temperature; etc. Nobody really knows why exactly but if that's where they gather most of the time, then that's where you start your search. For your marketing to be effective and give the best results (you know, the largest bang for the bucks you invest), you need to make sure that is where your ideal customer / buyer will see it. Maybe it's a specific publication; or organization or networking event. Regardless, you need to spend the time to research the best place (s) where your message will be seen. Look at where your better customers came from for starters. Like I said, sometimes the ideal species return to the same waters waiting to be found.
4. Commitment and Persistence – Fishing is often described as hours of boredom for that one moment of excitation. Once you've picked your spot, you have to be committed to working it watching for signs that the desired fish may be there. It's like prospecting. In addition, you must be persistent and not get discouraged and give up in the first hour. The fish are on their own schedule but if you stay committed and persistent you'll be there when they decide to bite. In your marketing efforts, patience is often required. The desired results – more sales – sometimes do not take place as quickly as we like. If you've prepared properly, have a clear and relevant value message coupled with the right tactics, then stay the course. Do not be tempted into making premature or rash decisions.
5. Never Leave Fish to Find Fish – there is a cardinal rule in fishing that simply states "you never leave fish to find fish". At times, anglers are tempted to leave a productive spot because they "here" what others might be doing somewhere else. The end result is they leave where the fish are, go somewhere else only to find that there are no fish there. I have seen many business owners, who are getting good results, change their tactics because they heard what someone else was doing. The result is their marketing and sales activities come to a screeching halt! And, their buyers have moved on. The bottom line is simple – if what you're doing is working and producing good results, then keep doing it and adjust your tactics only when necessary.
Well, there you have it – fishing and marketing; they are both challenging and frustrating. However, when done correctly – using the 5 points I described, they can both be immensely rewarding.
Finally, from every fishing trip, I always learned something that made my next trip better. The same holds true from one marketing campaign to the next. Are you learning from one campaign to the next or are you just wasting time, money and bait?