Some years ago I spent many happy hours fishing with a good mate. We would aim to go fishing twice a week depending on the moon, tides and weather with varying success. Now, many years later I can see how the art of successful fishing and marketing are very similar. Let me explain.
According to Google there are almost 28,000 species of fish – some are tiny, some massive, some live in my area, some don’t, some species school up, others don’t and so on. Fish have evolved to feed at different depths, have different preferences for food, and a whole variety of other preferences. Potential clients are the same – they have different needs, different desirable outcomes, different personalities and different representational systems. To be a successful fisherman you need to know what species you are seeking and have tackle suited to that species. The same with marketing – you need to know who you want to attract – your target market and then segment that target market so you increase your chances of landing a suitable client.
Throughout the fishing process there are many other analogies – the fish doesn’t care who you are, who your parents are, whether you are rich or poor, what sort of car you drive, your education, the labels on your clothes, how much experience you have, how many other successes you have had, how expensive your fishing gear is, how much technology you employed, the number of social media accounts you have, or the specifications of your rod, reel, line, and hooks. The fish can’t see any of these things – the only thing important to the fish is the bait and how it is presented.
First of all, to catch a fish you need to put a hook and bait in the water – this is your marketing system. You are looking for leads – people interested in your ‘bait’. Your bait is the most important element, because most fish will only go for specific bait, and it needs presenting in the right way for the species of fish you are seeking to catch.
We fished off the rocks into the ocean and in fairly deep water. When we baited up and cast the line we didn’t know whether there were fish there – we couldn’t see them. Same with marketing – you can’t see potential clients. We would hold the line to ‘feel’ for nibbles – these are enquiries in marketing. Different fish ‘nibbled’ in different ways and we would know by the feel how to drive the hook in the fish – in marketing this comes with experimentation and experience. Once the fish is hooked it needs to be landed – the fish will struggle – so will most clients – this is the sales part – the client’s has to be convinced that your product is a ‘right’ fit to their needs. Once the fish is landed it can be cleaned and eaten – this is the part where you need to deliver to the client – make the experience as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.
During our fishing days we landed many inedible species – Puffer fish and other poisonous fish are examples – you won’t always get a good fit with a client. Other times fish ‘sucked’ the bait off the hook – so no prize – clients who aren’t ready for your services or are comparing price and other benefits. More than once I had my entire line stripped – obviously a fish too large for my tackle – these represent clients who are too large for your current business size.
So to sum up: Just as a professional fisherman will research about how to catch a particular fish in a particular location, so must the professional marketer research their ideal client. Once the fisherman knows the kind of bait and how to present that bait for his target species, so must the marketer – no less than the fish cares little about the fisherman only what bait and how it’s presented, so with the marketer – the client cares only about their needs. A fisherman can’t catch anything until he places a baited hook in the water, so with the marketer – no bait, no client. Not every catch is edible, so not every client is suitable. Happy fishing!