Marketing Lessons Learned from Fishing

It often feels that the word "marketing" gets lost in translation and even on occasion confusing. Depending on who you speak to, marketing will take on specific definitions that fail to understand the true meaning and how it works.

“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.” - Steve Jobs


The bigger question is how anyone can understand all of these highfalutin digital tactics. They can be downright overwhelming. It is incredibly easy to invest too much time and resources, only to wonder what the hell you are doing.

Let me help those who are lost or overwhelmed make some sense of this madness. Although I am not a fisherman, I have gone fishing a few times. And even if you have never caught a fish, I think the parallels of this therapeutic pastime and the building of a marketing machine will resonate with you all.

STEP 1: Let's Catch Some Fish

Before even picking up a fishing rod, your day will begin with deciding what you want to catch? This crucial decision frames where you are going to find these fish and what they like to eat which are the first steps in the process.

The fact is, no one can be all things to all people. This means defining a market segment(s) that provide the greatest/fastest opportunity for growth. The key is to narrow your focus to be relevant to the 20% of the market that represents 80% of growth.

By narrowing your focus, you have increased your odds of success. It gives you the ability to identify the most efficient means to reach these target market categories. Your goal is to build a digital landscape based on the ideal environments your target market uses to find information. Their trusted sources.

STEP 2. You can’t catch fish without knowing what they eat

Before heading out to sea, you need to know what your fish eats and insights to their habitat. What are their natural enemies? Who are they afraid of? What are they hungry for? This information provides us with the knowledge to create the appropriate bait and outfit your boat.

Understanding your prospect needs is critical to connect to their pains. Using 3rd party sources helps to keep your point of view neutral and credible. It also validates that you understand their pain and allows you to link your offer strategy and product solution to how it solves their pains.

STEP 3. Only Dead Fish Swim with The Stream

And what if when you go fishing, your boat is surrounded by fifty other boats who want the same fish? How do you make sure you are better than them? If the field you are playing in is crowded with competitors, then is critical to understand how you stack up.

One technique is to develop a value curve. Outline the attributes that drive the selection of your product and then determine how you compare on each buying criteria to the competitors that stand in your way of attaining your sales goals. Understanding these gaps provides you a rapid means of determining how you stack up.

You must answer why your target market should choose you. An effective strategy lies at the intersection of what you do best, what your prospect wants most, and what your competition cannot deliver.

STEP 4. You're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

The goal is to create the most prolific fish-catching boat on the sea. But, what does this look like? What do you need to outfit it? You need to create a package that will optimize your ability to find and catch fish.

This equates to building your value proposition and brand positioning. It answers: why choose you?

“If all functions in an organization are not helping to create and nurture a single promise of value, customers will be, at best confused and, at worst, angry.” –Harvard Business Review
Ultimately, if your marketing does not make this clear, then you have just decreased your chances of breaking through the clutter and your fish finding you.

STEP 5. Bait The Hook Well; This Fish Will Bite

Content is the bait of today and the marketing fuel in a digital world. It builds credibility and provides searchable answers to your target market’s pain. Well written blogs and YouTube insights are what you need to attract your fish. These devices need to be based on solving the problems that your target market is searching on.

STEP 6: Let The Fishing Commence

Now you are ready to fish. It is time to put lines over the boat and see what they bite on.

Lead generation comes in many forms depending on your budget, time, and resources. If you are in the B2B selling space, some fast digital tactics to test, include email marketing, Paid Search, and Linkedin advertising. All of these can be highly targeted with little waste.

If you have more capacity and budget, now you can develop the full monty of lead generation tactics like webinars, seminars, trade show booths, special events at the trade shows, trade advertising, trade publisher co-branded content, trade show speaker series, and comprehensive social media publishing. But that just transformed your fishing boat into a fishing yacht!

STEP 7. Virtual Chum To Amplify Your Content

If you are going after big game fish (depends on type of fish), then experienced fishermen will also throw chum over the side of the boat. Chumming lures certain types of game fish into range.

This is equivalent to strategies that amplify your content and increase your awareness like using social media outlets to push out content to a larger audience. If you are a smaller company, then this will require social media set up, if not already created. (Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Linkedin, Facebook, etc.)

STEP 8. Optimizing Your Catch.

What do your fish bite on? Are you getting bites? If yes, are you catching fish or are they nibbling then spitting out your bait? This means maximizing your sales intake process to optimize what you catch. Ideas like segment specific sales sheets and landing pages provide you with the ability to advance the sale.

The key is to orient your message to individual market segments and title specific needs (Buyer, User, Influencer) that relate back to your brand value proposition. Then measuring what prospects do once they connect with your bait informs your marketing process. What you learn here affects all aspects of your marketing system: your target, your value proposition, your offer, your content, your lead generation and conversion decisions.

And there you have it. I hope it helps you understand how the complex world of digital marketing is as simple as fishing.

Let’s go fishing.