Offline Marketing Pro-Review

Marketing And Fishing Have Much In Common

Posted in internet marketing tips by jaycar on August 20, 2009

I routinely use fishing analogies and anecdotes to communicate marketing concepts in my marketing training. Why? Because marketing and fishing are very similar in methods and intent.

If we assume your customers are the “fish” in your refrigerator, aquarium, or back in the ocean depending upon what you do with fish after you catch them , then the goal is to catch more bigger ones. And just like fishing, your marketing efforts track systemically to finding and catching those big fish.

You may or may not be aware of the fact that offshore from Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico lies thousands of oil production and drilling platforms. Each of these are huge man made reefs with all kinds of fish symbiotically using their structure for food and for protection.

Generally speaking, the deeper you go, the different kinds and size of fish that reside around the rig.

The easiest way to find fish in the gulf is to go to one of these structures and tie your boat up to the structure. You then start fishing at different depths with different baits, trying to see what the fish are biting on.

Sometimes you can go for hours without getting a single bite, yet you know the fish are there.

How? Well we have technology called sonar on our sport fishing boats that enables us to look down the water column and see “contacts” – fish. So it becomes a matter of what they want to eat. But actually, it’s more a matter of whether or not they are hungry in the first place.

You see, fish only eat when they are “hungry”. So many times you have to wait them out, in fact most of the time this is the case. There are many factors that influence when the fish get hungry and start eating, but the scope of that science is beyond this discussion.

Many times, after trying without catching fish, we change platforms, running another 5-10 miles to the next platform, in some cases more. Sometimes when you arrive the fish are biting there.

However, unless you are fishing in tandem with another boat, you really don’t know if they are now biting at the platform where you were just fishing. In most instances, this is the case because fish tend to feed at around the same time together, but not at the same time of day every day. They eat when they are “ready”.

So if you arrive at an oil production platform, and you see fish on the sonar, you know they are there. You don’t know what kind they are unless you are brave enough to dawn scuba gear and go see them (very dangerous sport that some people actually do).

So you fish and fish, and change baits until you either run out of time, or you get satisfied with your catch. But the most important concept here is that, at these structures, you “know” there are fish there, and depending upon how deep the water is and the time of year, you will “know” what kinds of fish are there, as many species are migratory.

Another way to catch fish, generally the very big ones, is to troll around in a wide area where you think they are. You spend hours and hours dragging 2 to 8 baits (artificial lures mostly) until that chance intersection … the whopper is hungry, and you are where that “Big Fish” is at that exact time.

Trolling is a long mostly boring way to fish, but it is the preference of many high end fishermen (and women) who have been at the sport a long time, and have caught all the other kinds of fish they want.

You see these anglers (marketers) are “targeting” a specific type or a very small portfolio of large fish, such as marlin, sailfish, mahi-mahi, tuna, wahoo, etc. These guys are simply willing to wait out the “Huge Catch”.

And yes along the way they catch a few of the smaller species to keep their freezers fresh, and provide a little action in between the big ones.

What does this have to do with marketing you may be thinking? It is just an easy way to frame the nature of marketing activity, the results of it, and how you will focus your marketing efforts. If you are just looking for lots of small fish, you generally don’t have to go too far, or get too complicated. The small ones are plentiful near shore.

If you want lots of more targeted action, you head out to oil platforms, going further out depending upon your goals for size and quality. By fishing next to a platform in 200 feet of water you may get snapper, and by fishing in 500 feet you get tuna. And when you want to catch the really big ones, you troll around. Sometimes around these structures, sometimes out in the open ocean.

You would not troll for marlin near the shore (at least not in Louisiana) because they aren’t there. You would not fish for speckled trout in 500 feet of water, because they are not there.

So when referring to marketing activity, and particularly Google Adwords or search engine marketing, you may hear me use these analogies to help you frame the idea. Because, just as in marketing there are many angles, the same angles exist in fishing.

But the most important angle is the overall trend. When you are a beginner, you tend to want to catch more smaller fish. As you get more experienced and have results with more smaller fish, you tend to want to step up your game to catching fewer bigger fish.

And ultimately, as a seasoned marketer with a history of results (or lots of experiences catching all different kinds of fish), you will be more willing to spend the day, or weekend just trolling around for the 1 “strike”, that huge fish; that huge very desirable targeted customer. It’s a natural progression.

There are more angles and analogies, but for now keep in mind the one last concept of targeting as we will explore you getting your business up and into profits with the smaller more plentiful fish, and then ultimately, take you down the path of very targeted high end customers, that produce bigger returns for your efforts and time.


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