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Every year providers come up with new and better ways…and marketers keep biting!

I grew up fishing with my dad and brother. When we were young my dad would take us to a stocked lake where the fish were very hungry and you paid for them by the pound. Nobody ever went home without a fish. It just didn’t happen.

As we grew, so did our appetites for more challenging fishing expeditions. We enjoyed lakes, rivers, streams and the deep sea. There were never any guarantees on those trips. We had to understand the fish we were after and then apply an appropriate strategy to have a chance to catch them.

We were always ready, willing and able to try new things, although we rarely had the money. New lures. New bait. Anything that would allow us to achieve the next level of “fish acquisition.”

Fishing for Business

And so it goes in business and marketing. New approaches are very enticing. Since it’s the marketer’s job to “catch” new business, it’s important to be assessing new methods and approaches.

There are plenty of new ideas to look at – new software for lead gen, activation, sell through and follow-up. In fact, it seems that the list of service providers is increasing exponentially.

However, before getting in water too deep with costly programs and commitments, make sure that the key fundamentals are covered.

Five fundamentals to make sure your fishing for business efforts are successful

1) Research

Learn as much as possible about the circumstances before you actually start fishing. It’s important to know what type of weather conditions you’ll face, the condition of the water, fish you are

pursuing, local tendencies, etc. You don’t just jump in the car and head to the lake. Well, you might but the results will suffer


Research is the important equalizer between what you think you know and what actually exists. How many times do we implement an initiative in the absence of research? I’d suggest the answer is “too many.” No matter how you define the right level of research for your situation, whether it is qualitative, quantitative or some of both, make sure not to miss this step.

With research, you can objectively determine what expectations might come from your efforts; an important step in fishing and in business.

2) The Right Technique

The “act” of fishing does take some practice. When I was a kid I had a 3-foot pole and a reel with a big push button on it to allow me to easily cast. My brother and I would go out in the backyard with a plastic weight and practice casting for what seemed like hours.

How does one master a marketing “technique?” To me, that means experience building skills in the key disciplines.

Building a campaign from the ground up and touching all the components
Understanding your campaign objectives and where they came from, your target market, the creative strategy and copy
Reviewing the results. There is no shortcut to learning
Becoming experienced requires that you actually experience things first hand. Becoming highly experienced means you have done something many, many times and your likelihood of positive results is greater because of it.

3) Location

Why is it that sometimes you’ll fish with the same bait in the same place on the same lake and one day you catch fish and the other you don’t? I’ve asked myself that many times while I pondered over sentiments like, “We had good luck here last year” or, “I’ve heard a report from the marina that they are biting over there.”

It’s natural to assume that our previous experiences, or the experiences of others, will lead to the same future results. That is often not the case. We shouldn’t make decisions out of convenience, or to save time, or necessarily because others are doing something.

Imagine your customers or prospects. Have they always been consistent and regular with their shopping, eating or other behavior? Somewhere along the way, we chose to treat them as if they have become predictable.

Consumers and businesses are anything but predictable. However, we often make the mistake of thinking that they are. We stop asking questions and stop challenging ourselves. We rely on our long-held beliefs, assumptions, or best guesses to decide where to interact with them and that can waste precious time and money.

Instead, we need to keep asking the question, “Where are they right now and what solution can I provide to make their situation better?”

4) Patience

How many times have we quit fishing just before we got that big strike? We’ll never know! When fishing, you want to move methodically towards your goal. Hurrying doesn’t help unless you are in a tournament. You want to make certain that you haven’t missed any opportunities. That you have given all the fish in that area the chance to consider your bait. Sometimes it takes more than one look at it before they bite.

Often our impatience is our own worst enemy. We forget that opportunity generally presents itself when our consistency intersects with an unmet need. When randomness is injected into the marketing mix, consumers become confused with your brand and your promise.

Consistency and tenacity will save the day.

And the most important of all the fundamentals—

5) The Right “Bait”

Like many fishermen whom each year get caught up with buying the latest equipment, new equipment isn’t a guarantee of better results. You can have the best equipment, along with a perfectly planned trip and conditions. However, if you have the wrong bait you will still come up empty handed.

Think about the approaches you are using as it relates to the types of “bait” you are serving up in your marketing efforts. The digital communication revolution is 10+ years old now. At this stage, most everyone is using email and social media to push their offers and messaging out. And guess what, the effectiveness has decreased.

Those “fishing” with digital media today may have forgotten how effective some of the old standbys like direct mail really are. In fact, they are more relevant now than any time in the last 10 years. Plus, if you get your offer right, people will find it irresistible – just like that hungry fish!

A fishing boat captain once told me, “Sometimes there is so much bait in the water, the fish can’t see yours.” Don’t be afraid to set yourself apart from the others using a different medium and a strong offer.

Marketing, like fishing, is an art. “Catching” new business requires work. There are no stocked ponds with a guaranteed catch. Remain consistent, patient and deliberate. Your catch will increase and you’ll have more fun too.

And don’t forget to use the right bait!