In the last year, I took up fly-fishing as a hobby. There’s something surreal and invigorating about standing in the middle of a river. However, catching rainbow trout is no easy task. They’re smart, skeptical, and elusive. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between the challenge of fly-fishing and the challenge of marketing:
1. You must offer tangible value. If you want to catch fish, you’ve got to present an offer that meets their interests. The flies I cast in the Spring generally don’t work well in the Fall, because different insects hatch at different times of year. I have to figure out what the fish are biting on, and match their tastes. Likewise, in marketing, people have different tastes and interests. If you want to attract them, you’ve got to present an idea or a product that represents something of value – otherwise people won’t bite.
2. Offer a range of value. A big secret I learned in fly-fishing is to cast 2 – 3 different flies on the same line. I increase my odds of getting a fish’s attention by presenting more than one type of food. In marketing, you’ll be more effective when give customers a “choice of yeses.” When you promote your product or service, do you give people several ways to purchase and enjoy it?
3. You must stay persistent. I’ve never caught a trout on my very first cast. Usually, it may take up to an hour before I find where the fish are and what fly pattern they prefer. Similarly, marketing is a process of persistence. One advertisement, one blog post, or one newsletter issue won’t be enough. You can’t expect to land a big fish on your first attempt. The goal is to continually offer value to prospects over time. As you continually offer legitimate value, people will become attracted and take notice.
4. Go to where the fish congregate. Trout typically hide in low pools or eddies in a river where they can relax in colder water that’s sheltered from the faster current. But, when you find these spots, there is usually more than one fish available. People gather in large groups based on beliefs, interests, needs, hobbies, etc. Your marketing will be more effective when you identify these bigger groups and focus your promotional efforts on them.
5. Acting desperate scares away the prize. Trout are always on their guard. When I fish, I’ve got to remain quiet, avoid sudden movements, and stay out of their line of sight. Otherwise, I’ll scare them off. In marketing, you can also scare people off by acting desperate. Begging people to buy your product, making ridiculous claims, or constantly changing your prices can cause people to raise their guard. The key is to believe in your own value first. When you know you’ve got something that can help people, you can calmly promote yourself with confidence.
If you want to land the big fish, keep these five points in mind. Otherwise, “the fishing might be good, but the catching will be bad” (A.K. Best – Master Professional Fly Fisherman).