10 marketing lessons I learnt while fishing

It started with a question I posed to an ex-advertising guy:
Why does marketing draw so many analogies from fishing?

I got hooked instead. 

Anyway, after several weeks of trying to entice fish with wooden fish and plastic worms, here are some of the similarities I had noticed;

1. Know your target

In marketing speak; know your market.

As a beginner, it’s pretty okay to start with any form of bait. You’ll be busy learning the basics of handling the rod instead of catching a fish anyway. 
However, seasoned anglers (and successful marketers) know better. They would set off for a fishing trip, with a target in mind. 

Learning and understanding the behavior patterns and feeding habits of fish will allow you to choose the best type of bait and determine how to present the bait to the fish. On top of that, understanding their life cycle allows you to fish during the right season, which helps to increase your advantage.

Much like the ads that we run. Although paid ads are a push medium, knowing what works and entices your audience will allow you to tap into the stronger pull factor, increasing conversion rates. Or in angling speak, how many fish we get. 

2. Choose your playground

In marketing speak; go to where your target audience in.

Anglers choose their fishing locations based on several factors such as; type of fish available, popularity of the spot, location.
There’s really no point trying to fish for salmon in a reservoir, even anglers with God-like skills can’t do it. 

Likewise, don’t market in places where your target audience are not at. You’ll probably get better ROI if you handed that marketing budget to charity.

3. Know your competition

There are only a handful of legal fishing grounds in Singapore, which means that some of these places could be overfished. 

If every angler is using the same lure or bait, fish tend to get ‘bored’ of the lure over time. It’s good to check out the competition, figure out what they are using and if possible get a feel of their catch rates. 

4. Knowing the ‘Theory’ helps

The ‘textbook’ isn’t as under rated as you’d think. 

I probably fall into the 90% of anglers who are not blessed with imborned instincts for fishing. (especially since I grew up in the city).
Anglers like us just can’t instinctively rig up something that could attract more fish.

Hence, we need to do our homework, learn and familarise ourselves with a wide variety of rigs, knots, and setups. 

Likewise, most of us ain’t gifted with the ‘talent’ or instinct for marketing. 

It pays to constantly be learning from others, and building up your own depository of tactics (and rigs).

With that said, 

5. But…Real Time Experience is what counts

I.e. watching tutorials won’t make you a good angler or marketer.

One can learn about knots, explore different casting techniques and watch hundreds of fishing related videos. But…videos don’t put fish on your table. 

You’ll need to go on actual fishing trips to actually learn, experience and improve. Likewise, you need to be running marketing campaigns to real people to actually understand how the game really works.

6. There is a thin line between Golden Nuggets and Bullsh*t

Anglers are suckers for gear, especially new gear that promises better catch rate. 

And the gap between what works and what doesn’t, is really narrow. Especially when companies have gotten so good at what they do, it is easy to find complicated products with too many useless features. Each time I visit a tackle shop or shop for fishing gear, I feel as though I am the ‘fish’.

Same goes for software and services in marketing. You may be paying for loads of extra, useless fluff. 

Experience will help you separate golden nuggets from the noise.

7. Be well prepared

On the other hand, anglers are suckers for gear, for a reason.

Afterall, there’s no point in being able to tie all sorts of rig, if you don’t have the gear.

You’d always want to be sufficiently prepared with a good repertoire of bait or lure, in order to maximise any opportunities that might come your way during your fishing trip. 

Likewise in marketing (and this extends to businesses), you’d want to be well prepared and grab opportunities that might open up to you. Which brings us to the next point,

8. Be on the lookout for opportunities

Often times, it is easy for us to focus solely on our target in the distance. Only to miss out similar fish that might be chilling and swagging, right under our noses. 
Stay alert and on the lookout for low hanging fruits.

9. (Cheap) Advice is always readily available.

Singapore is so small, unless you rent a boat, you’d end up doing some sort of ‘urban’ fishing most of the time.

Urban fishing puts anglers close to the non-fishing community. All of whom are curious and strangely, are armed with helpful fishing advice; “Here no fish, go across, yesterday got people catch big fish there”.

but…Good advice are few and far between.

You’re also bound to meet fellow anglers, some of whom would be generous enough to share their fishing spots. 

Experience will help you pick out the good advice.

10. Vary your fishing method when things don’t work

In marketing speak; always be testing.

Some marketing experts believe in marketing to the subconscious, or that certain behaviors can be triggered.

Likewise, a fish’s attacking or biting behavior can be triggered by intimating what works in nature. And that’s exactly what anglers do when lure fishing; trigger bites from fish by presenting lures that resembles a suitable prey.

Knowing your target fish behavior helps. However, testing and varying your technique on actual grounds is what helps to land fish. 

Fishing is an active sport, so is marketing

Most people accept the fact that fish will not swim up to you.

But strangely, when people (myself included) run businesses (and sometimes marketing), they’d expect their audience to flock to them, just because their open for business or just because they had spent hours on their creating their advertisement.

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