Fishermen are masters at three things, marketing, selling, and maintaining a positive outlook on life. After all, how else could they make the 400th cast of the day when they had zero bites on all their other casts?
There are no pessimists fishing. Pessimists, give up when things are slow and see the glass as empty (no fish) when a pro fisherperson sees it darn near full: “Wow, what a great sunrise, it’s a super day and I’ve not thought about a single problem since I left home this morning. And all those fish are still out there waiting for me!”
Even if they don’t catch a fish, they’ll say, “It was a great day, I don’t have to clean any fish!” What’s the lesson here?
Here's a question: Besides boundless optimism, what else does an angler know that will help you sell and market more effectively?
If the fish doesn't spot your bait, it can't bite. Sound like good advertising to you? Right place, right time, right offer?
They know they must give the fish the information needed to make a “buying”decision. They do that by demonstrating their offering is the best possible choice with seductive moves and other tantalizing indications this will be an easy meal. Finally, they have to make the offer easy to act on, no application form needed, just bite the bait.
A fish, of course acts differently than a person and not so complex so there are fewer things to consider but in general, what it takes to sell the fish (client) is the same.
Just like a master marketer,
Fishermen know part of the the female bass' buyer’s journey is an innate reflex to remove a potential threat from the bed with their eggs. Taste, therefore is not a consideration. Now, that’s a precise, in-depth persona showing in depth customer understanding of timing, location and motivation!
Like any good marketer,they know that to get a bite, they must be at the right place at the right time.
For example, largemouth bass are not on beds in the depths of inter in the northern end of their range. They are in deep water pockets and generally slow moving since they are cold blooded. Compare that to the spring and summer when the water is warmer and they are bedding. Then their metabolism is faster and “fish love” is in the air, er, water.
Successful fisherman know their baits (marketers call those an ad) must be different and retrieved differently because of where the fish is in its life cycle. The bass’ (prospect’s) different life stage or the year (bass don’t have careers as far as I can tell so we can leave that factor out here) dictate different presentation strategies and are looking for the newest lure on the market to attract attention (marketers would call that “pattern interrupt”
Fishermen who are successful know bait's presentation must be precisely targeted to their audience so it’s appealing (Marketing term: “offer”). But that's not so easy, even what worked this morning may not work now.
Sure, they may start with a proven bait (marketers call this a “control” piece or ad) that is based on their prior experience. They will also conduct research (also known as guzzling beer at the marina bar and pumping everyone for what the fish are hitting now or shopping for the secret "new" lure just out at the bait shop.) trying to figure out what will work best then try the new bait to see if it outperforms their go-to bait.
They try variations in time, location, color, add-ons like spinners, speed of retrieve (marketers would call this variations in copy, engagement devices, free downloads, etc.) and see if something catches more fish. No? Gets half-hearted strikes but no hookups? Time to A/B test with a different bait against their first and bait (“control”) and see if the strikes (response) improve.
Fishermen learn from testing. Better? OK, now see if adding some more inducements like “Uncle Joe’s deadly sure fire fish oil” improves response? No? We’ll try a rubber skirt to give the lure more action. Marketing term: "Copy, image, color, headline promise. The measure: Response rate".
Fishermen know how to target market, test, and avoid the time-wasting, undesirable customers as well as anyone in marketing today.
It’s test, test, test, trying to find the highest responding bait (ad) that maximizes their ROI – or ROC (return on cast); one that maximizes lunkers and minimizes fish that are under-size and underweight. Fishermen really are master marketers, the test, they measure, the good ones keep detailed logs of everything used. They get smarter and smarter.
Lest you think fishermen are all a bit dim, let me inform you
A tournament angler might go for the biggest possible fish while a regular fisherman wanting to eat their catch may well see mid-size fish as superior in texture and taste. Either helps meet their "marketing" goals by tossing back the ones they don’t want.
Fishermen are superb salespeople!
They know that when they see a bobber dip or feel a tug on the line they have a prospect who is showing definite signs of interest. They start to qualify their prospect immediately:
Fish, like human buyers that have been hooked on bad promises and half-truths, are really suspicious of you, your ad, your promises, and your offer. In other words, they are a tough quarry. They’ve been burned and have seen all the gimmicks. Fortunately, a fish brain isn’t as large as a human brain (although his may be debatable) and so they tend to occasionally forget.
Like a good salesperson, the fisherman gets that. They entice the fish with appropriate motion, convincing them it’s live, it’s real and looks even better than the fish first imagined. They pace the sale, speeding up or slowing down their retrieve based on the reaction of the fish. They may even stop, put the reel in free-spool or let the fish run with the bait.
A good fisherman knows the fish, like your customer, will only buy (okay, bite) after all their questions have been answered, their concerns allayed, and they are convinced that this is perfect for them.
Your offer may be perfect but the buyer still hesitates and balks.
Sometimes you get the fish to follow the bait right to the boat and then
Yes, it's true that people are not fish, even those who think or shake hands like a dead one...
Let me be the first to point out that professional salespeople don’t try to manipulate prospects into getting hooked on empty promises and half-truths. Why? One, it’s unethical and possibly even illegal. Second, it's hard work and dumb since you get returns and a bad reputation for high pressure selling tactics.
No reputable company would condone selling prospects a product or service that they don’t want, can’t afford, and don’t need, even if they could do it. (“Too Big to Fail” west coast bank question: You tried that strategy, how’d it work out for you?).
Lest my sales friends be offended by the use of “reel” here, that is what you do in fishing. However, it doesn’t imply any sales professional “reels in” a hapless prospect. If it even succeeds in working, it is selling unethically and sure to come back in the form of complaints, returns, ill will, bad social media posts, or worse all to the detriment of the company.
Granted, fishing is fundamentally bad for the customer and no reputable business that expects repeat customers or word-of-mouth leads would ever offer a product or service that would hurt a customer – politicians excepted, but that’s another article.
And one final sales-fishing analogy:
You might vary the placement, speed, or something else but fishermen and sales people have learned that it may be on the third, fourth, or fifth cast, even a third or fourth time they come by and try; when the fish feel the time is right and become comfortable enough with your offer to bite. It’s no different in sales: you call back, follow-up, and persist (with reason).
Now here’s a big takeaway for you…
** For all you ladies out there, we are not insensitive fishermen, it’s one of the vagaries of the English language that we are shoehorned into using for gender neutral. We thought about “fisherpersons” but it just doesn’t conjure up the image of a good ol‘ boy with a beer in his hand fishing…our apologies.