Catching FishI recently watched a video of a large bear in a rushing stream grabbing salmon as they swam upstream, and I was reminded of the aggressive salesman I recently encountered.  He practically grabbed me by my shirt front and demanded that I buy what he was selling – a ham fisted approach that apparently works on some people.

The next day I watched a cormorant glide across the pond behind my house.  Cormorants are duck-like birds found in ponds and lakes. It looks like they are just enjoying swimming with the fish – until they make a quick dive and come up with a fish and you realize they were fishing all along.  These birds remind me of people who attend networking events.  They circulate through the crowd, making small talk, not really selling.  However, you may hear a sudden “snap” as they find a potential customer.

I thought a little more about it and remembered my childhood vacations when we would fish from a rowboat with worms on our hooks. The trick was to stay very still as the many fish in the lake swam by.  Finally, the right fish – the one who was not only hungry, but also liked worms – would  take the hook, and we would have fish for dinner.  This reminded me of companies that use print ads, TV commercials and even static websites to attract customers.  The ads are “hung” out there in the hope that the right person – the one who needs what is being sold and is ready to buy – happens upon the commercial, website or ad, and “bites.”

Fly fishing is also a popular way to catch fish. These fishermen often spend hours tying “flies” that they hope will attract fish. They then travel to the right rivers and streams and start casting their lines. This is not a static “worm on hook” affair. The object is to attract the attention of the fish by making the flies dance across the water.  The lures flit here and there, attracting the attention of the fish. The fish then spend time going after the bait. This is an interactive sport – much like Social Media Marketing, where interesting, “shiny” bits of information are placed to attract the attention of interested buyers in the hope that they ultimately take the bait.

Finally, I thought of how some people want to go after the really big fish – the ones  often found in the sea. The boat captains take people out to the deep water.  A strategy often used is to “chum” the water.  In other words, ground up fish parts are distributed through water around the boat. This attracts the target fish. They swim around until  they eventually find the right “bait,” and the hook is set. This reminds me of content marketing.  The Internet is “chummed” with a lot of content (in the form of blogs and articles) to attract the right customers, who finally take the bait and become customers.

In marketing, like fishing, we have to figure out what type of fish we want to attract, understand where they are swimming, and then use the right approach to catch them. While the quick grab of the bear may work for some customers and products, the carefully crafted “fly” dancing across a stream will work for others.

Are you “fishing” in the right place and using the right bait to catch your target “fish?”

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