How fishing made me a better marketer

[Master one thing and you’ll see it in everything]

     Years ago, I was a martial arts student. No, I'm not Bruce Lee. I don’t like to fight. But I did learn some good lessons there. And it is really good physical exercise that I still do today.

   The forms, or katas, teach your body new ways of handling situations they might not be used to. Fight or flight reactions. Timing. Precision. Focus. Mental awareness. Be observant. The list goes on. All good for life lessons.

   Honestly though, it wasn’t my way of life, and I forgot a lot of it. But there was one saying they had that has stuck with me. “Master one thing and you’ll see it in everything.”

    Basically, if you can master one art or trade or discipline, you can use that as a base for understanding and working through all the other parts of your life.

   It would be like a carpenter who has mastered building with wood. He could then build on other areas of his life using the same rules. A good house has to have a good foundation and so on and so on.

   There was one thing, I might have mastered, and it’s fishing. I know how to fish. I know how to catch a lot of different fish. It’s my element. But it wasn’t something that seemed like a very good career choice. Definitely not to support the life I wanted. But I was also a great writer. Which isn't a guarantee of financial freedom either.

   Then in school I discovered marketing. I just seemed to have a natural talent for it. Then I realized I was using what I knew from fishing to market.

Master one thing and you’ll see it in all things.

Know what to present and how

Presentation is everything

   If you want to catch fish, and most fishermen do, you have to present your bait in a way that a fish will bite it. This is almost always easier than it sounds. There are all kinds of unseen conditions at work and they are usually working against us.

   Fish don’t want to be caught. They want to live their lives as happy little fish and do what they do. It’s the way of things. But if you understand a few things about them you can increase your chances of catching one.

   Like the way you present your bait. Most baits look like every other bait. You will get some bites this way, but you’re going to make a lot of casts with little results. Unless you make your bait look different. Make it more appealing. Make it more like what a fish would rather bite instead of every other bait in the water.

   With fish generally the easiest way to do this is to make it look injured. A predator fish will go for the easiest meal first. 

   You might be wondering how I can make an advertisement or product look injured. Well you don’t. It’s the theory that we want here. You have to make your ad look more enticing to people. Make it stand out from the crowd and let people know it’s the one they want. Make your ad the easiest to understand and digest by people. A good idea doesn’t have to be a big idea. It just has to work.

   But knowing what to present to people means you have to know them. This is where buying personas come in.

Know your fish

   The baits you throw to different fish are usually a little different. It depends on where they live, what they do, the time of year, the type of fish they are. With people most of this is covered under demographics.




statistical data relating to the population and particular groups within it:

ROI, nice catch!

   You wouldn’t go offshore with plastic worms and light tackle trying to catch a king mackerel. Well, if you actually intend on catching it you wouldn’t. There’s different tackle for king mackerel and bass. You have to know your target fish.

   Same with marketing. All those demographics help to identify the type of people we want to present our bait to. We could just throw anything out there and hope for the best. Some people do. Some large corporations have the resources to do this. But for the most part it’s wasteful. It saves a lot of time and energy by going after a select fish or group of fish rather than just trying to catch everything with the same bait.

    Understanding your customers, or buyer personas is the key to actually having a successful fishing trip, or marketing campaign.

Bring them to you with word of mouth; noise attracts them

Inbound fishing

    I’m sure everybody knows what a commercial is. Those annoying little advertisements in the show you want to watch. They are thrown out to the masses in the hopes it will reach a very small percentage of people who might have an interest in it. For the most part it’s seen as intrusive.

    That was the old way of marketing. Now we try to use inbound marketing. Bringing the right customers to us, instead of throwing it out there for people who aren’t interested.

  Once again this is a fishing technique too. A lot of fish is attracted to sounds and vibrations. So, we use a lot of lures that make sound and vibration. Rattle traps, chug’s, popping corks. We bring the right fish to our baits through sound. Think of it like word of mouth. We want to attract the right customers to us by other happy customers.

  If a fish hears the sound of another fish striking a meal. They come to see if there’s anything else. People are the same. If someone has a good experience with a company, they refer others to that company.  It sounds like they had a good time there. Just like fishing.

    It’s also not as intrusive as the old "put it in everybody’s face method." It only attracts the ones who are actually looking for that service or product, or bait.

Master one thing.



   Fishermen want to get a bite on every cast. But this would probably be called catching and not fishing. As practical as we are we know this isn’t going to happen. At least not very often. The thing we really don’t want is to make cast after cast after cast and get no bites at all. We must be doing something wrong. We have miscalculated somewhere. We are not getting the ROI we want. Time to change something.

   ROI is return on investment. In fashion this would be the cost of the tackle and the number of casts we make to get a fish. In marketing it’s the number of ads and views we get before we get an interested person. We both want the return to be as high as possible for the least amount possible. We run A/b tests to figure out what works best. Fishermen change lures to see which one works best. The Fishermans A/B test. Happy fishermen and happy marketers are a lot alike.

   Hopefully if we understand our buyer persona, we can get the result we want. If we understand our fish, we should get the result we want from them too.

Master one thing


   When I started out as a kid, fishing was just a fun pastime. Then I got pretty good at it, but I mostly just enjoyed doing it. I had no idea the lessons I learned from fishing would actually help me in my marketing career. Or marketing would make me a better fisherman. The lessons are the same, the theory is, just different practices.

   If I actually make casts with lines and hooks at potential customers, they won’t be happy. I probably won't get a fish in the boat by running ads, but to be honest I haven't tried running ads for fish. Maybe it’s time. Who knows what God has planned for me next? I do know he is bringing all my little puzzle pieces together to form a picture. I try and use the blessing he gave me.         I'm still learning more about why he made me a good fisherman. I'm still learning how to be a better Christian. I have faith he has a plan for me. It might not be where I thought it would be, but it will be amazing.

     Fishing made me a better marketer; marketing made me a better writer: writing has helped me be a better Christian. All of this was part of God's plan. 


Enjoy the outdoors, life is out here