By Jeff Webster
Published Sept. 11, 2012
It's no secret to family, friends and anyone attached to my Facebook or Instagram feeds for that matter, I’ve developed a passion for fly fishing. OK, an addiction. It’s the allure of the sport that grabs me the most. A mystical blend of art and science. For those whose only exposure is watching A River Runs Through It, don’t let life pass by without taking the opportunity to cast a line.
1. The right tools are critical, but won’t help you catch fish. You won’t get very far without the basics. Rod and reel. Fly line, leader and tippet. A healthy assortment of flies and comfortable apparel. Gear alone makes you look the part, but won’t land you a fish.
Having the right tools is important in marketing too. There’s no shortage of channels to reach consumers today. Paid, earned and owned media options are endless and smart marketers know how to use them all. Knowing when and why to use each tool is the key to maximizing every potential opportunity.
2. Learn where fish feed and what they’re eating. Knowing where fish like to feed is a skill built over time. Professional guides know it all, which is why they earn $400 for a half-day trip. Fish feed differently at different times of the year. Matching your flies to the time of year and conditions puts you in a better position to reel a few in.
Understanding your customers inside and out is what drives smart marketing. Where do your customers spend time looking for information? Are they engaged in social media? What are their interests and needs? Where are they in their purchase journey? Talk to current customers, drill into your website analytics and monitor online conversations to gain insights on what matters most, and how to reach your target audience.
3. Study external influences. Many external factors will affect your ability to catch fish. Seasonality, water temperatures, tides and clouds are just a few. Understanding how each factor changes the way you need to fish is the difference between happy and sad anglers.
There are many factors that influence consumer purchase decisions. Internal influences are always strong, but external factors have increased in visibility and influence thanks to the proliferation of word of mouth, online reviews and social media. Recognizing these factors and your consumers’ trigger points will help you align your brand, message and calls to action.
4. It’s all about the presentation. Fish must eat to survive, but they’re much smarter than you think. Trout spook easily and mock out of place at poorly presented flies. Spotting reds in the Lowcountry isn’t hard. Catching them is another story. You need distance, pinpoint cast accuracy, some coaxing and perfect timing to set the hook.
This is the age of empowered consumers. Mass media tactics and one-way marketing can spook people. We, and our clients, still do a lot of mass media. It’s part of the mix. A great way to get people engaged in a conversation. Neither traditional mass media nor more targeted one-to-one marketing tactics (i.e., email, social, mobile, etc.) is the ONLY way. It’s all about the presentation. Understanding how people absorb communications, developing relevant messages and reaching consumers at the right place and time.
5. Have patience and be nimble. If you’re short on patience, fly fishing probably isn’t for you. You can master everything, and still get shut out. But, it’s all about the experience, right? If what you’re doing isn’t working, you have to think on your feet, adjust your gear and keep casting.
If you’ve been in marketing over the past few years, you probably have plenty of patience. We’re all doing more with less. Fewer people. Tighter budgets. And sales don’t come as easy as they did before. Break the mold. Shy away from the way you’ve marketed in the past. Innovate and test new ideas, and see if they land different results.
Jeff Webster is the director of public relations and social media at Rawle Murdy, a Charleston-based marketing, advertising and public relations firm. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.