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By Scot Small

fishing1Yesterday I went shad fishing with my dad and his pastor. I needed a break and the shad have started running in the Rappahannock River – so it did not take much thought for me to grab my fishing gear and head out early for a couple hours of what I consider heaven on earth.

Once again, the river and my fly rod reminded me of some valuable marketing lessons.

We got to the Rap about 3pm. My heart was pounding in anticipation of landing the big one – or at least in landing a lot of nice sized fish. I wanted payoff and thinking about it was almost too much. Now, keep in mind – this was the first time I had been shad fishing, I had heard many great stories from my dad about how fantastic the shad run is and how you knock them dead, so going into it I had certain expectations.

Has that ever happen to you with your marketing campaigns? You go to an industry meeting and hear how so and so launched this great new online marketing campaign and totally nailed it. They had new customers calling and begging to do business with them. You can’t wait to get back to give it a try. Your heart is pounding just as mine was yesterday, in hopes that you have the same success.

Now, my dad’s pastor is a pro shad fishermen, when he is not tending to his flock, he is on the Rap – fishing. So he was helping make sure I was properly outfitted with the right flies, because in fly fishing, if you do not have the right fly on the end of your line all you will get is a good workout. So we head for the river.

There is nothing like the sound of a river – it instantly removes all stress from my body. It is magic. We survey the river, see what others are doing and make our move to where we believe we can find some fish. I make a few artful casts, and they looked good I must say, and nothing. No fish. So, I adjust and move across the river to the hole the pastor said the guy the day before was knocking them dead. You know – your buddy at the conference and her marketing success stories. Guess what – no fish.

While up river from me, not more then 50 feet, is the pastor, bringing them in. Why?

That is a secret that I can not tell, but we do learn some valuable lessons on how to look at our marketing.

As with fly fishing, there are many moving parts that must come together in order to land the “fish”. In fly fishing the tools of the trade are your fly rod, your fly line, your leader and the fly. Other skills are the art of delivery, the cast, timing, stripping and so on. If you do not do all these thing correctly – no fish. It is no different with marketing.

Most fish are picky. And if you do not offer them what they want, when they want and how they want it – you will go hungry that day. Does this sound familiar?

So what did I learn on the river yesterday?

    1. Understand your target market
      The more you know about your target market the better you can craft a message that will hit home. Understanding both their pains and goals from an emotional level will give you the information you need to target the right message to the right people. It is why I was why I was not catching shad and the pastor was – he knew the shads habits and how to get the right fly to the right place. Which is our next point…
    1. Discover where your target market hangs out
      Where is your target market getting their information? Do they spend more time online or more time reading journals or networking?  You need to understand where they hang out. Just like I needed to understand that the shad are on the bottom and I was fishing about in the middle – so I caught only one fish, however the pastor and my dad caught a dozen or more–they were on the bottom – where the fish were. And they had the right tools…
    1. Use the right marketing tools
      Today there are thousands of ways to reach your target market – which ones should you use? Understanding your target and where they hangout can give you pretty strong clues. The shad were on the bottom, and they like bright flies.So to get there in fast moving water you need a line that will sink fast. If not, your fly stays in the middle of the water column instead of the bottom where the fish are. I had a slow sinking tip fly line which kept me in the middle instead of the bottom where the fish were.. The pastor and my dad had  fast sinking tip lines and  lead leaders – this got them to the bottom fast. They caught fish and I did not – even though we were using the same fly. So if you have the right message and are not using the right delivery method guess what – no marketing success.
    1. Test, Test, Test!
      All across the river you could hear the other fishermen yelling out to there buddies – hitting the white, hitting the orange. They were all testing different flies to see what would work. You must to the same in your marketing. Try different offers – different headlines- different graphics and colors and different delivery methods – always be testing and improving your chances of success.

Happy Fishing!

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Guided by one his favorite songs “The Impossible Dream” Scot is constantly reaching for the unreachable star. It’s this passion for success and achievement that drives him to create success for RevBuilders Marketing and its clients. Scot founded RevBuilders Marketing in 2002 and it provides an integrated approach to SEO, SEM, SMM, web design and marketing automation services. Scot currently serves on the advisory board of the Middleburg Bank. Find him at @scotsmall or @revbuilders