So many people all around the world have great ideas, products and services. And yet some businesses do well, and some fail.
What separates the businesses that starve from the businesses who feast?
For the answer, we turn to another way people have been setting their feast table for hundreds of years: fishing.
Landing a fish, just like landing a customer, requires strategy and know-how if you’re going to come home successful.
Here are my top 10 ways to land the catch of the day.
1. Know what you’re after
In fishing, you always use the best bait possible for the particular type of fish you’re after.
So many times clients come to me and say, “I don’t have a target market”. They’re always wrong.
At a minimum, you should understand:
- The problems your customers have
- Their buying habits
- Their potential objections to your product
- Where they go to find information
- What influences them (their heroes and idols, TV shows they watch, websites they enjoy, magazines they read, etc.)
- What their core demographics and psychographics are
Even if your product “appeals to everyone,” typically 20% of your audience will generate 80% of your revenue. Your job is to figure out who those 20% are, so you can find the kind of bait that appeals most to those customers.
Bait that works for trout won’t necessarily let you land a great white shark.
2. Know where to fish for your customers
Determining the right fishing location can be the difference between a successful fishing trip and going hungry.
Knowing the places where your customers hang out online gives you a much greater chance for marketing success. Figure out which sites your customers frequent and you’ll have a much better chance of reeling one in. Try seeking out:
- Blogs they read
- Forums they participate in
- Social networking sites and other membership groups
- Entertainment or other non-work related sites
You don’t want to use a top water lure if the fish you want are feeding on the bottom.
3. Be aware of your competition
All fishermen guard their secrets closely, but newcomers can still pick up plenty of tricks by watching what their competition does.
I’m not saying it’s smart to copy your competitor exactly. “Me-too” marketing doesn’t work.
But learn from them and get a feeling for the overall marketplace you’re in. Incorporate those insights into your own marketing and content strategy.
By analyzing your competitors you can also figure out how you can position your brand to stand out from the crowd.
4. Use good bait
When you’re hoping to catch a fish standing side by side with a row of other fishermen, you have to make sure your bait is the most appealing fish food dangling the water. Otherwise, that fish is liable to go for one of your neighbor’s hooks instead.
Consumers have lots of options and offers dangling in front of them in any marketplace. You’ve got to have some pretty juicy bait to stand out from that crowd.
So what makes good customer bait?
- Magnetic headlines
- Compelling images
- Content that’s valuable in its own right
- An attractive niche that makes your customer feel “this is for people like me”
- Easy-to-swallow landing pages
5. Setting the hook
Just because a fish bites doesn’t mean you can reel it in. Many a marketer has a woeful tale about the big one that got away.
Once a customer is interested and bites by clicking through to your sales page, you have to set the hook by making an offer that’s so great it’s practically unfair.
6. Forget catch and release
Remember, it’s a lot easier and more profitable to re-sell an existing customer than acquire a new one.
So if you land a big fish, keep it! Don’t throw it back for someone else to catch.
Re-marketing, high-quality affiliate offers, and up-sells are great for keeping the customers that you currently have, instead of letting them drift back into the stream for some other savvy marketer to reel in.
7. Test the waters
Fishermen often track different variables, like what time of day they went fishing or what bait they used. They measure their results over time to figure out the smartest way to get certain fish.
Similarly, in marketing it’s always wise to test various aspects of your marketing campaign. Measure your results to see what works best, and track your results over time.
Try different images, headlines, or layouts to see which one maximizes time spent on your site, lowers bounce rate, and produces the best ROI.
8. Don’t get discouraged
Some days the fish just aren’t biting.
Sometimes you are not going to be as successful as you’d like, but it’s a process. Continue to educate yourself about business and marketing, keep analyzing your competitors, keep talking to your customers and refining your message.
Keep going and don’t get discouraged. Tomorrow’s the day you’ll get the big one.
9. Partner up to get a bigger catch
Fishing with a buddy helps you to both cover more water and come home with a bigger catch than usual.
If you’re hoping to land more customers than you’ve ever reeled in on your own, find a partner. By knowing your own skill set, you’ll be able to effectively select partners that complement your skills. This strategy can also help you get bigger customers than you could have handled on your own.
10. Enjoy the trip
It’s definitely a lot more fun to catch the big one than to see it get away, but no matter what happens, remember to enjoy yourself.
Entrepreneurship is a lot like fishing. Even when it’s not going as well as we’d like, it’s still a privilege to be able to spend our days doing it.
About the Author: David Brim is the founder and CEO of Brand Advance, an interactive agency that provides marketing consulting, web design, and marketing staffing to emerging companies. David is also the founder of GroupTable.com, collaborative software to increase group productivity. David blogs at Filled to the Brim, and can be found on twitter @davidbrim.