Marketing Lessons from a Fishing Expedition

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I grew up in the city of Warri - when you could still describe the place as being a city. This was before the inter-tribal wars, kidnappings of oil workers and militancy

reduced it to a shadow of its former glory.

Growing up we had a lesson teacher, Mr. Orogun, who lived in a house that was by the river side and he took us fishing sometimes (he was the coolest lesson teacher ever). This was the good old days really.

Now to catch a fish, it's pretty simple. You get a fishing rod, grab some fat earthworms or juicy maggots (some humans do eat them - roasted‎ of course), stick them on the hook, string the hook to the rod and go to the river, dip in your hook and wait...‎

OK. Wait some more....

Then a little bit more.....

Tell old jokes, gossip about girls and swap war stories while waiting to get the fishes attention.
Oh wait! Just now did you notice a slight tug on the rod?

Yes! Oh yes! The string is definitely being pulled and it's not a little mermaid, you've caught a fish. So now you have to quickly reel in the string and see what you've caught. It could be a 4kg catfish or a really small tilapia. But who knows? But one thing is certain, we're definitely having fish for dinner!

Turns out marketing is like going fishing. Especially when you're a small business owner or a solopreneur. You don't have the luxury of a big budget which established businesses and BIG brand names have. So you're forced to use your meagre resources: money, time and focus really well. Big businesses are like those bigger fishermen with big trawlers, larger fishing boats+ extra hands, plus they also have large nets they can spread about and hope to catch a shoal of fishes. You just have a rod.

Marketing for you then isn't about chasing new customers all over the river. It is about attracting them. You bait them with irresistible value and when they come for a bite, you reel them in and then repeat the process all over again.

As a small business owner, it helps to have some "free giveaway" that your intended prospect feels a need to try out. Give this freebie out freely and if it's as juicy as a big fat worm is to fish, then you'll become successful in your marketing effort.

But sometimes you wait for the fish to bite. And that doesn't happen. Not to worry, you are not under a curse. Simply do one of two things:

1. Change your bait.
2. Change your location.

Sometimes your bait might look attractive to you, but disappointing to a fish. Imagine trying to bait a fish with a donut. Not very smart is it?

Other times it just so happens that the fishes have migrated to other parts and you're the one still hung up on a particular location. Simply row your boat to other waters. Imagine making a living selling Bibles in Afghanistan- not a sure-fire strategy to instant wealth.

Take-away: Marketing isn't about chasing customers. It's about attracting them. So grab figure out what your clients really want and make it easier for them to come get it for themselves.
Good luck!

P/S: Most people ask me to help them write compelling marketing proposals or a great sales letter. Unfortunately, I'm really engaged with running my other businesses and so I honestly can't do it for everyone, plus I'm also pricey, so my services though of great value, are simply not tailored for everyone. But here's a simple format you should keep handy to help guide you.

1. What/who is it for?
2. Talk on problems and challenges.
3. Value or benefits of solving problem.
4. Provide your solution.
5. Wrap up with a call to action.

I said it was simple. Not easy. Happy fishing!

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Ebuka Anichebe

He is the Managing Director of Jean-Paul and Associates Consultancy - a business advisory and training organization. He is passionate about teaching and human capital development. He is a published author, distinguished speaker and business strategist. He also loves rice and beans. Reach him on . 

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