I’d never experienced anything like it before or since…
It was between my Junior and Senior years at the University of Miami. I stayed at school for part of the summer to do an internship in marine biology at the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences on Key Biscayne. (I know…sounds like a tough gig!)
When I wasn’t “working” I spent a lot of time with my buddy Eric who also stayed in Miami over the summer. Eric lived in a house near campus with a few roommates including Cory, a marine science grad student.
Like most marine scientists, Cory was a friendly, laid back kinda guy who liked to drink beer. Unlike most marine scientists, Cory happened to come from an extremely wealthy family.
Well, one Sunday we went to his dad’s house to watch the World Cup finals.
The house was on one of the exclusive gated islands off of Miami Beach…his dad’s friends arrived by boat at the dock behind the house (near the pool with the water level Tiki bar)…and we watched the game in the huge living room off of the huge kitchen on a 100 inch projector TV.
It was only when we were leaving that I realized we’d been confined to the “guest” house and never set foot inside the main residence.
Yeah, that wealthy.
A few weekends later, Cory invited us to Islamorada in the Florida Keys to do some Dolphin fishing on his dad’s boat. (The Mahi Mahi fish kind of Dolphin, NOT the mammal!)
So on a steamy summer Friday night we drove down to the Keys in a convertible with the top down and music blasting. We made a quick pit stop at Publix in Key Largo to pick up some beer and food (in that order) and spent the night aboard the boat…
…a 53 footer christened the “Poverty Sucks”.
The next morning the crew came, rustled us all out of bed and we headed out to do some fishing.
It was a stunning morning in the Keys. There was a light chop as we motored out to sea and we soon found what we were looking for. It was that clear line in the water that separates the greenish-brown coastal waters from the deep blue waters of the Gulf Stream. This is where the Dolphin patrol.
The hooks went in the water and we spent the next few hours trolling around without a lot of action. We knew the fish were there because we had some nibbles and caught a random fish here and there but, overall, we didn’t have much luck.
Then off in the distance the captain spotted what he’d been looking for… a flock of Frigate birds flying around in an excited state, dive bombing into an ocean bubbling with activity.
We made a B-line to where the Frigates were, dropped our lines in the water and our luck instantly changed.
The next 90 minutes or so was a blur. We had 5 lines going at a time and we were hauling up Dolphin left and right.
Below the water the fish were whipped up into a feeding frenzy and were striking at anything and everything.
Up on the boat we were racing around trying to keep the fishing lines from getting tangled, fighting with and trying to land multiple fish at a time, and then getting the lines back the water as quickly as we could.
By the time the frenzy was over, we all collapsed on deck exhausted from battling the fish and the hot Florida sun, hands blistered, and shirts splattered with blood (fish, not human).
By the time all was said and done we’d landed 23 Dolphin.
Now admittedly, as marine biologists in training, we felt a bit guilty for taking so many of these beautiful fish from the ocean. We were all more catch and release kinda guys.
But the fish didn’t go to waste.
Back on shore, the crew expertly filleted the Dolphin and most were sold to local restaurants. The rest went home with us and, tired and happy, we capped off the day with the most amazing fish dinner any of us ever had.
So what does this have to do with marketing your business?
Well, on a high level you really have two ways to approach marketing.
The one that most businesses take resembles the first few hours we were out fishing aboard the Poverty Sucks.
You go to an area where you think some of your customers are, throw your hook in the water and hope for the best.
The thinking is along the lines of “I know some of the people watching this TV station, reading this magazine/newspaper, or hanging out on Facebook are my prospects. So I’m going to advertise and get a presence there and try to land some of them.”
And, sure, you may land a few customers here and there…just enough for you to get talked into renewing when the sales rep comes calling..but it’s a slow, inefficient way to market.
The second approach is like the second, more productive part of our fishing expedition. It’s the highly targeted approach.
When the captain spotted the Frigates, he knew that not only were the Dolphin close by, but they were whipped up into a feeding frenzy.
Once we positioned ourselves in the right spot and put our lines in the water, 80% of the work was done. At that point, our main concern was just being able to handle all the fish that were practically throwing themselves into our boat.
This is the direct response approach to marketing.
It’s when you know where your prospects are hanging out in high concentrations and are actively looking for what you’ve got to offer.
Sometimes they’ll already be whipped up into a feeding frenzy and primed to bite. Other times you have to chum the water a bit to whip them up to the point where they’re ready to bite.
Either way, you know they’re there and have an itch they need to scratch. Your job at that point is to just dangle a big back scratcher in front of their faces.
This is when you really start reeling ‘em in hand over fist.
Big brands with millions of dollars to spend on marketing may be able to get away with the first approach.
You should be smarter than they are. You should be more targeted. You should focus on the low hanging fruit.
You can’t afford to blow your money on the expensive, inefficient approach to marketing because, from what I hear, Poverty Sucks. 😉
Here’s to you catching a lot more fishes in 2013!