Interestingly, I have heard nearly the same free to-do app used in the business world to describe the ever constant cycle of finding and acquiring new customers. If truth be told, I calculate that there is more “fishing” occurring in global business than in all other forms of fishing combined. Moreover, if we can compare business to the sport of fishing, then commercial marketing is the discipline of fishing, and marketing collateral becomes the gear.
While not intended to be an exhaustive treatise on the subject, this article will focus on six of the fundamental questions a company should ask before creating new pieces of collateral or creating a new marketing campaign. It will also look at some of the common marketing mistakes companies make as they attempt to land the “big” one.
1. Who is Your Audience?
The most important thing to know when buying your fishing gear is what type of fish you want to catch. Are you going after salt water, lake, or river fish? The equipment you will need is dependent upon the answer to that question.
One of the largest mistakes I see companies make in their marketing collateral is that they often seem confused as to who their audience is. Your message should be clear and compelling. That is hard to do when you don’t know to whom you are marketing. Are they an end user, a business, a reseller, or perhaps a specifier? The type of collateral and the message it contains should always be a clear reflection of that answer.
Some may state that it doesn’t really matter all that much – the product or service remains the same, right? Well, some may also say that a fishing pole is a fishing pole and it doesn’t really matter which type you use. Any professional fisher will tell you that this just isn’t the case. The actual story (your product or service) may remain the same, but how you tell that story and what form that story takes should depend completely on whom you are telling.
I spent years working with and making presentations to both architects and engineers. While my central message remained the same, I had to tailor that message to my listener because both groups were interested in different things. The architects were interested in the aesthetics and more of the big picture features. The engineers were much more interested in the details and the mechanics of the product.
While some types of collateral may cross over multiple groups, such as a brochure or video, you should try and create multiple versions of the same collateral piece to target the particular type of recipient to whom you are reaching out. If this is too expensive, then you should always tailor the message to your largest, most valuable audience.
2. What is your Call-to-Action?
There are a lot of different pieces of equipment used in fishing. Before going out to the stream or lake, you should have a clear understanding that every component has a different purpose and not mistake the use of one device for that of another. Individuals often make this type of error. For example, job hunters often mistake the purpose of a resume as a tool to get a job. This is a complete fallacy. The purpose of a resume is to get an interview.
Companies often make the same sort of blunders with their collateral. Just as a lure has a different use and objective than a hook, you should develop different kinds of collateral for all the various stages of the sale. Every brochure, ad, or campaign should have a clear and distinct purpose. Is the piece designed to get someone’s attention, build company credibility, provide product or service information, or perhaps a sales call Leave Behind? Sales personnel should also be trained on the various distinctions between the material and know when and where to use what.
After you know what the objective of your marketing piece is, it becomes much easier to decide what your Call-to-Action should be. Once you have an individual’s attention, what do you want them to do after they have read, heard, or viewed your material? Do you ask for an appointment? Do you ask for an order? Don’t make them guess – tell them. Don’t get them all excited and then walk away. Every campaign or article should leave them with clear instructions on what they should do next. Perhaps you can’t compel a horse to drink once you’ve led it to water, but you would be remiss if you didn’t at least ask it to drink.
Casting Your Line
3. How Are You Delivering Your Message?
Some novice fishers may wonder how far out they should cast their line; will the larger fish be further out or hidden in a hole closer to shore? In business, it is important to know how and where to deliver your message. The answer to this question largely depends on what your product or service is, and how large your business is.
If your product or service is widely used, you may choose to cast your line way out there using global or national press releases, email blasts, and expansive social media campaigns. If your product or service is more of a niche market or industry vertical, you may have more success using a combination of internet, radio, television, email, or direct mailer campaigns that target a particular fishing hole such as specific geographical locations, companies, or individuals. For a standalone retailer, the hole may be as small as a particular town or even distinct neighborhoods. Market research goes a long way to identifying the holes that you should be fishing in.
The size of your business is also important when considering how far you should cast your line. It is important to ensure that you can support your product or service in every location you market. You also need to be confident that your company can handle the amount of business you may generate. While it may seem like the whole point of the game is to bring in as much business as possible, you may not have the inside structural support and manufacturing to handle all of the sales. More than one company has collapsed in on itself because they did not have the infrastructure to handle their incoming sales volume. Your business, marketing, and sales should all grow together at a planned, even rate.