Fly Fishing & the Art of Marketing

by | Branding, Define & Target, Digital Marketing, Marketing

While many people spend days at conferences and hours of watching DVD’s to learn the intricacies of selling, I suggest another tack. Drive to Volant, PA., a hamlet in Northwestern Pennsylvania, adjoining Neshannock Creek, one of the best fly fishing rivers in the land. After a day of being rejected by fish you can plainly see, you’ll understand what it takes to land customers. You have to have more than a great product on the end of your line.

Some people think you can just walk into a fish’s office and start to lay down the line. Not so fast. There’s a few things you’ll need to do first:

  • Dress Right. Fish are naturally suspicious of people who wear wild ties. They’re much more comfortable when you’re not. So get out those rubber pants and look a bit vulnerable. If you look too smart, they’ll sense it.
  • The Tools. Catching fish requires tools. A rod with flexibility. A reel with a lot of line for the fish to take out. And a variety of flys. You never know what they’re going to bite on until they do.
  • Know Your Fish. You have to know what fish you want to catch. Every fish has a different personality. If you’re going for a trout, you have to start thinking like one. They’re a cool edgy bunch, like cold water and get spooked if you move too quickly. Bass are more relaxed, actually lazy bums and happy to stay on the bottom, so you have to come to them.

Before you can fish, you have to find them. Prospecting can actually be pretty easy. Watch to see where your competitors are. Forget trying to find a place where no one’s fishing. It’s probably because there’s no fish. If it’s stream, there are certain things you look for, like ripples in the water, a big rock or fallen tree, or something else the fish can hide under or behind. If it’s a lake, unless you know something the competitors don’t know, just watch where the other boats are.

The Fly
The reason they call it fly fishing is because you’re trying to attract the fish to something that looks like a bug. But not any bug. Fish are picky eaters and they know a lot more about bugs than you think. So, don’t get cocky. They’ve seen your competitor’s bugs and have actually seen real bugs. Not only do different fish like different bugs, they know what bugs look like in different parts of a stream and different parts of a bug’s lifecycle. Some bugs float. Other sink. So there’s a bit of entomology involved. And it doesn’t matter what kind of bugs you like, the fish have minds of their own. You have to know what they like.

The Presentation
You can’t just put the fly in front of a fish and expect them to believe you. You have to land the fly gently, which takes some practice. If the fly hits the water with a splash, those brownies just roll their eyes. They’ll let you keep casting, but they’re just not listening anymore.

Hooking The Fish
If you’re lucky enough to have the right product and make a good presentation, the fish start to trust you, and may just bite. When they realize what’s going on, believe me, they’ll resist. So let them take out some line. Give them some space. But not too much. Keep the line taut.

Landing the Fish
Just ask a fisherman how they did and you’ll probably hear about how the one got away. Actually, the 10 that got away. You may think that hooking a fish is catching a fish. But the reason they call it fishing, not catching is that the hard part is getting the fish in the boat. Most catches are lost after you’ve done everything right. Except land the fish. It’s often a delicate operation, so take your time. And when the fish comes of the water, make sure you hold on, because most fish escape at the last minute… buyer’s remorse.

Good luck and remember: It’s up to the fish to come to you. But it’s up to you to get it in the boat.


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