Is 'fishing' a good metaphor for marketing?

At bk, we have 2.5+ decades of blogs, vlogs and other content in our library. This blog, with the same title, was popular back in ye olden days of 2010. We wondered, how does this blog and its point still hold up? So, with a little cleanup and slight changes, we ask you to answer the question for us. Does this metaphor still hold up?

We start with the basic principle: “When you go fishing, it is best to fish where the fish are.” This sounds like a no-brainer. But can we take the metaphor further to align it with targeted advertising and marketing planning?

So let me get metaphorical on you: If you are not passionate about fishing, then you are happy just to catch fish. Any fish. You don’t care what kind of fish you catch, good to eat or not. More often than not, most fisher-persons don’t even know what kind of fish exist where they cast their lines. Simple numbers and the act of catching is enough to satisfy them because they don’t really like fishing all that much. It is something to do while at a lake or drinking a beer with some friends in a boat somewhere.

This type of fishing usually involves using some kind of cut bait or live bait, a bobber, and an approach to fishing that is akin to brainless. They just throw it out there with no style, direction, or finesse in the hopes that something, anything, will come along and grab it. They are always surprised by what comes up and too often ask, “What is it?” In most cases, they end up very disappointed and make a statement like, “There ain’t no fish in this water at all.” This is true in terms of where they threw their line and what they put on the end of their hook!

Now, a passionate fisherperson takes an entirely different approach. They study the region and the reports weeks before they set out. They talk to knowledgeable people and experts about the area and invest in the right gear in advance. They look at reports of past and present times. They intimately know the target quarry and are prepared for every fish that’s in the area. They respect each fish species and take pains to understand them.

Once the research is done on the location and the waters from afar, they arrive to look at the scene in person and make any final adjustments based on wind, weather, etc. They study the water, the riffles, the bends in the river, or the structures in the lake, bay, or ocean. They look at bait patterns and understand the lunar and solar cycles to set expectations for the coming campaign.

They make educated attempts to throw the correct flies to entice the intended quarry and pay attention to the correct rods and reels to manage the line weights and hook sizes. They also take pains to learn and know what knots best hold it all together. Finally, they practice often because unforeseen obstacles await.

Next, they put it all into play with a plan of action. Try this fly-in location for 20 casts. No action? Then, switch to the next fly that has promise. Still no action? Move to a new spot, that riffle over there, and try this other pattern. That’s it! That’s the right combination! Now, they have the right location, pattern, gear, and action to attract and land the fish they want and covet. (For me, it is always catch and release.)

Talk about rewarding! All the planning, education, and practice paid off. They set out to catch a trophy and memories, and thanks to their process, it worked. (Hard work is rewarded in fishing and in marketing.)

For those that keep fish, they know what to do with what they catch. What is the legal size they can keep? What is the limit? How best to prepare if they take home? How do we safely return it back to the water if we are releasing it? That was all part of the preparation. No wasted time or energy. It is a process with proven results.

In general, it is a professional, passionate approach.

Well, I think this fishing metaphor still fits perfectly with marketing planning. What do you think?


# # #

bloomfield knoble is a passionate, full-service agency with 26+ years serving Fortune 100 and other private brands.