I once heard this great story about a little commercial fisherman who fishes off a well known peninsula in New York. This man has become legendary in fishing circles and I even heard it rumored that he was the guy who captured the great white shark which inspired the movie Jaws. Every morning Captain Jack heads out bright and early to go fishing. But that’s pretty much where the similarity between him and every other commercial fisherman ends. Instead of hiring a big crew to help get his Catch, Captain Jack just has one lone deck hand.
And they don’t use nets to catch their fish. Call him old school but he still prefers to use just fishing poles and lines.
But here’s the thing.
Every day, for the past 20 years, without exception, Captain Jack catches not hundreds of fish, but thousands of fish.
In fact he out fishes every single commercial fishing operation in the area, usually by multiple times.
It doesn’t matter what the tides are doing, what time of year it is, or even if the fish are “running.” Captain Jack seems to have the “midas touch.”
Over the years he has been interviewed many, many times about the secret of his success.
His “fishing secret” also happens to be the single most powerful marketing secret I have ever heard.
And its surprisingly simple.
Here’s the secret to Captain Jack’s success. Think like the fish, NOT the fisherman.” And that is precisely the reason why so much money is wasted on ineffective marketing.
Its not tightly tailored to your target audience. It doesn’t resonate with the way they think. It’s written with the way YOU think.
Don’t ever make the mistake that you are your customer or your patient. You’re not. You have far more knowledge, more experience about your product or service than the people you serve. You’ve forgotten what its like to be in their shoes – how nerve wracking it is to visit a specialist physician or to sign a listing agreement!
That’s why before I begin ANY marketing project, I invest at least 50% of my time researching my client’s target market before I ever start putting pen to paper to craft the right message. Here are some examples of how I go about researching: Who are they? Where do they live? How much money do they earn? Who do they work for? Do they go to church? How old are their kids? What publications do they read? What TV shows do they watch? Where do they like to vacation? What’s the burning issue that keeps them awake at 2 a.m. in the morning? Who else are they buying from? How do they like to buy? Who are they mad at?
I don’t even dare pick up a pen until I have a very firm grasp of who I’m writing for and how they think. You write copy very differently for business owners versus employees. You speak to a 30 year old man very differently than you’d speak to a 40 year old man. Married women very differently than single women. Moms very differently from “empty nesters." Knowing and understanding these nuances makes all the difference to how effective your marketing is.
I recently took an ad campaign one of my private clients had been running consistently for the last 12 months. As a prominent plastic surgeon he works in a fiercely competitive and price driven market. This one particular campaign had worked ok for him, but he had noticed a steady decline in response rate. I rewrote the campaign to specifically target boomer age women looking to refresh their image. We changed the message, and the media he advertised in but most importantly I rewrote the ad in language that would specifically appeal to boomer age women. Even I was surprised at the results. His overall campaign spend decreased by 30% but his ROI tripled.
Little hinges open big doors!
Think like the fish, not the fisherman.