It doesn’t have to be “The one (targeted customer) that got away”…

Acquiring new customers is kinda like fishing: you have bait, (your product or service), you have a rod and line (the marketing campaign), you have a good reel (sales force and support staff), and you have the fisherman (your company, with all its associated strengths).

What you also have, hidden in the bait, is the hook. Now don’t go all squeamish on me. Why are you fishing if you don’t intend catching anything? That hook doesn’t have to be the size of an anchor, but it also isn’t there just to tickle the fish’s tonsils. The object of the hook is to capture the client, it’s the call to action (CTA). It’s there to retain them long enough to reel them in, land them on the riverbank and then… Okay, at this stage you can look away because it could become ugly. Yes, we know that the fisherman gets to eat the fish, but that’s not what this analogy is all about. So, stick with the story.

The fish is to sustain the fisherman, just as the revenue generated from the customer, is to sustain your business. Got it? So, you can relax. We’re not going into any long, gory fisherman’s tale here.

This tale is about the stage where, after extensive investment in fishing gear, tackle and bait, you (the fisherman, remember?) find a spot that you know will attract the right fish to your bait. You have researched the fish, the bait and the spot, so you are ready to catch ‘the big one’!

You cast your line into the waterway, you can see the swarming fish, you know you are going to strike it big today, so you lean back in your camp chair and watch as the line dips and jiggles as fish show interest, take a nibble and then swim away.

Preparation is key to the success of any marketing campaign

Finally, you feel the tug on the line and then the reel whines as the line is pulled out into the middle of the waterway. You have a strike, and it feels big!

Several things can now happen:

  1. The line snaps and the catch swims away
  2. The hook loosens and the fish is free to go on its merry way
  3. You land the fish

Taking each point and sticking with the analogy, this is how it translates into a marketing strategy.

The line snaps and the catch swims away

As we have seen in the analogy, the rod and line combination is the marketing campaign. This is the backbone of your strategy. If you don’t have a rod and line, you aren’t fishing.

If the line breaks you were either ‘fishing’ in ‘waters’ for which your line/campaign was not prepared and, while there was interest shown, and even a bite, your campaign was incorrectly focused.

Maybe the target audience was too varied, maybe the bait wasn’t specific enough or maybe there wasn’t enough investment in the campaign and hence the ‘weak line’ that was ill-equipped to haul in the catch.

Make sure your ‘bait’ is specific to your intended ‘catch’

Also, to consider, winding in the catch too fast can create friction on the line through too much force. Was your reel (aka sales team) a case of overkill? Were you using a marlin reel for a carp?

How attentive and persuasive are your sales and support staff. Do they overload your customers, are they ‘too keen’ to make the sale?

Onto the next outcome.

The hook loosens and the fish is free to go on its merry way

I’m sure by now you are into the swing of how this is going, right? You know that the hook is that little something that is vital to reeling in that catch.

So, back to the analogy.

The hook is the CTA, this is what makes the customer choose you. Was it strong enough to withhold several attempts at interest? Why didn’t it hold?

This is relatively easy to explain: it wasn’t ‘catchy’ enough, despite the outer trappings of the bait.

Intuitive sales and support teams are key to reeling in that catch

Many times, a customer comes right in and investigates up-close-and-personal, and then drifts off. Sometimes, even after handling the merchandise, or clicking on the button on your website that invites them to ‘Buy now, this week only’. Until the credit card has been processed, they are still out in the open waters, to all intents and purposes.

Be honest with yourself and analyse why your customers keep nibbling and drifting off or why, once they have bitten there is either buyer’s remorse and you have returns, or they ‘spit it out’ and go elsewhere.

The analogy is endless…

You land the fish

Pretty clear what the backstory was here. As the fisherman, your equipment was aligned with your intended outcome. Your research was correct, so you prepared accordingly and your hours of preparing the correct bait, line, rod and reel paid off.

Your campaign focused on exactly who you wanted to reel in, and your backup and sales staff knew exactly what amount of pressure to put on to anyone who was considering.

Bottom line, no reason to boast about ‘The one that got away’, show them the results!

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