Should you categorise marketing and fly fishing as art, science or a combination of both?
We know that for successful fly fishing you need the perfect combination of river conditions, the reach and presentation of the correct fly and perhaps an element of luck. Environmental, situational and entomological knowledge is essential to create an alluring ‘fly’ that will lead to a ‘conversion’, be it a Rainbow or a Brown.
Many articles on “fishing and marketing” talk about planning, SWOT, strategy, target, segments, persistence, reach, frequency, knowing your customer/quarry etc. etc. However, a recent fishing trip to the Tongariro River with my brothers and my father Jack, a 75-year-old very experienced fly fisherman, reinforced the importance of attitude.
Be it a social mass marketing campaign centred on reducing the car accident rate or changing behaviour towards a specific brand, (Mercedes versus BMW) the ultimate job of marketing is to influence attitudes. It is through changing a person’s beliefs, feelings and/or behaviour that consequently changes a person’s attitude.
My father had fished all over the world from Chile to France, Africa to New Zealand. But at 75 he now suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s and this would end up being his last fishing expedition. One would have assumed a road trip with his sons to participate in the activity he had enjoyed most would have been a breeze. Instead, the planning caused confusion, anxiety and irritability. Regardless, through talking about past fishing adventures and planting the idea of another we gently yet assertively made it happen.
Jack was so worried he was going to embarrass us and himself that he became angry and stubborn, which made the eventual trip to the river a difficult one. But intuitively we knew that once he was “on the water” his attitude would change.
On arrival the effect on Jack’s attitude was almost immediate. The moment we were out of the car, we could see him relax. The calming sound of water, the smell of the bush and the tranquillity of the location had the planned effect. It certainly seemed the elements were falling into place. And then began the ritual. Coaxing my father along this once familiar journey began with donning his well-worn pair of waders. Then, rod in hand, we walked to a sheltered ‘spot’ where a rainbow had been sighted. We stayed close, just in case he needed help. Could he still cast? I was nervous that he might not be able to remember how to fish at all.
The answer is plain for all to see in the image above. When I reflect on the feelings shown in the image of “Jacks Joy” it reminds me of how important it is when communicating to make your audience think, feel and do.
Which component is more influential? Maybe you could argue it was the ‘doing’. The ritual, the wading, the casting and the landing of that fish. Or would you say it was the ‘thinking’? All the conversations about previous fishing trips to create a subconscious desire to go again. Or would you side with the ‘feeling’? The arrival to our location and the change brought about by being there in that environment. Today Jack only remembers the sheer joy of catching that beautiful Rainbow trout with his sons. This joy would not have materialised without my brothers and I working to a plan to make that joyful experience happen.
Working out how and which attitudinal component to influence is a combination of experience and knowledge and with business and fishing you ‘don’t know what you don’t know’. Any serious business understands the importance of marketing as a driver of growth. Without a marketing plan and resource to execute this plan most businesses stagnate and ‘live in hope’. This approach is much like fishing in ignorance, you’re bound to go hungry!
Don’t fish in ignorance. Ask an experienced marketing professional for help.