This was my first shot at writing about other people.
Today I read a thread that made me dig this up.
Dutch Hempel, marketing manager, sales manager and fishing resort owner. As a resort owner of ten years Dutch got to fish with the grizzled and lake wise commercial fishermen of Lake of the Woods, a pristine body of water bordering Canada and Minnesota. From these men Dutch learned the principles of successful fishing, things like where to fish, when to fish, how deep to fish and what bait was working. These skills allowed him to ensure a memorable fishing experience for his guests, and furthermore Dutch learned that successful marketing was a lot like fishing. Here’s why. Many of us wouldn’t see the connection between business marketing and nature, believe me, its there.
First lets define the scientific term “carrying capacity”.
This is the number of individuals who can be supported in a given area within natural resource limits. A good example would be; A body of water of a certain size will only hold so many fish, and within that population there can be only so many of each species of fish.
If you were a commercial Walleye fisherman using gill nets, your “target” fish would average 3 lbs each. These are your target fish because they provide the highest monetary return on your investment. Time, equipment, fuel and labor dictate what you need to stay in business and make a profit. Smaller fish are not your goal. To catch the larger fish you would use a net that allows smaller fish to swim through so that when you pulled in the net all the fish inside would be your income producing fish. Until you deplete the Walleye population that can be “carried” in your area your business should be doing well. If you and your competition catch too many fish your return on investment becomes less, and you are forced to seek out new fishing grounds or go out of business.
Lets apply these principles to your business.
If you are a remodeling contractor specializing in kitchen, bath remodels all within 25 miles of your office, this area will provide the highest return on investment for your time, equipment, fuel and labor. This is your TARGET MARKET. Your marketing tools or “nets” would be arranged to attract the highest return on investment. An example of how you might do this is by placing ads in newspapers and the Yellow Pages 12 times a year at $2000 per month, or $24,000 per year. Now you may spend more or less, how much is not important, what is important is where you spend and what your trying to get. If you do million dollar jobs you’re not going to advertise on Craigslist, and if you sell vinyl siding your not buying space in Upscale Home. If you’re not closely tracking the results when you advertise you won’t know how effective your marketing efforts are. It’s likely not all of your competitors are closely tracking the results of their marketing efforts either so you mirror their efforts and why not? You’re all doing well, right?
But wait! Now project opportunities have changed in your 25 mile area. It may be because of changing demographics, more competition or even a recession. Whatever the reason you’re not netting enough business to keep your company going. You are now having the same problem as the Walleye fisherman. You are doing the same thing that always worked and doing even more of it, but its not working, and its not working because the easy fish have already been caught. Now you must decide to expand your fishing grounds or start seeing smaller fish and other fish as a profitable opportunity. Or, you can learn to market effectively and attract the high value client you need to stay in business.
The ultimate link between business, nature and “carrying capacity” is the one that determines whether the resources (business opportunities) are plentiful enough to support your business. You must decide whether to cast a wider net or learn to better understand the opportunities that are still available to you.
These are difficult times for many excellent contractors who now realize they must budget more time and money, learn more effective marketing techniques and throw a wider net to attract more clients, or…fail.
I council my clients to keep a positive attitude. This economy offers businesses willing to invest their time and resources in new approaches a chance to be the first boat out on the lake. With a better understanding of how things are and a willingness to accept a new approach, the company that moves now will be first to prosper and be a better, stronger business in the future.
Where are you casting your net? When is the best time to market your service? How much effort will you expend? Is it working? Like I said, you’re going fishing!
I help business owners understand productive marketing and sales principles and then develop marketing plans and budgets that accentuate their strengths and value to potential customers. My no-nonsense methods focus on actions backed by proven theories and results.
Author Eric Hoffer says it best:
“In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future,
The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists”