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  • Writer's pictureProsperity Plus

Marketing and Fishing Are Alike

By Tim Votapka

My son has a knack for pulling things in without exerting a great deal of effort. For example, during a little summer R&R visit to our lakeside cottage, he decided to “go fishing.” Now in this scenario, there are no lure boxes, nets, or worms. There is no intention of venturing out by boat toward deeper waters where schools of fish have been known to lurk. No in this instance, we’re breaking protocol entirely and looking to land the trophy with nothing more than a dead minnow on a hook and bobber at the end of our dock in just two feet of water. And what’s more, he’s not even going to hang around and tease the line to make the bait more appealing. Dinner’s about to be served up on the porch and it is pasta night. 

And sure enough, just 15 minutes into our meal, the boy looks out the window and sees the red and white bobber heading full speed away from the end of our dock. We drop our forks, scamper down to the end of the dock where he grabs his pole and begins to reel away. I head into the water with net in hand ready to snare whatever little thing he’s managed to hook. After a minute of struggle and swirl, his prize emerges – a nice smallmouth bass roughly 10 inches long and perhaps 2.5 pounds. In our haste we had neglected to bring any cameras with us, but the image and testimony are true. He had done what no one else in our family had ever accomplished. And it was all over before our dinner had gotten cold. 

I share that story because it exemplifies a mindset I’ve often encountered among business people when they look at marketing and promotion, and it’s not a logical, workable viewpoint. Marketing and its components such as branding, positioning, promotion, advertising, publicity is a process that requires sustainability. One does not succeed in building brand equity, mindshare and marketshare by simply tossing one piece of promotion, or one advertisement into the water and somehow haul in an abundance of leads and orders. Similarly one cannot bungle up the definition of marketing with direct selling which is another reason businesses fail to hit their targets. 

 “What are you doing to market your business?” 

“Oh we have our guys out there selling, and we have good word of mouth.”

Dialogue like this is a great indication that marketing is not being applied, and it’s probably one of the main reasons why a business isn’t expanding. Perhaps the key term here should be dissemination, a phrase you don’t often hear among advertising agencies, marketing services boutiques and the like. By definition (via the Hubbard® Management System), dissemination is the spreading or scattering broadly; making broadly known the materials, services and results through books, promotional material, letters, film or other media or activities, including word of mouth.  

When you look at successful companies that you compete against, buy from or merely admire, do you seriously think they have risen to their rank by keeping their dissemination to a minimum? Heck no. They have taken the time to work out promotion that will attract, generate interest and then establish a message, and they will executive this with regularity along the communication lines that make the most sense. Of course they budget and plan and evaluate. No one I know has a bottomless reserve account. So dissemination must be done with some fiduciary responsibility; no doubt no argument. 

The key is to do what you know you can afford to do over time. Be prepared for a bit of a runway on ROI because good, effective marketing is all about communication and viewpoints. Unless you’ve acquired every competitor in your area, or you are the only one in southern Arizona with the bottled spring water franchise, customers have alternatives with which they may be very comfortable and have no compelling reason to make a change. This is what promotion and dissemination address. The creative is embedded right in there and it only works if you have the resources to hand who can assume the point of view of your prospects at the drop of a hat and conceive promotion that attracts, generates interest and gets the message across. It goes in that order, but the vast majority of businesses try to run it in the opposite sequence and flounder. Ever hear a sales rep open his call with a pitch on what he’s selling before asking a single question about you or your business? That’s a good example right there. 

So if you have been wondering why you haven’t been gaining any new marketshare in your area, or you are facing a tougher competitive game, consider this an opportunity to rethink your dissemination practices. How many casts have you made from the boat or the beach before getting a strike? Have you even been dropping any baited line in the water? If you have the kind of luck like my son does, then you’re doing well. Only let me point out that he caught just one fish on this occasion. With all the effort you put into your business do you want just one lead or just one customer? Probably not. 

So get the lines out there! And if you’re not sure what to use or where fish, get a good guide. They’re worth every penny. 

Tim Votapka is the Director of Marketing Services at Prosperity Plus. He may be reached at 631.382.7762 or at


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