Picture it: You're fishing on a crystal lake as the sun comes up. The only sound is a bird's happy song; the only disturbance in the landscape's serenity is a plop, and its resulting ripples, every time your line is cast.

By the end of the morning, you've filled your basket with fish. You caught a few of them behind an old tree that had fallen into the lake years ago. You caught a few more off to your right, where the underwater terrain drops off and creates a ledge that you learnt about from a veteran fisherman who stopped to talk. And you caught one far out in the middle of the lake—but it was too small to keep.

What did each of your catches have in common?

Did they all come from the same place?

Did they all come at the same time?

Did they all come randomly, with no indication of what spots were best?

The answer to these questions is no.

Instead, they were all caught by the same rod and reel. All of the casts originated from the same spot and with the same equipment.

What does this have to do with your brand?

You're about to find out.

Marketing, in a Metaphor

When you're casting your line in marketing, all of your fishing line should be coming from a single reel, propelled and guided by a single rod…just like it was in the scenario above. Your vision, your mission and your values are contained within that one source, that one desire…that single focus.

Is this how you're managing your marketing? With a rod and reel that you know perfectly fit your brand, its promise and its purpose? So that the message (the 'bait') you're sending out is truly indicative of your brand, because it's attached to the same you every time?

marketingOr are you juggling a number of different rods and reels? Running back and forth every time a bobber bobs or a rod trembles? Frantically trying to identify the one that works the best (i.e. catches the biggest fish)? And in the meantime, getting your lines tangled, missing great catches because they got suspicious, or ruining them because you've gotten distracted and let them swallow the hooks?

There's one great way to do this: Choose the rod and reel that best fit your brand and then use that one message to find the places where the fish you want are hanging out. Your casting technique will be consistent, your message will be simple and clear, and your reaction after the bite will be supported by confidence in the tools you're using…because they are yours, you know they work, and you've become comfortable and reliant upon them.

At this point in time, you might be struggling to find the right rod and reel for your brand. What message should you be sending? What features are most important to your success? And what bait will work?

Here are a few tips for answering these questions, and more, so you can choose the 'tackle' that will produce your best catch:

  • Establish your Brand's Focus. Is your brand a product-based business? Is it a service brand? Or a personal brand? Decide on the focus of your business, understanding that if you put yourself at the centre of it, you will limit your options when it comes to scaling and growth. Decide where you want to see your brand land in ten years. Will you be involved? Will you still be selling that same product? What other services will you offer? Know where you're going, and that will determine from where you cast that line.
  • Do what you Love. What's the one thing you do better than anyone you know…and that you simply love to do? That's the thing that should fuel each and every marketing cast. Stray from this, and you'll not only lose focus, you'll lose the attention of your target audience.
  • Name your Brand Values. What's most important to you? Integrity, quality, fun or flexibility? Safety, intelligence, freedom or beauty? These are just a few examples of the corporate values you might establish for your brand…and that will make your brand attractive to your ideal customers. These are the components of your reel, and the place from which all communications will develop.
  • Know your Brand's Main Benefit. This will run through every cast (i.e. campaign), and will be evident to everyone who witnesses your messages. It's like the fish that smells and sees the worm. He knows it's going to nourish him. He knows it's his food of choice. Do this right, and your ideal customers will know your worm (i.e. product/service) is perfect for them, too.
  • Always Cast with Vision. Your brand's vision is your idea about where it should land in the future. It's made up of your goals for five years, ten years and fifteen years from now. It can be compared to your own vision, gazing out across that crystal lake, focussing on the spot where you want your bait to land.
  • Use your Rod and Reel to Keep you Grounded and Focussed. It can be easy (and tempting) to veer off in other directions looking for something better. Often that 'something better' isn't what you and your brand really need. And by the time you realise that your first fishing spot was best, you go back only to find that another fisherman has claimed it.
  • Pivot like a Fisherman. Fishermen generally find a comfortable place to stand, and then cast out in all directions from that spot. This is especially true when the bank is rocky or overgrown with brush. Try to run your marketing strategy in this manner. Find a place to plant yourself—a place that aligns with your values, vision, mission, benefits, promise and goals—and use the equipment you know will support all that (your rod and reel) to reach a variety of spots on the lake (market segments). This keeps you grounded in your objectives, whilst reaching more people with your brand's message.

I trust that this little metaphor has caused you to look at your marketing strategy in a different light, and that for every campaign you create after this, you will refer back to the mental image of a fisherman casting with his favourite rod and reel, from a spot that truly represents where he wants to be…reeling his catch to him, rather than chasing it around the lake, without his feet firmly planted.

Want to learn more about branding and marketing? Then check out all the resources available to you on the How to Build a Brand website. There, you will find advice for start-ups and established brands, for new entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners. Enjoy it all, and as always, contact us with questions, comments or for more information on any package, service or programme.

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