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There are some great marketing lessons to be taken from fishing, and I’m not talking about the “ph-” variety. If you’ve ever been fishing with an expert, on that expert’s home turf, you know that it can be an almost artistic experience. Before your boat even hits the water, your expert companion tells you where the fish will be, when they’ll be there, the bait or equipment most likely to appeal to those fish, and the techniques you’ll need to land them. It can all seem a bit much to the uninitiated, until you reach the fishing spot and the expert is either proven correct, or ready to adjust on the fly to the day’s conditions. Either way, you’ll soon be catching fish.

What the heck does this have to do with marketing? People are much more sophisticated than fish, of course, but otherwise many of the same principles apply to marketing on social. The best way to catch fish is to give them what they want. The easiest way to find out what they want is to study them intently. In this way, people and fish are not so different.

Finding the Perfect Fishing Hole

It all starts with knowing what you’re looking for, and learning where to find it. Fortunately for us, social sites don’t guard that information like fishing experts do. You can find solid, if imperfect, demographic information about most social sites. Before you start dropping lines in the water, visit the most promising sites and listen to the discussions. It’s a bit like detective work. Follow the best leads, and eventually you’ll find the people you’re seeking.

Selecting the Right Bait

Once you find what you’re looking for, listen some more. Pay attention to what people post and how they interact with one another. Get involved in the conversation, and make note of what you learn as you go. Always remember to be courteous, listen intently, and respond in a personal, meaningful way. All of these techniques will help you find the perfect bait to reel in new customers. In order to land them, first you need to understand them.

As you continue to listen, you’ll also learn why people congregate in a given place. Learning where to find the fish might lead to a banner day. Learning why they congregate where they do will keep those banner days rolling well into the future.

Landing the Prize

You know where to find your audience, and you know what they want. Now all you need to do is go out there and make the catch. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll be in great position to succeed. You can’t expect things to go perfectly every time, though. A fishing expert is defined as much by their ability to adapt as their ability to plan.

If your plan falls to pieces, listen some more. Learn all that you can, as you go. Expect the unpredictable, and be prepared to move on to another plan when the time is right. You can’t learn everything about fishing overnight, and the same is true of social. The more you listen and learn, the more prepared you’ll be to adapt when an unexpected outside influence forces you to change course.

Sustaining Success

People are much more willing to be “caught” than fish, as long as you offer value for their attention and loyalty. Once more, it all comes back to listening. Build your buyers’ personas with the same zeal the fishing expert shows in profiling fish. The medium and methods may change over time, but as long as you know your audience, treat them with respect, and build relationships, you’ll be ready for anything.

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