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Brian Larson

3 Ways Customer Optimization is a lot Like Fishing (and vice-versa)

By Brian Larson     Content Marketing, Online Marketing, Online Marketing Strategy

customer optimizationSavvy internet marketers work hard to uncover and understand the common characteristics of their buying audiences, segmenting them into groups and even going so far as to develop personas. They do this for a very good reason, how can you optimize your content for an audience if you don’t know who they are or what they want? This customer-centric approach to marketing is one that Lee has been advocating for years (see Chapter 6 of Optimize for some good nuggets).

With the sun starting to warm-up Lake Minnetonka where the TopRank Online Marketing HQ is located, it got me thinking about how the disciplines of customer optimization and fishing are similar. You may laugh at that idea, but given my tendency to leave each fishing trip with 5-7 less lures, an impressive sunburn and zero fish, I have spent a lot time reflecting on how to elevate my fishing ‘game’.

So if you’re a marketer who is trying to better connect with your audience, or an outdoors enthusiast trying to better connect your fishing net to a Northern, here are 3 Ways Customer Optimization is a lot Like Fishing.

1) Know Your Fish

Outside our offices at TopRank is the 14,000 acre+ Lake Minnetonka. Try casting a line in a random location in a lake this size with no idea of what what type of fish you’re trying to catch. Trust me, you’ll come home empty handed. Through research, good anglers know the different fish that inhabit a lake. They also know traits about the fish that will influence when, where and how they fish.

The same lesson can easily be applied to online marketing. Without a solid understanding of the different groups that buy or use your services, your content is doomed to fail.

What to do?

Conduct research of your own by working collaboratively with your sales and product teams to compile information on your buying personas. You’ll likely be surprised by how quickly that information can develop into a more strategic marketing plan.

2) Use the Right Lure

Until I was 15 years old I thought every fish was caught with a worm and a hook. If only it were that easy. Different fish eat different food based on their specific needs. Take the mighty Musky for instance. It’s a large fish that requires sizeable prey to thrive, so why would it waste it’s time on a little worm? It likely won’t. Understanding your audience is the first step, knowing what they want and/or need is what comes next.

What needs do your services fill? How do those needs relate to your different personas? Understanding these points will drive the type of content you create. At the end of the day your different customer segments may buy the same product, but how and why they purchase the product could be very different (think time savings, cost savings, competitive advantage, etc.), and so should your content.

3) Go Where the Fish are Biting

Walleye spawn when the water temperature hits approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit. They also are very specific in where they tend to spawn, preferring depths of 10-15 feet just off the shore. Wow, I wonder if that information would be valuable to someone trying to catch Walleye?

Your customers have tendencies too. They trust certain news sources, they prefer specific social channels and they search with keywords that match their needs. Survey your customers, dive into your analytics and listen in social. The answers to ‘where’ and ‘how’ your customers consume and share content will begin to emerge. And when they do, map your content channels to different themes and audiences in order to build your own customer-centric editorial plan.

Now, where’s my fishing pole?


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