Fish Where The Fish Are

Posted on 20 September 2010

How do you decide where to market your product or service? Do you know where your ideal prospective clients hang out?

When I was on holiday in Pune, India, recently, I received an e-mail from one of the two young co-founders of a company there called Let’s Start Up, “a platform for startups and entrepreneurs”.

He wrote: “I could use some advice from you for a project that I’ve been doing for the past one year. We have a great product but we have no clue how to market it and so we have not had as good a response as we would like. Our problem is that we are not sure where to start the marketing and whom to target. We are wondering whether internet banner ads or paper banners at colleges or seminars or lectures etc. are the most effective way to market our product.” (He has given me permission to quote him, but he prefers not to be named.)

Then, a few days later, I tweeted to the world: “What is your #1 marketing challenge?”

Ruth Benny, one of my twitter followers and a co-founder of Confident Speaking (a new Hong Kong company that offers training in public speaking and presentation skills), replied: “Choosing channels.” To clarify, I asked her: “Do you mean the channels through which you spread your marketing message?”, and she replied: “Yes – and choosing advertising placements!!”

So it seems that business owners, especially the owners of new businesses, want to know WHERE to market their products and services so that the right people will see/hear their messages.


Maybe I’m stating the obvious, but here’s my answer: You need to “fish where the fish are”. By that I mean your marketing needs to be targeted at the people who are most likely to want/need (and be able to pay for) your product or service, and also at the people who can INFLUENCE those ideal prospective clients to buy your product or service.

That means you need to understand your prospective clients and the people who influence them. What are their perceptions, motivations and expectations about you, your company, your products and services, your industry, your competitors…?

You also need to understand WHERE/HOW those people seek and receive information about you, your company, your products and services, your industry, your competitors… For example, what newspapers and magazines and newsletters and websites and blogs do they read? What radio programmes and teleseminars do they listen to? What TV shows do they watch? What social media channels do they use? What conferences do they attend? What professional and community organisations do they belong to? Where do they shop? What do they do and where do they go for fun? What other products and services do they use that might complement yours, and where/how are those products and services marketed? Who do they admire? Whose advice do they seek before they buy a product or service like yours?

The answers to those questions will give you valuable clues about the channels that work for THEM. No point spreading your message through channels they never pay attention to, no matter how cheap or convenient those channels may be for you.

But don’t get trapped in endless analysis. Do SOMETHING. Take action. Measure the results. Adjust. Repeat.

Of course, when you’re choosing your marketing channels, you also need to consider your budget (time and money), your skills, and your ability to access the skills and resources you need. As for the CONTENT of the messages you communicate through the various channels you choose, well, that’s another story…

The Lesson: Fish where the fish are.

Action Steps: Learn lots about your ideal prospective clients and the people who influence them. Then do SOMETHING to get the right message to them, where they are.

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