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Catch and Release Marketing

Author: Colleen Kilpatrick   |   September 4th, 2010

I was sitting in my client’s office last week listening to him describe all the creative and costly ways he finds new customers, then lament his failure to retain those customers.

Later, as I drove away from his office, my mind drifted back 20 years to a fishing trip and the marketing lesson I learned while on it.

It was the summer of my junior year in college. I was working as a bartender on an island dotted with hundreds of fishing ponds. One day, a friend asked me to go fishing with him. Always game for a new adventure, I agreed.

After work I found him busily preparing for our fishing adventure. I was amazed at all this entailed.  He gathered, prepared and organized rods, lures, lines, tackle, worms, nets, knives and marketing plansrefreshments. Then he loaded his truck, hooked up the rowboat and drove to the pond. This all took about 3 hours and we hadn’t even cast our first line.

Then it happened! After 45 minutes, he felt a tug on his line and said, “Oh, I got a big one.” With great finesse and patience he reeled the fish in, lifted it out of the water and set it carefully in the boat and said to the fish, “Hey, George!”

“You know this fish?” I asked.

While he removed the hook he replied, “Oh, yeah. I’ve caught George many times before.”

I was stunned by his words, but even more so, by what he did next. He threw the fish back in.

“What are you doing?” I whined, “You worked so hard to catch him!”

He replied, “It’s called ‘Catch and Release’. I’m just fishing for fun.”

And now 20 years later I think of that fishing trip whenever I discover a business owner who has a great marketing plan but no customer retention plan. I call it Catch and Release Marketing. Are you just marketing for fun?


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One Response to “Catch and Release Marketing”

  1. Karen Scharf, small business marketing consultant Says:

    Thanks for the anecdote, I enjoyed reading it. I reckon Lady Luck is with George’s side that day, or for all days that your friend caught him. Customer retention should be one of the priorities of every business, specially the small businesses operating within a particular locality. Without it, there won’t be any growth.

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