Tag Archives: Ewing

Sex, Death and Fly Fishing (The B2B Connection)

The Title Of A book by John Gierach

By Roger Ewing

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Part sport and part art, with a little Zen wisdom thrown in, fly- fishing imitates life, and is a good allegory for business.  In his well-read book, Sex Death and Fly Fishing, Gierach shares insights on mayflies, men, fishing, love, and the meaning, or lack thereof, of life.

When I visit Rick’s Sporting Goods in Mammoth Lakes, I am in awe of the quantity and variety of gear that is available to satisfy my fishing addiction.  Everything I crave is here.  I see a staggering array of colorful flys with names that a nail polish marketer would envy.  There are floating lines, sinking and tapered lines, weighted tippet, forceps, waders, float tubes, knot tying tools, and beautifully crafted willowy fly rods.  This, I think to myself, must be heaven.

The businessman in me makes the B2B connection to fly-fishing.  I have determined there are three important similarities between fly-fishing and marketing that the careful fly fisherman and the enterprising marketer should consider.

Choosing The Correct Fly

Fly fishermen never refer to the fly, a small bit of steal, feathers and thread, as bait.  This would be a sacrilege.  Likewise, in business it’s best to avoid the temptation to offer “bait and switch” strategies.  Success in business, as in fishing, requires that we be real, genuine and always truthful.

Marketing efforts are best described as initiatives.  We research our target market and manage our product to ensure that we have created a strategy that will likely succeed.  When fishing, I like to nymph the stream.  Using a small net to collect insects at various levels of the stream, I match the insects I find with a fly from my fly box, dramatically increasing my chances of success.

In business as in fly-fishing, the correct product for the correct audience is a sure fire recipe for success.


Fly-fishing appeals to me because it is esoteric and provides a level of intellectual stimulation that I find very satisfying.  Trout on the other hand are much more pragmatic.  They are attracted to my fly because it is mealtime in the stream.  It’s a sort of dance.

The perfect cast will present my fly in such a manner that it will not occur to the trout that this is not a swimming Callibaetis, or a floating Caddis about to dry it’s wings and lift off the surface of the water.

Similarly, marketing pieces must be compelling, memorable and eye-catching.  Will my message be framed in the correct context and arrive at just the right moment to cause the client to react in the desired frame of mind?

For example, my goal is to deliver direct mail that has a valuable and worthy message.  I want my print ads to resonate with the reader and cause them to think about themselves in a way that is in concert with their lives and my product.  I have found that basic human needs and desires are the best means of getting a buyers attention.  The more exciting the better.  Sex, as Madison Avenue reminds us, sells.

Fly Line Management

Once the trout has taken the fly, the way I manage the fly line becomes very important.  All the gear, preparation and careful planning in the world will not result in landing a beautiful trout unless I keep my wits about me.  The line must not have too much slack, but it must not be too taut either.  I literally fish with my hands, feeling the trout’s energy in the rod and the line.

I’m careful not to tire the trout to exhaustion. It is important to me that I keep this trout alive in the stream to help maintain the precious fish population. A barb-less hook, a gentle net and underwater handling will ensure the fish swims away healthy.  For me, releasing the trout is the most exhilarating part of the fly fishing experience.

In the world of business the analogy of fly line management is obvious.  Managing the client relationship is the most critical aspect of ensuring that our clients provide us with quality referrals and then return to us for service in the years to come.

There is a fine line between appearing to be a stalker in a business relationship and actually being available when we are really needed. Staying in touch, and keeping our clients informed will make our clients feel valued and make us look professional. Accurate, quality information is important to our clients, and to us, if we want to make sure the net is filled at the end of the business day.


Creating a mutually positive end result for both parties is the active goal of any fly fisherman or entrepreneur.  Whether you are finalizing a winning marketing strategy or wading in a trout stream, remember these simple rules.  Choose the right fly, make the best presentation and manage your fly line well.

The Zen part?  We’ll leave that to John Gierach and the trout.


Social Media Tips

Lessons From the Social Media Battlefield

Social Media Warrior

Social Media Warrior

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By Roger Ewing

I recently posted a blog recounting the true story of my encounter with corporate America in the world of social media.  In that blog I detailed how, as a competitor, I was able create doubt and havoc during the launch of a corporate social media marketing strategy.  Read the entire blog, Corporate Marketing Peeps Misjudge Power of Social Media at rogerewing.wordpress.com.   There are important lessons to be learned from my experience, both from my perspective and from the corporation’s point of view.

First, social media has redesigned the business landscape, allowing even small business owners to compete for attention with corporate giants.  This is a revelation that is so powerful it cannot be overlooked.  We, as individuals, have a platform that gives us the ability to comment to large numbers of people on line at any time.  This is hugely empowering.

Mass marketing vehicles like television, full-run newspaper display ads, and expensive magazines have been out of reach to most small business owners in the past. That has changed forever.  In the realm of social media individuals and small businesses are seriously challenging the ability for corporations to manipulate public tastes and preferences.  A more urgent, creative environment is emerging where the value of unique services and products is celebrated on a global scale.

Second, corporate America is uncomfortable with the open architecture of social media.  Most have not learned that the new frontier of social media can be a wicked place, where carefully thought out initiatives and strategies are submitted for public scrutiny. Transparency it seems is not a quality corporations are particularly fond of.

Nearly everyone remembers the notorious YouTube video from April 2009 showing two Domino’s employees/saboteurs mishandling food.  Rapid response is critical in countering attacks of this nature.  Corporations generally have layers of management and cocoons of policy that must be navigated before responding to collateral damage on social media sites.

Third, interestingly, the corporation I challenged on Facebook and Twitter seemed to think that no one should question the wisdom of their marketing initiative.  In fact, the individuals from the corporation who responded to my comments on their posted “ads” seemed genuinely shocked that someone would actually counter their initiatives with public comments.  By pointing out inherent weaknesses in their new print marketing campaign, I threw a wrench into the corporate machine.  They didn’t know what to do and had no strategy in place to deal with negative feedback.

As individuals, our newfound social media power can be used for positive reinforcement, or it can be a source of negative feedback that corporations are not use to experiencing in the public domain.  The feeling is that we are just a number in the corporate machine, and an expendable number at that.  As individuals we now have a powerful voice, and as more of us become accustomed to our new power, the potential for brand damage increases significantly.

Summary:  It really doesn’t matter if you are the head of a giant corporate conglomerate, or the owner of your own pizza business.  You need a strategy to counter social media attacks from outside, as well as inside your organization.  Create a strategy that will address these fundamental questions.

Q: How will you respond to negative feedback regarding your initiatives from competitors or your own employees?
Q: Who is responsible for conveying the company message?
Q: What social media sites are your best vehicles for communicating your side of the story?

Being prepared for the rigors of the social media marketing will put you in a far better place, should your initiatives come under attack from inside or outside your organization.