Why Thinking Like A Fish Can Help Your Business

When we are operating a business, we are often told to try and think like the consumer. To ‘walk in their shoes’ or to ‘get inside their head’ and know what they are thinking and feeling. All this is done with the end goal of creating a better experience for the consumer or of providing them with exactly what they want.

I remember a story told by a famous copy writer about a fisherman. This was no ordinary fisherman. He had gained legendary status in fishing circles. He was always top of the trophy board. The fisherman was routinely famous for out fishing a boat of fisherman all by himself! And he did it with old school tackle. None of this fancy rod and reel stuff that his competitors had.

How Did He Manage To Do It?

He says the secret came to him years ago when he was thinking about how to catch more fish. He reasoned if his desire was to catch fish, then he needed to know everything he could about fish.

So he vigorously set about learning everything about fish. He learned their feeding habits, how they fed, when they fed, their migration habits, their relationship to currents, how they behaved in different types of water, how they fed in different seasons and weather conditions. He spent a lot of time studying the ocean, and weather. He studied the relationship the fish had to the ocean and weather.

His competitors were out studying to become better fisherman. They were investing their time in fishermen related things. Buying fancy lures or bait, upgrading their rod to the newest model and playing with their sonar fish finders.

Come tournament time, because the famous fisherman had spent so much time trying to think like a fish, he knew exactly what they, the fish, wanted. All the guess work was removed. So he would size up the weather, the currents and sea conditions, and he knew exactly where the fish would want to be feeding. So all he did was pick the right location to drop anchor, based on his intimate knowledge of the fish’s behavior, and cast out a line and start reeling them in.

Moral of the story: To catch fish, you need to think like a fish NOT like a fisherman.

Translation for the entrepreneur: To sell your product or promote your business, you need to think like the customer NOT like a businessman.

For the entrepreneur business person, we must always keep in mind our customers. Despite the fact what we want or think is best, our personal desires come second to the customer’s. It is something that is very hard to do, but the sooner you can start applying this principle, the better service you will be providing your customer.

Walk In Their Shoes

There are instances where by chance or luck we have walked in the shoes of our potential customers. Think of people who have transformed themselves through weight loss and are now sharing their methods with other people. They can relate to their potential customer in the most real sense, because at one stage they were in the exact position of that customer – the position of an overweight person looking for a weight loss solution.

Do you think they would know the emotional journey of their potential customers? What about the ‘hot buttons’ of the customers? Would they have a good idea of the doubts and fears that an overweight person has while looking at diet solutions? They would know the answer to all these questions and more, because they have personally been there.

If you are fortunate to be doing your entrepreneurial endeavors in an area where you were once in the shoes of the consumer, then that is great. You have been inside the head of the customer. You know their wants, needs, desires and objections.

Everything you offer should cater to their needs and help move them closer to their end goal. This can be applied to end product creation and also in the building of relationships with the potential customers. If you are in the information niche, it may be the offering the perfect free report you use for an email opt in, the content on your website or the angle of your email autoresponder series.

This type of insight into the mind of the potential customer can also be gained from having a lot of contact with that type of customer. Think of some personal trainers at the gym. They would know all the nuances associated with weight loss and the head space that someone who is trying to lose weight occupies. Simply because they have spent considerable time communicating and being around overweight people.

At times you may find yourself entering a market which is way out of your comfort zone and you may venture into totally new territory, which you have no idea about. This is common in affiliate marketing, especially when you are promoting the next ‘hot thing’ or a high converting product.

What If You Don’t Have Experience Being A Consumer In Your Niche Or The Niche You Are Entering Is New For You?

Then you need to do some investigative work and role playing. You can discover this by visiting sites like these:

Above is a list of forums, websites and blogs. Find and hang out in forums related to your niche. Be a fly on the wall. Do some market research. See what people in the niche are talking about, how they are talking about it, what frustrates them, what hopes they have, what obstacles they face, etc.

Sometimes, you may have to pick up some new lingo to converse on the same level as potential customers. Outside the seduction niche if I used the words PUA, SHB and AFC, they mean nothing to you. But within that niche, this is their language and if you don’t use it then you may not be accepted as ‘real’.

To take it a step further, after your research you want to create a fictional avatar of your potential customer. Give them a name, find a photo on the internet of what you think they would look like. You want to be able to write ‘their story’. Who they are, what they want, what they are currently doing, what frustrates them, what are their dreams and goals etc.

Now to really get inside their head you can use what is called an empathy map. The empathy map represents aspects of that person’s sensory experience. What they are thinking, feeling, saying, doing and hearing. Filling it out is a really great way of “getting to know” all aspect of the person.

When it comes to doing anything related to promoting your business or product you simply look at the avatar you have created and write as if you were writing to them. So now all communication you do for your business is more focused on your potential customer. You are writing to a ‘real person’, you are communicating to a ‘real person’, you are helping a ‘real person’ get one step closer to their goal.

Knowing your potential customer well can only help you provide them with a better service, and if you can help people achieve their goals better, then this ultimately leads to a more successful business for yourself.

Yaro Starak



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  • Hi Leevi,

    I really like your writing style, I loved the way you narrated the fisherman story and related it to how important it is to know how your customers think and act. There is no doubt that in order to be successful, the key is to understand what your customers are all about and what they really require from you. And what can be better than walking in their shoes to find that out. Thanks for sharing!

    Riya Sam
    Training for Entrepreneurs.com

  • awesome article Levi

    was listening to Engaged Entrepreneur by Greg Habstritt and he says something along the lines of “Sell the customer what they want and give the customer what they need”

    Often we know what is best for our customer as we have given the advice/system/product over and over again – so they must want it. However, in their mind it is not what they need. They want something else.

    So we have to package and present our products in a way that we are selling, whatever it is they think they want. But delivering them an added value by including what you know they need.

    Gosh ~ who knew Jedi mind tricks were needed to run a business

  • This is so true, if you work on pleasing your customers, by knowing them inside out, automatically your bottom line will start to increase. As your customers will come to you, because you know them, you understand their needs, and situation, and you can provide them the Solution to their problem. All because you know your customers inside out.
    Thanks for the Post

  • Remember: fish where the fish are!

  • What a great post. I love the story about the fisherman, as it really brings home the fact that readers must be able to relate to you. Your tips for doing so are spot on. Thank you!

  • Does any one have any examples of how they have “thought like a fish?” I’d love to hear some real world applications of this.

    • Thanks for asking Graham,

      Some time ago I actually did some soul searching asking myself how I could really share some of my – Online Business Experience – something really practical that I would for example share when I would be talking with friends when they would ask me what I could recommend them to do in their business.

      ‘How I could really practical usefull ideas
      that you can use as an Online Entrepreneur…..,’

      Than I realised that a Whiteboard is one of the Basic Tools that I use as a handy tool to be able to keep some of my basic goals in front of me all the time. As an Online Entrepreneur and Affiliate Marketeer I realised how much I make use of my Whiteboard, how handy it can be for Affiliate Marketeers.

      Then I also discovered that those posts about using a Whiteboard as a handy tool for are actually amungst the Most Popular Posts!

      Also other recent posts seem to be apprearing amungst the Most Popular ones on my Blog, so now I might finally begin to understand how to write like
      an Affiliate Marketing Fish 🙂

      All the Best,
      To your Happy – Home Business – Inspiration,

      • O.K. I could also possibly need a editing service that checks if the writing is totally error free, I like writing, sharing ideas (even have a special blog about writing) only I don’t really like this editing stuff….,

        ‘That’s one of the other handy things about a Whiteboard,
        you can easily erase what you write on it….! 🙂

        All the Best,
        To your Happy –Home Business – Inspiration,

  • Yes I agree, Think you are a consumer not a businessman, what consumer needed and what they want. that thinking you may realized how important is the consumer is. Think that can satisfied the consumer. Thanks for sharing..very nice article..:)

  • The motto of the PUA is leave her better than you found her. Oh brother, sleaze and cheese, put me out of my misery please.

    If I were to enter this relationship market I would set my aim on the career woman and write a book on Finding Mr. Right: How To Avoid Sleazy Lounge Lizards And Pick Up Artists.

    If you don’t care about ethics the book would be Getting Laid Fast: How To Hunt For Cougars. The target market would be horny men in their twenties. Your upsell or the second stage of your sales funnel would be your own dating site or promoting an affiliate program for one.

    After some relationship building with your prospects through your blog and your relationship tips email newsletter the high end product would be selling professional match making services.

    Along the way you would be qualifying your leads and customers, so by doing this you could sell complementary products and services. For example wedding related things, baby related items and possibly divorce services.

    Here’s my disclaimer or MasterCard cliché. Ideas are worthless but great implementation of those ideas is priceless.

    Thanks Leevi you gave me some nice research sites that I wasn’t aware of.

  • This is very important for every business who wants to succeed in selling its products or services. Usually businesses think how they could sell without thinking how a consumer fills about their products and what he actually wants to buy…

    • The success really of a business mainly depends on clients or consumers. Another great thought from one of the expert.

  • “Thinking like a fish” Love it! Great insight.

    Effective sales copy does this. When the customer comes along and reads they feel that the writer knows exactly what they’re going through even in the right order or events and feelings.

    • Yes, I do think that it is good to realise that as a writer you can show the reader that you know exactly what they’re going through, – Especially since I am an Entrepreneur myself – it’s a great opportunity to be able to really show.

      I will definitely will take this in mind for writing new blog posts!
      So be sure to frequently – ‘Swim by’ – my Blog 🙂

      All the Best,
      To your Happy – Home Business – Inspiration,

  • Hey Leevi you stole my idea!..haha I guess it wasn’t my idea after all.

    When I finish my articles, and before I publish, I read them out loud, to my daughters (if it doesn’t contain adult content) and to an avatar or fictional person. Recently I have discovered podcasting my articles helps me to speak clearly and it changes how I write my articles. Ezine is a priceless resource to enhance article writing and encourage customer relations.

    I also incorporate visualization techniques, I picture the end result. For example, I see my stats at a certain point, or I see myself busy replying to comments. I also add the feeling to it, where I feel as if it was really happening in that moment.

    I read once that Edison and Ford used this technique, among others.


  • Really unique way of looking at with the fish illustration. This all goes back to knowledge being one of the most important aspects in business in marketing. Write and do what you are knowledgeable about, and you will have success.

  • Nice one Levi,

    Reminds me of Carl the Green Keeper (Bill Murray) In the movie Caddyshack.Carl is charged with the job of exterminating all the “gofer’s” from the golf course. He said: “in order to catch the gofer I have to think like the gofa”…. funny movie… and a lesson in knowing your target market!

  • Very interesting outlook on business. I feel people all to often will not really take into account what people want and just try to make the most money possible. I have noticed as a salesman myself that putting myself in a costumers shoes is what really works. Everyone wins!

  • You definitely have to know what you are getting yourself into. It is just like the days when you went to school, you had to prepare and study for the exam to make sure you would get a high score. Some kids never studied and failed as a result, and then there was the rare exception that went without studying but still managed to pass. That’s how I see it too for business, and getting to know your customer base.


  • Ann

    Excellent analagy.. How does a fish think though!!

  • Hi Everyone

    Thanks for your comments, glad you enjoyed the article!

    @Dennis – Sounds like the potential for an empire, run with that!

    @Tony – Yes I find those types of visualizations very helpful.


  • Very good analogy. Exactly to catch a fish it is necessary you have to think like a fish and to have more customers you have to think like a customer. A perfect way to business success. Thanks again.

  • yup, that’s great idea!
    we must keep thinking as our customers. then, we will know what customers need in our product. 😉

  • We’ve all heard how it is in the business that we have to think like our audience/customers and get into their shoes. But the way you delivered this message, with more particular situations, is crafted in a way that a lot of beginners clearly understand. It paints a clear view of how it is and what to expect when engaging business in the “real” sense. Thank you for sharing this, Leevi. Keep it up!

  • Yes, that’s why on my – Home Business Lifestyle – Blog I aim to write posts that I do think that could be interesting and helpful for Online Entrepreneurs, and since I am an Online Entrepreneur myself, – “I AM the fish” – able to ‘think like a fish’ 🙂

    Only for getting more readers engagement I might consider do make more use of the unique knowledge and experience I have consering the Emotional (Entrepreneurs) Journey and also write more about those ‘hot buttons’.
    So thanks for your post.

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Home Business – Inspiration,

  • Two thumbs up for this one! 🙂 Thinking like the consumer yourself can get you on top of the business. Great post Leevi!

  • Interesting Post!
    I love it..
    The idea tho think like a fish not the fisherman is great!!!

  • Your Message leevi, that was awesome artical. In business you got to think like a fish . well done I enjoy reading your idea. thank you. J J.

  • The idea to be on someones place is very interesting, but rather dificult to be done.

  • Most business fail because they never think out of the box.. What more they do for the customer. Getting customer satisfaction 101% is vital for the ongoing success of any business

  • Hi Leevi, I loved your Fish story. It is the best story that relates to internet marketing. Your writing style is very simple and easy to understand. I enjoyed reading your post. You have discussed the most critical of all the points that decides the success of an affiliate marketer – thinking and walking in the shoes of a customer. I don’t know how to emphasize more on that aspect. This is one of the key things that many entrepreneurs ignore – be it online or otherwise. Thanks for those helpful links. Looking forward for more from you Leevi. !

  • Thanks for your post,

    Your Post really Inspired me to approach writing new posts
    in a different way.

    I actually just wrote such a – New Style – Post, ‘Like a Fish’ on my Home Business Lifestyle Blog. Hope fully readers will ‘Catch it’.

    (and that eventually that it will ‘Catch On’ that readers will bookmark
    my Blog(s) and will re-visit frequently :))

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Home Business – Inspiration,

  • You are a great story teller! I like the analogy. At the same time, I think a balance between both (thinking like a consumer as well as planning as a businessman) is the key.

  • […] you know your target market and you resonate and empathize with them, engage them, speak their language and offer them […]

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