Lobster Fishermen Use Social Media & Internet Strategy to Bring in More Dough!

Written by on September 1st, 2008

Tips to use social media to increase profits!

The ridiculously high run up of gas prices in just one year is requiring even lobster fishermen to rethink how they do business.  When times get tough, the tough have to think smarter, not work harder, right?

In the past lobster fishermen were about as far removed from their customers as the Chinese worker who assembles the products you buy from Walmart.

Brendan and John Ready, lobster fishermen from Cape Elizabeth, Maine (both in their mid 20’s and college graduates) started using social media and their website as a strategic business tool to help them by pass the wholesale distribution system and go right to their customer.   Brendan and John decided to use the Internet to not only reach directly to consumers but also engage and involve them in their business.

To do that they built a website which they called, Catch a Piece of Maine. Their unique value proposition is built around creating an experience for their customers. They want to be your private lobster fisherman who works just for you and deliver your lobster to you via overnight delivery services. James Gilmore & Joseph Pine in their ground breaking book, The Experience Economy, suggested that people are looking for more than a commodity product and are willing to pay MORE for an experience that is tied in with the product.   The brothers understood this and decided to use the Internet to build a unique experience for their customers.

They did that by developing a business website that included:

  • A Blog to share news of daily catches, issues they faced
  • Video to educate customers on the risks and rewards of their industry
  • An eNewsletter to keep them in the minds of their customers
  • Contests to encourage people to share their email
  • Merchandise to build their brand

They even found a way for customers to become investors in their company by offering them a piece of the action.  For only $2,995 the brothers will give you all the proceeds of a trap during lobster season. You are guaranteed 52 lobster and they donate a portion of your money to a charity!

Instead of spending thousands on professional videos, they used a simple video camera to capture a series of videos where they:

  • Talk about how they catch lobsters
  • Why they want to work JUST FOR YOU
  • Remind you that lobsters make the perfect gift,
  • Suggest they can be used for special occasions
  • Provide background information on themselves so you can get to know them.

The Experience

The brothers recognized, just setting up the website and using social media tools was not going to fulfill their desire to become your lobster fisherman.  To add the “total” experience value, they elected to create a personalized video for each customer and post the video on YouTube. They include in the shipment instructions on where they will find their greeting!

As an example, I would be able to find on Youtube something like this,

“Hi Don, this is Captain John.  We caught your lobster in our XXXX trap in the XXX cove just yesterday. The conditions were rough which limited our catch and prevented us from fulfilling some wholesale orders.  Your lobster is truly special.  Visit our website to get tips and ideas on how to prepare your lobster!”

Why is this strategy so effective?

First of all not only are they bypassing the wholesaler and end up getting more for their lobster than they did before.  In recent article in the New York Times by Katie Zezima included a quote from Peter Eaton, a Lobsterman from Kennebunkport, Me. who is getting about $3.75 per lobster off his boat, a quarter less than three months ago and about a dollar less than last summer.  “Lobster is a luxury item, and when things are tight, people don’t buy lobster”.   Not only are the brothers getting about $60 more per lobster, they are building excitement around their product that is increasing demand.

Secondly, their strategy has shown to be an effective viral marketing technique that encourages their customers (and media) to share the story with others.

With absolutely NO advertising, they have put their business on a trajectory that has no customer acquisition cost. The Internet and some savvy Internet strategies has positioned them to “own” this technique in their industry.

There you go, you now can have your own personal lobster fisherman.  Which of your friends can say that?

Can  they improve on this idea?

Absolutely!   First of all, they could use video testimonial where customers could leave a video testimonial on how special their lobster was or as a way to thank the individual who bought the lobster as a gift for them.

Secondly, they could develop an online community environment where members can share recipes, memories and connect with others who not only share a love for Lobster but one that is focused on the beauty of Maine and interested in supporting the Ready brothers desires to protect the Lobster and environment that provides them an income and their customers great tasting lobster.  For example their online community could become a rallying point to find others willing to write letters, spread the word and gather more volunteers.

Finally, for close to shore traps they could lock down a laptop computer and a webcam in a position to catch them busy at work. At any time their customers, the curious and investors could “virtually” experience a day in the life of a lobster fisherman.

So what’s that got to do with you?

Your Internet strategy has to focus on ENGAGING YOUR CUSTOMERS.  Sure you can use the Internet to send offers and take orders, but as the Ready brothers have shown us, you have to use the tools and services along with a unique proposition to get them involved, educate them and use their network of friends to sell your products.

Think long and hard on the example they are blazing for you.  If a lobster fisherman can literally transform their business, you could too! Their strategy is not only increasing their profits but it’s making their business fun again.  If a lobster fisherman can say that, you could too!

What’s your opinion? Share with us how you are moving your company forward by using the Internet to engage your customers online.

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1 Comment »

  1. What If Your Sales Force and Distributors Disappeared Overnight? says

    […] and drive viral marketing, they create a video for customers and post the greeting to YouTube.  Check out the blog article about Brendan and John. It’s really an innovative way to make the buying of a product or service more of an […]

    October 15th, 2008 | #

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