Fish Bowl Marketing

Marketing using a Fish Bowl“So the challenge is to think of a least three ways a small business can use a fish bowl in their marketing,” said Rick, our direct marketing principal.

Kate, ever the sales professional, said, “And the prize is?”

“Lunch on me,” Rick said without hesitation.

Rob, our southern fried branding expert said, “Can I get a piece of that virtuosity?

“All are welcome,” said Rick. “What have you got?”

I jumped in, “How about you put a fish bowl on the counter next to your cash register and collect client cards and then send ‘em e-mails for specials?”

Gail, our copywriter said, “That’s a no-brainer but you also need a guest register for those people that don’t have business cards if you really want it to work.”

“Flip it,” said Chris the Digital Director. “Instead of asking people to put a card in, have them take one out … a coupon good on their return works really well.”

Kate suggested, “Work out a deal with a non-competitive store on the other side of town and each of you offer coupons for the other’s store. It’s a cross promotion.”

“Okay,” Rick said, “so far we have:

  • Business card collector
  • Coupon dispenser
  • Cross promotion coupon dispenser

Seems to me those are all kind of the same.”

“But Branding has not yet spoken,” drawled Rob “How about a way to use a fish bowl for a B2B business? Heah’s how that works. What you do is you get a nice glass fish bowl—gotta be glass to work right. And y’all get yourself some of those bags of tiny candy bars from a big box store. Then you walk into the front desk of a target account and you say you would really like to meet with the owner or manager but you only have time today to drop off this bowl which you’ll keep filled with candy by stopping in once a week if that’s okay. Then you pour some candy bars into the bowl from a little height so there’s this pleasant clinking noise.

You leave. And in a week you come back and fill it the same way. Nice clinking noise. You get to know the receptionist a little better and you learn a little more about the company. A question or two is never a problem as you fill the bowl.

After doing that for four to six weeks you should have a solid rapport and be able to ask for an appointment to see the owner and the folks in the company that will use your product or service. You have become known as someone who can be trusted because you clinked candy bars into that fish bowl once every week as you promised.

I know it seems like a lot of time, but I guarantee that dog will hunt. It never fails.”

“Bubba, you are one tough act to follow,” I said. “I know that Rick did a mailing once that used a fishbowl to sell medical practices on having aquariums in their waiting rooms. As I recall, a box arrived with a fish bowl and the next day a delivery person brought a live gold fish. Each time there was a note that talked about tranquility in the office and a request to present some research on how patients responded to aquariums on waiting rooms. A telephone call requesting a meeting with the office manager and the managing doctor followed.

Have you ever noticed how many aquariums there are in doctors and dentists offices?”

The Takeaway:

A simple fish bowl can receive, give, send and intrigue. It’s all in how you look at it.  How do you find a way to see a greater potential?

This blog recaps the luncheon conversations of a group of business development professionals. They discuss what’s new, what’s old, what’s good, bad and ugly plus creative thinking to find what works. Jerry Fletcher is the ringleader and secretary. look into his products at

Jerry has been researching and implementing small business marketing that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy for 20 years as President of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. Learn more at

Schedule a personal appearance. Jerry speaks internationally on Networking, Marketing and Contact Relationship Magic.

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