Can You Learn From a Suicidal Goldfish?

I’m a dog person. At least with a dog you can play with them and teach them tricks. I am not a fish person. Fish just swim around aimlessly and, rumour has it, they have an attention span of 3 seconds.

So imagine my surprise when I started correlating fish activity, or lack thereof, with public relations and business marketing. My friend has a black fish – one with the big bug eyes – kinda cute – that I have named Nero (for obvious reasons; although it didn’t play a fiddle and burn down Rome, it was black).

It is also suicidal. It picks fights with a much bigger goldfish in the aquarium. It wedges itself between the tank and the filter whereby I have to ‘fish’ it out. It doesn’t eat, instead choosing to suck in a bit of food and then spit it out again and move on. It roams around the treasure chest, hides in the fishy castle and swims around doing the same things over and over again.

can you learn from a suicidal goldfish

It occurred to me that I see people in business doing the same things. Not scuba diving in the office fountain, but seemingly doing mindless ‘office housework’ rather than concentrating on the things that will really get their business on the fast track to success.

Try this simple test. What are the three most important things you could do to improve your business bottom line?

And how many of them have you done in the last week? The last month?

Are you surprised, or pleased, with your answers? The majority of people are actually too busy stringing their instrument and not concentrating on playing their song. And that’s as suicidal as Nero picking fights with a big fish and not eating.

web-comic-procrastinateWhat are you NOT doing that you really should be doing?

Here are some ideas that should be as important to you as eating. Depending on your business, they can be done daily, weekly or, at least, monthly.


Do this regularly. Pick up the phone, call in for coffee, invite them for lunch – depending on the nature and depth of the relationship. E-mails have their place for quick confirmations but nothing beats actually talking to clients. When was the last time you spoke to your top 10 clients? Or top 100? After all, if you don’t have clients then you don’t have a business.


It is now widely accepted that people do business with people they like and with people who make them feel important. You can have the best product (or service), the best price, the best location, the best gimmicks, the best distribution, the best Christmas parties – but unless your product (or service) stands up to your clients’ idea of value and unless you make them feel valued, you’re dead after the first purchase.

What have you done lately to improve your product (or service), make your clients feel valued or differentiate yourself through excellence.

can you learn from a suicidal goldfish


Consider how you can provide a superior alternative to something that is already on the market. Stop development on anything that won’t be superior to the competition – you may not win on pricing or promotion, but you will win on value and quality. OR – develop a product from a current service.


Maximise every communication opportunity. Often, the first time a prospective client comes in to contact with your business it’s through written communication – a brochure, newsletter, business letter, web site, even a business card or ‘tweet’.

Whilst simultaneously taking care of your current clients, you also want to grow your business by putting yourself in front of new customers

What new things have you done recently to expand your reach or improve your messaging?

REMEMBER: part of your promotion is generating publicity for your business.

Don’t become a suicidal goldfish – because if you are not working on these four areas then you are slowly starving your business to death!

I’d love you to join me on Twitter @insanelyclever and Facebook /InsanelyCleverMarketing for more great advice, free business tips and insanely clever marketing inspiration.

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