Cody Butler is the owner of Catfish Getters, a company that has been crafting fiberglass bank line poles since 1995. The business has been passed down through Cody’s grandfather Dale Michels, who initially started creating the fishing poles as a hobby. While the craft and business has been managed by three generations, Cody has breathed new life into the company with his strategic marketing and promotional efforts. We had the opportunity to speak with him about their top performing tactics and use of promotional products.
4 Successful Marketing Tactics Implemented by the Youngest Generation of a Family Business
Over time, variances in marketing are needed to account for both shifts in societal values and the accessibility of platforms. There is no standard for what marketers say and where they say it. The tools used to reach customer bases change – from radio ads to billboards, TV commercials and social media “influencer” marketing. While each of these mediums still exist, their use and effectiveness differs over generations. Each new age group requires unique marketing messages and positioning as society’s ideals fluctuate.
Salesforce, a leading provider of cloud base CRMs to businesses, explains, “It’s critical for brands to understand that each generation desires something different, and with that want to engage differently with products and services, both pre- and post-purchase.” Catfish Getters is a great example of a company whose marketing strategy evolved over time to address the needs and interests of their customer base.
Under Cody Butler’s management, Catfish Getters saw a great return for their marketing investments, which includes rebranding, social media, sponsorship, and the strategic use of promotional products. This is a far cry from when the company was first started. “He didn’t really have a whole approach to it… It was kind of just a hobby for him,” said Butler of his Grandfather’s approach to running Catfish Getters. “It was a word of mouth deal. He sold them to friends and people around our area. He did have a website, but he didn’t market it really well…”
However, by successfully marketing Catfish Getters, Butler explains, “In about 2.5 years I’ve probably more than quadrupled sales since I took over.” We had the opportunity to speak with Butler about how these four marketing efforts have changed from his grandfather’s generation to his.
Companies rebrand for several reasons: including to update their aesthetic, promote a new identity or service, or to draw in a new customer base. For Butler, Catfish Getters did not have an established brand to begin with, which called for a well-considered brand conception. “[My grandfather] really didn’t have a logo; I think he just had a picture of a catfish that he probably found online,” said Butler of the original brand design. “I actually designed and made the [new] logo myself.”
Rebranding is an initiative that can range in scope and scale. It can mean something as minor as integrating a new color into a logo or product, or something as impactful as a company name change or a complete overturn in the type of products or services offered.
While Butler did find areas of the brand’s identity to modify or build upon, he says “I didn’t really rebrand the company. “When [my grandfather] first started the company, the products were called Catfish Getters. I wanted to give the product a specific name so it wasn’t the same as the company name. If we grow and [add] different products, each product can have its own name. I came up with the Whisker Stick brand and we just got a logo designed for that.” Butler enlisted a family member to design the product’s new logo.
While there is value in keeping the brand legacy of a multi-generational family business, Butler effectively gave Catfish Getters a modern revamp through a small rebrand.
2. Social Media
According to Salesforce, millennials spend nearly 30 hours each month on social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. “This means they are attached much more personally to brands and companies through these tools than they are traditional marketing efforts such as TV or radio advertising. If millennials are the target market,” Salesforce advises, “Marketers must include an in-depth social media plan that encompasses their social networks.” With the incredible buying power the millennial generation has, it’s smart to have a well-considered social media strategy.
Social channels are a great outlet for small businesses, as brands can see huge returns from implementing through this simple marketing practice. “Social media is a big thing for us,” said Butler, explaining how Facebook and Instagram play a noticeable role in his success. With regular posting of content, including product information, visuals and sale announcements, Catfish Getters connects with their customers to drive sales and brand awareness.
3. Promotional Products and Giveaways
Offering free gifts with purchase is a thoughtful way to make customers feel valued. It’s especially appreciated when the gift serves a purpose and therefore has value to the customer. Butler uses branded keychains as a gift with pole purchases. He explains, “Most states, including Nebraska where I live, [require] you have to have your name and address on the pole itself. What we do is send a keychain with every single pole. That way when the customer gets it, they can write that information on that keychain. It’s easier for them so they don’t have to go out and buy some kind of tag to put on their pole.”
For Butler, buying promotional products from ePromos is a positive experience. His branded products – from t-shirts to keychains – help to garner more exposure and awareness for his brand. “I enjoy using you guys a lot! You are extremely fast and really easy to work with,” he says of his experience with ePromos. “My grandfather actually used [ePromos] for some keychains that he had made in the past. Everything we’ve got from you has been extremely well made and high quality.”
Competitive pricing was also what drew Cody to our products and services. While purchased at competitive rates, he notes there is no sacrifice in quality – which is imperative when gifting your clients and potential customers with a promotional product they’ll use time and time again.
Butler also uses sponsorship as a method of brand exposure. “I also started a pro staff — where we sent some products out, and they send me pictures and videos of the fish that they’re catching,” Butler explained of his sponsorship strategy.
Professionals and other experts in their fields are known influencers in their social circles. Compared to his grandfather’s time, today it is easier than ever to identify and contact known influencers and celebrities to partner for successful endorsement deals. Because their promo items include the Catfish Getters logo, their name is seen and photographed alongside members of the pro staff. “I can use that content for marketing on our website and social media pages,” Cody says. “People see the pictures and videos in our marketing — it’s a great thing for us.”
Sponsorship goes hand in hand with branding, social media and promotional product marketing – and when done correctly, all are highly effective ways of getting exposure for your brand.
The use of promotional products, paired with thoughtful strategies encompassing branding, social media and sponsorship, helps multi-generational businesses market to their customer base. Catfish Getters is a great example of such a company that can utilize different marketing tools to expand their business.