Something for Everyone

When I was a little kid, I loved cartoons, and Saturday morning was a treat. One after another after another, they rolled across the screen, and I watched in my pajamas, eating Cap’n Crunch or one of the other sugary breakfast cereals that sponsored all the animation.

It was perfect!

As I got a little older, my viewing habits changed. Instead of the cartoons, I gravitated to the mindless sitcoms of the late ’60s and ’70s. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that a program set in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II was the subject of comedy, but it was a different time, and shows like “Hogan’s Heroes,” “Three’s Company” and “Happy Days” were hugely popular.

It was perfect!

As an adult, my television watching is different yet. I’ll check out some sports on occasion, indulge my wife’s penchant for those home fixer-upper shows and catch the occasional drama like “Breaking Bad” or “Better Call Saul.” I have some real “guilty pleasures,” too, but I’ll save that for later.

And with 500 channels to choose from, it’s perfect!

My wife and I are of the “television generation.” When the thing is on, it’s hard for us to look away. And while I read a great deal more than I watch TV, my personal default setting is to find a recliner that’s pointed at our big flat screen and to settle in for the night.

Television as an industry is, of course, huge. With so many channels and options (and thousands more if you consider peripheral offerings like Netflix, Hulu and YouTube) there’s truly something for everyone. Entertainment like this will never die, never struggle to find viewers and never fail to turn a profit. The means of delivery may change, and the way it’s supported though marketing and advertising will evolve, but it will be here long after all of us are gone.

I’d like to think sportfishing is like that — that it will be around in some form for as long as humans can preserve the habitat and have time for leisure.

As retailers, you will have the largest role in whether or not that will be true. You have the grassroots connection to the anglers who will perpetuate our sport … or not.

And you will need to provide that “something for everyone” to make it happen.

Of course, I don’t mean that you — individually — must provide something for everyone. After all, if you’re a South Florida retailer you’re not going to supply and support a brook trout fishery. You’d go broke, and people would look at you strangely.

What you can do, however, is think of your audience in key segments and make sure you’re serving them all. The easy way is probably to think of your customer base as a mix of beginners, intermediates and experts. Are you catering to each of those groups? Where’s your weak spot? Which of those groups is currently underserved by you? To answer that question, consider which of those groups is least represented on your bottom line.

But maybe that’s not the best way to segment your audience. Maybe you should look at them based on the species they target — bass, walleye and trout or redfish, speckled trout and snook or something else.

Maybe you should break your potential customer base down by age or gender or even race. Check out the places where your audience gathers to fish — a marina, a stream, a boat ramp — and see what they’re like with fresh eyes. Is what you see at the water what you are also seeing in your store?

You may not be able to offer “something for everyone — like television does — but you can offer enough or offer the right mix to best serve your business. More on that next time.

Right now I’ve gotta run. “BattleBots” is on.