The Key to Marketing: Fresh Fish Sold Here!

Fresh Fish Sold here

At Modern Retail we try to help our clients send the right marketing messages in the simplest way possible without doing so in an ordinary way.  In doing this, I always use the “fresh fish sold here” analogy as a good starting point to help clients look at things just a little differently.  You’re probably wondering what does fish have to do with marketing (along with the fact that you’re probably not in the fish business either).  Let me explain.

Fresh Fish

If you wanted to make a sign that advertised the fish you sell, the sign above would be a pretty good place to start.  However, a skeptic would overthink the sign and would say something negative which would sound similar to this: “. . . Fresh fish sold here!  Are you kidding me?  Of course the fish is fresh.  We would never sell fish that isn’t fresh.  So remove the word ‘fresh’.  Fish!  Of course we sell fish.  Look around the market and that’s all you’ll see is fish.  Isn’t it obvious we sell fish? So please take out the word ‘fish’.  Sold!  Of course we ‘sell’ the fish.  We’re not giving fish away around here so take out the word ‘sold’.  Here!  What do you mean ‘here’?  Of course it’s here, where else would it be. . . .”
If you crafted messages thinking this way your sign would be blank sending no message at all.  An obvious message is far better than no message.  You can overthink things so badly that you can actually end up with nothing because you think everything is so obvious.  The person who thinks like this is far too close to the situation. I know people like this and somehow they find a way to justify this kind of thinking.  If you remember anything at all about this article remember this:

People need to be reassured. If you study people, they’re not going to go through all of the above in their head before they buy your fish.  They need to have the obvious pointed out to them because they’re busy and for the most part not paying attention.  Obvious is easy and easy is good.

The “fresh fish sold here” analogy is a good one to use as a reference point when you find yourself stuck in the obvious or afraid that someone is going to take advantage of you.


In our city, there’s a summer farmers market around a large square in the center of town.  Hundreds of farmers from all over the state set up their stands every Saturday drawing thousands of people.  It’s great fun and we love it.
Farmers Market One particular stand sells vegetables and flowers and the big plywood sign above the stand, written in hand painted letters no less, says: “Veggies and flowers grown by Charlotte” and there is a large photograph of Charlotte on the sign.  Charlotte looks like an eight year old girl and she is as cute as can be.
One Saturday, Charlotte was handing out free flowers and smiling and giggling and having a ball.  Her stand was packed.  Why?  I doubt Charlotte’s veggies tasted better than any other veggie stand.  Her flowers didn’t seem brighter or more fragrant than any other stand.  Where her stand was located didn’t seem to have an advantage over other stands.  The simple answer – it was Charlotte!  The name fit the face and the long messy hair.  She was smiling and having fun and everyone felt good supporting her.  I did too!  She was perfect and I spent $40.00!
I believe that all this little girl would have needed is a sign with just a picture of her face and her stand would have been packed with customers throwing money at her.  Add her little dog into the mix along with her cuffed overalls and the first thing you think of is a young Ellie May Clampett; she can’t grow enough veggies and flowers fast enough to support the demand.  The instant association to a positive character is a huge marketing goal for many businesses.  I doubt that Charlotte, and what appeared to be her grandfather, had a clue as to the power of a natural, fun loving Charlotte being herself and selling her goods.

Simple is Best

Simple, low tech, obvious messages from real people is all you need sometimes. Think about this article when marketing for your business or your website.  For me, a simple, clean, positive and easily understood message is the best message.


1,400+ Integrations Strong

Trusted by:

  • Weiman
  • moosehead
  • Turkey-Hill
  • Graceland
  • Gardiner
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers