What can the Alligator Snapping Turtle teach you about marketing?

Without a doubt, every startup hungry for success needs one thing, regardless of industry or location. And that’s customers. Without them, there’s no business, and definitely no revenue stream. They feed your business, fuelling progress and growth. A bit like how your standard animal needs food. It’s a bit of a non-negotiable.

Unfortunately, like trying to track down food in a competitive ecosystem, getting customers is easier said than done. For a business, this is where marketing comes in. For most people the word “marketing” elicits thoughts of massive marketing campaigns, facebook adverts, direct emails and tv adverts. These techniques are known as outbound marketing. Unfortunately, all of these channels come with a cost, and in a world saturated with advertisements it can be difficult to standout.  Just like your average predator, with so many other competitors fighting for the food it can be hard to get any for yourself. How can you differentiate and get the competitive advantage?


Source: Reference



Well, one unique species has figured this out. The Alligator Snapping Turtle. Instead of chasing down its prey, it entices them to come to him. The ultimate in lazy hunting. So how does it do this? Lying motionless in the water with its jaw open, its head and body look like an innocent rock. Like in the video below, the turtle then moves its fleshy tongue, which looks remarkably like a wriggling worm. To the innocent small fish or frog this looks just like dinner, so they wander into the Alligator Snapping Turtle’s jaw, completely unaware they are about to become its dinner. As soon as they enter the powerful jaw, they are instantly snapped up and killed. For the turtle this is a perfect deal. It doesn’t have to waste any energy searching for prey.

In the marketing world the same technique can be applied. Inbound marketing focuses on producing quality content that potential customers want to read or engage with, naturally drawing them towards your company and products. Most often this in the form of blogs, with content that is aligned with the target customers interests, but can also come as videos, podcasts, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers and so on. Not only does this attract customers to your website, where the sales can be made, but it also builds trust with the company.

Source: Smart Insights

There are 3 key steps to make inbound marketing work for you:

  1. Attract: the worm tongue

It is critical to attract the right customers at the right time. Make sure your content is aimed at your target market. There is no absolutely no point in discussing the best icecream shops in Melbourne if your product is a weight loss pill. It’s counterproductive. There’s a reason the Alligator Snapping Turtle’s tongue looks like a worm, because frogs eat worms. So produce educational content that people want. A great example is Casper, a bed startup with a blog focused on the science of sleep which is perfect for their target market.

  1. Convert: Eat the prey

Now that the prospective customer is on your website, you want to hook them in that little bit more. An Alligator Snapping Turtle literally snaps up its prey, but you may prefer to gently encourage them towards email sign up and sales. Using an email as “payment” for an eBook can be very effective, especially if the content is good. With blogs it can be a little trickier to get an email, but a clearly visible sign up box is a good addition to your website.

  1. Close: Digest the prey

Once you have the contact details of prospective customers, it is all about what you do with this information. An Alligator Snapping Turtle does not just close its mouth and leave it at that. It chews and digests to get the most nutrients out of its food. Similarly, you need to continually produce valuable content to keep your subscribers coming back and purchasing your products or services.


Source: Belshaw Agency


If trust with the brand is built up through offering genuine information, you will find much greater marketing success than forcing a sale through expensive advertising. And although an Alligator Snapping Turtle can only make use of their prey once, effective inbound marketing can see sales coming in again and again, all while sitting back and relaxing (writing blogs)!


Is over-regulation inhibiting the hustle catalyst?

In the entrepreneurial space, a favourite buzz word is “hustle.” Now I’ve talked about hustle before, and to be honest, I think it is fantastic. It gets things happening. You avoid procrastination and overplanning. Hustle is the enzyme catalyst for action in a business, it takes that initial idea, like the reagents in a reaction, and makes things happen. Fast. Put together your customer and a prototype (reagents), add a bit of hustle (the enzyme catalyst) and you get instantaneous feedback on your idea (reaction product).

Taking action quickly is vital when you want to get a proof of concept, make pivots based on the market response or have the first mover advantage. But you lose the beauty of the moment if these things happen slowly. Rather than iterative product development, slow action means you have to make assumptions about the wants and needs of the customers. And in entrepreneurship, making assumptions is a dangerous game to play.

But having spent a large part of this year working on The Cricket Effect, I am starting to see that hustling isn’t always that easy. In fact, progress can be ridiculously slow as you work through the bureaucracy and red tape, making every little step a mountain to overcome.

With the current government focused on innovation and an ideas boom, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between the intention of the current policies, and the reality of the situation. There are so many fees and legal requirements, that getting anywhere is tricky. As a food business, we face importation restrictions, food business registration, company registration, kitchen licensing, mobile food vendor fees, and the list goes on. The hustle to get out our MVP and test the market has been all but completely halted by the over-regulation.


Is the government really doing all they can to help “ideas boom”? Source: ANAO


Just like hustle makes thing happen, like an enzyme catalyst, over-regulation works as an inhibitor, in particular, an allosteric inhibitor. In an enzyme catalyst, the reaction happens at the active site, where the two reagents meet, but a second molecule, known as an allosteric inhibitor can come over and bind to the enzyme. When this allosteric inhibitor binds, it changes the shape of the active site, so the two reagents can no longer fit together and react. This slows the reaction right down, and in some cases can even completely stop it.


The action of an allosteric inhibitor. Source: BIOAP


Over regulation when working in the start-up and innovation space does the same thing. It comes in, sucking out time, money and every ounce of enthusiasm. Those quick ideas have to be moulded to fit with the masses of rules. Suddenly those instant iterations are not so instant anymore, and the investment in every trial becomes significant. For us, we cannot pop down to a market, sell our product, and get feedback. Instead, we have to spend upwards of $1,000 to get the necessary licenses and permits.

One of the special features about allosteric inhibitors is that they can be specific to certain enzymes, with only some enzymes and some reactions being affected, while the remainder are left untouched. So when over-regulation works as an inhibitor, it affects low budget start ups much more than established multi-national corporations. Bootstrapping is an entrepreneurial gem, allowing resourceful action on a minimal budget. It makes new start-ups dynamic and innovative. However, with so much regulation, true bootstrapping is made nigh on impossible with all the fees required. For corporate giants, a few thousand dollars here or there is a drop in the ocean, meaning they are unaffected by these requirements. This means the ‘reaction’ of these huge companies and their products with customers outcompetes the ‘reaction’ of startups with customers, as start-ups are affected so much more. For new companies, this makes it difficult to compete.


We should favor innovation and freedom over regulation.
Source: Double Quotes


Often the best and most disruptive ideas come from outside of the box thinking with a limited budget. But the huge amounts of regulation and fees required in order to comply with legalities means for many new startups, it may not be worth the effort to even try. Although rules and regulations have their place, and exist for a reason, startups are a catalyst for change and rely on hustle. Over-regulation is inhibiting this hustle and may put a stop to an explosion of new ideas.