CMO @ Fishbrain: Lisa Kennelly- Scaling as the Dominant Player in Your Niche

Lisa Kennelly has been the CMO at Fishbrain for over three years and oversees marketing operations, strategy, and vision. Since the fall of 2020, Lisa has been responsible for growing and managing Fishbrain’s eCommerce marketplace. Outside of Fishbrain, Lisa is an advisor and mentor of multiple early-stage founders and startups.

Fishbrain is a mobile app and online platform with map-based tools, fishing forecasts, social networking features, and recommendations on fishing gear. Fishing is the most popular hobby in the world… and is huge in the US, Fishbrain’s biggest market.

During the pandemic, Fishbrain was a beneficiary of other businesses and sports shutting down and also from becoming the primary online retailer focused on a variety of fishing gear. Riding this wave, Fishbrain has grown to over 13 million users.

Lisa led Fishbrain’s marketing expansion beyond their (mostly) paid advertising campaigns. Fishbrain’s social network feature attracts new users and contributes to their user retention. Fishbrain grows through SEO, word of mouth, influencers and even offline marketing (billboards, radio ads, etc) in some southern US states that have a thriving culture of anglers.

Sometimes, all that is required to stand out in the market is observing a pattern and disrupting it with a bold design decision. At Clue, a female reproductive health app, Lisa and her team disrupted the ongoing pattern of having a pink-themed female health tracker app. This bold design decision contributed “big time” to their growth.

If you are working with influencers, focus on micro-influencers because they are more approachable and have a more dedicated fan base. Nail your product benefits, product positioning, and its messaging. Be rigid about how influencers can use them and how they must not use them.

If you are in a newer, less-saturated niche, SEO is a great channel because it’s easier to find content gaps in the niche and fill it with high-quality content.

Lisa shares that to increase your premium subscriptions: make your pro membership content truly valuable and meant for the regular, high-frequency user – not just the occasional user. Split testing can be used to avoid making decisions. Sometimes, you just have to believe in your ideas and execute them because non-determinant results of A/B testing can be paralyzing.

Lisa also shares management lessons for CMO’s: empathy, honesty, vulnerability, and direct feedback help connect with employees. Sometimes, simply giving your employees a kind ear to vent can do the trick. Consuming leadership content has also helped Lisa in her quest of becoming a great CMO.