Considerations for Alternative Marketing

Considerations for Alternative Marketing

Many fishermen find that the financial and/or social rewards, such as receiving more money for their catch and establishing a more direct connection with consumers, make alternative marketing worthwhile. But it isn’t for everyone, as there are increased risks and demands. Therefore, it's important to consider several factors, including the general benefits and challenges listed in the following table, as well as those specific to each type of alternative market, and the skills and other requirements described below. 

Considerations for Alternative Marketing

Benefits and Challenges

  • Receive a higher price-per-pound than most traditional markets
  • Products can be sold in small and/or large quantities
  • Customers provide feedback about products, potentially leading to ideas for new ones
  • Opportunities to connect with and develop loyalty among customers
  • Diversifies markets, thereby reducing market risk
  • Control of where and when product is sold
  • Takes time away from fishing; greater and more diverse investments of labor and time
  • Catch may not match demand
  • May not be possible to provide desired products
  • Socially demanding
  • May put ties with traditional markets at risk
  • Less flexibility to take advantage of good fishing days due to scheduled marketing activities
Considerations for Alternative Marketing

Skills and More

It is equally important to consider the additional skills, effort and expenses required to operate an alternative market, including:

  • obtaining insurance and necessary regulatory documents (e.g. permits, licenses)
  • obtaining training and incorporating and maintaining safe handling practices (e.g., sanitation control, HACCP; see Seafood Safety)
  • ensuring adequate financial, human and physical resources (e.g., staff, packaging, storage, shipping)
  • building and maintaining your customer base (advertising, selling)
  • handling customer issues (complaints, payment arrangements, collections, etc.)
  • using effective inventory and accounting practices
  • being well organized to handle the many tasks that are part of alternative marketing

Personal Considerations

Also consider how the diverse requirements of creating and running an alternative market fit with your:

  • personality and lifestyle
  • fishing operation
  • financial and other resources
  • long-term business goals

See the self-evaluation and resources sections in the next boxes for tools to help you determine whether alternative marketing may fit your personality and business.

Considerations for Alternative Marketing


To help determine whether alternative marketing might be for you, see if you answer “yes” to most of the questions below. 


  • Will I like being a salesman and talking to customers face to face, week after week?
  • Am I willing and able to take time away from my fishing operation to market my catch (e.g., transport and deliver product, spend time with customers)?
  • Will I be happy spending more time on land instead of at sea?

Business Circumstances 

  • Will I be able to maintain my connection with my traditional market (if desired)?
  • Do I have access to processing facilities, cold storage, etc. (if needed)?
  • Do I have, or have access to, the finances to cover start-up costs and hold me over while collecting payment from customers?

Want more questions? See "Got the Goods"

Considerations for Alternative Marketing


20 Questions Before Starting.
US Small Business Administration (SBA). Key business questions that explore your motives for considering a new venture and associated needs.
Entrepreneurial checklist tool for beginning farm and home-based businesses
Journal of Extension. A self-evaluation, based on successful agricultural entrepreneurs, that considers personality and individual characteristics.
Got the Goods. 
Fishermen's Direct Marketing Manual. AK, OR & WA Sea Grant. Questions to assess your strengths and weaknesses related to alternative marketing of seafood.
There's money in public sales, but lots of work too
Pacific Fishing Magazine.
What exactly does a direct marketer do
Fishermen's Direct Marketing Manual. AK, OR & WA Sea Grant. Description of tasks that you will likely take on with alternative marketing.