What dolphins can teach us about marketing

collaboration as a marketing tactic

collaboration as a marketing tactic

What dolphins can teach us about marketing

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to live less than 2 miles from the closest beach. Yesterday morning, I dragged my feet and spent too much time goofing around on Facebook before finally committing to driving to the beach for a walk, rather than just walking out my front door. And I am so glad I convinced myself it would be worth the extra few minutes of driving to walk on the beach. It never fails to inspire me. The image above is one I created in 2012, right after we moved to Santa Barbara, California.

Of course, it’s always worth it. I am happier there, I walk further and I dawdle, too, poking around the tide pools or stopping to look at rocks and shells, watch a great blue heron hunt or a hawk soaring overhead. I take pictures like the ones below when I am inspired by a color, a pattern or a special find. I have lived here two years now and realized that I don’t need to take home every bit of flotsam and jetsam that calls to me, so my iPhone is my constant companion and visual journal. Every time I walk on this very same beach, usually a few times a week, something is different, new and special.


On really lucky mornings, the dolphins pass by, a few at a time, lazily making their way up or down the coast in search of breakfast. At one point in my walk, I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of a fin popping up out of the water and suddenly there they were, in small groups of two or three, slowly moving along. Then suddenly, they went crazy! They started racing north, flying along in beautiful arcs of silver against the blue of the ocean. They didn’t go far when I was treated to a rare sight. Suddenly the dolphins were leaping fully into the air, their whole bodies clearing the water with giant leaps and then falling again with slap of sound and water spraying.

They looked so playful in their circle, jumping, leaping and slapping their tales. In truth, this is how they collaborate to collect fish. They all work together to create a whirlpool that pulls in a school of fish – a feast! The slapping of their tales stuns the fish and the dolphins are able to easily catch them. It was the most amazing moment to see up close. Here is a YouTube video showing an example of the dolphins doing this.

 But what on earth does this have to do with your marketing success? Everything!

First, the dolphins are in search of food but their essence is playful and fun.

Second, the dolphins are working in concert to achieve their goal. Collaboration is the name of the game.

If I have learned anything in my 15 years as an entrepreneur, it’s that collaboration and relationships are what make marketing more fun and more effective. Plus, it helps those of us who work from home stay connected to the world!

I truly believe that our competitors can also be our best collaborators. There are probably several million coaches worldwide who can help you with your marketing. And there are bazillions of people who need help. We cannot serve everyone, we shouldn’t try to be the answer for everyone, there are plenty of fish in the sea, as the dolphins prove.

Look for collaborators who are targeting the same school of fish you are. Building these types of strategic partnerships in your business will help you go further, faster and have way more fun doing it.

But it all starts with crystal clear awareness of exactly who you want to work with. Understanding who your target market is and what they want from you is the core of all good marketing plans. If you don’t know, let’s talk.

One of the ways that I most love working with people is to invite you to come spend a day or two days with me here in beautiful Santa Barbara for an intensive and creative experience that always includes walks on the beach, art and play as well as planning and strategy. If you are feeling stuck, lacking focus and direction in your business and longing for clarity and a simple plan for how to make your dreams come true, let’s connect. By the end of the two days, you will know exactly what you want to create, and you will have a crystal clear plan to put into action immediately.

Here’s what a recent client had to say about working with me: “I am very grateful to you for all that we accomplished in our first round of coaching, it FAR exceeded my expectations and it brought me back to life both personally and professionally – which I needed so badly but didn’t know how to go about doing. I liked having someone to be accountable to and having goals that needed to be done. Being the first time working with a coach, I can now see the value of having someone from the outside helping me. Very much looking forward to our next session. You are awesome,  brilliant, inspiring and knowledgeable. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. ”

© 2014 Dr. Minette Riordan. All rights reserved.

Posted in


  1. Kebba Buckley Button on July 16, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Minette, I love it! Fun and collaboration! I also love that you live near the beach. Please breathe some salt air for me!

    • minette on July 16, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks, Kebba, I will! Thanks for sharing on social media, too!! I appreciate having connected with you through UBC.

  2. Kebba Buckley Button on July 16, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Minette–shared on FB and twitter! 🙂

  3. Sophie Bowns on July 17, 2014 at 4:30 am

    What a lovely post, Minette!
    I’m so jealous that you get to see dolphins from time to time!

    • minette on July 17, 2014 at 7:38 am

      Thank you Sophie, yes it is such a gift and I never get tired of watching them!

  4. Nanette on July 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Great video – the thing that struck me the most was the seeming laughing going on as the three outside the circle got giddy about their inventiveness and bounty.

    I’ve always made my best competitors allies by bringing them in as providers for clients when their skills surpassed mine (25 years and counting now). You make a great point about not seeing others as competition, but instead, potential providers that make you look or be better. Of course, there’s that referral component too – which can come from strange places.

    I might use this video in a future blog post, if you don’t mind (will attribute the find to you). I immediately saw the marketing connection, albeit in different ways than you did (probably no surprise there :-)).

Leave a Comment