Leveraging a Love of Fishing
For as long as he can remember, Jeff Chisholm has enjoyed nothing more than packing up his rods, reels, lures and bait and heading out onto the lakes, rivers and streams of the Bay of Quinte region to enjoy the fresh air, the beautiful landscape – and the chance to land the big one.
More than 15 years ago he began sharing his passion for angling, his enthusiastic personality and his ample knowledge of the best fishing spots in the area first through local radio, then television, where he is now one of the most recognized fishing-related personalities in Canada as a regular host of the syndicated Fish TV, alongside Ron James and Leo Stakos.
Around the same time as his ascent as a fishing media personality began, he also joined the family business – real estate, initially working directly for his family brokerage before more recently partnering the Claudine Galy to for the Chisholm Galy Real Estate Team as part of Direct Realty Ltd.
In his marketing materials and overall approach to selling, Chisholm realized that while the bricks and mortar and amenities of a house or property were still very important, selling the lifestyle, beauty and diversity of the Bay of Quinte Region as a place to live, work and play was just as significant. Through his many opportunities in the media he would extol the virtues of the communities that dot the shores of the Bay of Quinte, raising his own profile as a real estate professional in the process.
Over the last year or so, he has started more directly enmeshing his ‘brand’ and reputation as a fishing maven and his knowledge of the region with his business to remarkably successful effect.
“I capitalized on what the region uniquely had to offer which nobody else was realizing and started showcasing this with various media outlets and a lot of different magazines about the Bay of Quinte. And I just kind of became the go to guy for that kind of stuff which increased my reach, especially on social media. My Instagram is growing by 1,000 followers a week and I have about 26,000 people who have signed up for my videos and they then go and post it through their own newsfeeds. What’s really cool is that these people are engaged with me; they are seeing this young guy from Belleville who loves to fish and who is always out there making everybody else have a good day on the water,” Chisholm said.
“When I post a video to those newsfeeds, about 75 per cent of those people actually watch it and there isn’t a marketing company out there that wouldn’t kill for that kind of engagement rate. It’s phenomenal. And it’s definitely impacted my real estate sales because I have such interactivity with so many people. January of 2017 was actually the best month of my entire 15-year career when January is traditionally my slowest month.”
Chisholm said he was always very reluctant to try and bank on his public profile as fishing celebrity to try and help his business, but when he finally broached the subject with the producers of Fish TV a little over a year ago, they were totally supportive.
“I actually kept my social media strictly about fishing until last year, on purpose. To be honest, I was a little bit scared. And locally, through my real estate advertising and marketing, I didn’t even talk about the television show. I didn’t want my real estate contacts to feel I was too busy to service them properly. I know that’s not the case, but didn’t even what the perception to be out there that I wasn’t totally dedicated. But I also didn’t want the guys from the television show to feel that I was just using them to build my own brand. So it took me until June of 2016 before I posted anything real estate wise. They actually came to me and said, ‘we appreciate what you are doing, we have seen an improved product with the show by having you a part of it. You’ve got to find a way to leverage this exposure through your real estate business.’ And I said, ‘okay.’”
Chisholm’s family has lived in the Bay of Quinte region for five generations and always loved the outdoors.
“From the time I was a baby, my parents had a cottage about an hour and a half northeast of Belleville and they would have me out in the boat in a car seat. We were there on holidays and in the summer and they were fishing all the time. By the time I was younger than five, I was holding a rod all by myself. I grew up with fishing being a hobby and something I was always definitely interested in and for which I had a real passion. For me, it’s an important part of the lifestyle of growing up in this area,” he said.
“We have endless opportunities for outdoor activities and recreation in this area. There are over 5,000 lakes within 90 minutes of the Quinte area. There are all kinds of different species and all kinds of styles of fishing you can enjoy. We have some world-class fisheries here. Our salmon fishing is phenomenal and we have the number one destination in the world to catch a trophy walleye, right here in our backyard. And as for bass fishing you will see this summer a number of major North American tournament series coming to the Quinte area.”
By chance, when he was much younger, Chisholm met an American outdoorsman who actually knew more about the fishing opportunities – the best places, the best times, the best techniques – for the area than many locals, and mentored Chisholm who soon became an adept guide, but also became an excellent ice fishing aficionado. The American friend came calling again a year later, but this time said he was bringing about a dozen friends to fish for walleye and enlisted Chisholm to help with the logistics of accommodations, licences, bait etc.
For the next few years, he and a few friends then became unofficial guides for out-of-town anglers and soon Chisholm became, as he put it, the ‘go to’ guy for people looking for information and advice regarding the Bay of Quinte fishing experience.
That led to a regular slot on a local radio station which then led to appearances on a couple of fishing-related televisions shows, including the internationally-syndicated Fish TV.
“The first few times they came to do a show in this area they would bring me on as the local expert. And the shows they did here were some of their best and most popular, so soon they were asking me to do promotional appearances with them, or work the Sportsman’s Show in Toronto and do seminars on fishing in the Bay of Quinte area. The next season they wanted me to do four shows and I ended up doing 10 of the 12 episodes they filmed that year. At the end of the year they said I might as well just join the show as a regular,” he said, admitting that while it sounded like a wonderful and fun opportunity, he had a business to run.
“I told them I am not leaving real estate or doing anything that would damage my career. It’s my passion to and I love it. But they asked, ‘well can you take 12 days off a year to do 12 shows? That’s all we need.’ So I said if we spread it out over the entire year it would be manageable. It meant rearranging a few priorities, for example I stopped guiding in the winter. And now the show is on Global Saturday mornings at 9:30 a.m. and also on Sportsnet and the World Fishing Network. In fact, I was told that it’s the most aired outdoor show each year because it’s shown on all these different networks and channels more than 1,300 times a year.”
In order to continue to make the most of his lifestyle marketing opportunities afforded by his public profile, Chisholm said he is using what he has learned from the technical side of the TV show to help create more impactful sales videos for his real estate business. Besides showing the best of what the home or property has to offer, he has been able to capture lush, languid nature scenes, including wildlife, and incorporated them into his videos, making for often stunning and compelling visuals.
“I know it’s working because the proof is in the results. For example I had a property that I knew appealed to a specific customer base – much of it in the Toronto market. I knew the area well, and that it was on a river because I had actually fished in the river right nearby and also knew the natural component to the property would have amazing appeal. So one early morning I went there with a stereo microphone and just recorded the sound of what it would be like to sit on the deck and have a coffee – just hearing nature wake up. When we thought of a listing price initially we thought it might be in the $325,000 to $350,000 range, but I felt if we could get the vibe of that video in front of a Toronto audience we could do better. We listed at $425,000 and sold it in a day for $420,000,” he explained.
“And it was because the night the video went out on Facebook, somebody showed it to someone else and it got in front of the right people and that was it. So I knew that I had to really invest in better production and technology, and use it to really show off what an amazing place we have here in the Bay of Quinte region.”
For more information on the Chisolm Galy Real Estate Team, visit them on Facebook or www.chisholmgaly.ca.
For more information on Fish TV, visit http://www.fishtv.tv/