Celebrity fisherman reveals how he's using MailOnline's Ad Manager

‘We thought newspaper ads were too expensive’: Celebrity fisherman reveals how he’s using MailOnline’s Ad Manager to grow his online shop

Advertising Feature

After more than 40 years in the fishing industry, including three decades as a boat skipper, Jimmy Buchan knows a thing or two about fish. 

If the 62-year-old looks familiar that’s for good reason – he was one of the stars of BAFTA award winning BBC documentary Trawlermen, which followed him and his crew during their adventures in the icy waters off Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. 

Jimmy says appearing in the show from 2006 to 2010 was a ‘real experience’, and still recalls his surprise at seeing fan mail pouring in from viewers across the UK, from all ages and backgrounds. 

But after many years battling North Sea swells, he’s now using his hard-earned wisdom for an altogether different challenge – how to tempt more customers to try some of the delicious Scottish seafood on offer through his online store, Amity Fish Company Ltd.  

Fisherman Jimmy Buchan with his old boat, Amity II, the successor to his first, Amity 

The family business delivers MSC-certified fish landed at Peterhead straight to homes and offices across the UK through one-off orders and subscriptions, while also supplying trade clients like hotels, restaurants and caterers.

So, what persuaded Jimmy to leave his boat behind and set up as a retailer instead?

‘I realised we had all this lovely seafood and although we sold a lot abroad there was no better market than our local one – the UK,’ he says. ‘I’d often meet people who said they loved seafood but couldn’t find any in the shops.

Ad Manager: The results 

Type of campaign used: Targeted 

Targeting: Food & Drink content to help promote their home delivery service

High impact ad formats: Double MPU & Billboard

The campaign was seen by 921,053 people and delivered 673 potential new customers to their website.

‘That’s what sparked my idea to build a company to sell fish online and get it direct to customers within 24 hours of the catch being landed.’  

Amity Fish Company now offers more than 40 products including langoustines, haddock, cod, lemon sole, trout, sea bass and smoked salmon – with its boss keeping an eye on all stages of the supply chain to ensure quality is second to none. 

At first, Jimmy focused on supplying trade clients, but with Covid came an opportunity to dramatically scale up his home delivery operations. Company turnover is now more than a million pounds and growing – compared to around £250,000 four years ago.

While Jimmy is delighted at how things have gone so far, he’s determined to continue his mission of persuading more people across the country of the benefit of getting delicious, fresh seafood delivered straight to their door.

So it’s no surprise he seized the chance to try MailOnline’s new advertising platform, Ad Manager, which was set up to help small and medium sized businesses like his market to its massive audience.

The system is easy to use and much more affordable than conventional newspaper advertising. Entrepreneurs can create their own campaign, set the budget and choose their target audience. Ads can be live in less than 24 hours.

‘We’ve always considered newspaper advertising but seen it as something that is expensive,’ says Jimmy. 

‘This kind of campaign can help us reach potential new customers who may well be looking for this kind of service but have never had the confidence to actually try it.’

New role – Jimmy now sells freshly landed fish like langoustines (pictured) through his online shop, Amity Fish Company 

Ad Manager lets you find your ideal customer among MailOnline’s 25million readers by targeting them based on specific characteristics such as age, gender, interests and location.      

Promotions for Amity Fish Company appeared alongside Food & Drink content to help promote their home delivery service in the build up to Christmas. 

‘We are looking to reach new customers, including working families who do not have a lot of time to cook a midweek meal and like having oven-ready food,’ Jimmy says.    

‘Equally we want to reach people who have a bit more to spend and can afford quality Scottish fish. People over 50 are very health conscious so they are a key market, but so are younger people too.  

‘This was our opportunity to reach many different demographics at the same time and penetrate into new markets, from the Northern Isles and Western Isles down to Cornwall and the South East and everywhere in between.’

Salmon is another popular fish Jimmy’s company delivers fresh to customers  

Over just a week, ads for Amity Fish Company were viewed more than 920,000 times, with more than 670 clicks through to their website.

‘We’ll be looking at the results and using them to work out how to improve our online marketing in the future,’ says Jimmy.

‘Where we lack some knowledge is when it comes to behind the scenes stuff, like analytics and the ability to target certain demographics. 

‘That’s very clever marketing and often where sales are won and lost.’     

Here’s how you can advertise YOUR small business on MailOnline: 

Behind the business 

Fishing has been part of Jimmy’s life right from the start. Growing up in the Peterhead hamlet of Buchanhaven, he remembers watching as local fishermen caught wild salmon, brown crab and lobster. 

He went straight into the industry after leaving school at 16 – serving a tough apprenticeship as a crew member on a fishing vessel. 

After buying his first boat in 1986 and naming her Amity, meaning friendship, he’d go on to serve three decades as a skipper in the roiling waters of the North Sea – sharing some of his experiences on popular the Trawlermen TV series. 

A natural entrepreneur, Jimmy began selling his langoustine direct to local Aberdeenshire hotels before making the decision to come ashore full time in late 2019 to focus on his new business, Amity Fish Company. 

In the blood: Jimmy remembers watching local fishermen when he was a little boy 

‘Some 80 per cent of the seafood we catch in the United Kingdom we export, while most of what we eat we import,’ says Jimmy. ‘That’s a bizarre situation which I wanted to try to change.  

‘Fortunately, people are increasingly seeing the benefits of getting fresh, sustainable seafood delivered straight to their homes. People are generally wanting to eat better and we’re providing a route to that end.’  

The firm has overcome ‘a lot of challenges’ over the years, admits Jimmy – from the turmoil of Covid to the recent spike in energy bills. 

Looking ahead, he wants to continue persuading more Brits to boost their fish consumption and, crucially, choose species that are caught around the UK coast.  

‘It’s not only us that benefits when people buy from us – they’re supporting a supply chain that stretches from sea to plate,’ he says. 

‘There’s the fishermen that go out at all hours and in all weathers, as well as processors, those in logistics and of course the consumer themselves. 

‘Everyone benefits, and at the same time you’re choosing a sustainable, local option and supporting a heritage that stretches back hundreds of years.’

Jimmy wants to continue persuading more Brits to boost their fish consumption and, crucially, choose species that are caught around the UK coast

Jimmy points out how quick and simple fish can be to cook, describing it as ‘the ultimate fast food’ which also has the benefit of being extremely nutritious.  

‘If you’re looking for a high-end option, scallops are one of the easiest to cook foods out there,’ he says. 

‘They come prepared and all you need to do is put them on a frying pan for three or so minutes with some olive oil before turning them over and cooking them for another two. 

‘You’ll end up with some healthy, delicious seafood faster than you can cook a burger.’ 

He also recommends baking haddock, which you can cook in the oven or pan fry.  

Click here to find out how Ad Manager can help YOUR small business      

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