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Joshua Claflin

firearms defense marketing plan strategy

INFOGRAPHIC – A Simple Firearms Marketing Strategy That Works

By | Firearms Marketing

If you had $10-$15,000 dollars to spend on marketing, where would you spend it?

Would you buy some banner ads? Redo your branding? Run an SEO campaign? Do a press release? Put it all on a print ad in Guns and Ammo and let it ride? This is a tough question I get all the time. Most business owners in the firearms, shooting, tech and defense industries struggle with making a determination on what to do when they want to market that they usually just throw up their hands and land on attending a trade show—which doesn’t get them the reach and awareness they are really looking for (at scale) to grow their business.

The below infographic gives you a simple firearms, tech and defense marketing strategy that has been implemented over a thousand times by some of the world’s top brands—and in most cases has quadrupled revenue and has provided a 5x to 8x return on investment. By implementing this simple plan correctly, investing in the long term and committing to improvement, you’ll have a solid marketing program you can build off of for years to come.



StoryBrand Links:

By taking the time to clarify your message and figure out these aspects of your brand’s story, you will be able to transform your marketing, attract new customers and stand out in the crowded marketplace.





Is your brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2019 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.



Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 



  1. Harvard Business Review: The Curse of Knowledge
  2. Time: You Now Have A Shorter Lifespan than a Goldfish
  3. Campaign Monitor: The New Rules of Email Marketing
  4. INC: 84 Percent of People Trust Online Reviews As Much As Friends
  5. StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message


How Firearms Companies Can Outthink Their Competition With Inbound Marketing

By | Firearms Marketing, Inbound Marketing

For most emerging firearms and outdoor sports companies growing market share comes down to a matter of numbers.

You know your product is good because you’ve gone to great lengths to make it durable, reliable and functional (which is an absolute must in this industry).  You’ve received positive feedback from your customers, signed some solid purchase orders, your website, packaging and brand look great—but you just can’t seem to grow in the way or as fast as you’d like.

Smaller firearms, and outdoor sports manufacturers struggle to take their businesses to the next level because of the expensive barrier of entry to print advertising, T.V and trade shows.

Market industry leaders—or the goliaths—enjoy market dominance and the bulk of the market because of years of brand building. Their massive marketing budgets are hard to beat, making it seemingly impossible for the David’s or the emerging companies to compete against.

However, as some us well know—to bag the beast—you must outthink the beast.

If you haven’t noticed lately, magazine subscriptions are in decline (Source: Folio) and everything seems to be migrating online. Your customers are going to the internet first to research products. Look at some of these revealing statistics:

  • 61% of global Internet users research products online. (Source: Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance)
  • 93% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine. (Source: Hubspot)
  • 90% of the purchase lifecycle is over before a customer decides to buy (Source: iMedia)
  • 65% of U.S. shoppers research products and services on a computer and make a purchase in-store (Source: Cisco)

… and these numbers are on the rise.

In this article, I give you 6 points about how you can “outthink” your competition in the firearms, shooting or outdoor sports business by looking at an online strategy first—versus investing more in trade show, TV or print.

1. What is inbound marketing?

Since 2006, inbound marketing has been an effective marketing method for doing business online. Sometimes called “digital” or “content marketing,” “inbound” is the opposite of “outbound marketing.” Where outbound is buying print ads, placing a TV spot and praying for customers; inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests and by solving their problems and answering their most burning questions about: “What AR-15 should I buy? What do I need in an optic? Or what kind of recoil pad is the best? — you naturally attract website visitors—or inbound traffic—that you can convert to customers and turn them into promoters of your brand. (Source: Hubspot)

An inbound approach also lends credibility and trust to your dealers by enabling them to reference great information off your website when their customers are asking for recommendations on what to buy or how your product works.

2. Why inbound marketing now?

Consumer behavior has shifted over the years. The days of “push” advertising and “salesy” tactics have lost their effectiveness. If you think about it, you yourself skip television commercials when watching your favorite show on the Sportsman Channel, ignore flashing online ads when surfing, hang up on cold callers, tune out radio ads that you have no interest in and throw the direct mail in the trash. Years of being bombarded with this “intrusive” form of advertising has changed the way consumers prefer to get information about the products they want to buy. Inbound turns outbound on its head. Instead of constantly pushing your message on your customers, you attract them to your website through your content.

Inbound marketing has been proven to generate 54% more leads than traditional paid marketing and saves you $20K on average a year over outbound marketing.


3. Content is the secret sauce

Content can be a blog, video, checklist, ebook, whitepaper or a download that attempts to solve your customer’s problems in a relevant way. Blogging is the best way to get started. Did you know that if you’re not creating content on a regular basis, Google will drop your search engine rankings?

For a good example of a blog, take a look at Beretta’s blog.

4. What am I going to write about?

Everyone is an expert in something. If writing isn’t your forte, you can always hire someone to help you out. There are hundreds of industry writers looking for work. Start by forming a list of questions that you hear most from your customers or dealers. Take that list and form it into a series of blog posts. In time, you’ll have more than enough to write about.

Most companies in this industry who blog—are blogging mostly for self-promotional purposes. Shooters, firearms, and outdoor enthusiasts don’t want to hear how great you are—they want to hear how you can help them. In the process, you’ll earn their respect, trust and ultimately their wallet.

5. Online marketing is not about Facebook and Instagram likes

There are plenty of manufacturers who have thousands of followers and likes on their Facebook/Instagram page. However, those likes don’t necessarily translate into website traffic and sales—especially now that less than 1% of your posts are ever seen by your followers. It is important to show “social proof” but Facebook likes alone does not mean you have an online marketing strategy. And with more and more anti-gun sentiment on social media, investing in Facebook is getting risky.

6. Get there first

Today, there are only a few companies in the hunting, firearm and outdoor sports industry doing inbound marketing. From working in multiple industries and in the firearms/outdoor industry with a very well known brand—that the world, in general, is moving more and more online. The companies who start now will have a huge advantage down the road. By owning the online space in your category—be it knives, firearms, tactical rifles, safes, optics, suppressors, EDC etc.—you will gain significant advantage over your competitors.



In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Download Now

Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 


These 5 Website Elements Will Make Your Firearm Business More Money

By | Firearms Marketing, StoryBrand

Websites have changed a lot over the years. Websites were once solely used to give information about your company. But now websites are ground zero for every outdoor, firearm, defense or tech business trying to grow their brand, generate revenue, attract employees, host content and much more.

However, too many businesses get their website wrong because they hire designers or agencies who aren’t very clear on how to communicate their brand’s message and who can’t optimize their site for maximum efficiency—especially in markets that are ultra-competitive and difficult to stand out in—like the outdoor, firearms and defense marketplace.

clear-header-firearms-website-exampleIf you’re struggling to understand how to make your website more effective and need some help, you might want to pass this article on to your designer, agency or web manager to get things back on track.

1. Clear header

The very first thing your website should do when a visitor lands on your homepage or landing page—within 5 seconds—is tell your visitor what you offer in clear words.

We StoryBrand Guides call this the “grunt test.” A caveman should be able to look at your header and grunt what it is you offer. If your website’s header doesn’t’ pass the grunt test – better go back to the drawing board.

Do it right:
In simple words, say what it is you do in 7 words or less. Add a small description underneath if you need to clarify further.

2. Don’t hide the cash register

To the ladies reading this post, what if a guy walks up to you at a bar and says, “hey, let’s get started!”

Your first response would be, “get started doing what?” Then you’d probably throw a drink in his face.

But how many times have you seen this call to action on a website? Call to actions must be crystal clear to be understood. Examples of a clear call to action:

  • Buy Now
  • Schedule a Call
  • Book an Appointment
  • Check Out

By not having a clear CTA on your website — you’re hiding the cash register. If people don’t know how to buy from you, how can you expect to make any money?

Do it right: “Don’t make me think” is an old mantra from 2003 on web design that is still applicable today. You must tell your prospects what you want them to do. Your call to action should be an up or down answer—that they either accept or reject.

firearm-website-value-propositions-example3. How will you help your customer be successful?

Value propositions can sometimes be confusing to understand. A value prop can be simply understood by asking yourself this question: What do I offer that will make my customer successful? Or asked another way: What are the 3-4 reasons my customer should do business with me? I get this question all the time because even in marketing—I also have my own set of competitors to deal with. Value propositions should also explain why your product or service works better than your competitors.

Do it right: Failing not to list the added benefits (or value) to your prospects/customers will make your website less effective.

4. What are the stakes?

On your website, tell your prospects what is at stake if they don’t work with you. You have to show them the future if they don’t act now to get their problem resolved. This can be as simple as writing a before or after or a with or without statement.

Do it right: Show your customers what the future will look like if they work with you.


5. Give your prospect a plan

This section of your website should outline in 3-4 steps how to buy from you. This may seem counterintuitive but you need to explain it. The plan will help decrease the friction points and help them overcome any hesitancies they may have.

Do it right: Like stepping stones in a river, show your prospect how to get to the other side.

To sum up, make sure your header clearly tells what you do and passes the grunt test, add a clear call to action (no wishy-washy get started stuff) how you will help your customer achieve success, the stakes involved if they don’t work with you and the steps needed to get started. By adding these elements in your business, you will see an uptick in revenue.




Is your brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2019 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.



Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 


What You Need To Know About Marketing In The Age of Distraction

By | Brand Development, StoryBrand

A serious problem has come to my attention as I’ve invested more in my ongoing education to become a better communicator and marketer of 20 years in the digital age.

Looking across the outdoor, firearms, and defense industry I see a vast majority of newcomers (and heritage brands) failing to adapt their brand message to today’s overloaded, distracted “Instagram scrolling” consumer. And it’s costing their company money.

Marketing has never been more difficult—especially for start-up brands. Reaching customers and getting them to pay attention to you takes more than just a great product, customer service, warranty, imagery, clever headlines, and catchy value props. In today’s distracted world, you need to be more clear.

In this post, I want to share three things you need to know if you’re a startup or growth-stage company when marketing in the age of distraction.

1. People are distracted more than ever

Every day people are bombarded with more and more information. In addition to the numerous ads on billboards, print, and TV—we’re also exposed to texts (781 billion text messages are sent every month in the United States as of June 2017), messages, emails, pop-ups, and push notifications. All this adds up to information overload.

“Cute and clever” messaging on most websites and print ads fail to give the customer what they need to understand about how your product will help them in a clear and straightforward way.

Your customers (and yourself) also have a much harder time paying attention today.

See these statistics:

  • The average attention span has fallen from 20 seconds to 8 seconds (Source: Wyzol)
  • The average time on your website is less than 10-15 seconds
  • The average number of times per hour an office worker checks their email: 30

Confusion and distraction lead to all sorts of problems.

  • Customers don’t understand what you offer
  • Your sales team can’t differentiate your products in the marketplace
  • The why of your work is foggy and leaves teams wondering how they fit into the goal of your organization

And to make matters worse:

  • Your message is spoken a thousand different ways
  • You’re not creating demand and brand awareness in the marketplace
  • Customers are buying from your competitors

(Source: StoryBrand)

Getting your message right and making it super simple is what’s needed to combat and win with today’s distracted consumer.

If you’re interested in knowing how to clarify your message, check out these resources:


Example of “cute and clever” headline. It’s not clear at first how this swivel mount helps solves the customer’s problem without having to dig into the copy.


2. People don’t read websites anymore, they scan them

It’s now a known fact that you have less than 10 seconds to grab a potential prospect’s attention when they land on your website, see your ad, read your packaging or read your email. That’s a shorter span than a goldfish.

  • A user will only read 28% of your text on your website before leaving!

There are alot of brands in the industry who assume new visitors will understand what they sell. But with more women, minorities and new shooters  buying self-defense products, you must make it super clear what your product or service specifically does.


  • We Make Suppressors that Protect your Hearing.
  • AR Rifles for the True American Hero.
  • We Make Hard to Find Ammo.
  • Optic Mounts for Serious Hunters.

These may not sound super sexy—but they work in the age of distraction. They make it clear to your customer what you do and saves them from having to burn a lot of brain calories.

Your website, brochures, tradeshow booths, packaging, emails, and advertising should include a clear headline that simply states the problem your product solves along with a clear call to action.


USCCA does a good job of having a clear headline.


3. A more explicit message will help you beat the competition—even if they have a better product than you



When other companies load down their marketing materials with gobs of text and make themselves the hero of their brand and not the customer—you can begin to see that clarity is a strategy that works to cut through today’s noise and clutter and make your marketing more effective.

“The clearer you are the more profitable you will be.”

So what are some reasons your customers are tuning you out? I’ve pulled a few stats that might shed some light:

  • 45% of consumers will unfollow a brand if their activity is dominated by self-promotion. Branding and marketing aren’t just about tooting your own horn. You need to provide valuable, engaging information and insights to build trust. Make your social media efforts about the customer and their needs or challenges, not just about how great you are. (Source: Zimmer Communications)
  • Consistent presentation of a brand increases revenue by 23% on average. Repetition and consistency are two cornerstones of any successful branding efforts. By presenting your brand consistently, over time, consumers will internalize your brand values and be more likely to purchase. (Source: Zimmer Communications)
  • By having a clear message on your website, you can reduce your bounce rate by 20-30%.
    In our own tests, we’ve seen some significant changes for the better just by a more explicit framework.

In conclusion, standing out in today’s crowded marketplace is getting more difficult if you continue to follow messaging strategies of the early ’00s. Today’s distracted consumer will move down your sales funnel faster if you can communicate more clearly.

Leave the “cute and clever” to your competitors.




Is your brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2019 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.



Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 

5 Firearm Marketing Alternatives You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

By | Firearms and Hunting

In this article: 

  • Podcasts – The old is new and the new is old.
  • Inbound Marketing – Create a strong digital footprint for years to come by creating blogs, lead-generators, email marketing and SEO to generate traffic, leads and customers.
  • Native Advertising – Publish branded content on major publisher sites and add your advertising within the content for context and greater ad results.
  • Focus on the women segment – Women are a burgeoning segment are you focused on them?
  • Influencers – Circumvent Facebook and Instagram restrictions to reach your audience through trusted social media content creators.
  • Storytelling – Leverage the power of the StoryBrand Framework to clarify your brand message so customers will listen.

It’s 2019, and it’s harder than ever to get your message out to law-abiding customers.

If you’re not a big well-known brand like Ruger or Smith & Wesson, marketing your firearms brand and line of products for recreational shooting and hunting can leave you scratching your head wondering what to do.

Facebook, Google and YouTube which was once a bastion for firearm, ammunition, and hunting knife companies to advertise, now bans all paid advertising related to direct weapon sales

Fox, the NFL and other major media outlets that used to be friendly to firearm manufacturers have shut the door as well. You may remember when Daniel Defense tried to run an ad in 2003 on the Super Bowl. 

Below I’ve identified five firearm marketing alternatives that you haven’t thought of yet that will help you get your message out, build your brand and attract new customers. 

silencerco podcast1. Podcasts

The old is new and the new is old. In the last two years we’ve seen a resurgence in podcasts. Podcasts like Dan Bongino, GunTalk, The Dana Show, Restless Native and SilencerCo’s podcast offer a way for your brand to reach a broader audience and leverage the trust of the host. Latest stats show 51% of people have listened to a podcast with over 32% (90 million) listened to a podcast in the last month – up from 26% in 2018 (Infinite Dial 19). We’ve had great success with podcasts and it’s worth checking out. 

2. Inbound Marketing

I make it no secret that the inbound marketing methodology is a perfect fit for firearm manufacturers with a lengthy purchase process. Brands like Mossberg, Springfield Armory, Stag Arms and Beretta, are already using inbound effectively and getting great results. Inbound marketing uses search engine optimized content, downloadable offers, landing pages, forms, social media and email marketing to attract, engage and delight customers. Inbound provides substantial cost savings to manufacturers, and the best part is, it’s all completely trackable. It removes the black box of advertising and provides real ROI and understanding of your brand and marketing efforts. Inbound is an important digital marketing element to Influencer Marketing

3. Native Advertising

What is native advertising? Native advertising delivers top-level paid or earned content within the normal reading stream of organic content. These would include recommendation widgets, sponsored content and in-feed social. What binds all of these distribution tactics together is the word “in-feed.” They all deliver top-funnel content within the normal reading stream of organic content. It looks like it’s supposed to be there. (Source: Chad Pollitt)

Similar to the below example by Crimson Trace, native advertising is about creating helpful content and then placing your product within it as a reference or as a sponsor. For example, you may write an article on the “5 Things You Need To Know About Home Defense” and submit it to an online magazine (earned or paid)  then mention your brand as the perfect fit for a first-time buyer. 

Check out how Crimson Trace does it within their First Defender Library.


weatherby by women

Photo by Weatherby

4. Women

Women are a burgeoning segment in the industry as you might already know (Source: NSSF). You should consider using content or sponsoring a free shooting class or range day in your local newspaper or county magazine to attract interested customers. Women are helping change some of the negative stereotypes typically associated with the firearm industry. Firearm manufacturers should embrace this trend and do all they can to promote it. Weatherby just launched their Women of Weatherby website devoted and targeted towards women. Springfield Armory’s Night of Saint also seeks to capitalize on women as well. These two brands have recognized the immense opportunity this demographic holds and are seizing the opportunity by getting out in front. Look for more large manufacturers to follow in the months to come.


5. Influencers

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that uses category leaders or celebrities to communicate your brand’s message and content to their vast number of followers. Instead of buying print ads or filming commercials, you use the influencer to get the word out for you instead. The industry is taking increased notice of influencers like Military Arms ChannelHickok45, IV8888 Gun Collective and Warrior Poet Society. Influencers who have large networks of trusted followers represent an important component of your marketing mix. By tapping these well-known hunters and shooters, you can gain entrance into larger audiences.



Bonus! But wait there’s more…

Another alternative that will transform your marketing, brand awareness, and overall messaging is utilizing a framework based on storytelling. Story is a sense-making device used since the dawn of time to communicate—our brains are hardwired for it. Used properly, story will give you an edge over your competitors—even if their product is better.  The reason why story works so well is that it cuts through the clutter and distraction of today’s ultra-competitive outdoor, shooting and firearms industry that helps your brand stand out among all the other “me-too” claims and clearly communicates the benefits of your product’s benefits without all the fluff. Too many brands play the hero, when they need to be playing the guide. This helps your customer understand your offering faster and helps them become something better e.g., a better marksman, more accurate, more aware, savvier or in some cases more advanced. For more information on story check out this online workshop.

In conclusion, marketing in these changing times may not be as difficult as you think. By utilizing podcasts, content, the women segment, influencers and story—you have the makings of a strong digital marketing strategy that is trackable and more efficient.




Is your firearm brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2019 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.



Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 

Outdoor Marketing StoryBrand

To Stand Out In The Outdoor Marketplace, Make Your Customer The Hero, Not Your Brand

By | Brand Development, StoryBrand

Standing out in the ultra-competitive outdoor, hunting and firearms industry is really difficult—if not impossible. The imagery is getting better. The copy is more persuasive. The products are more durable and it seems like every brand claims the same thing:

  • We Make the World’s_____.
  • We’re the Superior ______.
  • We’re #1 in _____.
  • The Worlds’ Most_____.
  • The Ultimate _____.

Does the above list sound familiar? A quick look through any outdoor, hunting or firearms magazine and you’ll see what I mean.

There’s nothing wrong with claiming to be the best—if you’re a brand who really is the market leader – MagPul (Mags), Sig (Pistols), Ruger (10/22), Remington (700)—you earned it. But for brands less well known, making such claims can be down-right dishonest.  The truth is, if you’re a relative unknown brand making the claim that you’re “the best,” you’re wasting money on marketing and your customers don’t believe you anyway. False claims have caused a backlash in other industries as well as our own.

People have great distrust in brands (and companies) these days (Source: Forbes). It’s been documented that your prospective customers will check out 11 pieces (social media, reviews, blogs, websites, ads, forum review and articles) of content before deciding to hand over their hard-earned money because they are afraid of being cheated or taken of advantage of. When was the last time you bought something for first time over $250 without doing any research online?

To combat this “me-too,” and “I’m the best” mentality, marketers and business owners need to find other ways to get their customer’s attention and break out in the marketplace—and the way to effectively accomplish this is by putting in the time to think through their messaging —a good way to do this is through the power of story.

Story has been around since creation. Story has been hard-wired into our brain as a sense-making device. It helps us understand our environment, situations and how to achieve our goals. Stories engage our imaginations and hold our attention for hours on end. Think about the last great movie you saw. Movies like Jason Bourne, Days of Thunder, Star Wars and Saving Private Ryan are all incredibly captivating.

The same methods used in the movies can also apply to your outdoor, hunting, defense or firearms business.

In the following, I’m going to explain how to write story into your marketing, make your customer the hero and stand out in the marketplace to attract more customers. This process if called StoryBrand.

1. A Character

Make your customer the hero, not your brand.

Every great story starts with a hero. The hero in your business is your customer. As humans, we all want to become something better: better hunters, better shooters, more fit, smarter and more wealthy. We also have personality and character traits like age, income, values, beliefs and interests. Define your customer as the hero in your ads, emails, website copy, and sales letter. Once you start defining what your customer wants, they start paying attention.

Q: How can you make your customer the hero?

Brands that participate in the transformation of their customers win in the marketplace. (Source: StoryBrand)

StoryBrand for the Outdoor Industry

2. Has a Problem

Every hero in every story has a problem that must be solved. Without a problem to be addressed (a bomb to diffuse, a girl to rescue or a disaster to prevent) the story would fall flat and you lose your audience’s interest. It’s up to you to identify what the problem is and how the hero will overcome this problem.

Q: What problem does your product or service solve?

A story gets interesting when the conflict is defined. (Source: StoryBrand)

3. Meets a Guide Who Understands Them

No hero can solve the problem on their own. They can try, but it won’t be as successful nor as exciting. Luke Skywalker had Ben Kenobi, Cole Trickle had Harry Hogge, and Neo had Morpheus.

This is how your brand plays the guide:

  1. First, you must show Empathy. Empathy means to relate. How can you empathize with your customer’s problem?
  2. Second is Authority. Heroes look to guides who have gone before them. If you haven’t gone where your customer wants to go, how can you be the guide?  How have you solved the same problem your customer is trying to solve? This must be communicated clearly to establish trust.

Never position yourself as the hero in your brand’s story. (Source: StoryBrand)

4. Who gives them a Plan

At this point in the story, your customers find themselves at risk. This is the point where most customers will bounce off your website or find themselves confused about what you offer. The purpose of giving them a plan is to break down the steps on what it takes to work with or buy from you. The plan eases any friction points in the buying process and helps your customer move forward.

Q: What are the steps your customer must take to work with you?

A plan alleviates confusion or hesitancy about the next step. (Source: StoryBrand)

5. And Calls them to Action

No story can proceed until the hero is called to action. Your customer will not take action unless they are challenged. You must call them to do something.

  • Buy Now
  • Schedule A Call
  • Sign Up
  • Find A Dealer

are all clear call to actions. This language must be repeated over and over again to make it clear what it is you want your customer to do.

Q: Do you have a clear call to action on your website?

If we don’t have the confidence to ask people to buy from us, they assume our product won’t solve their problem. (Source: StoryBrand)

6. That Helps Them Avoid Failure

Two forces motivate people: avoiding failure and experiencing success. Every human being is trying to avoid a tragic ending. Your customer must know how you will help them be successful.

Q: How will your product or service help your customer avoid failure.

Human beings are sometimes more motivated to avoid a loss than achieve gain. (Source: StoryBrand)

7. Or Ends in Success

As the guide, you must cast the vision of what success looks like if your customer uses your product or services.

Communicate through words and images that your product or service solves your customers’ problems. (Source: StoryBrand)

By understanding these seven principles, you will be able to

  • Stop wasting money on ineffective marketing
  • Get and keep your customers attention
  • Cut through the marketplace clutter of me-too products
  • Attract more customers

StoryBrand Outdoor Marketing

By taking the time to clarify your message and figure out these aspects of your story, you will be able to transform your marketing, attract new customers and stand out in the crowded marketplace.

If you’d like to check out the book StoryBrand or learn more about the process yourself you can:

You can also schedule a call with me, and get a clear plan on how stand out in the crowded outdoor, hunting, defense and firearms marketplace.




Is your brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2019 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.



Josh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJoshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 

storybrand guide

Three Game Changing Takeaways From The StoryBrand Conference 2019

By | Brand Development, StoryBrand

I just completed a ground-breaking week-long study on consumer behavior, by Donald Miller, a New York Times and Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author, on how to use the power of story to clearly communicate for better results. I wanted to share with you my three biggest takeaways that is sure to get you thinking differently about your business and how to communicate your brand’s message with greater clarity.

We are at a point in human history where your prospective customers and clients are bombarded with an unprecedented amount of noise and clutter. Facebook ads, phone dings, bings and bops, emails, podcasts, pop up banners, click-bait and unsolicited phone calls and texts have made it difficult to make any money spent on marketing work as good as it used to.

Furthermore, these intrusive methods have made brands untrustful as some companies have tricked customers into buying their products which have driven trust among brands past the point of no return. This barrage of distraction has the potential to stymie your business growth, waste thousands of dollars on marketing that doesn’t work and ultimately bring your business to the precipice.

However, there is a unique proven framework to fight against this to make your marketing work—and it has to do with the power of story. You see, storytelling has been a way to communicate with just about everyone since the dawn of time. It’s the sole reason the 43 Billion dollar movie industry continues to thrive year after year. And when you think about it, it’s the reason we love to sit around the campfire and listen to someone who overcame impossible odds that ended in success. And since story is used to create clarity in our understanding—it’s a perfect tool to infuse into your business and marketing communications that cuts through the clutter, grabs your customer’s attention and ultimately drives more sales. This process has been proven in thousands of businesses including brands like Chik-Fil-A, Pantene, Car Max, Intel, Berkshire Hathaway, and even Presidential political campaigns.

So in the following, I’ll give you my three biggest takeaways from last week’s StoryBrand Conference with some links to some resources that will give you more understanding on the power of story and how to use it to grow your business.

1. People don’t read websites, they scan them.

Website Wireframe

People don’t buy the best products, they buy the ones they understand the clearest. When you’re trying to build your business, clarity beats cute and clever every time. Your website is the hub of all your marketing activities and is the easiest way to track marketing spend. If a prospective customer lands on your website and you can’t spell out to them how you solve their problem within 8 seconds, you lose them. They bounce off and find someone else who can, usually a competitor.

2. Customer’s buy products or services based on internal problems, not external problems.

The difference between an internal and external problem is this:

The external problem is the tangible obstacle your customer has to overcome to get the thing that they want.

Ex. I need a new set of binoculars, mine just busted.”

Because your character is facing the external problem, how is that making them feel internally?

Ex. “I have a big adventure trip coming up and if I don’t have good set of binos I’m going to miss out on seeing all the wildlife.”

See the difference? The internal problem miss out has much more meaning behind it because the results are more tragic than the external problem. Most marketers communicate the external problem and don’t sell the internal problem.

3. Your product/service should show how the customer will transform into something better.

People naturally want to become better. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, become a better speaker, hire a better candidate or grow a bigger business—we all want to be aspire to our future itself. For example, a hunter in the below MTN OPS post wants to become a “conquering outdoor athlete.” For a hiker, it could be to become a “conservationist sojourner.” For a fitness fanatic, it could be to become “the athlete everyone wants to be.” Whatever your customer wants to become—you have to show how your product or service will get them there. Most companies put all the focus on their products benefits and features, not what their customer’s want to become. This doesn’t trigger the emotional responses in the brain needed to help your customer understand how you can help them or move them to the desired call to action.


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@chadmendes taking it all in at last light during his Utah Mule Deer Hunt. | #MtnOps #ConquerMore | 📷 @luke.dusenbury

A post shared by MTN OPS (@mtnops) on

By taking the time to clarify your message and figure out these aspects of your messaging, you will be able to transform your marketing and grow your business. In the following weeks, I will be rolling out a series of articles based on story and the StoryBrand process.

If you’d like to check out the book and learn more about the process yourself you can:

You can also schedule a call with me and get a clear plan on how to move forward that will allow you to grow your business more effectively in the age of distraction.




StoryBrand Guide BadgeBrand Development Inbound Marketing ConsultantJosh Claflin, Principal at Garrison Everest, helps companies in the outdoor, active lifestyle, tech and defense industry who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels. 

SHOT Show 2019

Five Marketing Takeaways from SHOT Show 2019

By | Firearms Marketing

After a cold and windy Range Day, a ride in Glock’s submarine, Aquila’s mini-shells and a peek at Maxim Defense’ new gun—SHOT Show 2019 has left me wondering what the coming year holds.

Glock SHOT Show 2019After taking some time to think through my experiences and having a few discussions with clients and industry professionals—here are my top takeaways from a marketer’s perspective—on what I thought of this year’s largest shooting, hunting, and outdoor industry trade show and some marketing ideas for your consideration.

1. Increased International interest?

Clients and friends I talked to agree—there seemed to be an increased international interest this year. I saw and spoke to a lot more companies from Turkey, India, Scandinavia, Israel, and others than previous years. I was approached by a couple of European companies about expansion into the U.S. market. There are a few things that could be driving this, and I don’t want to speculate, but with more international brands entering the U.S. market, competition in 2019 and future years may get a bit tighter.

2. Brand communication shifts indicate where the market is moving.

Three exciting brand shifts that caught my attention belonged to Mossberg, Daniel Defense, and Springfield Armory.

Mosssberg SHOT Show 2019Mossberg goes black.
A hunting brand long known for their shotguns looks to have finally completed their evolution into a tactical/self-defense brand with their new MC1sc 9mm Sub Compact pistol along with an entire booth and website redesign that aligns with their “Arm Yourself” campaign theme. They also traded their traditional blue and yellow color palette for black and yellow. This change is a total rebrand of the 100-year-old company.

Daniel Defense SHOT Show 2019

Photo credit: Daniel Defense




Daniel Defense mixes in the country.
On the opposite end—Daniel Defense with the release of their new bolt gun moves to the middle between tactical and outdoor which signals a push to balance the brand between the two markets. A quick look at their website shows the Ambush models front and center. They incorporated a more apparent outdoor theme into this year’s catalog, which also indicates where the manufacturer’s head is on current trends.

Springfield focuses on being more real.
Springfield Armory’s catalog pictured models on location in Wyoming (my home State – Go Pokes!) riding four wheelers, camping, fishing, fending off bears and hunting. These look like regular folks which to me was a breath of fresh air in contrast to the often overused black tactical imagery. This kind of imagery also started popping up in some of Glock’s materials.

Springfield Armory SHOT 2019

Photo credit: Springfield Armory

So what do these shifts in brand communication mean?

  • Top brands are aware of the trends that point to a more humanistic approach
  • Hunting is still essential, but self-defense is where the money is at
  • Brands still struggle to walk the line between being a tactical and hunting company (or both)
  • Younger marketing professionals are taking the reigns reflected in this year’s marketing materials
  • Is “Tacticool” finally over?  🙂

4. “An Unprecedented Effort”

NSSF’s outgoing president Steve Santenni stated that “NSSF is embarking on an unprecedented effort to get out the positive messages about our industry across the country. Using all the tools available to us, we will fight the shaming and name calling being thrown against us, with the truth that we are a critical part of the solution.”

I applaud the NSSF for taking this on. But in order for this to work, NSSF must have a clear message, rally the involvement of manufacturers, dealers, and distributors, media, create a coalition of out-of-industry ‘gun friendly’ groups and then track and optimize this effort over time to ensure success.

Our industry is full of good, honest, hard-working regular people who follow the laws, pay their taxes and want to raise their families and live in peace—this must be emphasized. NRA’s “Safest Place” Campaign during the last Presidential election is an example of a step in the right direction. However, to win over the Millennials and grow our numbers (shooting and hunting) a more humanistic, trust-building, fact and value-based approach will be required—not another glossy PR campaign.

Here are a couple of ideas and a framework you can use to contribute to the effort:

  1. Define your audience. What does your customer/audience want?
  2. Who is the villain in your story (or the problem you are trying to solve)?
    Misinformation, government control, political agendas, anti-gun/anti-hunting sentiment, failed mental health programs?
  3. How can you guide your customers/audience to the solution?
    Show the faces of real people in our communities (CCWs, LE, Vets, Pastors, Teachers, Firemen, Doctors, Moms, Dads, etc.) who are contributing to the desired solution. Tell the stories of how a firearm helped a family survive a home invasion. Or how Venison provides fresh organic field-to-plate protein to localvores. Show empathy and authority.
  4. What is the plan to get your audience to the solution?
    What resources, events and actions need to be developed? How much will it cost?
  5. What are the direct (community involvement, donate, sign up, call your senator) or transitional (downloadable educational materials, webinars, attend a speaking event)  calls to action?
  6. Explain what success and failure looks like.
    Paint a person absent of the ability to protect him or herself—show what the difference would be.
  7. Show people how they can transform into something better: safer, more confident, healthier, active etc.

I encourage you (Industry Marketers) to consider incorporating the positive attributes of not only your products but industry contributions into your advertising. We are the messengers that shape opinion, attitudes, and culture. It’s upon us to communicate the positive attributes of our products for conservation, self-defense and the Second Amendment—without compromise—in the best positive light. Don’t just say we support these efforts—show your audience why. Allow those messages to permeate into the mainstream in greater frequency. We are the rescuers, the conservationists, the warriors and the people who want to protect, who fight for the good of others. It’s high time to take back the public square of opinion and confront those who’ve tarnished our good name in a respectful tone with more focus and effort.

5. Looking forward

2019 will be another turbulent year for our industry. More virtue signaling, boycotts, anti-gun/hunting protests, rants, and the upcoming Democratic primaries and Presidential election will keep our industry on the front burner. This turbulence will affect sales, marketing budgets, trade show attendance and our ability to plan for the future.

Use your platform to spread far and wide the positive attributes of our industry and the good-willed people in it.

Those are my thoughts; I’d be curious to know yours? Please comment below…


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

Josh Claflin, Principal at Garrison Everest, helps companies in the outdoor, active, tech and firearms industry who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels. 

Josh Claflin

What is the Number One Thing Marketers Look for in Influencers? (Restless Native Podcast)

By | Influencer Marketing

I recently sat down with Brad Luttrell who runs one of the most popular podcasts in the outdoor industry: Restless Native and the wildly popular GoWild App. If you haven’t checked them out, I highly recommend it as a source of not only great content but also as a direct line into what’s happening in all things outdoor. 

Restless Native is a podcast about maximizing every moment we have in between birth and death. We chat conservation, cooking, fishing, hunting, entrepreneurship, success and failures.

In this episode, we discuss influencer marketing and the changing factors brands must navigate to maximize their marketing dollars. Below is the excerpt from the episode and link to listen in.

Influencer marketing is relatively new… One of the things I look for first in ever single influencer we work with, is do they have …”

— Josh Claflin, Digital Marketer

Over the last few weeks we’ve unveiled a lot of behind the scenes content from GoWild. Today I have one of the better looks under the hood of outdoors marketing that you’ll hear.

Brand content doesn’t happen like your personal content. It’s not spur of the moment. Brands have content calendars, copywriters, photographers, designers, strategists, account managers and, maybe most importantly, thousands and thousands of dollars at play here.

There is no one philosophy on how to build a brand or spend a budget. Some people live and die by print ads and trade shows. Other brand managers may invest heavily in video content. But lately, there’s been a huge trend to push for influencers.

What is an influencer? A lot of people would generically say it’s someone with a lot of followers. But my guest today is here to tell you having followers doesn’t make you a leader. 

Josh Claflin is very knowledgeable. He’s going to unveil some things some outdoor brands might not even want you to know. We’re going to get into how the social media sausage is made. And I will bet that for many of you, he’s going to open your eyes to tell you follower and vanity metrics don’t necessarily make you an influencer. Or even relevant. 

In fact, Josh is going to unveil the one thing his company looks for beyond your like counts, follower numbers and impressions. (Source: Ever Restless)

Listen to Podcast


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

Josh Claflin, Principal at Garrison Everest, helps companies in the outdoor, active, tech and defense industries who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels. 

ecommerce email marketing outdoor

How To Get The Most Out of Your Outdoor E-commerce Email Marketing

By | Email Marketing, Outdoor

Running an online store means zero in-person customer interaction — and this poses a big challenge when you want to build meaningful relationships with your customers in the outdoor industry. This is why email marketing makes a great channel for e-commerce. Outdoor e-commerce email marketing is about building relationships through regular communication and engagement. And it’s exactly what online businesses need to thrive.

There are various ways to generate sales for an e-commerce business. But since email marketing accounts for roughly 23% of total sales, it doesn’t take much convincing for online retailers to start harnessing its potential.

Email use is on a steady ascent among consumers and in today’s business world. Around 205 billion emails are sent and received every day — a figure that’s expected to grow at an average annual rate of 3% over the next four years. By the end of 2019, this number may reach 246 billion. It’s enough proof that email isn’t going anywhere.

Email Marketing: The Key to E-commerce Success

Smart online retailers know that email marketing is one of the most reliable and profitable marketing channels. But to make it work for your business, you have to build an email list first. Having an email list keeps you in the competition. It’s a business asset that no one can take away from you. Online stores rely on website traffic, particularly from repeat visitors, to drive sales. Your email list and campaigns help retain more of that traffic by providing an incentive to return — discounts, new products, valuable content, etc. — and communicating it on a regular basis.

Benefits of Email Marketing for E-Commerce

Before we discuss how you can make the most out of e-commerce email marketing, let’s first have a look at the key benefits email marketing brings to your online business.

  • Email can be a powerful tool for customer acquisition. It’s actually 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. With email, you get to take the conversation about your business, products, and services to your customer’s most personal online space: their inbox.
  • Email is more effective in driving traffic and sales. Having an email list allows you to reach your customers in various ways. You can leverage email campaigns to increase website traffic and enhance subscriber engagement in much deeper ways.
  • Email helps build relationships with both existing and new customers. Social and search are great ways to get discovered online, but email is the best way to maintain and strengthen that relationship over time. In fact, 60% of online consumers prefer to buy new products from brands they’re familiar with.

Integrating email marketing in e-commerce requires time and attention to be successful. Here are some e-commerce email marketing tips to help you deliver better customer value and build stronger relationships.

  1. Segment your email list for better engagement.

outdoor email segmentationWith the clutter going on in everyone’s inbox, the last thing you’d want to send is a one-size-fits-all email. Your emails need to be relevant to the recipient for it to get the latter’s interest and possibly drive a conversion.

One surefire way to make your subscribers feel happy and valued — which could eventually make them purchase — is by sending emails with content tailored to them. You can do this by segmenting your email list into groups with similar needs or interests.

Creating emails based on specific criteria using segmentation helps increase engagement and conversion. In the Garmin Example, they ask you as soon as you sign up what you’d like to get updates on. 

  1. Nurture your email list and provide value to subscribers.

Having loyal customers is one of the main reasons a business survives. Fostering relationships with these customers is vital to keep them coming back to your business. To do this, you have to regularly provide value to your subscribers through discounts, loyalty programs or good content.

Including a healthy amount of nurturing emails along with promotional emails is important in outdoor e-commerce email marketing, especially since not every subscriber is ready to purchase. On the other hand, creating loyalty programs further cultivate customer relationships and drive them back to your business.

Nurture your leads by delivering relevant content, interesting news, and product updates. This will keep your subscribers interested in your brand. Sending valuable, content-rich emails to your subscribers early on can make them more likely to open your promotional emails in the future, which can lead to better engagement, click-throughs, and conversion.

In the example below, Northface welcomes their subscribers and lets them know more about their brand in a subtle, amusing way.Outdoor Email Marketing


  1. Follow the anatomy of a good email

    Standing out in your subscriber’s inbox is one challenge you have to overcome. The good news is that you can actually do it when you know how to craft your email in a way that would entice your readers and inspire an action. Below are key elements you need to consider in your emails.

    • Subject line. The first step in grabbing their attention is by coming up with a compelling subject line. Since it’s the first true contact point of email marketing, your subject line needs to entice the recipient to open your email. Create irresistible subject lines to increase your open rates. 

    email marketingstatistics

    • Body content. The main rule when it comes to your email content is to keep it short and make it visually appealing. Ensure that the reader knows right away how they can benefit from your message.
    • Call-to-action. After your subscriber opens your email, the next thing you’d want is to inspire an action. Focus on a primary action that you want the recipient to take. Use action words in your call-to-action and make it visible in the email.
    • Format. Mobile opens accounted for 46% of all email opens. This shows that more email recipients are opening their emails on mobile devices. With this in mind, you have to optimize mobile in your emails. Make sure the emails you send are responsive to the size of the screen they’re displayed on.


  2. Optimize transactional emails.

Being an online business means you get to send a lot of transactional emails. Consumers interact with these emails — password resets, login details, order confirmation, shipping notifications, shopping cart abandonment, etc. — on an almost, if not daily basis. In fact, transactional emails get 8x more opens and clicks than any other type of email and generate 6x more revenue.

While it may seem easier to send out default transactional emails, getting creative with it can be more effective in making your customers come back to your store for a repeat purchase. A transactional email offers high levels of relevance, and when optimized properly, can drive additional sales and revenue in the process.

Create a consistent brand experience for your prospects and customers in your transactional emails. You can use the same branding with your website or marketing emails, include special offers to entice customers to make another purchase, or give product recommendations that your customer might need.

Warby Parker came up with a clean design in line with their branding in this transactional email.

  1. Ensuring email deliverability

Ensuring email deliverability is another important factor that determines the success of your email marketing. After all, what’s the use of sending beautiful, optimized emails when they don’t even reach your subscriber’s inbox?

The thing is, getting those emails to the inbox isn’t always easy. Email deliverability issues, such as high bounces, flagging spam filters, and low engagement, can be present. With 20% of emails not reaching the inbox, there’s a chance marketers are missing out on potential revenue and the opportunity to build a strong relationship with subscribers.

To ensure email deliverability, you have to take actionable steps that will help your emails reach the intended recipients. Start off by better positioning your campaigns to reach the inbox. Follow key steps to avoid being marked as spam. Improve reputation score and check feedback loops. Send re-engagement campaigns to subscribers who haven’t opened an email in over 12 months. These are just some of the many ways you can improve email deliverability.

Here’s a great re-engagement email to get a subscriber back to the site.

re-engagement email marketing

Wrap Up

Email marketing can help take your Outdoor e-commerce business to greater heights as it helps your brand engage with customers and build lasting relationships with them. E-commerce email marketing is both a science and an art. It entails sending relevant emails to the right audience at the right time. The strategies you employ in your e-commerce email marketing will define the success of your campaign. The first thing you need to do is understand how email marketing helps your online business, then follow tried-and-true ways to let you get the most out of e-commerce email marketing.


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

Josh Claflin, Principal at Garrison Everest, helps companies who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels. 

Clarify your marketing message

Why You’re Wasting Thousands of Dollars on Marketing

By | Brand Development, StoryBrand

Whether you’re someone starting a business, a marketer trying to move the needle for your company—or an executive trying to figure out how you can grow more effectively—foggy and confusing marketing is costing you thousands of dollars and keeping you from seeing your way to the top. 

Humans have a tendency to complicate things—especially our marketing materials because we don’t understand how to connect and engage customers correctly. The human brain is drawn to CLARITY and away from CONFUSION. If customers are confused about what you offer, they’ll look past you for somebody who can say it clearly. (Source: StoryBrand)

In the following, I’m going to list three factors on why you are wasting thousands of dollars on marketing and why your marketing is foggy and confusing your customers. 

1. You leave marketing to a designer.

Most businesses will approach their marketing material (website, ad, brochure, email, catalog etc.) by looking to a graphic designer or a design agency. This is all well and good, but the problem with this approach is that that designer is not concerned about how to communicate your product or service as much as they should be—they are only really concerned on making your marketing material look amazing.

Don’t get me wrong—amazing visuals are important and graphic designers are extremely critical to your business’ success, but this one-sided approach is not going to grow your business or give you a faster return on investment.

I started my career as a designer back in 1998. Back then and for the next 10 years, I was only concerned (ninety percent of the time) on making a website, brochure or advertisement look awesome for my client. This is what was taught to me in College. “If it looks good, it has to be good,” because at our core, we think like artists, not marketers!  As time went on, I began to wonder why my work wasn’t generating the results my clients expected, especially when data and analytics became more prevalent in marketing campaigns. These lack-luster results lead me on a journey to discover how to communicate more effectively. I wanted to know the secret behind what moved people to buy? I wanted to uncover the key on how to hold a person’s attention long enough to create a memorable brand connection.

What I concluded after almost 18 years of design and then marketing is that people love pretty pictures, but if the words don’t address your prospects fundamental problem—plainly and directly—“you confuse them and eventually lose them.” (Source: StoryBrand) Sounds simple enough; however, you’d be amazed by how so many brands fail to capture this on their websites and every other piece of marketing they produce. 

2. You’re not addressing your customer’s problems.

Humans are natural problem solvers. We love to figure out our best friend’s relationship woes, we ponder and argue over politics, we post advice on Facebook about someone’s issue with their dog, and we even seek in our own lives to get smarter, faster, slimmer, or at least be more accepted. This natural human inclination is the first step in understanding how to make your marketing more effective. The more you talk about your customer’s problems, the more you will hold their attention and have greater success in moving them to your desired action.

People who have a deep desire to solve a baffling problem will take to the internet 90% of the time. If your website doesn’t communicate the customer’s problem clearly, when they first hit your home page, you lose.

3. You are not the hero, they are.

Another great mistake that is costing you money is that businesses tend to put themselves before their customers in their messaging. They lead with messaging about how great they are, how many awards they’ve won, how superior, their product’s features are and how excellent their team is. That’s all very important, but that information means nothing to a customer who is quickly trying to understand your service or product over your competition. Moreover, to further complicate the issue, in most cases, these customers may not even know or have clearly defined what their problem is! You must put your customer’s problems first, seek to determine the problem and then show them how you solve it. Then and only then, through their journey of discovering who or what can solve their problem (best and for the right price) do you communicate these other great things about your company. So many businesses lose customers because according to the customer, all they knew about your brand was that they were the best at something that meant a lot to them, but not much to the customer.

Wasted marketing dollars take away from your ability to make that next hire, upgrade your equipment, expand office space or save for retirement. Not getting your marketing right is stymieing your growth and success.

By taking the time to clarify your message and figure out these aspects of your story, you will be able to transform your marketing, attract new customers and stand out in the crowded marketplace.

If you’d like to check out the book StoryBrand or learn more about the process yourself you can:

You can also schedule a call with me, and get a clear plan on how stand out in the crowded outdoor, hunting, defense and firearms marketplace.



Is your brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2019 that will help you differentiate and grow your Outdoor, Hunting or Defense & Firearms business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.



StoryBrand Guide BadgeJoshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies in the outdoor, active lifestyle, tech and defense industry who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 

consistent content marketing

Four Things That Start to Happen When You Stop Blogging

By | Inbound Marketing

I owe you a big apology.

I’ve been really slacking on my blog posts the past four months. I got so busy this summer with several new clients I wasn’t able to stay consistent in my writing. And then the craziness of SHOT Show preparation started in August with still so much still to do!

With all sincerity, I’m sorry…

Which brings me to the topic of this post about the perils of starting a blog and doing content marketing and then failing to keep up with it.

Since 2014, I’ve written over 140 blogs with a consistent tick of about 2-3 posts per month. Content marketing is like a slow-moving train leaving the station. It starts out slow—and then over time—gains momentum. But once it starts, it’s hard to stop. You have to keep feeding the “content beast”—or it becomes a complete train wreck, which means you have to start all over.

So in this post, **if you’re still interested?** I want to highlight a few points on what happened to me when I started creating content and then stopped for a few months.

1. Out of Touch

One of the great things that happen when you start blogging is that you force yourself to stay up to date on current trends, marketing technologies (like A.I., Service and Influencer Marketing) as well maintaining a voice in your niche. If you fall out of practice—you leave your audience wondering what’s going on. It also leaves a void for your competitors to move into. A digital presence is necessary to remain relevant in today’s digital environment. By staying on the minds of your followers, you’ll grow your brand (product or personal brand) faster.


website traffic


blog with leads2. Leads and Social Media Lags

Google loves fresh content. (Source: MOZ) To keep your rankings up, you have to keep creating content consistently. Inconsistency stymies your email list growth, open rates, and social media reach. Although I didn’t see a dip in traffic or leads over the past few months, I did see a decrease on social media channels, especially Twitter.

3. Open Rates Drop

After the email for this blog goes out, I expect the open rate to be below the standard 20% open rate of my total readership (500). I also expect a few unsubscribes. Which is OK, because it will keep my database lean and up to date. If you don’t email your list regularly, your subscribers will start to fall off and forget who you are. And as of now, email marketing is still the most effective way to reach your customers. 

4. Looking Forward

In the coming months, I have several content campaigns scheduled that will be on the topics of service marketing, brand storytelling, artificial intelligence and the ever-changing world of influencer marketing and how to use these tactics and technologies in the outdoor, tech and firearms industry.

I hope you stay tuned. 

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

Josh Claflin, Principal at Garrison Everest, helps companies in the outdoor, tech, and firearm industries who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels to grow in the digital era of marketing. Contact Josh  for a free consultation. 

firearm hunting customer review marketing

How to Get Online Firearm Customer Reviews That Boost Your Business

By | Firearms Marketing, StoryBrand


It’s not hard to figure out that online reviews are essential to building and maintaining a firearm, hunting or outdoor business these days. After all, we all use our phones, search engines, and social media profiles to look up new businesses and products every day.

Customer trust in businesses is fading. HubSpot Research found that customers trust recommendations from friends and family over any type of online marketing and advertising your brand can create. And in the absence of trusted recommendations, according to BrightLocal, 85% of consumers trust online reviews are much as personal recommendations—the single most trustworthy and credible source of “advertising” out there. (Source: Hubspot)

This fact puts an exclamation point on the notion that you need to establish a robust digital footprint and keep the positive feedback flowing.

What many marketers and business owners want is a way to speed this process up and make it less time-consuming. So today I want to share some quick and easy tips you can use to get the online reviews you need to boost your bottom line in the real world. Here’s how you can get started…


Make Your Brand Review-Worthy

Before we get into the online marketing component of things, it’s worth pointing out that the best thing you can do to get more and better online reviews is to build a great product and create a brand that cuts through the clutter. Make sure your team is well-trained, and your products or services represent good value for the money. Do that, and many of your customers will feel compelled to leave positive reviews for you just because they’ve had a good experience.


Complete Your Online Profiles

You can’t accumulate dozens or hundreds of positive online reviews if buyers don’t have a place to leave them. In addition to issuing a space for reviews on your website, it’s crucial that you have an existing presence on Yelp (Dealers and Instructors), Facebook, and glowing reviews on YouTube,, industry blogs, and publisher sites. Having completed accounts with photos and contact details makes your business easier to find while encouraging customer feedback at the same time.


Double Check the Pertinent Details

Although you may be primarily concerned with accumulating reviews online, you should know that all of these profiles serve a secondary purpose, as well. Google will often scan online business listings to verify things like location and contact details. That makes it very important that all of your different profiles be consistent from one entry to the next. In search results, your ratings will also show up in the results that will further build trust with your prospects.

firearm customer review ammo

Get Some Social Buzz Going

The outdoor and firearms community is not shy about sharing and interacting on social media—encourage them to add their comments, reviews, and experiences on your Facebook page or your website directly. Not only will their friends and contacts be able to see their comments, but you may see your reviews multiply—as groups of acquaintances and people in their network get in on the act to share their stories and opinions. Don’t be afraid to engage—and make sure to be available on Messenger, online chat or set up a chatbot.

Automate the Process

Setting up your accounts and getting those first few reviews is the hardest part of the process, but the work isn’t finished once a few buyers say good things about your business. The key is to keep your profiles up to date and encourage even more positive feedback. That gets a lot easier when you have the right tools.

Several services can automate this process. We utilize workflows within Klaviyo to ask for reviews 14 days after our client’s customers purchase from them. Other options include Rivet Works or Podium that gives you the capability to ask for reviews via text over mobile.

You can also set up free Google alerts or purchase social listening software like Mention to help you stay on top of negative reviews and leverage the positive ones to drive engagement and online sales.

In conclusion, if you’ve been missing out on the tremendous upside presented by online reviews and other cost-effective web strategies, now is the perfect time to implement them.

Contact Us Today


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Marketing + Strategy
Josh helps brands in the outdoor, tech, marine and firearm industries who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and grow in the digital era of marketing.

Five Online Firearm Marketing-Mistakes To Stop Repeating Today

Five Online Firearm Marketing Mistakes To Stop Repeating Today

By | Firearms Marketing

Albert Einstein once defined insanity by doing the same thing again and again and expecting different result. While he probably didn’t have online marketing in mind at the time, his quote is as relevant to the business owners we work with as it is to any physics professor in the country.

The point here is that there are thousands, of firearm business owners and executives out there right now who keep repeating the same internet marketing blunders repeatedly and then wonder why they aren’t getting better results. These errors can take a lot of different forms, of course, but there are a few we see every week.

To help you from making or repeating them, let’s look at five online marketing mistakes you should stop repeating today…

1. Ignoring Your Website

You don’t have to do a lot to your website to keep it running, but you can’t completely neglect it, either. Looking after things like updates (to your content management system and plug-ins) and adding new articles or pages can keep your site relevant and secure. Additionally, you should schedule a website audit 2-3x a year so you will be aware of any underlying programming issues that could slow your pages down, cause security concerns, or lead to error screens. Consider taking a growth-driven design approach to your next website design process. 


2. Only Posting Promotional Updates or Press Releases

Obviously, you want to use your website to promote products. However, that doesn’t mean your customers want to read nothing but promotional messages. Avoid turning your blog into a PR dumping ground. Knowing that, smart marketers will walk a fine line, giving fans and followers a steady mixture of information, entertainment, reviews, and offers to make a purchase. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your email newsletter, your social feed, or any other online channel: don’t just ask people to buy from you every day—provide value, be helpful, make people stop and think.


3. Taking Content From Competitors

We are continually amazed at how many marketers think they can get away with borrowing things like content, images, logos, names, video, and other materials from their competition. Even if the source material is slightly altered, using something that has been copied from another company is bad for your business. It opens the door for other business owners to sue you, customers to ignore you, and Google to blacklist you from the search engine listings. Don’t use content if you don’t own it.


4. Dismissing Negative Feedback

You will never be able to please 100% of the buying public all the time. And, those people who are most annoyed with you also happen to be the ones who are going to leave negative reviews, so you shouldn’t take everything to heart. However, if customers are complaining about the same things again and again, don’t dismiss their feedback. Every review is an opportunity to learn. If you don’t take that opportunity, it’s going to hurt your business.


5. Paying for Lackluster Results

Some business owners will pay online marketing invoices for months or years, even when they aren’t getting the results they expected, simply because they don’t know what else to do. But, that’s not the way you want to run your company, and it isn’t going to lead to positive growth. If you’re getting lackluster results from your online marketing campaigns, or no results at all, think about switching to a more accountable vendor.


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Time to Turn Your Website into a Business Asset?

If you feel like you pour time and money into your website without getting much in return, this is your chance to set your business on a new path and get one step ahead of your competitors. Contact us today so we can set up a free consultation to evaluate your strategy together and find an affordable and effective way to boost your online marketing results.

Contact Us Today


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Influencer & Inbound Marketing + Strategy
Josh helps brands in the outdoor, tech, firearm industries who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and grow in the digital era of marketing.

Hunting or Firearm E-commerce Website Design

5 “Must-Do’s” Before Starting a Hunting or Firearms E-commerce Website

By | Firearms and Hunting


You may have heard that Amazon just surpassed Walmart as the number one retailer on the planet.  And now with Sporting Goods retail chains like Dick’s restricting certain firearm platforms—firearms and hunting brands are waking up fast to the fact that a strong e-commerce component is critical to business. 

Here are some interesting statistics according to Internet Retailer and the NSSF:

  • E-commerce sales grew 16% in 2017
  • E-commerce sales are expected to grow to more than $400 billion in the next several years, with Forrester Research estimating $414.0 sales in 2018 and eMarketer estimating $491.5 in 2018.
  • 61% of global internet shoppers are loyal to the online retailers they use
  • 29% report to having already purchased a firearm online and 58% are willing to consider purchasing one online.

In this post, I want to give you five critical “must-dos” (before you consider how to generate traffic) if you’re evaluating a new e-commerce website initiative that will help you organize your team, save time and make it easier and faster to implement your new e-commerce-based website.

1. Build your e-commerce website for your buyer persona

Before you get to the part of what you want your website to look like, nothing will bring your web team more clarity and focus than understanding your buyer persona.

You most likely have a good idea of who your customer is—but taking the time to understand what they want from your website will make all the difference. Seek to understand what their wants, needs, problems, behaviors, and questions are. Create a web experience based on them. This will ultimately make for higher sales and less abandoned carts.

2. Prepare your product image library

The second step is establishing your product library. If you’re a large manufacturer, you may have over 2000 SKU’s that are jumbled into a hundred different sizes, on gray backgrounds, outdated, or that show your product in a less than ideal format. Since this aspect of the project can take the longest, you can save a lot of time by starting now.

Start by creating a shot list:

  • What products need to be reshot?
  • Which product images can be reused?
  • Locate a lifestyle photographer
  • Have the photographer provide the raw sizes and cropped images set to 1000 x 1000 pixels for use on the website

Sort all these on a spreadsheet so the photographer can easily sort and organize when it comes time to shoot your products. Make sure you place all your products on a white background. Placing products on a clean white background allows your product to be the hero and creates a clear understanding in your customers mind without any unnecessary background clutter.

3. Identify how you’re going to fulfill orders

With over 20,000 (Source: CNS) laws on the books—determining how you want to fulfill orders that comply with federal, state and local laws is the next consideration and if you’re a firearm manufacturer. Below are five considerations.

1. Utilize a third-party cart.
Ruger, for example, utilizes the NFDN network and Gallery of to sell its products online. All you need to do is apply for membership with your FFL and set up an account. This can also be done through your distributor. This allows your products to be embedded in hundreds if not thousands of online gun store websites and outdoor specialty retailers and takes the hassle out of you (or your staff) having to deal with running your online store. The downfall is you rely on their somewhat antiquated looking shopping cart that doesn’t align with your website’s look and feel.

2. Ship direct to customer via an FFL
Daniel Defense’s website is an example of how to set up a shopping cart where the product is shipped directly to an FFL of your customer’s choosing. They will enter their local FFLs address, notify them that your firearm is being shipped to them, and the FFL will handle all the paperwork. This all happens after the purchase. There are hundreds of shopping cart software solutions on the internet from WooCommerce, Magento and Marketpress to name a few. Choose the software that best suits your needs and one that you feel is easiest to use. I recommend WooCommerce as it is used by over 21% of all shopping carts on the web if you’re doing a custom install with WordPress. 

UPDATE: I do not recommend signing up with any third-party solutions like Volusion, Wix, BigCommerce and especially Shopify, who as of today (August 16, 2018) has banned Franklin Armory from using their platform. When building on these networks, you are essentially handing over your lawful online business that puts you at risk because these providers can shut you down at anytime—sometimes without warning.



3. Dealer only
DPMS, Remington, Bushmaster, Benelli and Beretta only sell through their dealer network—some use a hybrid (dealer and third-party cart). You can purchase other accessories on their websites, but to purchase a firearm you are redirected to a dealer locator.

4. What States should I NOT ship to?
Some manufacturers do not ship to New York, Illinois or Hawaii. Other states have magazine restrictions like Colorado and California. The anti-gun laws in these States are very confusing and can leave you open to a lawsuit. It’s better to not even take the risk unless you have a good attorney advise you on your options.

5. What shipping provider should I use?
The shipping of firearms seems to constantly change. The main rule of thumb is to always ship to an authorized FFL—never to a personal residence. Below is the latest information from If you have any questions, it’s always wise to check with your attorney, USPS, UPS or FEDEX representative.

  • US Mail – unlicensed persons:
    • Unlicensed persons can ship a rifle or shotgun by US Mail.
    • Unlicensed persons cannot ship a handgun by US Mail. Pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person (for example, short-barreled shotguns and short-barreled rifles) are defined as handguns.
    • Postal regulations allow the Post Office to open your package for inspection.
    • Ammunition cannot be shipped by US Mail.

    You can search the US Post Office Postal Explorer site for specific USPS regulations regarding firearms and ammunition (Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Matter).

    US Mail – licensed persons:

    • Licensed persons can ship rifles, shotguns, or handguns by US Mail. In fact, we suggest you use the USPS, as it is now the most cost-effective way to ship a handgun.
    • To ship a rifle or shotgun, you need only inform the Post Office the package contains a firearm.
    • A licensed manufacturer, dealer, or importer can ship a handgun via the US Post Office if the licensed dealer fills out a US Post Office Form PS 1508 and files it with the local Post Office branch where the handgun is to be shipped.

    You can search the US Post Office Postal Explorer site for specific USPS regulations.

    FedEx Express:

    • FedEx will only ship firearms via their Priority Overnight service.
    • Ammunition must be shipped as hazardous goods via Ground in compliance with “Limited Quantity.” Special labeling is required.

    FedEx Ground

    • FedEx Ground will transport and deliver firearms (excluding handguns) as defined by the United States Gun Control Act of 1968 between areas served in the U.S.
    • Ammunition must be shipped as hazardous goods via FedEx Ground in compliance with “Limited Quantity.” FedEx Ground will accept shipments of ammunition. Special labeling is required.


    • UPS will accept handgun shipments by Next Day Air only.
    • Rifles and shotguns can be shipped by UPS ground service.
    • UPS will accept shipments of ammunition. Special labeling is required.

6. Flat rate or box size?
The easiest and most hassle-free way to ship your products is by weight. You can set-up different weight tiers of pricing for all of your products. However, if you’re in a segment that is highly competitive and $5-$10 is a factor in getting the sale, then be prepared to discount your shipping.


4. Get the security issues out of the way

The next “must-do” is security and encryption. Everyone who sells online must take precautions for their customer’s data. And with every website now a target for hackers, it’s more important than ever.

1. Payment Processor or Gateway
To take payments online, you first need a payment processor. Authorize.Net acts as the middleman in between you and your merchant bank account that securely transfers funds from your customers’ credit card to your account. During this process, Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover—whatever credit cards you accept on your site all take a percentage of the sale, usually 1.5-2%. Your bank may also charge a percentage as well. Be sure to configure these fees into your product costs.

2. A Secure Socket Layer or SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and your customer’s browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. You can purchase an SSL through a number of providers like Symantec, Thawte, GoDaddy or RapidSSL. Your host provider will need to install it for you. Before purchasing an SSL, make sure to ask your host provider what kind of server software they use for example, Apache, Oracle, IBM or others.

3. Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy pages are essential in protecting your site from users who may encounter problems. These important legal pages on your website ensure your business is protected from any fraudulent behavior from users. Read here for more information and some horror stories. Always get an attorney to look over your T&C and PP before launch. To get a boilerplate T&C and PP please visit here.

4. Secure and Speedy Hosting is usually the last component considered when building your ecommerce website. But beware, there are many services out there who sell you on services and packages you don’t need and who guarantee speed and security but fail to deliver. One #2A friendly company that we recommend is WP Engine. WP Engine provides you with a secure and fast platform to run your WordPress website. For over four years, we have enjoyed an little downtime, fast speeds and literally no hacks. With Google now ranking websites based on speed, WP Engine remains a good choice for the hunting and firearms industry.

  • Content Delivery Network
  • Included SSL
  • Content Page Performance
  • Fast 24/7 Support
  • Staging Server
  • 24/7/365 Backup

Pick A Plan

5. Consider an Enterprise Solution

For enterprise manufacturers, it may be time to connect your CRM, ERP, and WMS and Ecommerce altogether. Companies like NetSuite, Sage, SAP and other software companies serve larger companies with large global inventories with complex supply chains. These software solutions allow you to manage your inventories in greater detail and with greater efficiency. If you’re a large manufacturer, taking the time to explore these solutions may be what you need rather than a simple shopping cart. A SAP or NetSuite implementation can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If that seems like overkill, there are other low to mid-market solutions like Magento Enterprise that can be connected to your back-office operations and warehouse that tracks inventory, shipping, and accounting.

In conclusion, when considering your next e-commerce store, it’s important to identify who your buyer persona is, get a good product image library created, identify what kind of shopping cart setup you want, make sure you have the right security components in place to take payments securely and if you’re an enterprise manufacturer, consider a larger solution to more efficiently run your operations.

By taking into consideration these five “must-dos,” you’ll have what you need to engage a web development firm and make your website project go much faster.




FREE DOWNLOAD: Website Design Planner for the Hunting, Outdoor and Firearms Industry

A time-saving guide on how to plan an effective website that meets your online business and branding goals.
In this planning guide, we help you and your team think through the critical points of the website design process that helps you form a specifications document to obtain accurate pricing.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Marketing + Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.