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Joshua Claflin

Outdoor Instagram Marketing

How To Create a Instagram Social Media Strategy For Your Outdoor Brand

By Social Media

Instagram is a powerful tool for outdoor, hunting, and shooting sports businesses of all sizes. It can be used to build brand awareness, connect with customers, and drive traffic to your website. If you are a business owner who sells products or services that can be enjoyed outdoors, it is especially important to have a social media strategy in 2022.

In this article, you will learn the necessary components of a Instagram social media strategy for outdoor brands and get some tips to get started.

Goal

As with any marketing strategy, you should always start with a goal. Setting a goal gives you strategic direction and outlines where you are going and provides a context in how to get there. Without a goal, you are simply posting content for the sake of posting. So, what do you want to achieve with Instagram? Do you want to increase brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Sell more products? Once you have answered this question, you can start to develop your strategy.

Sample Goal: We will accomplish a 20% increase in Instagram followers by Q3 because we want to build brand awareness of our new broadhead.

Target Audience

Who is your target audience or buyer persona? This is an important question to answer as it will dictate the type of content you share, the tone of your posts, and the social media platforms you use. For example, if you are targeting young adults who are active and enjoy spending time outdoors, hunting or fishing, you will want to focus on platforms like Instagram. However, if your target audience is politicos fighting for 2A and conservation rights, you will want to be active on platforms like Twitter or TruthSocial. 

Additional Reading: 5 Ways Social Media Works For Your Hunting Company

Now that you have a basic understanding of what you need to get started, you have to develop 7 talking points based around the art of storytelling. Creating this framework or communication playbook will provide you the guidance you need to ensure each social media post is on brand, on message, and adds value to your audience. The most important aspect of this approach is you know what to say and what order to say it in.

The following should be included in your Instagram strategy:

  • Name your campaign: product launch, hunting season, holiday season, ATA Show, etc.
  • A content calendar
  • Key messaging
  • A process for creating and curating content
  • Posting frequency
controlling idea

Photo credit: Spectre Broadheads

1. Controlling Idea

First, start by creating a controlling idea. A controlling idea is the “why” or the point of why you are posting. Every Instagram campaign should have a controlling idea. This ensures that all your posts in your campaign has a purpose and is not just random content.

In the following, we’re going to use an archery broadhead product called Buck-O’ as an example. Your posts might revolve around the following controlling ideas:

  • Buck-O is different than other broadheads because it flys farther and straighter
  • Buck-O performs in extreme conditions
  • Buck-O is hand made from 0.36 stainless steel blades

2. Story Question

The story question is the question you must posit in your customer’s mind: Will this product help me harvest more bucks? Will my broadhead fail when I have that once-in-a-lifetime shot? The story question outlines the problem and the what-ifs.

The human brain is a problem-solving device. When you give it a problem it’s interested in, it will work on that problem until it solves it. This is called the reticular activating system, and you can use this to your advantage on social media by agitating the problem your customer is having.

For example:

  1. Tired of your broadhead failing?
  2. Does your broadhead leave a big enough blood trail?
  3. Did your broadhead not perform as advertised?

3. Agitate the Problem

Next, create a statement that agitates the problem further. The key here is to take the problem your broadhead solves and make the situation worse. Taking what we created above, add the agitation:

  1. Tired of your broadhead failing? That buck get away again?
  2. Does your broadhead leave a big enough blood trail? Great shot, but now you can’t find where your trophy shot went.
  3. Did your broadhead not perform as advertised? Your family is not going to be happy. 

See how we stated a problem our customer is having and then agitated it a little more? This is what you need to do in your social media posts.

The next step is to come up with what’s at stake.

4. The Stakes

If there are no stakes in a story, then it’s not a story. The stakes are what make the story interesting and worth telling.

Once again, let’s add to the above…

  1. Tired of your broadhead failing? Did that buck get away again? The season ends next weekend.
  2. Does your broadhead leave a big enough blood trail? It looked like a great shot, but now you can’t find where trophy shot went. That freezer is going to be bare this winter.
  3. Did your broadhead not perform as advertised? Your family is not going to be happy. You don’t want to tell them you had another mechanical broadhead malfunction.

In the next section, you get to save the day by coming in and helping your customer save the day.

Photo credit: WASP Archery

5. The Guide

The guide is you. Your customer is the hero. Your brand is not the hero in your story, your customer is. So many brands in the industry want to play the hero. So now that you’ve stated a common problem, agitated it, and described the stakes you now get to step in like Yoda (or Morpheus) and save the day. For more on the what it means to play the guide, read this post. 

  1. Tired of your broadhead failing? Did that buck get away again? The season ends next weekend. Luckily Buck-O broadheads have a 100% open rate and will never fail you.
  2. Does your broadhead leave a big enough blood trail? It looked like a great shot, but now you can’t find where trophy shot went. That freezer is going to be bare this winter. We understand what it’s like to make a great shot only to see your trophy run away, thats why Buck-O broadheads are consistent, durable and reliable.
  3. Did your broadhead not perform as advertised? Your family is not going to be happy. You don’t want to tell them you had another mechanical broadhead malfunction. We had enough of the silent treatment when coming home empty-handed and decided to do something about it and created Buck-O broadheads.
Outdoor Communication Framework

Create a sheet like this to outline your talking points.

6. The Plan and Call to Action

Every guide has to give the hero a plan to win the day and call them action. Next add your plan on how to solve their problem and what to do next. Give them the stepping stones to cross the creek and a clear yes or no decision.

  1. Tired of your broadhead failing? Did that buck get away again? The season ends next weekend. Luckily Buck-O broadheads have a 100% open rate and will never fail you. To keep bucks from getting away, go to our website and buy one today.
  2. Does your broadhead leave a big enough blood trail? It looked like a great shot, but now you can’t find where trophy shot went. That freezer is going to be bare this winter. We understand what it’s like to make a great shot only to see your trophy run away, that’s why Buck-O’ broadheads are consistent, durable, and reliable. Shop our website or see your local dealer.
  3. Did your broadhead not perform as advertised? Your family is not going to be happy. You don’t want to tell them you had another mechanical broadhead malfunction. We had enough of the silent treatment when coming home empty-handed and decided to do something about it and created Buck-O’ broadheads. Our broadheads are field tested and proven. Go to our website, shop our broadheads and have it delivered to your door in 3 days!

Lastly, we want to end our posts by foreshadowing the climatic scene.

7. Foreshadow the Climactic Scene

Now add the last piece of your post by foreshadowing the climatic scene. This is typically the outcome or the do-or-die moment in your short story that satisfies the brain’s desire to solve the problem.

  1. Tired of your broadhead failing? Did that buck get away again? The season ends next weekend. Luckily Buck-O broadheads have a 100% open rate and will never fail you. To keep bucks from getting away, go to our website, choose your broadhead. Never lose a shot again. #hunting #archery #whitetaildeer
  2. Does your broadhead leave a big enough blood trail? It looked like a great shot, but now you can’t find where your trophy shot went. That freezer is going to be bare this winter. We understand what it’s like to make a great shot only to see your trophy run away, that’s why Buck-O’ broadheads are consistent, durable, and reliable. Shop our website or see your local dealer and make bigger blood trails. #hunting #deerseason #whitetaildeer #archeryhunting
  3. Did your broadhead not perform as advertised? Your family is not going to be happy. You don’t want to tell them you had another mechanical broadhead malfunction. We had enough of the silent treatment when coming home empty-handed and decided to do something about it and created Buck-O’ broadheads. Our broadheads are field tested and proven. Go to our website, shop our broadheads and have it delivered to your door in 3 days! Join the Buck-O’ brotherhood and make your family happy. #hunting #archerylife #deer

A quick word on #hashtags

Hashtags are used so others can find you. Here are three rules of thumb. You can use up to 11 hashtags, don’t use the same hashtags over and over again and you can bury them if you don’t want them to be seen by adding spaces or placing them in the comments. Instagram does ban some hashtags but they don’t make the list public. For guns and other hunting hashtags experiment with your hashtags to see which ones get the most engagement (views, likes and shares). This will help you understand if you’re being throttled. If you post a bloody picture, you most likely won’t see it show up in the feed or it may get blocked or flagged.

Instagram Post Example8. Add a professional photo or video

Now that you have a basic framework on how to write engaging posts that get results, you need to identify and reach out to a photographer/videographer who can bring your posts to life. Content is king. Professional imagery and video will provide your followers with engaging, memorable content that will make them want to follow you and purchase your products.

Right now, Instagram seems to favor reels (short videos). Try experimenting with short videos and track your results in the form of views, likes, shares, website traffic, email signups and sales.

9. Bring it all together by combining Instagram with email

Due to the unfair and illegal censorship of our industry, you must drive your followers to sign up for your emails to stay informed. A lot of times they won’t see your posts, especially on Facebook. You can also use other platforms like GoWild, TruthSocial, or MeWe to reach a wider audience. You can also sign up influencers to help expand and create content for your brand.

So in conclusion, an effective social media strategy for an outdoor, hunting to shooting sports brand should include:

  • A goal
  • Target audience
  • A short, attention-grabbing intro/headline
  • Compelling copy that tells a story and/or solves a problem
  • Professional imagery or video
  • A call to action telling the audience what you want them to do next
  • Hashtags
  • Double down with email
  • Expand with influencer marketing

Now that you have the framework, go out and create content that will engage your audience and convert them into customers. If you got questions, give us a call or signup for an online course in communication to get started.

SMART GOALS

How To Set SMART Goals For Your Firearms or Hunting Business

By Marketing

Setting goals can sometimes quickly become a cruel lesson in futility. Like New Years’ resolutions—you set goals with great motivation and vigor—only to have your best intentions sidetracked by company requests, family life or other distractions. That is unless you’re a part of the only 8% who keep them.

To stay focused on your initiatives—here are three points to help you organize your thoughts and make a plan to achieving them.

1. Create a Vision

If you were given a 50,000 dollar budget to spend on marketing—what would you do with it? Build a better website? Write more content? Produce more videos? Upgrade your photography? Increase sales by 20% within 9 months? The first step to creating a goal is to figure out what you want. If you don’t know what you want, you don’t know what you need to achieve to get there. What do you really want to create for yourself, your business or your brand? How will this benefit you personally? Don’t be afraid to think big. Take fifteen minutes and document your vision. Take note of the details. Try to incorporate all the different angles into your vision to make it effective. (Source: Forbes)

 

2. Use the SMART method to set your goals

SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely – think of these as the ingredients of success. Here’s what they mean and how to apply them:

Specific: Set real numbers with real deadlines. Don’t say, “I want more website visitors,” or “I want to dominate my category.” Look at your website metrics, sales numbers or anything else you have tracked in the past in the form of visits, leads, sales or customers to establish benchmarks. These metrics work, because they are measurable, and they can be used to understand how they affect your bottom line now and in the future. 

Measurable: Make sure that you can track your goals. Don’t hide behind buzzwords like “brand engagement” or “social influence.” If it’s leads, how many leads do you want? Don’t pick something out of thin air, pick something you can measure correctly and track.

Put the right tools in place to measure like Google Analytics or other web tracking software like HotJar, Databox, or HubSpot. You can’t measure what you can’t track. 

firearm-marketing-SMART-goals

 

Attainable: Work toward a goal that is challenging but possible. Don’t try to take over the world in one night. How much time is it going to take? How much budget and resources do you have?

Realistic: Be honest with yourself, because you know what you and your team are capable of. Don’t forget any hurdles you may have to overcome, e.g. competitors, economy, changing regulations, talent, etc. 

Timely: Give yourself a deadline. Don’t keep pushing towards a goal you might hit “some day.” How long is it going to take? 6 months, 1 year? Set a realistic timeframe. Give yourself enough time to reach your goal, but not too much that it drags on.

By utilizing the SMART method—your goals are much more attainable and measurable. (Source: Hubspot

Here’s an example of a SMART goal:
Increase visits by 25% (2,250 per month to 3,000 per month) and make $150K in additional revenue by EOY.

 

goal-setting-planning3. Write it down!

According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals. Who doesn’t want to accomplish significantly more? If you don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist. We all know that having a plan is one thing, but accomplishing that plan is something different. 

Get out a big pad of paper and a sharpie and begin writing down your goals and post them on your wall. That way you can refer to them every day and track progress as you cross them off the list.

As marketers and business owners in the hunting and firearms industry, we are always being pulled in 10 different directions. We’re constantly trying to find ways to keep the train on the track. By establishing the above SMART goals, you can alleviate a lot of stress when you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. SMART goals keep you laser-focused and on task. Now that your goals have been set—plan it out and get moving. Don’t forget to celebrate each goal as you achieve it! 

firearms marketing customer service

Do These 8 Things To Build Your Customer Base

By Hunting and Shooting Sports

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eighty per cent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases, and a host of studies have logged the strong influence those reviews have on the decisions people make. The rise of social media has accelerated the trend to an astonishing degree: a dud product can become a laughingstock in a matter of hours. In the old days, you might have bought a Remington because that’s what dad had. Today, such considerations matter much less than reviews that you might find on Optics Planet, or Brownells. Each product now has to prove itself on its own. 

The very first thing you must do to build your customer base is to have an outstanding product or service that solves a problem, lends status or helps your customer survive in a conventional way—and make it really cool. The product must be valid and ready for the world otherwise you’ll crash and burn.

However, if you have a great product (√check) and are looking to maximize your marketing to increase sales and build your brand and customer base, then here are 8 branding ideas to help you do that. 

1. Be somebody

The old saying goes, “you can’t be everything to everyone.” Companies in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industry must find a way to stand out amongst the marketplace clutter and find the “whitespace.”  Prove to your prospective customers you are worth their time by demonstrating how you will guide them to achieve their goal, i.e better marksman, hunter, self-defense or law enforcement.

2. Make them feel something

The best way to connect in today’s digital world is through storytelling and contextual marketing. Our ancestors sat around a fire telling stories since the dawn of time, and this still continues to this day—except now we get it from the social media.  There is something intrinsically valuable to storytelling. When you connect with people at the heart level and make them feel something it will go a long way. Today’s marketing isn’t about highlighting features and benefits, it’s about “celebrating the benefit in the way it impacts other people’s lives,” says Simon Mainwaring, author of We First. Put your product in context of real everyday stories for greater impact.

For example, here is a great ad by Smith and Wesson, highlighting their customer promise.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” —Carl W. Buehner

 

3. Be authentic

The best way to be authentic is to just be your self. Too many brands today try to be something they’re not. Weave your personality into your content, messaging and imagery. Through authentic and good-willed communication, customers will innately share content and bring it to life.

4. Delight them after the sale

Do not have a “one and done” mentality. At the end of the sales process and after the project or product has been delivered, add value to your customers through events, continued education or through content that will solve their problems. Use social media to add value in the form of education, entertainment or problem solving. Show them you care well after the sale.

5. Make it all about them

Every product or service should be centered around what is called a buyer persona. If you don’t know your customer on a very personal level, you leave a lot of opportunity on the table. To truly make a product/service resonate with your customers your entire days’ activities should be based on solving their problems whatever they may be. Make your customer the hero of your business.

Here are a few examples:

  • I’m a new gun owner and I can’t figure out what handgun to buy to protect my family. A retailer may offer me a free training class or range session for me to ask questions, test different guns and get a comfort level when shooting. 
  • I’m a facility manager looking for tips and products to best comply with OSHA standards. A distributor may send a video to the customer with options, how-tos and a case study of their service offering. 
  • Knife choices can be difficult for those who are not sure what type of hunting blade they will need. One option is to send recommendations to help them choose the appropriate tool. 

6. Talk their language

Don’t use fancy terms and ‘gobblygook’. Talk their language. Using the examples above, meet them on the range, in their facility or in the field. Talk to them like an old friend. You have to earn your customer’s trust. 

7. Give them what they want

Do your absolute best to make a great product and don’t cut corners. If your customers ask for something—give it to them! Give them a way to sound off on what is needed to make your products better. We will typically run surveys for our clients. This is a great way to gather data, improve products and build trust. You can create a customer support portal with an area titled “Submit product ideas” to encourage participation in your product or service development.

8. Hire for passion

Last, but not least, customer service—it has become the new marketing. When you provide great customer support you are much more likely to have that experience passed on via word-of-mouth.

A survey by Harvard Business Review concludes that customers want knowledgable frontline customer service reps and that the problem be resolved on the first call. On average, 40% of customers who suffer through bad experiences stop doing business with the offending company. This points to the importance of companies hiring people who align and know their brand(s) products best. Hire your customers. Three of the best examples out there is ETS, Seekins and Ruger to name a few. Go into any NSSF 5-star gun retailer like Royal Range here in Nashville, and you’ll find people as passionate about good equipment and the shooting sports as you are. You can’t train passion.

Is your product boring? Then the focus must be invested in storytelling, influencers and dramatizing your product. A great real-world example is Otis. Who gets excited about cleaning guns? Their social media feed takes a boring product and dramatizes to it another level. 

In conclusion, it all starts with a great product. If you can’t get to the starting line with a great product, you need to go back to the drawing board. To connect that great product or service with your customer—you must be somebody, you must be authentic, social, make it all about them—not you, talk their language, give them what they want and provide outstanding customer service above all else!

How to roll out your hunting, outdoor or firearm product

How to Roll Out Your New Hunting, Outdoor or Firearm Product

By Firearms and Shooting

This past year, we’ve seen several new products hit the market with plenty more to come as we head into SHOT Show 2023.  Manufacturers unveil new products every year, some just place them live on their website and send an email, while others launch with great fanfare that results in hundreds of thousands of free advertising and purchase orders.

Which begs the question—how do you create the buzz and attention your new product deserves? 

In this article, I look back at 2017, which in my mind, was the single most exciting year for rollouts. The Maxim 9 by SilencerCo., The Saint by Springfield Armory, The Fixx by Q, LLC and the ill-fated H9 by Hudson Mfg. which was so successful that the company failed.

When considering your product and how to introduce it to the industry and your prospective customers—here are ten considerations to take into account that will help you roll out your firearm product correctly and with greater success.

1. Proper testing before release

This obviously goes without saying. In this industry, it’s better not to launch a product until it’s been properly tested, validated, beat to death and reviewed—otherwise, you risk immense failure and expense. 

During the testing phase, be sure to collect any and all questions or concerns. Be patient and don’t rush your testing. SilencerCo. announced last year their integrally suppressed pistol, the Maxim 9, which at the time of the announcement— back in 2016—was already a year in the making. “You only get one chance with our marketplace. If I put out a product that is somewhat reliable or durable, and then I tell them it is going to get better, they won’t believe me. You got one shot. It has to be as good as it can be out of the gate.”  Says, Jason Schauble, former President and CRO at SilencerCo.

Point being—don’t go to market until your product is ready.

 

2. Set goals, plan, and have a contingency plan

Depending on how your testing went—which can be many years in the making—you’ll want to start planning on what a successful rollout looks like well in advance taking great care that there will be no surprises on launch day. 

“Managers must learn to engage the brand team and marketing, sales, advertising, public relations, and web professionals early on, thus gaining valuable feedback that can help steer a launch or, if necessary, abort it. Hearing opposing opinions can be painful—but not as painful as launching a product that’s not right for the market or has no market at all.” (Source: HBR )

How will you know if your product rollout is successful? Will you have enough inventory in stock to fulfill orders once they ship? Do you have a plan to ramp up if the product takes off? How will this product disrupt your segment or the industry? Be prepared for the after effects of a successful rollout or even a failed one by planning for the best and worst-case scenarios. Set goals based on the SMART method. Instead of setting a goal like “dominate the industry” which is all fair and good—get specific. Set a goal like: I want to drive 400 dealer registrations, grow my Facebook followers by 1000, sign 50 purchase orders and earn 5 major media mentions. 

 

3. Determine your budget

At this point in your company’s history, you may only be able to afford a standard press release and a trade show booth at SHOT Show. But if you’re a larger brand, you may have the ability to go big by buying several media placements that blanket TV, PR, print, trade show and digital. Are you looking to cannonball the pool like Springfield Armory did with their SAINT release—or something smaller like Hudson Mfg. who introduced their new H9 at SHOT this past week with a new website, booth and earned media from the Gun Collective (see video below). Adequate budget should be put aside well in advance to create the buzz, interest, and sales needed for a proper launch. 

 

4. Build product launch assets

On top of all the decisions needed to time and plan your rollout, there is a library of assets required to pull it off. Below is a content list you will need to communicate your product’s validity.

Video List

  • 1-5, 60-90 second buzz-producing videos to be distributed over email and social media
  • 3-9 minute product demonstration video
  • Post launch video of others using your product (See the SAINT’s Popper Palooza Launch Video)
  • Video of the raw progress and story—use it for buzz, post-launch videos, and blog articles

Photography

  • Working off of your brand positioning, create the imagery (glamor shots) you’ll need to position the product in your prospects’ minds. Utilize imagery styles, models, influencers, and BETA customers to communicate its unique attributes.
H9 Glamour Shot

Photo credit Hudson Mfg.


Website & Social Media
There is a reason why most brands will build a standalone website for their product. By having a product website specific to your product’s launch—you will keep the focus on your product, and not on your other offerings (if you have them). Utilize other media assets to draw attention to the site like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

Firearm Product Launch Website

Press Kit

• Press releases
• Media kit with approved or exclusive imagery
• Technical data
• Description, story and write-up

 

6. Answer-based blog articles

Create articles on the questions your reviewers and inevitably what your customers will ask. Record these topics as they come up during the testing and planning phase. Post these articles on your blog, optimize for search engines and incorporate this into your post-launch campaign. Slowly trickle these pieces of content out to your growing email subscriber list for the purpose of nurturing those leads into customers. It will be important to answer these questions as they will build trust and help provide a better customer service experience. 

 

7. Influencers

In the firearms industry, it is imperative to get your product into the hands of as many targeted influencers and industry professionals as possible. Begin recruiting them during the testing phase to help promote your product post-launch. Send them free or review product along with your press kit. Looking at Hudson Mfg’s launch, they included well-known firearm training instructor and firearms aficionado, Chris Cerino. Give your reviewers and bloggers a product spec sheet that describes what the product is, what it isn’t, what makes it different, the story behind it and high-res graphic assets so they aren’t putting out pixelated photos. It’s important to steer and guide your product brand adequately so the blogosphere and the forum guys don’t make up their own.

 

8. Outbound Ad placements

Target the publishers that will best reach your buyers personas. Get their media kits and publishing dates well in advance, so you don’t miss their deadlines. Create a batch of different banner ad sizes and similar print ads from your photo and video library you’ll want to place on sites like Ammoland and others. Duplicate these in your social media feeds. Use retargeting Ad platforms that can increase banner ad response rates by 400% if possible. (Source: CMO)

Outbound Firearm Ad Placement

Photo credit: Springfield Armory

 

9. Start the buzz

3-6 months out from your launch date, start creating the buzz. Get your subscribers involved. Start answering any objections around features, design, specs or price. Release teaser emails, place your banner ads, launch your website and let the industry know something is coming. Build it by communicating your value propositions and using your teaser imagery over social media that announces the big reveal with small snippets of your product. Track response through your analytics tool and social media comments. Be prepared to make any copy or imagery changes. 

 

Firearms Launch Party

Photo credit: Q, LLC

10. Launch day event

Depending on your goals, planning, and budget, your launch day event can be as simple as doing a Facebook Live post at your local range and opening your shopping cart on your website or throwing a massive launch party like Q’s Q-ball at the Voodoo lounge. 

Product launches are typically more effective at a trade show where you can rent out a suite to invite industry friends, dealers and distributors to celebrate your success that further instigates buzz and word of mouth. Who doesn’t like free drinks? 

Track the response of your event, record questions, and plan for inevitable marketing improvements as there will be many. Release your post-launch content, retweet/share social media posts and try to stretch the buzz that you’ve worked hard to create for as long as possible. Follow up with all distributors, dealers and buying groups promptly.

After several years of hard work, you can either cannonball the pool or dip in hoping someone will notice you. If you’ve innovated something that will disrupt the status quo, an investment in a proper rollout will give you an immense ROI for years to come. Rolling out a product is a delicate and stressful process. But done correctly, it will build your brand, jumpstart your sales and help you make your mark on the gun industry and perhaps history. 

Contact us for a free marketing consultation and how we can help launch your firearm or hunting product.

GET PRODUCT ROLLOUT HELP

outdoor hunting firearms content marketing

Stop What You’re Doing And Blog Like This…

By Firearms Marketing

It’s 2022 and you most likely know about blogging for your hunting, outdoor or firearms company, but I see so many companies still getting it wrong. 

For those who take the time and energy to blog—there exists many benefits and clearly defined advantages for your business. The most important being SEO. 

Call it content creation or blogging—blogs have been shown to increase website traffic by 55% (Source: Hubspot). Done consistently, blogging will compound over time into more traffic, more leads and more sales through your website. Blogging is one of the key components in an internet or content marketing strategy. Blogs power your search engine optimization and social media efforts to greater heights. In a time of digital transformation, embracing content and inbound marketing is an incredibly smart move.

If you’re the type of business owner or marketer who sees the advantages of blogging and are committed to thought leadership, driving website traffic and to building your brand, this post will help you become a more effective blog writer in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry.

1. Start with your audience

A lot of times, you may be blogging just for the sake of blogging. But this is where a lot of people go wrong. There is a methodology to blogging. For starters, you must understand your audience at the granular level to make your writing efforts pay off. A great way to get inside the heads of your prospects is to interview your current customers. Ask them why they value your brand, what keeps them up at night and what their biggest challenges are. For example:

  • How to call in a hung up turkey.
  • What is the best AR15 for home defense?
  • How to become a better sports clay shooter.
  • How to field dress your game quicker.
  • What are cheaper thermal vision alternatives?
  • Best places in Montana to look for sheds.
  • What level of fitness do I need to hunt bighorn sheep?

By asking the right questions, you will be able to write the right blogs that capture your audience’s attention.

For maximum benefit, consider turning your blog into a podcast or video. 

2. Teach them something

Just like this blog is attempting to teach you something—your blog should attempt the same. Like the examples shown above, the first and best way to approach a blog is to answer the questions you hear most from your customers. Compose a list, perhaps starting with your FAQS and turn them into 700-1000-word blog posts.

TIP: Posts with 1000-2000 words or more are shared almost twice as much.

3. Pick topics based on your keywords

If you’re blogging on topics that don’t include your keywords you’re camouflaging your blogs. Keywords drive traffic to your website and show up in search engines where your prospective customers are. Pick topics that your customers are searching for. To find out what keywords you should be blogging on, you’ll need to take a closer look at your analytics. You may even consider using a paid keyword tool service like Moz, Wordstream or utilize your Google Adwords tool. 

TIP: Write for humans, not search engines. Don’t stuff keywords into your copy.

4. Formatting

Formatting is another factor you must consider. Your readers will typically scan topics and headlines before committing to reading your post. It’s kind of like channel surfing. To make the most of the one shot you have to grab your reader’s attention, your blog posts should take on a format like this to allow for easy scanning:

  1. Ahunting-firearm-blog-post-formatttention-grabbing headline 
  2. Engaging image
  3. Share buttons
  4. Introduction and hook
  5. Introduce the problem you are solving and who the post is for
  6. Tell the reader what to expect
  7. Cite your sources for credibility
  8. Number your sub-heads
  9. End with a recap and conclusion
  10. Use a call to action to generate a lead or sale

By formatting your blog properly, you’ll increase the likelihood of getting it read. 

5. Ignition

Sharing is considered the “holy grail” in social media. It’s one thing to “like” or “favorite” a post, but a share has the potential to drive traffic and build brand awareness exponentially. When a person shares your content, it says something about them to their friends and followers. According to Mark Schaefer’s new book, the Content Code, people share content on the basis of making themselves look smarter or to communicate something about their interests and personalities. Sharing “ignites” your content that allows your brand to penetrate into new audience groups.

Make sure to add share buttons at the top of your posts and make sure the blog data automatically populates is the first step in getting your post shared.

6. Consistency

If you start a blog, you must commit to blogging on a regular and consistent basis. By starting out strong and then getting sidetracked in 3-4 months, will hinder your efforts and leave your followers hanging. They’ll forget about you and eventually unsubscribe or tune out. If you’re going to commit to blogging, commit to it and stick with it. You can start out by committing to once a month and build up from there. The more you blog—statistics show—the more traffic you get.

hunting-firearms-blog-stats

7. End with a call to action

At the end of every blog post, you should end with a call to action. Whether it’s a downloadable offer, a video or even a call to purchase one of your products—make sure to capitalize on the momentum and interest you just created with your reader once they get to the bottom of your post.

In ending, when writing a blog post, start by knowing your audience, teach them something, write articles based on your keywords, format, make it easy to share, be consistent and end with a call to action.

By including these points in your next hunting, outdoor or firearms blog post, you’ll start seeing lower bounce rates, increased traffic, and more subscribers, shares, likes and favorites. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT CONTENT MARKETING

 

firearm-brand-product-development-strategy

Daniel Defense: The 3-Legged Stool of an Effective Firearm Brand Journey

By Brand Development, Branding, Firearms Marketing

Your firearm brand is built by multiple touch points (advertising, customer service, product experience, etc.) repeated day after day, month after month, year after year to establish a collective understanding of what your brand stands for in the mind of your customers and the broader firearm industry.

According to an NSSF survey: Accuracy, Reliability, and Manufacturer Reputation are the most sought after qualities in a firearm—especially an MSR. How do you build a brand that conjures up these same feelings and opinions?

In this post, I’ll outline the journey your brand must take when looking at building an effective long-term brand strategy by using a three-legged stool analogy and the legendary story of Daniel Defense to help you think clearer about how to move your business forward and how to create a stronger brand reputation that increases your brand’s equity and ultimately your success. 

Where to start?
Brand strategy is the business case for change at a brand level. It envisages the future position of a brand in the marketplace, based on the company’s wider business aspirations and its ability to deliver and market brands that align with that desired position. (Source: BSI)

When asking what your desired position is—where do you see your company in 5, 10 or 15 years? Do you want to be known as the brand with the most aesthetically pleasing platform? Or perhaps to be referred to as the lightest firearm? These aspirations must be guided by a strategy to get you to a place in the market that belongs only to you in the mind of your customers. Getting to your desired perception may involve taking several paths. It may be first to target and invest in the government sector to establish a reputation before entering the ups and downs of the consumer market. It may be to build your reputation as an OEM first before creating your consumer branded line of products. Whatever your goal is—it must be linked directly to the problem you’re out to solve coupled with a scalable business model that gives you sustainable growth.

Stool Leg 1: Solve the problem

big-hole-upper

Photo credit: Daniel Defense

Marty Daniel started in 2001 by creating the Big Hole Upper Receiver—which forever improved the way we mount sighting systems to ARs. This led to several other products like the M4 12.0 hand guard that was a direct replacement for the Army Marksmanship Unit. Marty’s product solved a problem in the industry that gave him the starting point of building the reputable brand Daniel Defense is today. His starting point was recognizing a problem and solving it. (Source: Guns & Ammo)

How to get there.
The purpose of brand strategy, is to identify how far the brand must “travel” perceptually in order to be competitive, the benefits of getting there for the business, the purpose and values that the brand culture will need to adhere to in order to make that journey and the competitive resistance that the brand may encounter getting to that end point. It’s the why and the where. (Source: BSI)

Stool Leg 2: Build respect

What aspects of your story must be created and perfected to get you to your ultimate brand destination? Is it an investment in talent? Is it infrastructure? Is it a reputation among law enforcement or the special operations community? Define how you can link your marketing efforts to strategy, product development, operations, and other areas to create unique value for your customers, so you have a compelling story to tell.

After the success of Marty’s upper, and a follow-up sling mount product—he designed the RIS II Rail System and was awarded a lucrative contract with SOCOM. And then won an additional contract with the UK Ministry of Defense’ which in essence proved his engineering prowess and design capabilities as a serious manufacturer. This created the second leg of his stool: Respect.

How to stay there once you arrive.
Staying on top is sometimes much harder to achieve than getting there. So you must ask: “What’s my next success?” What has your brand planned for next? How will you capitalize on what works? Why will that feel like a natural extension of the relationship that your customers already have with you? Your purpose should provide clear guidelines for future development. (Source: BSI)

Stool Leg 3: Scalability

By thinking of itself as a manufacturer of the world’s finest weapon systems—not just rails or rifles—Daniel Defense has extended its development license considerably. It can literally look for new ways to give people experiences they haven’t had and positions them to be one of the largest manufacturers in the industry. 

three-legged-stool-brandTo scale his business, Marty saw three components to add to the momentum of Daniel Defense: In-house equipment (hammer forge machining) that allowed him to control quality, output, and price. This all lead to increased customer service and his intuition to surround himself with competent staff and employees. Today, Daniel Defense is the epitome of an American success story and one of the most admired brands in the firearm industry.

You can build a brand around the three most coveted value propositions in the firearms industry: accuracy, reliability, and a strong reputation—by thinking critically about the journey it’s going to take to get you to your desired brand position. This path may be somewhat familiar of other firearm brands, but proving your product’s ability to fulfill a niche in the industry, proving that your product is reliable and scalable, you have the three legs to sustain your brand that will stand the test of time and win the hearts and minds of those who depend on what you create.

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Position Your Firearm Brand

How To Position Your Firearm Brand

By Firearms and Hunting

Most companies struggle to carve out their own niche in the hunting and firearms industry and maximize their brand’s unique selling proposition (what makes you different from your competition) because they overlook a critical marketing strategy used by today’s top brands.

With over 400* firearms and ammunition manufacturers (Source: First Research), 30+ different optic companies, 20+ suppressor companies and a thousand more who produce products in the $30+ Billion dollar firearms industry today (Source: NSSF), one might ask—if you’re starting a new hunting or firearms company—how is it possible to compete in this highly concentrated, regulated and competitive industry?

In this article, I want to draw your attention to one of marketing’s most valuable methodologies called “positioning”—and how you can use it to help your hunting or firearms brand break away from the pack.

For some context, let’s imagine you are trying to build a new shotgun brand for entry-level pheasant hunters that’s water-resistance, and that costs less than the current leading brands. I will use this example throughout the article, but first, let’s define what positioning is.

What is positioning?
The concept of “positioning” was created by market and branding pioneers Al Trout and Jack Reis back in the late 60’s and explained in their book: Positioning, The Battle for the Mind. If you haven’t read the book, I highly suggest checking it out.

Positioning is a marketing strategy that aims to make a brand occupy a distinct position, relative to competing brands, in the mind of the customer. Companies apply this strategy either by emphasizing the distinguishing features of their brand (what it is, what it does and how, etc.) or they may try to create a suitable image (inexpensive or premium, utilitarian or luxurious, entry-level or high-end, etc.) through outbound (advertising, trade show etc.) or inbound or content marketing. Once a brand is positioned, it is very difficult to reposition it without destroying its credibility. It is also sometimes called product positioning. 

So how do you go about finding your new product’s positioning? There are two initial steps that you need to do first.

 

marketing pyramid1. Define your purpose
What gets you out of bed in the morning besides the motivation to make money? What is the sole purpose of why your company exists? Customers are drawn to companies that stand for something other than just making a profit. (Source: Inc.) Is it to increase a hunter’s safety? Is it to bring a greater level of protection for concealed carry? Or using our shotgun example, is it to provide novice hunters a way to take up pleasant hunting without spending a fortune?

Whatever your purpose is, write it down and put it on your wall. When the mission isn’t going well and the vision seems like a mirage, a strong purpose will keep getting you out of bed and people coming back to work, day after day. (Source: Marty Neumeier)

 

2. Find the whitespace
Now that you know what your purpose is, you can define what your positioning is (positioning is tied very closely to purpose). Look for the “whitespace” in your intended market segment—meaning an open slot that other brands don’t occupy in your target customer’s minds.

As you look at the viability for your shotgun product—you know that there are three other shotgun brands in the market. One is higher priced, and the other two are positioned for more experienced hunters who are willing to pay a higher price leaving open a huge space for another brand to move in and offer an entry level shotgun at a slightly lower price point.

This is called finding the whitespace. A space in the market no other brand occupies.

 

3. Hack your competition’s positioning
A second step in finding and determining where the whitespace is—is to do some reconnaissance on your competition’s website, social media accounts and press releases to determine what piece of the market they seem to be going after.

If your competitors seem scattered and unfocused—meaning they are trying to be someone to everyone—than this can be used against them by focusing your brand messaging specifically at the customers you want to attract—in this case, entry-level pheasant hunters.

The narrower you can focus your brand and its message to a specific segment the more effective your marketing will be. (Source: Adage) You must seek to be known for “one thing,” that your customers will find viable, interesting and worth paying attention to. In today’s overcrowded and noisy marketplace of giveaways and me-too products, where the typical person is exposed to 250-500 advertisements a day—brands must find ways to stand out.

A great example taking place in the industry today is SilencerCo’s #fightthenoise campaign. This campaign’s goal is to pass legislation that lifts the NFA ban on suppressors. Not only is SilencerCo. the hottest brand going, but they are using this inventive marketing strategy to build awareness for a greater cause under the purpose of hearing/noise protection. In the process, this effort is allowing them to build and position their brand and sell silencers at the same time—while benefiting the industry as a whole. Brilliant.

 

silencerco

 

3. Define your positioning statement
A positioning statement is the What, Who, How and Why of your brand. By creating a positioning statement, you further distil your brand’s message that gives you the key differentiators to expand upon in your advertising, content marketing, and elevator pitches. This also helps you and your team to understand what it is that makes your product unique that supports your sales efforts. You can’t sell efficiently without a clear positioning statement.

It’s important to point out that our hypothetical shotgun company “wants families to spend more time together.” This purpose will allow the brand to use imagery that reflects its purpose and have a more unique and memorable brand focus in the segment. 

firearms-marketing-positioning

 

5. Qualitative customer interviews
Next, validate your assumptions by interviewing your intended customers. When it comes to positioning—it’s important to understand how your customers view your brand’s product and how they describe it. The adage, “It’s not what you say about your brand, it’s what they say about your brand” —is what counts. This is a crucial step in defining your positioning as it will further inform all future marketing initiatives and decisions. Interviews also eliminate any assumptions you may have and gives you and your team the understanding and confidence to create effective marketing.

What if I have no customers?
Start with your assumptions of who your product will appeal to. Upon launching your business, analyze and be prepared to pivot quickly if the messaging and target market is not resonating with your messaging. Draw upon quantitative industry data from the NSSF to get a better understanding of your intended customer. Other sources like Hoovers can also provide insight.

 

6. Define your buyer persona
I speak a lot about the importance of defining who your buyer persona in my articles. Once you have collected your interview data, it’s time to focus your efforts specifically on how your particular product solves their problems or how it will appeal to them.

Get as granular as you can to put your customers in the context of using your product and how your positioning will appeal to them.

  • Basic details about persona’s role
    What do they do for a living and how did they get there?
    What is their level of education?
    What are their biggest challenges?
    Where do they get their information?
  • Key information about the persona’s business/company

    List facts like employees, management structure, competitors etc.
    What does their brand stand for? Check their website (if applicable) to learn more.
  • Relevant background info, like education or hobbies

    What do they typically do in their spare time. Are they rushed for time, busy parents? Weekend warriors? Workaholics?

 

7. Implementation
Now that you have defined your positioning and buyer persona, you can begin mapping out how your positioning implements on your website. Your website is the hub of all your marketing efforts. It is your #1 salesman, working for you 24/7/365. The firearms and hunting industry lags behind other industries in their understanding and approach to fully utilizing the web as their main marketing channel. With over 72% of all purchases starting with a web search (Source: Pardot), your T.V. and print marketing should seek to drive your audience to your website through some incentive so your messaging and positioning can be analyzed and evaluated. This will help you determine if your marketing is getting traction.

Utilize your sales funnel to decide how to move your customers to your desired outcome. Begin creating messages for each stage of the sales funnel based on your positioning. Utilize analytics, heat mapping and tracking on your website to test each phase and include A/B testing to optimize the messaging and workflows to optimize your efforts—whether that be increasing blog subscribers, social media followers, social media shares or sales.

In conclusion, to find your positioning, define your brand’s purpose, find the white space, hack your competitors positioning, define your positioning statement, conduct customer interviews (quantitative and qualitative), define your buyers persona and implement your positioning through your sales funnel on your website.

By taking the time to understand your positioning, your brand will be better equipped to stand out in today’s highly competitive hunting and firearms industry.

* Some sources report 5,400 manufacturers. 

 

Firearm Brand Strategy

Do You Really Need A Firearm Brand Strategy?

By Firearms Marketing

Maybe you’ve just come out with some disruptive technology, game-changing accessory or new firearm platform.

Or maybe your business has been around for a while and you’ve realized that to compete in today’s environment, you need to focus more on your messaging and how your company and/or products are understood.

But, do you really need a brand strategy?

The truth is… a brand already exists, even if you’ve never taken the time to develop it.

Your customers, dealers, distributors, employees, and partners already have some kind of feeling, thought or understanding of you or your product—negative or positive. 

What is the difference between branding and marketing? Marketing and branding is a two-sided coin. Branding is about feeling and emotion (fonts, colors, imagery, tone etc.). Marketing is about generating activity in the marketplace (advertising, PR, email, trade show etc.). 

Below are 10 surprising facts that you may not have considered in regards to your brand development strategy and why it’s important to have one—if you intend to leave your mark on the firearms industry.  

1. Make it easier for the customer to buy
Customers make decisions on products they know and trust. If a customer is not familiar with your brand, they are less likely to buy it.

Think of the last time you were in the gun store and you had to pick up some ammo. Hornady—a ammunition category brand leader—was not on the shelf. Do you buy the “I’ve never heard of you” brand of ammo—or forgo the purchase altogether? Most likely, you’ll wait till the next trip or drive across town to another store. Brands help us make buying decisions.

Photo credit: Business Insider

2. Make it easier for the sales team (and dealers) to sell
Having a strong brand reputation in the marketplace will allow your dealers and sales team to close more sales based on brand performance alone. A reputation for service, quality and the ability to solve your customer’s problem will be more likely received and sought after.

3. Brand clarity and delivery spurs employee motivation
Brands give your employees purpose. Having a clear cultural direction, goal and mission based on your brand values will create higher performance and productivity. A strong brand will turn your employees into brand advocates versus people who just show up to collect a paycheck. It will also give you and your stakeholders a clear understanding of your vision, mission and purpose.

4. Increase the value of your company over time
Brands are line items on today’s most valued companies. The Coca-Cola brand alone accounts for 51 percent of the stock market value of the Coca-Cola Company (Source: Brandchannel). The same could be said for Ruger or Smith & Wesson.

By developing a strong firearm brand—especially for companies with/or seeking investors—brand development aids in building a successful exit strategy. 

5. Brand definition brings clarity to your business goals and direction

If you have a good product that everyone is excited about, alot of times you just have to stay out of your own way.

A brand strategy will save you from making costly decisions.

A recent example is Vista Outdoors’ Black Hawk product line of silencers. Black Hawk a gear supplier for military and law enforcement agencies—ventured into the silencer market and after just eighteen months pulled out.

brand strategy extension failures

Photo credit: Recoil

In May of 2016, when the silencers were first announced, many were musing if this was too far a departure from Blackhawk’s bailiwick. When asked why the line was being dropped, a Vista representative put that musing to rest: “After completing a strategic review of our product lines, we determined that suppressors did not align with our core business. In order to streamline our products more efficiently, we felt it was best to eliminate suppressors from our current line-up.” (Source: Recoil)

Millions of dollars would have been saved if brand managers would have practiced “brand discipline.” Read more on The 5 Rules of Brand Extension.

6. The brand development exercise creates innovation

Most of us are so busy we sometimes just go through the motions in our businesses day after day with the mentality of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it attitude.” By purposefully sitting down and thinking about your brand, product and business you will give yourself and your team time to create new processes, products, components and other ideas that will drive innovation. This is time well spent and the life blood of successful firearm brands.

7. Saves money on future design and advertising costs
Instead of reinventing the wheel every time that new ad needs to be placed, trade show booth or package redesigned—your brand standards will provide a guideline for consistency that creates visual recall and recognition.


8. A strong brand creates preference which, equals profit
By consistently delivering the same value, service and quality—along with the same visual identifiers—you begin to create preference and repeat customers. This is called “branding.” The goal of brand development is to create preference, branding is to create recall.  


Photo credit: Guns.com

9. Attract talented employees
In today’s war for talent—companies are struggling to find talented and skilled workers. Those with strong employer brands coupled with a strong corporate brand will win.

10. Provides the foundation of all your marketing efforts
Without a brand strategy, it will be very difficult to focus your influencer or inbound marketing efforts. The absence of your customer’s buyer personas, key messaging and brand-centric visuals will make any marketing effort less effective. 

So, do you need a brand strategy?

Well, if any of the above points appeal to you—I would say yes—brand development is a business necessity for business owners serious about growth and leaving their mark on the firearm industry. Even if competition is non-existent—you eventually will need to develop your brand to pre empt competition as Magpul has done, who by all measures dominates the magazine market.

firearm-brand-strategy

Photo credit: Magpul

 

We have in any given category 10-20 of everything (ammo, handguards, holsters, ARs, shotguns etc.). By having a well-defined brand, you will be able to compete at a higher level than your competition, stand head and shoulders above the rest and build a valuable asset for the future.  

One last thought to end on: Brand is the last remaining business currency.”

Photo credit: F4 Defense, Jason Swarr, Straight 8

firearm brand marketing

The 5 Rules Of Brand Extension For Firearm Companies

By Firearms Marketing

There will eventually come a time in your firearm or hunting company’s history that you’ll discover opportunities to branch out into new product/service segments or into new categories all together.  

Brands take years and thousands of dollars to develop. The most effective and safest way for established brands to introduce new products and services without damaging their brand is by utilizing a practice called brand extension.

Brand extension leverages the equity and power of your current brand to penetrate new segments and categories faster and for less cost.

However, utilizing brand extension does come with some inherent risks. If the product doesn’t align or make sense with its parent brand, you may risk diluting your brand altogether. You also may end up alienating your current customers—leaving them wondering what it is you stand for. 

The golden rule in brand development is to be known for your one thing. You can read more about identifying your brand’s one thing here. But for this article’s purpose, your one thing must align with the new product or service you are introducing.

Below are a few simple rules with examples to consider when using brand extension to penetrate new customer segments or if you’re evaluating bringing a new product/service to an entirely new product category.

 

Ruger Pepper Spray

Ruger Pepper Spray

Rule #1. Do not dilute your current brand.

Brands that can successfully extend into a different product category have already established brand equity. If your company has yet to build brand equity, you will find leveraging an unknown brand is like starting from scratch. It is better to carefully extend by appealing to a segment of your current base while trying to reach new customers.

Industry example:
Ruger is using its name to sell a line of pepper spray products. Although this tactic seems somewhat strange from the manufacturer, I can see where this makes sense. Ruger has built its brand on reliability, you may recall their tagline “Another reliable firearm from Ruger.”  Their pepper spray may be reliable, but does it fall out of alignment with what the Ruger brand is known for: firearms? I would have suggested starting a new brand from scratch and subtly mentioning that it was manufactured by Ruger. This I feel would leave Ruger’s brand essence in tact while introducing a high-quality pepper spray while not confusing customers. 

Compare this to a brand like TASER, who is known for non-lethal self-defense products.  

 

sig-suppressor-ad

Sig Sauer Silencers

Rule #2. Identify your brand’s core attributes.

You must know your buyer persona and brand’s core attributes (also known as brand values) in order to understand if your brand can successfully carry a new product into a new category. For example, if your attributes are classified as rugged and tactical, and you want to extend a new product to be smart and sleek, your new brand extension is going to be out of alignment with what the parent brand is known for.  

Try to tie the new product to the parent brand’s core attributes as much as possible. Utilize the dominant elements of your logo, imagery and color palette. The goal is to keep the branding recognizable while offering up a slight variation to signify the difference.

Industry example:
Sig Sauer introduced their line of suppressors back in 2013. This is an example of a firearms brand entering an entire new category (suppressors). Except this time it works pretty well. The ad and their website stays close and aligns with the main Sig brand making this extension work seamlessly. 

 

Rule #3. Make sense out of your reasoning.

There have been some grand out-of-industry brand extension failures over the years. If you’re unsure about extending your brand with a new product, go with your gut, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Here are a few that failed to hit the mark:

brand extension

Would you fly on Hooters air? Wings yes, flying… no. 

 

Rule #4. Decide if you are a House of Brands, Branded House or a Hybrid.

Are you a House of Brands or a Branded House? What’s the difference? Brand Architecture is an important consideration when introducing new products. A House of Brands relies on multiple brands while the parent brand sits in the background and mostly goes unnoticed. A Branded House is a corporation who runs multiple brands under the same name. A Hybrid is a combination of both. 

An example of a House of Brands is the Freedom Group. Freedom Group owns Remington, DPMS, Bushmaster, Barnes Bullets, Mountain Khakis, Tapco and others. For comparison, an out-of-industry example would be Proctor and Gamble (Tide, Vicks, Downey, Crest, etc.).

browning-brand-extension

Browning Clothing Brands

An example of a Branded House would be Springfield Armory, Glock, and most other manufacturers. For comparison, an out-of-industry example would be FedEx (FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight and FedEx Services). 

An example of a Hybrid is Browning. Browning manufactures knives, guns, safes, clothing, ammunition, flashlights and more. They even license their brand out. Each category has their own individual brand with Browning’s brand intrinsically intertwined. For comparison, an out-of-industry example would be Coca-Cola.

Rule #5. Test it out with your customers before going all in.

Not sure if your brand extension will work? If you have a loyal customer base, a little transparency and getting your customers input on your plans can go a long way. Utilize a small test group or conduct a survey to test the new product and record the feedback for validation of your offering. Testing is always the smart thing to do first before going all in. 

In conclusion, extending your brand can be done, but it must be done with careful consideration. Make sure whatever you do doesn’t dilute your current brand that you’ve worked so hard to establish. Know your brand’s core attributes and make sense out of your reasoning. When designing your new branding—stay close to your brands’ look/feel and test it out on a small group of your most loyal customers with surveys. If you’re just starting out and you know that somewhere down the line you’ll be adding more products—take the time now to plan for how those products will be added into your brand architecture to save time and cost.

firearms marketing agency

How to Choose A Firearms Marketing Agency

By Firearms Marketing

Most business owners, (marketers and executive directors) in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry are tasked with a million things a day. Payroll you’ve got to make, the person you have to fire, the new person you have to hire, the CNC machine replacement, the sales team meeting at 4, the new product design project plan—plus you got to make plans for this weekend’s shoot.

When it comes to your branding, marketing or design—your thoughts immediately go into overdrive when you remember that one of your customers commented that your website did not pull up for them on their iPhone (because your company’s home page is not mobile-friendly). You’ve also seen a steady decline in online sales, most likely due to that old 4-step shopping cart you’re running. Your sales team needs new collateral that showcases the new product line and the packaging needs updating, plus you got to get ready for SHOT Show.

But where to start? The designer you used last time missed the mark. The design firm you called doesn’t work with hunting or firearm companies and there is no way you’re using Bob’s son again for the catalog. Choosing a marketing and branding firm can be a daunting and time-consuming process. You need someone you can trust. Someone who is responsive, trustworthy, reliable and knows what they’re doing. The problem is finding those people—the diamond in the rough—someone who meets your expectations and will get the job done right and prove that your investment was worth it.

If you’re looking for a new firearms or hunting marketing agency—here are 8 things that will help you choose the partner that solves your toughest business challenges.

1. Start by clearly defining the problem

Simple enough… but not so fast. We often times don’t go far enough to define what the problem actually is. A good marketing agency will get to the heart of your challenges and pain points to help you make the right decisions—not through a hard sell like a haggling car salesman—but someone who truly takes an interest in your business and cares about your success.

Do any of these problems sound familiar:

A good hunting and firearms marketing agency with years of experience will be able to get to the heart of the matter.

See this article: Do I Really Need A Brand Strategy?

2. Set goals

Be specific about your goals. Is it a revenue goal?  Can you really double sales in one year? The more defined your goals are the better the marketing agency will be to suggest strategies and approaches to achieve your goal. Use the SMART goal method to set specific benchmarks that will move your business forward.

3. Do they have a proven process?

Processes are important because they define a linear way of solving a problem and accomplishing an objective. Most marketing companies will follow some type of process. Make sure it is clearly defined so you know what to expect as you move through the project. The process should be easily found on the agency’s website or be communicated on the initial call.

4. Verify references

In today’s world, everyone is a skeptic. One way to make sure that the firm is ‘solid,’ is to see if they have a good set of testimonials. Look on Facebook, Google and other social networking sites to see if reviews exist. Check their case studies page to see past experiences and how they’ve helped other businesses with similar problems.

5. What do they specialize in?

Today’s best agencies are specialists in 2-4 areas like email, SEO, influencer or PR or an industry. They can offer traditional and digital services to meet your needs and know how outbound and inbound marketing methods fit together to offer you a range of solutions to achieve your goals. They want and desire to earn ‘trusted advisor’ status shedding the horrid ‘vendor’ designation. The most successful agencies desire and thrive on their client’s successes and truly show interest and passion about their service or product. Also be sure to check their certifications. HubSpot, Google, Email etc. certifications mean they’ve put in the time to deliver value.

6. Are they problem solvers?

What is the principal’s experience? Do they have a good track record in the industry and the business acumen required? There are a number of firms out there who lack true experience in solving real-world business problems. Ask for past examples or how they might approach your current marketing challenges.

7. Do they practice what they preach?

Does the marketing agency have a strong and identified brand? Are they themselves implementing the programs they are suggesting to you? It will be important that they understand the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry. This will save you time so you don’t have to teach them about the subtleties of our industry. Other industries are far more advanced in marketing and branding tactics than the hunting and firearms category, so knowing how your customers are reacting to other industry tactics and strategies is just as important because they will expect the same from you. Especially now that the industry has added over 5 million new gun owners.

8. Do you click with them?

80% of the time your intuition is the best way to choose a marketing agency. If you are compatible as people, you most likely will work well together—assuming everything else adds up. I’ve had many opportunities over the years to work with well-known brands but in the end, we just didn’t click. Business and marketing is all about people and relationships. Pick an agency you like and who you can work with.

In conclusion, a good hunting and firearms marketing agency will know how to get to the heart of the problem, help you set achievable goals, have a clearly defined process, good references and testimonials, a specialized service offering, are natural problem solvers, practice what they preach, and are people you like.

Build Your Hunting Brand

8 Ways to Build Your Hunting Brand

By Hunting and Outdoor

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eighty percent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases, and a host of other studies have recorded the strong influence those reviews have on the decisions people make.

Social media has accelerated the trend to an astonishing degree: a dud product can become a laughingstock in a matter of hours. In the old days, you might buy a Remington hunting rifle or Bear Bow because that’s what your dad hunted with. Today, such considerations to brand loyalty matter much less due to the availability of customer reviews. Now, each product has to prove itself on its own.

A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. – Office of Consumer Affairs

If you have a great hunting, outdoor or firearm product and are looking for ways to maximize your branding to increase sales and build your reputation in the industry—here are 8 sure-fire ideas to help turn your customers into raving fans that will increase your bottom line and build your hunting brand.  

1. Be somebody
The old saying goes, “you can’t be everything to everyone.” Companies must find a way to stand out among the marketplace clutter and find the “whitespace” to stand for something. Don’t just tell your customer your products are quality, superior or dominating—demonstrate it. Prove to them you are worth their time by demonstrating your brand values, mission and how it will benefit them.

 

2. Make them feel something
The best way to connect in today’s digital world is through storytelling and contextual marketing. Our ancestors sat around a fire telling stories since the dawn of time, and this still continues today—except now we get it from the TV, the internet or social media. There is something intrinsically valuable to storytelling. When you connect with people at the heart level and make them feel something—your message will go a long way. Today’s marketing isn’t about highlighting features and benefits, it’s about “celebrating the benefit in the way it impacts other people’s lives,” says Simon Mainwaring, author of “We First.”  Put your product in context of real everyday stories for greater impact.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

3. Be authentic
The best way to be authentic is to just to be yourself. Too many hunting and firearm brands try to be something they’re not. Weave your personality into your content, messaging and imagery. Through authentic and good-willed communication, customers will innately share your message and bring it to life.

4. Delight them after the sale
Do not have a “one and done” mentality. At the end of the sales process and after the product has been delivered, add value to your customers through events, continued education or through helpful content that continues to solve their problems. This will increase their loyalty to your brand. Show them you care after the sale. It costs 5 times more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones. (Source: Forbes

5. Make it all about them
Every product or service should be centered around what is called a buyer persona. If you don’t know who your customer is, you leave a lot of opportunity on the table.  Make your customer the superstar of your business.

Here are a few examples:

  • I’m in the market to buy a new MSR and I can’t figure out which brand I like better. Daniels Defense, DPMS or Stag Arms. I may find an ebook on Daniel’s website “How to choose the right AR.” In an easy to understand format, it provides me options, use, price and other customer reviews to help me make a better decision. I’ll most likely choose a DD. 
  • I’m a gun store owner looking for information on how to best track my inventory. A manufacturer may send me a case study on how other gun store owners are using their product to help them to keep track of their firearms and remain compliant. The manufacturer then follows up with a series of emails that builds trust.
  • I’m a hunter who is not sure what kind of bow I will need for an upcoming elk hunt. A manufacturer might send me their top 3 bow recommendations based on my stated preferences.

6. Talk their language
Don’t use fancy terms and ‘gobblygook’. Talk their language. Using the examples above, meet them on the range, in their facility or on the mountain. Talk to them like an old friend. You have to earn your customer’s money more than ever.

7. Give them what they want
Do your absolute best to make a great product and don’t cut corners. If enough customers ask for something—give it to them. Give them a way to sound off on what is needed to make your products better. You can create a customer support portal with an area titled “Submit product ideas” to encourage participation in your product development. Don’t let Facebook be the platform they choose to voice their disapproval if something with your product goes wrong. 

8. Fanatical customer support
Last, but not least, customer service—has become the new marketing. When you provide great customer support, you are much more likely to have that experience passed on via word-of-mouth.

A survey by Harvard Business Review concludes that customers want knowledgeable front line customer service reps and that the problem be resolved on the first call. On average, 40% of customers who suffer through bad experiences stop doing business with the offending company. This points to the importance of companies hiring people who align and know their brand(s) products best. Hire your customers.

Are you in a boring industry segment? Then the focus should be shifted to recruitment and employer branding. There are 1.6 million people who work in the hunting industry (Source: Congressional Sportsman Foundation). Are the best people working for you?

A great non-industry example is Zappos, the shoe company. Who gets excited about selling shoes? At Zappos, the culture is the product and shoes are what they do on the side. Create a great culture to work at and the boring product stuff becomes fun. 

“So many people when they go to the office, they leave a little bit of themselves at home, or a lot of themselves at home. And they have to put on this different persona in the office, especially in corporate environments. And our whole…there’s a lot of talk about work life separation or balance and so on, whereas our whole thing is about work life integration. It’s just life.”— Tony Hsieh, CEO

In conclusion, it all starts with a great product that solves a problem on a massive scale. To connect that great product with your customer—you must be somebody, you must be authentic, play the guide, not the hero in their story, make your brand all about them, talk their language, give them what they want and provide outstanding customer service above all else so that good customer reviews come natural. 

Outdoor Hunting Shooting Sports Buyer Persona

 

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shooting-sports-firearms-digital-case-studies

3 “Must Read” Outdoor Industry Digital Marketing Case Studies

By Case Study, Inbound Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Marketing, SEO, StoryBrand

Most marketers looking to start a digital marketing program for their company in the outdoor, hunting, shooting sports industries are usually met with some resistance from the higher ups.

After all, PR, print, and tradeshow have always been the industry norm. But COVID has changed everything. The need for a robust digital marketing program that focuses on D2C sales is essential in 2022 and beyond. 

If you’re still on the fence about pulling the trigger on the benefits of a cost-effective digital and inbound marketing program and are serious about getting on track to building your digital footprint for the future, now’s a good time to reconsider. 

In this post, I share three case studies that we’ve worked hard on over the past 2 years that received some outstanding results.

12-Month E-commerce Case Study

Garrison Everest was approached by a 2-year old consumer products company who had big growth goals that were having trouble getting traction in the marketplace. Due to the cost of entry to place print advertising—they were looking for other means to make their brand known. 

A rebrand was conducted that included new packaging, logo, and e-commerce website to make their products more appealing and more attractive to prospective buyers. Next, we built out three digital marketing programs that included SEO, email, and industry partnerships. To build brand awareness, the SEO program utilized content and industry writers to build backlinks on popular publisher sites. On-page and off-page optimization was also included. Lastly, we began engaging on social media daily, which added a human component versus a faceless brand image with their followers who in the end, shared the client’s brand goodness with their followers.

 

firearms digital marketing


Results

  • 400% Increase in traffic from the previous year
  • 40% in social media followers across Facebook and Instagram
  • 112% increase in email subscribers 

 The amount invested provided the client with a 624% return on investment. The program paid for itself six times over.

 “That’s like putting a dollar into the stock market and getting six dollars back.”

 

12-Month Influencer Case Study

A mid-growth company was having problems getting its product to penetrate a competitive accessory segment. Print and banner advertising provided diminishing returns, which set them looking for other ways to get more bang for their marketing dollar. Garrison Everest provided an influencer marketing strategy that worked with prominent industry celebrities and social media influencers to raise awareness of their product.

 

Results

  • 9.1 M Impressions
  • 7.2 M Estimated Reach
  • $6.5 CPM
  • 670K engagements

What made this influencer marketing program remarkable was the low CPM. Compare a $6.5 CPM to the cost of placing a banner ad on leading sites where CPM costs can be as high as $25. Influencer marketing provided great value to this company. 

 

24-Month Inbound Marketing Case Study

Faced with growing competition and a changing landscape, a B2B company contacted Garrison Everest to help them differentiate in the marketplace and generate leads and customers online. 

They were already placing large print buys but were not getting good returns, nor were they able to track their results which made them feel like they were throwing their money out the window.   

We started with a comprehensive brand development assignment that led to a website redesign and a 12-month inbound marketing campaign. Over the course of the next 12 months, traffic increased, leads multiplied, and through automation, we were able to nurture those leads into customers. 

The first campaign was so successful that they renewed for an additional 12 months.

 


Results

  • 233% increase in traffic
  • 564 leads
  • 383 new customers
  • 664 additional blog subscribers
  • 225% in social media followers

So does digital marketing work in the outdoor, shooting sports and defense industry? 

Yes, it does— unfortunately banging on this drum is difficult because for most marketers putting all their money towards print, PR and tradeshow is more comfortable. However, with the customer base skewing younger, I would argue traditional is becoming a risky bet. 

Digital marketing is all about daily repeatable tasks. Identify a clear message, the right channels, launch, track, optimize, tweak, rinse, and repeat. 

As you consider this year’s marketing budget, think about what a reliable digital marketing program can do for your company’s growth and the added benefits of a profitable revenue channel that works for you 24/7/365.  

 

 

5-Keys-To-Stand-Out-and-Attract-New-Customers

5 KEYS ON HOW TO STAND OUT IN A COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE

Is your brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2022 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.

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2020 Hunting or Firearm E-commerce Website

5 “Must-Do’s” Before Starting a Hunting or Firearms E-commerce Website 2022

By Firearms and Hunting

Firearms, hunting and shooting brands have awakened to the fact that a strong e-commerce component is critical to doing business in the future—especially now that COVID-19 has changed consumer buying habits for good

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  1. How to build your ecommerce website for your buyer persona
  2. The importance of preparing your product library
  3. Identify product fulfillment methods
  4. Security issues
  5. Should you consider an enterprise solution?

With more retail outlets closing, disruption within distribution, some large firearms and hunting brands are bypassing distribution and dealers and going straight to the customer. The manufacturer/dealer relationship is still vital to most brands, and will remain so for the foreseeable future — but the trends are getting harder and harder to ignore because of customer behavior changes.    

Here are some interesting statistics according to Fortunly:

  • More than 80% of online shopping carts are abandoned before checkout on mobile devices.
  • American consumers spent around $8.9 billion on online shopping during Black Friday 2021.
  • eCommerce sales are expected to surpass $735 billion by 2023.
  • It is estimated that 95% of all purchases will be made online by 2040.
  • eCommerce businesses lose more than $75 billion per year because of bad customer service.
  • eCommerce sales are expected to reach $7.3 trillion on a global scale by 2025.
  • Around 80% of US customers said that free shipping would make them more likely to make an online purchase
  • Credit cards are the most popular payment method for shopping online, followed by electronic wallets and debit cards.

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 if you are a manufacturer or retailer. 

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 and use story to create clear messaging.  This will ultimately make for higher sales and less abandoned carts.

2. Prepare your product image library

firearms ecommerce product image

Photograph products on a clean white background.

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 GearFire and Gallery of Guns.com 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 and Magento 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. 

2022 UPDATE: I do not recommend signing up with any third-party solutions like Miva, Wix, GoDaddy, and especially Shopify, who as of (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.

firearms ecommerce diagram

 

3. Dealer only
Springfield Armory, 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, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont 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 GunBroker.com. 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 (Updated September 17, 2022):


    UPS (Updated July 11, 2022)
    :

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, 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. 

4. Secure and Speedy Hosting is usually the last component considered when building your e-commerce 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 many years, we have enjoyed little to no 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.

 

firearms ecommerce website planner

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.

Download by filling out this form: 


 

5 Firearm Marketing Alternatives You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

By Firearms and Hunting

It’s harder than ever to get your message out to attract the influx of some 8 million+ new gun owners who’ve flooded the market (Source: FOXNEWS). For brands that have invested time in building their brand and digital marketing programs over the years are reaping the awards of their efforts as guns, ammo, optics, and accessory sales set new records.

If you’ve been on the fence about marketing and are now ready to capture this moment, in this article you will learn about:  

  • 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 women and minorities – Women and minorities are a burgeoning segment—are you focused on them?
  • Influencers – Reach your audience through trusted firearm social media content creators.
  • Storytelling – Leverage the power of the story to clarify your brand message so customers will listen.

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. And Instagram announced in 2020 that they will begin cracking down on influencers who work in the firearms segment. 

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 defensive and recreational minded customers. 


firearms marketing 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 Bear Arms podcast offer a way for your brand to reach a broader audience and leverage the trust of the host. According to Influencer Marketing Hub

  • There are over 2 million podcasts.
  • 78% of Americans Are Aware of Podcasting.
  • 91% of Australians Are Aware of Podcasting.
  • Almost 60% of US Consumers Listen to Podcasts.
  • 160+ Million Americans Have Listened to a Podcast.
  • 65% Listen to the Whole Episode.

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, Havlon, Stag Arms and Beretta have been using inbound since 2018. These brands have built digital fortresses of content that will continue to grow contacts and sales well into the future. Inbound marketing uses search engine optimized content, downloadable offers, landing pages, forms, social media and email marketing to attract, engage and provide real value to their 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. If your customers have questions about your product, you should be writing content. 


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. Combine this with an ad, and you’re likely to double your advertising investment. 

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

 

Glock Women Marketing

Photo credit: Glock

4. Women & Minorities

Women and minorities 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. Larger brands like Glock have added women in their imagery and creating sections in their publications and websites that speak directly to them.  

 

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 Guns Out TVHickok45, IV8888, 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. 

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.

 

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5 KEYS ON HOW TO STAND OUT IN A COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE

Is your firearm brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2022 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.

DOWNLOAD GUIDE
outdoor hunting marketing email

4 Reasons Prospects Get Stuck in Your Online Sales Funnel

By Email Marketing

If you have a hunting, outdoor or shooting sports website that was designed to generate email contacts and sales, then you are probably already very familiar with online sales funnels. They start with ads, PR, email or blog articles (like this one) that move prospects through a series of steps that include internal links, emails, CTAS, or lead generators—eventually giving the visitor to your website the chance to take the next step, like buy now.

It’s a proven system, and one that works better than ever in 2021. However, we often meet with business owners and marketers who aren’t having much success with online contact/lead generation. They know that something isn’t working in their funnels but struggle to identify the problem.

There is never going to be a single solution, of course. Problems range from poorly communicated products or even a slow loading website. In our experience, however, most “lack of conversion” types of problems tend to boil down to one of four issues. Let’s look at each one in turn…

1. They Didn’t Have a Real Interest in Your Products

It’s very easy to mistake “website visitor” for “qualified prospect.” You may think the two are interchangeable, but there might be a lot of people who show up to your website without any intention of buying anything.

There are a lot of reasons for this. It could be that you compete in a highly competitive segment like i.e. holsters that require a great deal of searching and research. Or, you may be focused on search terms that have a lot of overlap with another type of product like “hunting scope” vs. “best deer hunting optic.” However, the most common problem has to do with marketers using SEO and paid ads (if you can do paid ads) to increase traffic rather than focusing on conversions.

Your sales funnel only works if you bring in qualified buyers, or at least interested prospects. Focusing too tightly on clicks or impressions just wastes money and opportunities.

2. You Haven’t Built Up Enough Credibility

We can say definitively that almost every business owner in our industry would like to have more qualified customers. The vast majority of them could use help making sense of search engine optimization, social media, and other online marketing channels. And yet, we still have to produce new content updates to stay competitive. Why is that?

The answer, of course, is that these potential customers don’t yet know that you have solutions that can help them. They are aware that they want to achieve a certain result, (secure their electronic fishing equipment, hunt with an AR, or export firearm products) but haven’t yet seen the proof that you can solve their problems. So, you have to demonstrate the possibilities through blog posts, social media, PR, testimonials, and more.

For our clients, we help them create articles, customer testimonials and videos that help prospects see them as the leader in their given segment.

If you have a credibility gap in the sales funnel, it’s always going to hinder conversions. No one wants to explore working with you until they trust you and have faith that you can help them resolve whatever problem they have.

3. Your Sales Funnel Isn’t Set Up Correctly 

Your online sales funnel has to start and lead somewhere. What is the offer you ultimately make? Is it a demo, 30-day trial (like Walther’s Try or Buy) or maybe a discount on your product?

Try or Buy WaltherPPQ

In other words, if the final offer in your online sales funnel doesn’t make prospects think “I want that,” then there’s always going to be a bottleneck in the contact/lead generation process.

➡ See this article to fix your sales funnel.

4. Use the Right Sales Funnel Software

So many brands in the outdoor, hunting and shooting sports industry when approaching their sales funnel don’t think that it involves the complete customer lifecycle so they sign up for Mail Chimp or Constant Contact and send a few emails here and there only to see their time wasted when click through rates and sales generate little to no results, which can be frustrating.  There are three softwares (hunting and 2A friendly) we use to create highly effective automated sales funnels that work to our client’s advantage:

  • Klaviyo – Geared specifically for ecommerce brands that provides easy to understand segmentation and SMS.
  • Keap – A complete CRM and Automation program that can connect your store.
  • HubSpot – An inbound marketing software for companies that generate over $3M/year that provides a complete end-to-end solution for growth-stage companies.

If you have questions about these solutions, Garrison Everest is certified in all three to help you generate more online sales.

Is It Time to Fix Your Broken Online Sales Funnel?

It doesn’t matter how great your website looks, or how much money was spent on its development – if it isn’t helping you save money or create more sales, then you’re losing money.

Contact our team of business and marketing growth specialists today so we can schedule a free assessment and help you generate a plan that moves your company forward!

Photo credit: Buzz Hayes of Confluence Group