All Posts By

Joshua Claflin

consistent content marketing

Four Things That Start to Happen When You Stop Blogging

By | Inbound Marketing | No Comments

I owe you a big apology.

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

With all sincerity, I’m sorry…

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

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

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

1. Out of Touch

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


website traffic


blog with leads2. Leads and Social Media Lags

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

3. Open Rates Drop

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

4. Looking Forward

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

I hope you stay tuned. 

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

firearm hunting customer review marketing

How to Get Online Firearm Customer Reviews That Boost Your Business

By | Firearms Marketing


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

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

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

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


Make Your Brand Review-Worthy

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


Complete Your Online Profiles

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


Double Check the Pertinent Details

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

firearm customer review ammo

Get Some Social Buzz Going

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

Automate the Process

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

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

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

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

Contact Us Today


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Five Online Firearm Marketing-Mistakes To Stop Repeating Today

Five Online Firearm Marketing Mistakes To Stop Repeating Today

By | Web Design

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

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

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

1. Ignoring Your Website

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


2. Only Posting Promotional Updates or Press Releases

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


3. Taking Content From Competitors

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


4. Dismissing Negative Feedback

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


5. Paying for Lackluster Results

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


Influencer Marketing Metrics Firearms Industry


Time to Turn Your Website into a Business Asset?

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

Contact Us Today


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Hunting or Firearm E-commerce Website Design

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

By | Firearms and Hunting


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Prepare your product image library

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

Start by creating a shot list:

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

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

3. Identify how you’re going to fulfill orders

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

    US Mail – licensed persons:

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

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

    FedEx Express:

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

    FedEx Ground

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


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

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


4. Get the security issues out of the way

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pick A Plan

5. Consider an Enterprise Solution

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

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

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




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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

8 Points on How to Strengthen, Grow and Optimize Your Influence from POMA 2018

By | Influencer Marketing

I recently had the privilege to present to the Professional Outdoor Media Association on the topic of How to Become a Better Influencer in the Outdoor, Hunting and Firearms Industry” in Lincoln, Nebraska, June 14, 2018. 

Influencer marketing is changing in the outdoor, hunting and firearms marketplace due to increased interest, fakenews, and social media algorithm changes. If you’re new to influencer marketing, this talk showed you how to leverage this highly effective marketing tactic more efficiently for yourself and the brands you manage. I presented the latest trends, tools and insights, and how to track and charge/price accordingly.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to build a small pocket of influence with hundreds of marketing professionals and executives in the industry. I also work with some of today’s most popular influencers. This has provided me a unique insight into the workings of influencer marketing in the outdoor, hunting and firearms industry. 

Below are eight points (and my slides) I gave to an audience that included writers, influencers, marketers, photographers and content creators on how to strengthen, grow and optimize their personal brand’s influence.

1. Define your Niche

What is your area of specialty and interest, what is your focus? What area of the outdoor are you most passionate about?

For example, when I switched my agency focus to firearms, hunting and outdoor—I made our agency stand for something that stood out among other “all purpose” digital agencies. This allowed me to do a few things:

  • I repelled prospects from other industries I didn’t want to work with, while attracting prospects and qualified leads from the outdoor industry.
  • Broke through the clutter with a defined message and industry expertise.
  • If you’re a photographer or writer who covers all things hunting and fishing, I strongly suggest you narrow your focus on what you’re most passionate about. For example, you may only want to focus on Wolves, Big Horn Sheep or Mule Deer Photography.
  • Let your personality come through, don’t be afraid to be you.

2. Set Goals

I’m big on the SMART Goal method (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). You may want to grow your audience by a million followers in one month—but that may not be realistic. Set your goals and work towards them on a daily basis with consistency. Make sure you have a goal post.

Always remember to write your goals down! If you don’t write them down they don’t exist.


3. Know Your Audience

Over time, you’ll get a good feel for your audience. You’ll understand what makes them tick, what problems they have and why they find you interesting.

  • Take at least 10 – 15 minutes and engage once a day.
  • Influence is nothing without engagement.
  • Use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook’s built in analytics to help you understand age, location and interests.

4. Be Helpful—Don’t Sell

In order for influencers to persuade, you must become a solution provider.

When I started doing inbound marketing for my digital agency, I looked to help my prospects first. That in turn earned their trust and allowed me to position myself as a solution provider and a partner in growth. It’s always a service, never a sell.

Furthermore, if you love the brands you represent and believe in them, your audience will naturally love them too because you’re not necessarily selling someone, you’re adding value to their lives.

For more information on how to perfect the art of persuasion, check out Adversaries to Allies, By Bob Burg


5. Be Authentic and Honest At All Costs

Never sacrifice your audience’s trust at the product or brands expense. If the product breaks or is faulty, you may find yourself in a tight spot. So always test the products you’re considering before signing that contract. Posture your clients by being brutally honest if the product doesn’t work and outline what the ramifications are.


6. Build a Website and Blog!

This past week, we saw Brownell’s YouTube channel removed from YouTube—and then, fortunately it was reinstated. 

With all the anti-hunting/anti-gun social media channels out there—don’t rely on these third party channels. So many influencers are building their livelihoods on these third-party apps that can shut you down right now and for any reason.

Blog – When considering influencers to work with, I look to see if they have blogs that are updated consistently. Blogs provide content that work for your brands 24/7/365. They also build links and gives your visitors the ability to share information more efficiently.

Affiliate links – Blogs are also great for placing affiliate links that help you generate more revenue.

Contact Information – Make sure you have your contact information available within your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter profiles so brands can contact you. So many influencers out there give no way for people to get in touch with them.


7. Create a Good Mix of Content

  • Instagram video consumption has increased 40%
  • Photos generate 36% more likes than videos

We all know content is gold. Your content must add value to your audience. Create a good mix of high-quality video and photos. (Source: SproutSocial

Make sure to always tag your content with a #sponsored or an #ad tag to remain in compliance with the FCC. Influencer marketing is still like the Wild Wild West, so make sure to stay up to date on any changes.  


8.  It’s not About You.

At the end of the day, if you’re not adding value to your audience, you’ll start to see your followers level out. When you truly grasp this—your entire mindset will change. (Source: Julie Solomon)

“Influencer marketing is not about you, it’s about them.”



About The Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA)

Whether you’re a hunting and fishing industry communicator, industry professional or an avid outdoor sports enthusiast, POMA is working hard for you. POMA is dedicated to seeing the traditional outdoor sports story is told honestly and fairly so hunting, fishing, the shooting sports and trapping will endure. Learn more on their website and sign up today! 

Photo Credit: Tony Bynum


Learn More About POMA


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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


4 Ways to Strengthen Your Brand Today

By | Brand Development

The brand is the entire experience that a person has with your business’ purpose. 

Most brands start with their product/service and sell based on their features and benefits—which is important—but in doing so, leaves them only to compete on the product’s understanding, not its why.

“Brands have become the global currency of success.”
– Brand Atlas

At each touch point, your brand must be integrated for maximum efficiency that drives your prospect to your goals that simultaneously solves their needs and wants along the way.  

If you’re interested in building a strong brand rather than just a product-based company, here are four points to keep in mind when thinking through how to strengthen your brand in 2018.


1. Map your brand’s touchpoints

When thinking about what a brand is, you need to understand that it’s not just 2-3 pieces like your website, logo or catalog—but all the pieces. It’s your dealer sheet, the way your product feels, your customer service, your influencers, content, email signature, Facebook and Instagram page—everything.

Here is a simple representation of what brand looks like: 


What is a brand?

Each touchpoint is an opportunity to increase awareness and build loyalty.


2. Align your brand

Ask yourself and your key stakeholders (the people with invested interest) what your brand means and write it down. Then go ask your customers what your brand means to them and then 10 or so of your employees. If they all say the same thing—congrats, you have brand alignment! If they say something different, then you may want to rethink your brand and figure out why there are inconsistencies.

Brand inconsistencies take away from your marketing’s effectiveness and create confusion among your prospects. 

Common problems that cause brands to be out of alignment is clarity of the mission, customer service, brand identity and broken promises.

  • Brand Strategy AlignmentBrand promise – If what you’re promising isn’t being delivered on, then your brand isn’t trustworthy. Today, trust is everything in the age of #fakenews. Make every effort to fix and make good on what your brand promises to its customers.
  • Brand identity – Does your brand’s look and feel (color, shape, format, type, imagery, texture etc.) accurately convey the it’s key emotional and visual attributes? If not, it may be time for a redesign or invest in lifestyle photography.
  • Customer-centered – Is your customer service receiving high-marks? Without strong brand alignment between your employer brand and corporate brand you will not be able to deliver customer-centered service. 

3. Connect your brand to your customer

How do you connect your brand to your customer? In the past, most brand development processes solely focused on the product and what the marketer wanted the customer to think and feel. Today, every marketing brand strategy should start with the customer first.  This can only be done by defining what is called a buyer persona.

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

By defining your buyer persona, you will be able to develop a strong brand foundation to help guide you when you get lost in the day to day activities of marketing and running your business. Keeping regular tabs on what your customer is feeling will help you build brand loyalty more quickly.

The fastest way to connect your brand is to communicate how you solve your customer’s problem. Track these data points through your online forms, Facebook insights, analytics and artificial intelligence programs. It doesn’t hurt to survey your customers every once and while either.

“Solve there problems and be empathetic.”
– Gary Vaynerchuk

4. Brand is built on consistent, helpful service

Are you using Facebook Messenger, Drift or Intercom on your website to answer customer questions? These new tools allow you to communicate in real-time that have become central in providing an excellent customer service experience online. One bad customer experience, late delivery or rude response can tarnish your brand—especially when the person on the receiving end posts what happened on Facebook for the whole world to know.

The hard truth about your customers today is:

  • They want to help themselves, not call you.
  • They learn from friends, not salespeople.
  • They trust your customers, not your marketing.

According to Harvard Business Review: Evidence shows that customers will no longer tolerate the rushed and inconvenient service that has become all too common. And now with voice chat, chatbots and AI hitting the web, customers are more empowered than ever and demand answers to their questions faster than before. For example, 61 percent of participating Baby Boomers say a potential chatbot benefit is “getting an instant response,” while just 51 percent of Millennials say the same. (Source: Convince and Convert) The total chat volume in 2016 nearly tripled that in 2015. Both statistics can back up the conclusion that the demand for live chat has been steadily growing. (Source: Comm100)

Our recent research demonstrates that when customers contact companies for service, they care most about two things:

  • Is the frontline employee knowledgeable?
  • And is the problem resolved on the first call or chat?

Yet these factors often aren’t even on customer service manager or business owners’ dashboards. Most service centers continue to measure time on hold, time to respond and minutes per call, as they have for decades. Such metrics encourage agents to hurry through calls—resulting in just the kind of experience customers dislike.  

According to HubSpot, The key to growth in 2018 is:

  • Happy customers who recommend your company to their friends
  • Successful customers who share their results with the world
  • Modern customer support that matches how people communicate

More than half of the customers we surveyed across industries say they’ve had a bad service experience, and nearly the same fraction think many of the companies they interact with don’t understand or care about them. On average, 40% of customers who suffer through bad experiences stop doing business with the offending company. (SOURCE: HBR)

In conclusion, to strengthen your brand, you must map every touchpoint, align for consistency, connect with your customers problems by putting them center and focus on delivering helpful, consistent service. Once these touchpoints are built out and set, then you are able to provide a great experience built on the standards of today’s empowered consumer that will reward your company with future sales growth.


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

how to track outdoor hunting firearms influencer marketing

How to Track Your Outdoor, Hunting or Firearm Influencer Marketing Campaign

By | Influencer Marketing

According to a recent survey, 38% of marketers say they are unable to tell whether influencer activity drives sales while 86% are unsure how influencers calculate their fees.

However, with a little strategy and an investment in influencer marketing software—you can negotiate influencer rates more accurately, track your efforts, save time and prove your campaign’s success.

It is estimated that businesses can generate an average of $6.50 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing (Source: Tomson).

As influencer marketing picks up steam (59% of marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets over the next 12 months, Source: Tomson), new tracking tools like Upfluence, Famebit, Traackr, Mavcrk and others are starting to become more affordable—allowing you as a business owner or marketer in the outdoor industry to track your influencer marketing efforts more efficiently. These programs help you:

  • Save time
  • Find and choose the right influencers
  • Identify fake accounts
  • Negotiate contracts
  • Track results
  • Pay Influencers

According to Obviously, it takes 71 hours to work with just 15 influencers. So the need for tools that help you save time can be beneficial.

Determine Goals

When starting influencer marketing, you must begin with a SMART goal. Goals should be divided into Reach, Impressions, and Engagement.

Sample influencer marketing goal:
(Reach) 2 million prospects to build awareness of my product that drives 1.3 million (impressions) and 500K likes/views (engagement) that increases revenue 20% in 3 months. 

Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, make sure to communicate those goals clearly to the influencer. Below is a breakdown of each.

1. Reach determines the potential audience size you can attain. This is easily calculated by adding up all the followers and subscribers of your influencer’s network across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest as well as a monthly blog or website visits. To get a sizeable reach—choose influencers with larger networks where 60%+ of their audience engages with their content regularly.

2. Impressions determine how many of those people reached actually saw the influencer’s post. You can reach a large audience—but if you can’t access them, low impressions may signal fake followers or low engagement.

3. Engagement involves action. Action is a click, share, view or like. This is the metric you’ll want to track closely as this indicates how effective your influencer is in getting their audience to notice your product and take action.

There are other ways to track the ROI of your influencer marketing

Tracking links and coupon codes, like affiliate marketing, can be used to track sales via your online shopping cart. Make sure to use systems that allow transparency so your influencers can log in and see the deals they’ve generated. Modern online shopping carts like Shopify, Volusion, and WordPress have affiliate tracking functionality built-in.

Website Traffic is also a good indication of your influencer marketing efforts. We utilize Databox as a way to combine all our metrics into one dashboard to report on our efforts.

One of the most significant outcomes of influencer marketing is the content that is generated from your campaign. If blogs are created on an authoritative influencer’s website—then those links will boost your SEO efforts if linked accordingly. Photos, videos, and imagery can be negotiated as part of the contract and reused in your brand’s social media feed or in email campaigns to create consistency in your messaging.

Social listening tools also allow you see what is being said about your product—negative or positive—so you can make any adjustments and nip any terrible customers experiences in the bud before prospective customers see them.

An influencer marketing campaign is one of the best marketing moves your brand can make and can net you over 11 times the ROI of banner ads and PPC when done correctly. However, as with all strategies, you’ll get the best results by tracking progress and adjusting as needed, which means applying the same data-driven mentality as you would to any other strategy (Source: Forbes)

Free Influencer Marketing Consultation

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Firearms Hunting Influencer Marketing

How to Become an Influencer in the Firearms & Hunting Industry

By | Influencer Marketing

If you’re an influencer or aspire to be one in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, there are some things you can do to attract more brand partnerships and generate more revenue. 

There still seems to be a lot of confusion as to what an influencer and influencer marketing is, what to charge and what brands can expect in return. And with the latest Facebook and YouTube policy changes, everything is in disarray.   

In this article, we offer some examples, advice and direction to influencers in the firearms and hunting industry looking to increase their growth and earning potential—and if you’re a marketer, information you can use to conduct and manage your influencer marketing campaigns more effectively.  


What does it mean to be an influencer in 2018?

Influence means to impact other people. Thus an Influencer is someone who is influential or changes the behavior of others, which implies visibility (i.e., on a platform like social media) of an engaged audience. The keyword here is engaged (Source: Upfluence). There are three basic types of influencer marketing formats, some even say twelve—but for this article we’ll give these three basic examples to start with.

A. Engage by offering commentary and information

John Lovell’s video (below) not only helps answer several questions about how to manage recoil but also intertwines helpful advice as well as a certain amount of candor.



B. Engage with style and humor
You may also follow someone to be entertained, or for their particular style or because they have the “it” factor. No matter your reason, the influencer gives you something of value and makes you feel better about being associated with them in some way. Alex Rogers (below video) adds her own unique humor and satire to spoof an infomercial-style post on Instagram for ETS’ speed loaders



C. Engage with Adventure

Probably one of the most successful (out of industry) influencer marketing videos online is by Producer Casey Neista. His “Make it Count” video for Nike has received over 27M views. As you watch this, how does this filmmaker make you want to buy a Nike band? How can this kind of approach and creativity be used in one of your videos?


The above three examples is influencer marketing done correctly. Each influencer not only has a highly engaged audience but can achieve the advertiser’s goal of reach, awareness, and engagement. True influence drives engagement from an audience that has bought into your mission and purpose.


firearms influencer marketing1. Define your niche

Influencers range the gamut in interests and subject matter. There are gun aficionados, tactical trainers, tactical special ops trainers, CCW instructors, industry newsers, gun rights activists, writers, reviewers, trick shooters, myth busters, gun guys, gun gals, gun bunnies and a list of celebrities and some who are all the above.

According to a recent search in Upfluence, (a influencer marketing search, management and tracking tool), you can see the growing size of social media accounts that mention/include the keywords in orange—and their reach.

  • 39,000 social media profiles with a reach 5.7 Billion
    #firearms #guns #2A
  • 47,000 social media profiles with a reach of 4.5 Billion
    #hunting #deerhunting #turkeyhunting
  • 124,000 social media profiles with a reach of 10 Billion
    #outdoor #hiking #camping
  • 36,000 social media profiles with a reach 3 Billion
    #fishing #flyfishing
  • NOTE: Social reach includes multiple profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, YouTube and Blogs

These numbers are substantial.

You must decide what your niche is going to be and then become the best in it. Whether it’s through humor, information, conservation, stunning videography, style or personality, define your niche and own it.

Hickok 45 for example, is just an ordinary guy in Tennessee who’s humor and straight-forward advice on products has garnered the trust of 3M+ followers—all from his backyard. 



2. Invest in your own website

YouTube has given many signs over the past two years of its growing hostility towards gun content creators (and some hunters). But when the move finally happened, it seemed to catch a lot of people by surprise. For those who had already been quietly building their website—the change wasn’t much of a shock.

Build a website that will enable you to host your content, generate organic traffic and build an email subscriber list. Invest in professional lifestyle photography and make it engaging that focuses on selling your unique personality, talents, skills, and niche.

It’s a huge bonus and an ever-growing requirement for brands when influencers run a blog that contains exciting and engaging content that is updated regularly. Blogs combined with video offer brands an “evergreen” solution that they can reference, build links and enjoy a continuous flow of referral traffic. Traffic can be a compelling selling point to leverage, which brings me to my next point.


3. Negotiate costs appropriately

If you don’t have an idea on what to charge, you can cause some frustration to the advertiser reaching out to you. Depending on how much you post and what kind of engagement and influence you have—you should know how much you’re worth. Some advertisers will set the going rate based on their budget and invite you to participate. 

In the past, manufacturers who wanted to spread the word about a new product would ask reviewers to write an article or post to their social media accounts for free. “We’ll send you a gun, keep it for three months, give us a good review and send it back.” says Jonathan Wright of Tactical Toolbox, “but all this is changing.” 

One way to determine costs is to use a tool called Social Blue Book. This tool will help you determine what’s fair and what’s not. 

If you’re having trouble and don’t know what to charge, below are some baseline rates to consider if you work in the firearms, hunting and outdoor industry.


Micro – Tier 1 Reach < 250K (40-60/100 Engagement Level)
At this level, (also known as the “Power Middle”) you’re still growing your network or just starting out, and your level of engagement is on the rise. $50-$100 per post

Blog w/ Video Post
$250 (inclusion/mention)
$500 (featured)

Macro – Tier 2 Reach 250-500K (60+/100 Engagement Level)
At the Macro level, you’ve been working for several years, know what works and what doesn’t, and you have a good understanding of your audience and a good idea on how to keep them engaged.$200-$1000 per post

Blog w/ Video Post
$500 (inclusion/mention)
$1000 (featured)

Mega – Tier 3 Reach 500-1M+ (60+/100 Engagement Level)
At the Mega level, you’ve reached somewhat of celebrity status. You know one post can send thousands of sales your client’s way. $1000 – $5000+ per post

Blog w/ Video Post
$1000 (inclusion/mention)
$5000 (featured)


4. Ask for revenue share

If you find yourself in a position where the brand can’t afford your fee, but you want to work with them, then the next best thing is to ask for a link and a percentage of sales you generate. Similar to becoming an affiliate, this will also help you understand your effectiveness and how to improve over time.

Typical rates range from 2-7% of all sales. There should also be an affiliate log in area on the brand’s website that allows you to log in to view your sales. You can also use software to track your own performance.


5. Be responsive and follow directions

A great way to build trust, accountability and get your contract renewed is to stay in contact with your brand representative or agency and know their product inside and out. Let them know what you’re working on, when to expect your posts and the occasional phone call to bounce some ideas around. Make sure to read the directions of what the advertiser is asking you to do and get a good understanding of what their goals are.  

Partnerships that are collaborative will always be the most effective. As a paid or sponsored influencer, you must keep your client’s best interest at the forefront. It’s a delicate balance, because after all, you know your audience better than the brand, but the brand is paying you to access it. Be upfront and candid about what works and what doesn’t. Work together to come up with the perfect solution. Is posting twice a week going to be overkill? Or can one engaging video post once a month have a more significant impact? Go off of what’s worked in the past and how the product aligns with your unique style.


6. Focus on engagement

As an influencer, the main reason brands are interested in you is because of your ability to engage with your followers. Engage means to attract their interest. Whether you are a Power Middle or a Mega Influencer—engagement and your ability to move the needle whether translates into likes, shares or sales—is more important than the number of followers. Posting static pictures or sarcastic comments may not be enough. 


7. Track your results

Most influencer marketing is done online, so it’s possible to track every post on social media and record its value. Every campaign should include a #hashtag or designated keyword. There are several software companies marketers use to track earned media value, impressions and reach.

Influencer marketing in the firearm, hunting, and outdoor industry continues to change as the social media landscape shifts. You most likely got into posting reviews and videos for fun, maybe made a little ad revenue on side in the past, but now with stiffer competition and serious money starting to flow into influencer marketing due to recent algorithm changes on Facebook, and reports that influencer marketing can bring a 11x ROI on marketing spend—there’s a lot you can do to start attracting brands and making more money in the process.

Remember to find and own your niche, invest in your website, charge a fair price, be responsive, drive engagement and be aware of how to track your efforts. And most of all have fun!

If you’re an influencer looking for opportunities, Garrison Everest represents several brands looking for the right ambassadors to carry their message. Contact us using the form below!

Influencer Signup Form

Photo Credit: Brenton USA

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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


How To Set SMART Goals For Your Firearms or Hunting Business

By | Firearms and Hunting

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 firearm or hunting inbound marketing 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. 



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! 



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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Firearm Brand Development

Do You Really Need A Firearm Brand Strategy?

By | Brand Development, 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.

Below are 10 surprising facts that you may not have considered in regards to your brand development strategy and why its 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:

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.


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



hunting-outdoor-firearms-brand-interview-guideFree Download:
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Developing your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to draft the questions to ask your customers/clients to uncover your brand.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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


Firearm content banned from YouTube

Firearm Content Gone From YouTube? Now What?

By | Firearms and Hunting

Last week, YouTube dropped a highly restrictive policy on the firearm industry and gun content creators that—for the most part—prevents the publishing of all firearm-related content.

Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square. The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech, which has constitutional protection. Such actions also impinge on the Second Amendment. (Source: NSSF)

Digital marketers in the firearms industry have been stripped of Facebook Advertising, Google PPC and now YouTube, which will ultimately hinder growth and sales in the digital age for the short term until alternative channels have time to develop.

Over the past week, I’ve watched the industry’s reaction to the situation as well as content creators like TGC News, Military Arms Channel, Tactical Toolbox and others. And like you, I wonder what this means moving forward without the use of YouTube’s free platform to leverage the benefits of influencer marketing, product reviews, training and educational content that is so important to communicating and reaching prospective law-abiding customers and outdoor enthusiasts.

This is a severe blow to the industry and a direct assault on First and Second Amendment rights. And when you calculate the thousands of hours and millions of dollars gun creators and brands have devoted to  YouTube, the investment has been substantial.

In this post, I want to give you a few thoughts from a marketing perspective about what the future holds for firearm marketers, gun content creators and brands with the loss of YouTube.

1. Back to the future

Where were you in 2005 when the domain was registered? I remember SEO was a simple matter of placing keywords on your website to get first page rankings. We enjoyed open email rates of 50% or higher, all the while, Mark Zuckerberg was in his dorm room at Harvard building a website called Facebook. Much of the digital channels we utilize today were unavailable. Magazine ads, catalogs, a visit to the local dealer and gun shows were the only way for people interested in firearms to find out about new products.

In just 13 years, after YouTube’s $1.65 billion acquisition by Google (2006), it has grown to the world’s second largest search engine with over 30 million visits per day and 300 hours of video uploaded every minute.

These are massive numbers, and by all estimations are only getting larger.

6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV and by some predictions, by 2025, 50% of all viewers under the age of 32 years old will not subscribe to a pay-TV service. (Source: Fortune Lords)

The three most important metrics to any digital marketer is reach, engagement, and conversion. Without entrance to the YouTube platform, industry marketers have been cut off from a significant channel of communication to achieve these metrics. 

This leaves us with only a handful of viable digital channels and tactics to consider in our marketing mix:

  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Ecommerce
  • Automation
  • Referral Marketing
  • Lifestyle Marketing
  • Native Advertising
  • Banner Ads
  • PR
  • Sponsorships and paid placement on Publisher sites: RecoilTV, MOTV, SOFREP and others.
  • Influencer marketing via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest
  • Organic Facebook posts – which only get 1% reach

2. Hurry up and wait

With YouTube taken off the table as a choice for free content distribution, what’s the alternative?

There are only a few options when you take into account Vimeo, BitChute, Twitch, LiveStream and a few other obscure channels.

  • Full30 – Free to sign up, but limited due to a small infrastructure and audience. Full30 is opening up soon to all content creators, but it may be a while before they can handle the bandwidth.
  • Patreon – Pay to subscribe for as low as $1 per month

Paid subscription channels like Patreon may be a barrier for some smaller channels.

With a very limited list, we will have to wait until other channels—free of industry influence and publishers—are developed. One company reportedly working on this are the founders of Utah Gun Exchange. 

Some content creators have gone to PornHub. I am absolutely against this and will not advocate or allow any brands that we represent to be promoted on that platform—for obvious reasons.

3. A pause in growth

As a marketer who has relied on social media and YouTube to drive results in the past, I am moving my clients to other strategies and tactics to achieve their goals online. I think we all should expect the possibility that Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google Search may soon censor gun content as well.

4. What’s next?

Like the Facebook algorithm change in January, this will also need time to play out. I’ve always been a proponent of brands and content creators taking a “website first approach” that provides their own private platform to build their audiences rather than relying on third-party channels that are anti-gun. Google doesn’t own the internet. Developing your audience on your own website will always be a good fall back when significant disruption happens. By building your traffic, email subscriber list and then using social media as a distribution channel, you’ll always have plenty of options when disruption comes. 

Regardless, things have inherently changed, and the firearms industry has been pushed out to the fringes of the digital world. I believe YouTube’s decision will only make our industry stronger in the long run.


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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Shot Show 2018 Firearm Marketing

Four Marketing Takeaways from SHOT Show 2018

By | Firearms and Hunting

Like other industry marketers and professionals in the Firearms, Hunting and Outdoor industry—SHOT Show was crazy busy—rushing from meeting to meeting, trying to squeeze in time to see new products, exhibits, make new contacts, say hi to existing clients and old friends.

But through all the running back and forth, and thinking through what this year holds after several weeks of reflection—I’ll give you my four observations and takeaways from SHOT 2018.

1. Brand innovation pays off

There are many manufacturers who had trouble moving the needle in 2017, due to bloated inventories, immense competition and the “reset” of normal due to the election of President Trump. But one such brand that seems to have bucked the trend is Christensen Arms (CA).

CA innovated the first ever carbon-fiber barrel back in 1995 that enabled them to find the “white space” in our industry that no one else occupied—which created the differentiation CA needed to break through the myriad of hunting rifles.

Firearm Marketing Exhibit

Christensen’s solid product line and innovative designs—including the launch of their MPR, have enabled the brand to cement a solid foundation that will fuel their marketing efforts for many years to come.

TAKEAWAY: Many brands—especially start-ups—don’t take the time to correctly develop their brand, an innovative product roadmap, and their customer journeys before going to market which leaves them flapping in the wind and their audience wondering who they are what they stand for.

2. Virtual reality

I noticed many exhibits showcasing virtual reality (VR). VR may not be able to deliver the full experience your customers are looking for, but it can add to their experience that creates a lasting impression.

firearm marketing virtual reality

Here are some interesting VR Statistics to take note of:

  • 500 million VR headsets could be sold by 2025, according to Piper Jaffray
  • 171 million people could be using VR hardware and software worldwide by 2018, according to research firm KZero.
  • Nearly 1.3 million people subscribe to the YouTube 360 channel. Google’s push into panoramic 360-degree videos is also paying off and getting mainstream viewers interested in the idea of viewing VR content. That interest is fueling the rise of pricey 360-degree camera rigs.

As the market continues to evolve digitally, I expect more brands to create apps with VR experiences this year and in the years to come.

TAKEAWAY: VR is going mainstream and seems like an excellent way for customers to experience your brand. 


3. Harvesting vs. Hunting

Localvores or eco-hunting has been a growing trend since it was coined back in 2005. There seems to be an increasing trend popping up around the word “harvesting.” 

This word “harvesting” is being used in many instances to replace “hunting.” But aren’t they the same?

Consumer demand for organically produced goods continues to show double-digit growth, providing market incentives for U.S. farmers across a broad range of products. Organic products are now available in nearly 20,000 natural food stores and nearly 3 out of 4 conventional grocery stores.

Organic sales account for over 4 percent of total U.S. food sales, according to recent industry statistics. (Source: USDA)

Arby’s’ “We have the meats” slogan is right on target.

The fast-food chain, known for its slow-roasted roast beef sandwiches, began selling limited-edition venison sandwiches a year ago in select markets. (Source: AJC

The company announced this week the “100 percent deer meat” sandwiches will be available nationwide in the chain’s 3,300 locations later this month. They’ve also started testing Elk! When Arby’s is pushing a wild game message nationally—we may all have a chance to benefit. 

SilencerCo, even calls their blog “Harvested.

A quick look at Google Trends suggest “how to hunt” and “deer meat” increasing in interest. This is intriguing because we all know hunting numbers are in decline. Or are they?   

hunting marketing trendsI believe with the increased interest in eating organic and healthy, the growing distrust of corporations (who process our food) and other factors like negative press and the continuing attacks from anti-hunting groups—the idea of “harvesting” could be a new and fresh approach in marketing hunting and hunting products. People who have been persuaded that hunting is bad or unethical, but who agree hunting for healthy organic food is acceptable—harvesting may be the position in which to communicate from. Without getting caught up in the semantics of hunting versus harvestingharvesting from a marketing perspective—is worth consideration. 

Meat Eater

Steve Rinella of Meateater is another example of this emerging harvesting trend that may be pointing to things to come. He’s one of only a few hunting personalities that have crossed over to Netflix. Steve intertwines eating healthy with harvesting, gathering, and cooking (field to table).

Across the country, people in every community and from all walks of life are more focused on healthy eating than ever before. (Source: Christopher Cogley, NSSF SHOT Daily)

Heck, even Mark Zuckerberg is on the train. Who knows where this is going—and I am NOT advocating for anything here—but it’s something that should be on every marketer’s radar in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry.

For more thought on this, check out this article: Hunting Matters: Harvest or Kill? Considering Our Choice of Language in Hunting Stories

TAKEAWAY: Always be looking for out-of-industry trends and shifts that your brand can either leverage or avoid. 

eva shockey

Photo credit: Dangersoup

4. Women’s influence grows

It was nice to see more women being placed in exhibits and presented as professionals at this year’s SHOT Show. I think the industry has crossed the bridge and has embraced women respectfully for their talents and skills as hunters and shooters.

These shifts will also continue to attract other women that can expand industry brands’ appeal and reach.

TAKEAWAY: Start integrating women into your brand’s communications that showcase their skills, talents and professionalism.

By all counts, industry brands that continue to invest in brand development, consider new and upcoming channels for prospective customers to experience their brand, continue to push product innovation—whether, through materials, design (or a combination of the booth) and who stay on top of emerging trends outside of the industry will fare better this year than others. These have always been the recipe of marketing success.


Grow Your Brand


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Facebook Change Outdoor Hunting and Firearms Industry

What Facebook’s News Feed Change Means For Firearms & Hunting Marketing

By | Firearms and Hunting

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced last night that it’s making a significant change to its News Feed in the coming months that will ultimately affect brands and publishers in every industry—including the firearms and hunting industry.

Firearms and most hunting brands have been banned from advertising on Facebook since late 2015. We’ve been shunned by the platform in more ways than one. So why does this change matter and what are the implications for business owners, publishers, and marketers?

In a Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg wrote: “recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands, and media — is crowding out the personal moments [from friends and family] that lead us to connect more with each other.”

Explaining, however, that recently “video and other public content have exploded on Facebook … [and] since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.”

Zuckerberg also goes on to talk about mental health issues associated with the news feed stating: “We feel a responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being…the research shows that when we use social media to connect with people we care about, it can be good for our well-being. We can feel more connected and less lonely, and that correlates with long-term measures of happiness and health. On the other hand, passively reading articles or watching videos — even if they’re entertaining or informative — may not be as good.”

Zuckerberg states users will see “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media” and that he expects “the time people spend on Facebook … will go down. But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable.”


How does this affect your brand?

As a result of this algorithm change, your Followers may see even less of your stories, product announcements, giveaways, videos or any other piece of firearm or hunting content — unless it’s engaging.  For many smaller brands and publishers, this will result in a further drop in visibility, reach, engagement, website traffic, readership and therefore revenue.


Facebook organic reach


We see in this chart above that even if a business page was doing a super job with its content in 2011, only 26 percent of their followers would see its posts. Today, the organic reach for an average business is less than 1 percent. (Source: Business Grow)


So what can you do to counter potential reach declines?

Facebook’s Head of News Feed Adam Mosseri offers some suggestions: “Page posts that generate conversation between people will show higher in News Feed. For example, live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook – in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. Many creators who post videos on Facebook prompt discussion among their followers, as do posts from celebrities. In Groups, people often interact around public content. Local businesses connect with their communities by posting relevant updates and creating events. And news can help start conversations on important issues.”

A bit of good news out of all this, (based on Mosseri’s above statement) is that the outdoor, hunting and firearms industry is an affinity culture — filled with publishers, influencers, celebrities and out-spoken characters who are highly active in discussion on Facebook. From gun guys to huntresses — our customers typically and enthusiastically share content and discuss new products and topics with their networks that sparks the “meaningful discussions” Zuckerberg is trying to instigate.

Since Facebook’s new algorithm will prioritize posts that drive authentic discourse (i.e. engagements: comments, likes, and shares), brands should start listening to their audience and tailoring content to their interests. That way, users can engage organically and brands can earn boosted social rankings in an authentic way. Intelligent marketers should see this as an opportunity. (Source: HubSpot)

According to Social Media Today: “Your key focus will likely need to switch to engagement, on generating interactions amongst those in your audience. That means Pages will need to dedicate more time to responding to comments, in addition to scheduling posts; to engaging in Groups, in addition to maintaining their own Pages. There’s no cover-all answer, it’ll be the cumulative impact of various efforts, but generating conversation will be key.”

Like all disruption, other media channels and solutions will emerge due to this change. We’ve already seen other brands in the industry launch podcasts, apps, groups and move to lesser-known social media channels to communicate online with their customers.

As marketing pundits continue to weigh in, one point of agreement is that brands and publishers need to keep creating engaging content. What the future holds today is anyone’s guess. More time is needed to analyze this change and for business owners and marketers to adjust their strategies. 

This will undoubtedly be a topic of debate for marketers at SHOT Show next week.  


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Outdoor Internet Marketing

5 Ways to Kick Off Your Outdoor Internet Marketing in 2018

By | Outdoor Marketing

Now that it’s officially 2018, you’re undoubtedly itching to get your internet marketing plan firing on all cylinders. In fact, if you’re like most outdoor, hunting and firearm business owners we talk with, you’re hoping to get off on the right foot and overcome the setbacks, distractions, and inconsistencies that might have kept you from achieving your goals this past year.

With the economy predicted to set records and the industry coming to the end of the so-called reset,” now is the time to maximize your online revenue channels.

In this article, I’ll give you five ways to kick start your internet marketing this year and what you should focus on most to improve your online efforts.

1. Get a Website Audit

A website audit is just an in-depth look into the HTML on your site that reveals any issues with things like search visibility, security, device compatibility, page loading speeds, and so on. With a few simple diagnostics, you might be able to identify problems that have been costing you sales and search engine rankings you didn’t know you were missing. Take a look at these tools to get started:

1. Google Webmaster Tools
2. New Relic (Website and App Performance)
3. HubSpot’s Website Grader

Outdoor Internet Marketing Databox2. Review Your Web Traffic Sources

How many people are finding your business website? What are they looking for, and where are they coming from? You can’t optimize your site for sales and conversions without knowing the answers to these questions, but lots of business owners are afraid to dig into their analytics to find the info they need. A good web design team can help you decipher this information and turn it into actionable next steps. The outcomes can mean more search engine visibility and hence more sales. A tool we recommend is Databox. Databox helps you organize your analytics all in one place so you can quickly analyze and report on your goals without spending hours making spreadsheets and Powerpoint slides.

3. Update Your Text and Images

Is the content on your website out of date? Do you have duplicated paragraphs between pages (or worse, other sites on the internet)? January is the perfect time to review your text and images, ensuring they are all unique, compelling, and current. The last thing you want is to give customers the wrong impression because your images and messaging haven’t been updated in a long time. One tool we use for WordPress websites is Yoast. Yoast will help you identify these problems in a clear way on your WordPress’ dashboard. Look to Google Webmaster Tools as well to uncover issues or hidden malware and hacks that may be causing problems.

4. Check Your Online Reputation

Your online reputation is essentially the sum of what people see when they look up you or your company on Google, YouTube and Facebook. If you aren’t aware of what your reputation is like, or your brand has some negative reviews or comments that need to be addressed—it’s better to take care of things sooner rather than later. Your online interpretation doesn’t just affect your marketing, but also your ability to attract referrals, influencers, earned media and recruit employees.

5. Put a Content Plan in Place

Internet marketing is all about growth and focus. It’s a day-by-day, brick-by-brick type of operation.  If you genuinely want to make 2018 a productive year as far as your website is concerned, now is an excellent time to put an inbound marketing plan and editorial calendar in place so you won’t have trouble generating blog posts, lifestyle photography, videos, and other forms of content once you get busy later in the year. Before you know it, SHOT Show and another trade show season will be here—and with it,  another year of wasted opportunities. 

If you’re looking to make 2018 your best year ever—now is a great time to reach out to our team and schedule a free assessment. In just one short meeting, we’ll be able to show you what you need to put the power of the internet to work for your outdoor, hunting or firearm business this year.

Get Free Assessment

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Outdoor Lifestyle Photography

How Photography Influences Outdoor Lifestyle

By | Outdoor Marketing

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably struggled with or maybe even have gotten into an all-out inner-conflict over the cost of photos you should purchase for your website or upcoming marketing campaign.

Should you go cheap and pick some “canned” image from iStock that costs only $10—or go big with the $500 shot from Offeset. Or go even bigger and hire a professional outdoor lifestyle photographer for $7-$10K? 

Photography, like good design and copywriting, should be viewed as an investment, not a budgetary line item. According to NewsCred:

  • Articles that contain images get 94% more views than articles without.
  • 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text.
  • 93% of people say that visual imagery is the # 1-factor impacting purchasing decision.

In the fight to stand out in today’s crowded firearm, hunting, and outdoor marketplace, professional photography is just another way to differentiate and win more business by looking better and more credible than your competitors.

Good photography is essential to creating credibility, telling your brand’s story, creating a favorable impression, and engaging your customers.

Here is five ways quality photography influences buyer behavior in the outdoor industry.



Photo Credit: Fluid Peak Productions for Brenton USA


1. Creates a favorable first impression that engages your visitors

Humans are visual creatures. We like shiny and beautiful objects. Most of us process information based on what we see. 65 percent of us are visual learners, according to the Social Science Research Network. (Source: Forbes)

When was the last time you were driving and stopped to take in a gorgeous sunset over snow-capped mountains? If you live in the mountain States, this may be an everyday occurrence. The same goes with engaging photography. Stunning photos can stop you in your tracks and make you take notice. It creates a connection—stirs your soul, ignites your senses and gives you a feeling of peace, excitement or maybe even awe and gratitude.

Marketers should not discount the fact that professional photography can be that extra element that creates that emotional connection between your brand and your buyer.

Good photography can also have positive effects on your website metrics by reducing bounce rates, keeping visitors on your website longer and increasing repeat visitors.

2. Makes your brand trustworthy

Trust is a diminishing factor for most brands today. Increasingly, consumers are making decisions well before the actual moment of in-store or online purchase. In fact, 88% of consumers research before they buy, consulting an average of 10.4 sources. (Source: Google, Zero Moment of Truth)

A CEB study of more than 1,400 B2B customers across all industries revealed that 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier. 

When every click and search counts, creating a viable and memorable impression through the use of good photography is crucial for influencing the customer purchase decision and building your brand and connecting with your customer’s outdoor or shooting lifestyle.


Shooting Photography

Photo Credit: Straight 8 Photography for F4 Defense


3. Creates style

Good photography sets a mood and creates a style of your brand. By utilizing people who resemble, look and act like your buyer personas, you can create a stronger connection with your customer.

So what makes a good photo? There are 5 rules of a composition according to Nikon that make a photo more interesting and engaging:

  1. Use the rule of thirds
  2. Watch horizontal and vertical lines
  3. Have subjects looking off frame
  4. Follow leading lines
  5. Look for patterns and textures

Look for these elements when making a photo choice.

4. Imagery helps you communicate a story in thousand words in seven seconds

You can communicate more with imagery in seven seconds than in 1000 words. So when you put cheap looking “canned stock” on your site that isn’t interesting—thinking no one will notice—think again. A photo can potentially communicate all you want to say about your brand and how it will help your customer—in seconds. By choosing bad photos, it can also communicate things you don’t want to communicate—like cheap, unproven, unprofessional, etc. This ends up doing more harm than good. Good photography helps you communicate your solution quickly and more effectively. (Source: Assoc. for Psychological Science)

5. Look better than your competitors

Perception is reality—if you want to be the best, you have to look like it. By investing in good photography for your marketing programs and by taking professional product photos, you enhance the customer experience and push your brand head-and-shoulders above your competitors. When your competitors are cutting corners and using cheap photos, invest in quality imagery to stand out—it will pay dividends later. You certainly do not want to have the same cheap photos that your competitors are using either. It would be a tremendous embarrassment to show up at SHOT Show or Outdoor Retailer with the same booth photos as your competition—this has happened before.

Looking for quality stock photo agencies or photographers? Here is a list of our favorites:

For websites who’ve been awarded the “best use of photography” checkout the Webby Awards.

In conclusion, when quality copy, dynamic design, and good photography work together, your brand image is more credible, engaging, creates a favorable first impression and aligns and appeals to your customer’s outdoor lifestyle. We highly recommend a sizeable photography budget when advising clients on their outdoor, hunting and shooting marketing endeavors. 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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