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Joshua Claflin

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3 “Must Read” Digital Marketing Case Studies

By Case Study, Inbound Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Marketing, SEO, StoryBrand 2 Comments

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

After all, PR, print, and tradeshow have always been the industry norm. But COVID has changed everything. The need for a robust inbound marketing program that focuses on D2C sales is essential in 2021 and beyond. 

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

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

12-Month E-commerce Case Study

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

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

 

firearms digital marketing


Results

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

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

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

 

12-Month Influencer Case Study

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

 

Results

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

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

 

24-Month Inbound Marketing Case Study

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

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

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

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

 


Results

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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5 KEYS ON HOW TO STAND OUT IN A COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE

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In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2021 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.

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Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, specializes in helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

 

outdoor hunting shooitng sports business coach

Outdoor Wire: Garrison Everest Announces Business Coaching Services for Outdoor Professionals

By Outdoor Hunting Shooting Sports No Comments

Franklin, Tennessee – Garrison Everest expands their brand and marketing services to include business coaching for professionals in the outdoor, hunting and shooting sports industry.

“Most business mistakes are avoidable. I’ve seen first-hand the struggles and avoidable mistakes directors, entrepreneurs, and first-time business owners make, which is why Garrison Everest offers a proven business coaching framework that will help professionals focus, save time, grow profit and win in the outdoor, hunting and shooting sports marketplace,” says Josh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest and Certified Business Coach.

Garrison Everest’s Business Made Simple (Powered by StoryBrand™) framework gives the entrepreneur, business owner, department head, executive director or manager everything they need to grow a business and become a more confident professional—without having to spend thousands of dollars to get an MBA.

Topics include:

• Leadership
• Personal Productivity
• Messaging
• Marketing
• Communication
• Negotiation
• Sales
• Management
• Execution

Business coaching has been proven to increase profit by 46%, reduce stress by 57%, increase confidence by 52% and improve quality of life by 43%. (Source: International Coach Federation)

“If you’re ready to take your game to the next level, invest in your business or career, don’t go it alone. Get a proven framework and the guidance you need to build the life, career and business you want,” adds Claflin.

Garrison Everest is accepting applicants to join its Spring coaching cohort starting March 1, 2021 and select applicants for one-on-one coaching. Interested professionals can also learn on demand by signing up at Business Made Simple University.

Schedule a call to apply.

 

Outdoor Business Assessment

 

How Healthy Is Your Business?

Take this 15-minute test to determine the fitness level of your Outdoor, Hunting or Shooting Sports business in these key areas:

  • Leadership
  • Personal Productivity
  • Messaging
  • Marketing
  • Communication
  • Negotiation
  • Sales
  • Management and Execution

ASSESS MY BUSINESS

 

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, 20-year marketing veteran and business coach, specializes in helping businesses in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industry create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that work. 

 

2020 Hunting or Firearm E-commerce Website

5 “Must-Do’s” Before Starting a Hunting or Firearms E-commerce Website 2021

By Firearms and Hunting

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

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

Here are some interesting statistics according to Fortunly:

  • More than 80% of online shopping carts are abandoned before checkout on mobile devices.
  • American consumers spent around $7.4 billion on online shopping during Black Friday 2019.
  • eCommerce sales are expected to surpass $735 billion by 2023.
  • It is estimated that 95% of all purchases will be made online by 2040.
  • eCommerce businesses lose more than $75 billion per year because of bad customer service.
  • eCommerce sales are expected to reach $4.8 trillion on a global scale by 2021.
  • Around 80% of US customers said that free shipping would make them more likely to make an online purchase
  • Credit cards are the most popular payment method for shopping online, followed by electronic wallets and debit cards.

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

 

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

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

You most likely have a good idea of who your customer is—but taking the time to understand what they want from your website will make all the difference. Seek to understand what their wants, needs, problems, behaviors, and questions are.

Create a web experience based on them and use story to create clear messaging.  This will ultimately make for higher sales and less abandoned carts.

2. Prepare your product image library

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

Start by creating a shot list:

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

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

3. Identify how you’re going to fulfill orders

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

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

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

2021 UPDATE: I do not recommend signing up with any third-party solutions like Volusion, Wix, GoDaddy, BigCommerce and especially Shopify, who as of (August 16, 2018) has banned Franklin Armory from using their platform. When building on these networks, you are essentially handing over your lawful online business that puts you at risk because these providers can shut you down at anytime—sometimes without warning.

firearms ecommerce diagram

 

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

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

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

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

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

    US Mail – licensed persons:

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

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

    FedEx 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
    :

    • 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, or RapidSSL. Your host provider will need to install it for you. Before purchasing an SSL, make sure to ask your host provider what kind of server software they use for example, Apache, Oracle, IBM or others.

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

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

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

Pick A Plan

5. Consider an Enterprise Solution

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

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

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

 

firearms ecommerce website planner

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

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

Download by filling out this form: 




Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, specializes in helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure, and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

 

5 Firearm Marketing Alternatives You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

By Firearms and Hunting

It’s harder than ever to get your message out to attract the influx of some 8 million+ new gun owners who’ve flooded the market (Source: FOXNEWS). For brands that have invested time in building their brand and marketing processes over the ‘Trump’ years (2016-2019) — are reaping the awards of their efforts as gun, ammo, optics, and accessory sales set new records.

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

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

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

Facebook, Google and YouTube which was once a bastion for firearm, ammunition, and hunting knife companies to advertise, now bans all paid advertising related to direct weapon sales. And Instagram has announced that they will begin cracking down on influencers who work in the firearms segment. 

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

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


silencerco podcast1. Podcasts

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


2. Inbound Marketing

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


3. Native Advertising

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

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

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

 

Glock Women Marketing

Photo credit: Glock

4. Women & Minorities

Women and minorities are a burgeoning segment in the industry as you might already know (Source: NSSF). You should consider using content or sponsoring a free shooting class or range day in your local newspaper or county magazine to attract interested customers. Women are helping change some of the negative stereotypes typically associated with the firearm industry. Firearm manufacturers should embrace this trend and do all they can to promote it. Larger brands like Glock have added women in their imagery and creating sections in their publications and websites that speak directly to them.  

 

5. Influencers

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

 

Bonus! But wait there’s more…

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

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

 

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

5 KEYS ON HOW TO STAND OUT IN A COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE

Is your firearm brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2020 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.

DOWNLOAD EBOOK

 

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, specializes in helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

firearm influencer marketing

What’s Around the Corner for Firearm Influencer Marketing in 2021?

By Firearms Marketing, Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing in the shooting sports industry has changed a lot since 2016. Back then, brands didn’t understand how to collaborate with influencers, and influencers weren’t sure what to charge. Most influencers were happy to receive a free product—but all that has changed.  

Marketing budgets continue to expand for influencer marketing as more money pours into influencer pockets. Brands are going to spend up to 15B on IM by 2022 (Source: Business Insider). And for a good reason—the effectiveness of an influencer strategy continues to yield unprecedented results— 5x, 10x, and even 2000x return for just one video posted on YouTube. 

In this article, I look at a few shifts brands and influencers should be aware of in the outdoor, hunting and shooting sports industry as we move into 2021. 

firearms influencer marketing

Photo Credit: Alex Zedra

1. Increasing Prices, More Significant Returns

Influencer costs continue to rise. On average, it costs 500% more to collaborate with prominent influencers today than it was just three years ago. As you might guess, this is due to increasing network sizes and content that is Hollywood-grade. For example, I’ve worked with a prominent influencer for the past three years. He used to charge $1,000 for a YouTube review—today he charges $6,000. This cost may seem steep, but his content (over time) has generated massive returns for our client(s). As influencers increase their followings and their brand grows, their economic value and ROI increases as well. 

Authenticity and engagement remains the secret sauce that makes influencer marketing so powerful. Alex Zedra, a popular influencer in the firearms industry—who has over 2 million followers—works with several top brands and runs her own AZ branded fan store says,

“Companies are starting to recognize the creativity and the impact creators have on a brand. Influencers know what content/ads work best for their following. It comes off organic and genuine—better than a corny television or magazine ad.” 

 

2. Here Come the Talent Agencies!

Over the past five years, the talent agency business model has rapidly adapted to influencer marketing. Talent agencies believe that an influencer can be treated the same as a famous actor, model, or athlete. 

In the entertainment industry, talent agencies begin by finding talented actors to represent their agency. They attract and contract actors that they believe will book jobs for them i.e. commercials, radio spots or movies. (Source: Top Hollywood Coach) These agencies then add a percentage to the total bill — usually 10-30%. 

However, some have figured out that the talent agency model can be adapted to influencer marketing, which may seem the same on the surface—but are quite different and pose challenges to both the influencer and the brand manager.

According to Danielle Wiley of The Sway Group, a leading influencer marketing agency with first-hand experience, says, “The talent agency model simply isn’t ideal for full-scale production of highly successful influencer marketing campaigns.” Furthermore, “Today’s influencer marketing industry has evolved beyond simply securing paying gigs for creators: the most successful campaigns are the result of expert creative guidance and in-depth program management from start to finish.”

In other words, to make influencer marketing work, you shouldn’t just approach it as “hiring an influencer.” The strategy involves collaboration, management, ongoing communication and support to make it useful—for both the brand and influencer.

The good and the bad of talent agencies

If you’re a professional influencer who is too busy to market yourself, then signing up for representation may be a good idea. Still, you should be aware of the upside and downside of working with talent agencies.   

The upside:

    • Talent agencies can help you market your influence. 
    • Signing exclusive contracts may guarantee you more jobs.
    • Joining a group of other managed influencers makes you feel supported.

The downside:

    • Talent agencies are tempted to favor higher-priced influencers than lower-cost influencers.
    • Talent agencies can throttle or block influencers’ earning potential by increasing costs.
    • Influencers are locked into exclusionary contracts that prohibit them from working with brands they want to work with.
    • You may be forced to give up your current relationships to the talent agency that may harm your existing agreements.
    • Talent agencies may require you to do more work than you typically agree to.

So depending on your needs, hiring a talent agency comes with the good and the bad. If you’re an influencer, I recommend not signing exclusive agreements so that you can maximize your opportunities. 

3. Saturation and Competition is Increasing, But So Are The Number of Influencers

As a person who conducts marketing in the industry, I commend the folks at Black Rifle Coffee. They were wise (before influencer marketing was a thing) to sign up every famous gun influencer (mostly women) on social media. It seems like you can’t go anywhere without seeing one of the industry’s top female gun/fitness/politico influencers wearing something with the BRCC logo on it. Other brands have also done a great job as well: Vortex, Yeti and Liberty Safes to name a few. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Katie Pavlich (@katiepavlich)

We work in a highly competitive industry where most brands are blocked from advertising on Facebook and Google. More and more brands are making the move to influencer marketing, which is causing saturation and are finding that the influencers they want to work with are already representing their competitors. 

But don’t fret—there are also thousands of new gun-related content creators popping up every day. And with 7 million + new gun owners this year, you can expect even more. As of this writing, according to our search tool, there are 48K influencers with a global reach of 8.1B—with the majority going to female accounts. 

how many firearms influencers are there?

NOTE: 8.1B does not represent people; it means total social media accounts. 

4. What is Your Influencer Marketing Plan B? 

As we move into 2021 and the Biden/Harris presidency looming, what can industry marketers expect regarding social media and the use of influencer marketing? Working with influencers is an effective way to build brand awareness, especially for lesser-known brands. But what would happen if all gun-related content were suddenly shut down? Instagram made a move earlier this year with their Collab Tool to require all influencers to start tagging brands they work with and threatened to shut down all gun-related accounts. We have yet to see the massive cancellations they promised. A popular YouTuber’s Facebook page got pulled down this year, only to be re-activated after public outcry—but how much longer will these efforts work before full-out censorship? How would you pivot if your influencers got shut down? 

Here are five things I would consider:

  1. Move investment into podcasts and podcast sponsorships
  2. Identify ways to identify and engage forum influencers at scale
  3. Incentivize customers as influencers at scale – See Live Capture by Upfluence
  4. Incentivize at the counter/retail level – See ExpertVoice
  5. Test out lesser-known/used channels like Parler, MeWe and 99 others 

This is the year to think seriously about what your Plan B is if influencer marketing plays a big part of your marketing plan.  

5. A Few Things We Are Looking Forward to in 2021 

Olivier Kennedy of Enigma Swiss says, “We live in a post-truth world, influencer marketing is one of the rare trust enablers that works.” Influencer marketing is not going away anytime soon and is one of the best ways to earn your prospective customer’s trust. And with the “sold-out year” upon us (more to come on that later), remaining relevant will be crucial as manufacturers struggle to fulfill demand.  Below are a few things we’re going to do more of this coming year to make influencer marketing more effective: 

  1. Turn our client’s customers and counter-level retailers into ambassadors
  2. Recruit more pico influencers (300) to create content for our clients and rely less on larger influencers
  3. Offer more revenue sharing opportunities to our influencers, so it’s a win-win situation for both the brand and influencer 
  4. Focus more on niche influencers
  5. Focus less on vanity metrics and more on performance

Another ample opportunity on the horizon that I’m excited about is social commerce’s evolution on platforms like TimeToGoWild.com, Everest.com and Guns.com.

In conclusion, we’ll see influencer prices continue to increase, more brand saturation and competition, and talent agencies hinder influencers. Think about your Plan B if you rely heavily on influencers and keep an eye on new exciting new trends like social commerce.   

What about you? What do you see in regards to influencer marketing in 2021? 

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, specializes in helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

 

Photo Credit: ETS Model and Influencer Charissa Littlejohn: https://www.instagram.com/charissa_littlejohn/

8-Remarkable-Firearm-Industry-Brands-Emerging-From-The-Pandemic

8 Remarkable Firearm Industry Brands Emerging From The Pandemic

By Firearms Marketing

COVID-19 continues to upend entire industries like travel, hospitality, entertainment, events, restaurants, and education, to name a few (Source: McKinsey)—while the outdoor, hunting, firearms, and shooting sports industry has—and continues—to set new sales records. Multiplied by social unrest, riots, lawlessness in our cities and the upcoming election, we have yet to see the end of how high sales will go (that’s if the supply chain can keep up). 

It’s been an interesting experience because while the economy around us has spiraled out of control, our industry has not only survived the past 6 months—but has thrived. The only way I can describe it is like being in economic vertigo. Big pieces of the global economy are going one way, but our industry is going another (up). 

In this article, I wanted to point out a few brands that I’ve found worth mentioning (that you might not know about) in the times we find ourselves in. If you’re a business leader, director, or marketing/sales professional—the below examples will help you think through your offerings, marketing programs, and perhaps spot future trends.  

 

Brenton USA

Photo Credit: Brenton USA

1. Brenton USA – Finding the Whitespace

Bartt Brenton, founder of Brenton USA hunts with ARs. After several years of not finding an AR suitable for hunting, he decided to design his own. Bartt, a former engineer at the world’s largest cyclotron at Michigan State University, brings a fresh approach to hunting with his Performance-Grade AR Hunting Rifles. Brenton approaches his rifles from a hunting perspective—rather than a tactical orientation. This approach means hunter specific controls, sizing, calibers (450 BM, 350 Legend, 6.5 Grendel, 6mm ARC etc.), and components designed for the hunter, not the warfighter. The AR provides the hunter with the latest in firearm design and gives hunters who have decades of experience a whole new hunting experience—and for those returning from overseas, a familiar platform to hunt with.  

Why is this remarkable? 

I find Brenton USA an excellent example of finding whitespace and growing it an extremely saturated market. 

 

Easy Export

Photo Credit: EasyExport

2. EasyExport – International Firearm Exports

Up until now, exporting firearms, parts, optics, accessories, and suppressors has been a tedious and risky proposition. EasyExport, founded by compliance and export attorney professional Jeff Grody, makes it easier for firearm manufacturers to tap international markets without the hassle of navigating the complexity of export regulations.

EasyExport enables U.S. sellers and lawful foreign purchasers of firearm products to do business easily and legally online by efficiently solving all the regulatory challenges. EasyExport’s interface allows e-commerce companies to vets and qualify approves oversea purchasers that who then seamlessly connect to sellers’ their websites to shop. After the purchase is complete, EasyExport clears the order for shipment after the purchaser has been approved.

Why is this remarkable? 
EasyExport solves a complex problem that allows firearm companies to tap the expanding and lucrative international market. EasyExport is currently in BETA with four customers: ETS, Volquartson, TANDEMKROSS and LaRue Tactical and is set to launch later this fall.

 

WPSN

Photo Credit: Warrior Poet Society

3. Warrior Poet Society – Building a Community

John Lovell, former 2nd Battalion Army Ranger started like most YouTubers: reviewing products and providing shooting tips— but over time, John’s purpose turned into a movement—just as he intended.  

John’s Warrior Poet code: “Be a protector and lover of people” has attracted over 1 million followers across YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. 

Social media giants and big tech continue to demonetize, throttle back and censor accounts that promote capitalism, the military, 2A values, and faith. Seeing the writing on the wall, John and his team launched the Warrior Poet Society Network (WPSN). The channel features content on firearm and personal defense training, leadership, family, and faith that subscribers can access through the website, app, Roku or Amazon Fire. 

Why is this remarkable? 

Eventually, YouTube, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram will pull the plug on 2A content. They are quickly moving this direction already because it’s not a matter of if, but when. (Source: Bearing Arms). Several off-YouTube channels exist like Full30.com and GunStreamer.com, but none has attempted to create a branded community with such a defined purpose. I find this remarkable and refreshing. 

 

hunting-scope-and-optics

Photo Credit: TRACT Optics

4. TRACT Optics – Trailblazing E-commerce

COVID has changed consumer behavior forever, and according to new data, this means consumers are:

  • Making fewer trips to the store
  • Shopping more online
  • Looking for deals more regularly
  • Aligning with brands that share their values

Source: Valassis

Founded by two former employees of Nikon, TRACT Optics, set out to create high-performance optics without the high-retail markup. TRACT launched its online company back in 2015. TRACT utilizes a direct-to-consumer model that allows them to not only manufacture higher-quality performance-grade optics without high retail markup costs but also to deliver a personalized online brand experience. 

E-commerce sales have jumped over 42% from last year because of COVID and continue to increase. (Source: DigitalCommerce360) What we’re seeing is more brands shifting focus to online sales. To some companies surprise, COVID has changed opinions on e-commerce: “Hey, this e-commerce stuff works.”

For example, Daniel Defense launched a full e-commerce website early this year, where customers can order rifles direct. Glock announced last month that it is selling through Guns.com. When brands like DD and Glock make a move like this, you can be sure others are soon to follow. These types of tectonic shifts have the potential to change the entire dealer/distributor model forever. 

Why is this remarkable? 

There are an estimated 5 million+ new first-time gun owners as of this writing (Source: National Review). And we’re still a few weeks away from the election. 2020 will be the biggest sales year the firearms industry has ever seen. If big brands have forgone e-commerce in the past, you can be sure they’re talking about it now. TRACT was one of the early pioneers to step out of industry norms and trail-blaze what is now quickly becoming the new normal. 

 

FalconStrike Recoil Pad

Photo Credit: FalconStrike USA

5. FalconStrike – Innovation

For years, reducing recoil has been left to rubber pads and expensive contraptions built into stocks—until now. Martin Gaudet, founder, and inventor of the patented FalconStrike has come up with a way to reduce recoil through hydraulics in a compact and easy-to-install pad. As Baby Boomers and GenXers get older, FalconStrike helps more aging joints and the less stout deal with the punishing effects of recoil. The pad borrows its design from the aerospace industry where Martin’s systems have been used on aircraft and in the space program. This understanding has led to a drastic reduction in recoil energy, push back, muzzle rise, and felt recoil. All of these combined factors give shooters more accuracy, comfort, and more time shooting. 

Why is this remarkable? 

Recoil is a constant when it comes to shooting. Less of it is always a good thing. A softer, more comfortable shooting experience makes a better time for all when smaller calibers can’t be used.

 

True Velocity Guns and Ammo6. True Velocity – Breaking the Mold

I always thought that if the industry could figure out how to mainstream caseless or rechargeable ammo—that it would set the industry on a course that resembles Star Wars. But for now, we’ll have to settle for True Velocity. True Velocity’s premium composite-cased ammunition made from polymer offers distinct advantages over conventional brass-cased munitions, including drastic weight reduction, heat signature elimination, and significantly improved accuracy. The casings are also 100% recyclable. 

Why is this remarkable? For decades ammunition has relied on brass casings, but now there seems to be an alternative. This kind of thinking will continue to push the ammo segments into new territory and give consumers a second option. The round has been reviewed and reported to be just as accurate if not better than its’ brass counterpart. How will this change the future of ammo? Right now, ammo backorders have been rumored to stretch out (for some brands) 2-3 years. Finding new ways to manufacture ammo is a problem that needs to be solved.

 

Sig Sauer

Photo Credit: Sig Sauer

7. Sig Sauer – Capitalizing on Customer Journey

One-way to quickly become a top 5 gun manufacturer (outside of winning a lucrative military contract) (Source: Shooting Industry) is through understanding how and when to add products to the customer journey. The thinking is if a customer trusts you for one purchase like a pistol, they will trust you for more, like a rifle, optic, and ammunition. And this is what SIG has done. SIGs’ loyal customer base has allowed the company to expand into electro-optics, ammunition, suppressors, and air guns that provide their customers with a “complete system.”

Why is this remarkable? 

Most firearm manufacturers get stuck in creating just one product—however, to expand and grow, it may be necessary to expand your offering into other segments as long as you can maintain your brand focus and profitability. 

 

MantisX

 

8. MantisX – In-Home Shooting Practice

MantisX is a revolutionary shooting system that helps shooters improve their shooting precision. It can be used on pistols, rifles or shotguns (or bow)—dry fire or live fire. While attached to a pistol or rifle, MantisX analyzes your shooting mechanics, diagnoses issues, and coaches you on how to improve. With so many new shooters coming into the industry and the scarcity of ammo and firearm instructors, MantisX is a good way to practice shooting fundamentals and stay sharp until you can get back to the range.

Why is this remarkable? 

MantisX allows me and other experienced shooters the ability to save on ammo while keeping shooting skills sharp until ammo supplies get restocked. New shooters will also benefit. 

In conclusion, as the COVID era runs its course, we’re seeing many brands strengthen their position, launch products in uncertainty and pivot to new online opportunities—domestically and internationally. We have a few more months to go, but I concur… “What a crazy year it’s been!”  

What about you? What brands have stood out to you during this time? 

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

firearms defense marketing plan strategy

INFOGRAPHIC – A Simple Firearms Marketing Strategy That Works

By Firearms Marketing

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

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

The below infographic gives you a simple firearms and defense marketing strategy that has been implemented over a thousand times by some of the world’s top brands—and in most cases has quadrupled revenue and has provided a 3x to 8x return on investment within 3 months. By implementing this simple plan correctly, investing in the long term and committing to improvement, you’ll have a solid marketing program you can build off of for years to come.

 

firearms marketing strategy

 

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

 

 

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

5 KEYS ON HOW TO STAND OUT IN A COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE

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

DOWNLOAD EBOOK

 


 

Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

 

 

Sources:

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

 

outdoor hunting firearms website design

These 5 Website Elements Will Make Your Outdoor Business More Money

By Outdoor Hunting Shooting Sports

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

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

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

storybrand website example1. Clear header

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

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

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

2. Don’t hide the cash register

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. What are the stakes?

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

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

 

outdoor hunting firearms website design plan5. Give your prospect a plan

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

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

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

 

 

Clear Messaging Tasklist for Outdoor, Hunting and Shooting Sports Business Leaders

CLEAR MESSAGING TASKLIST

How much is unclear messaging costing you? 
The following tasklist will help you (the business leader, director or executive) in the outdoor, hunting, adventure or shooting sports industry determine if your message is clear. It will help you and your team think about how to make your customer “the hero,” and position your brand as the “the guide” that will revolutionize your marketing.

Outcomes: 

  • Introduction to a 7-part framework to clarify your message
  • Know what to say and what order to say it in
  • Give your team a messaging process that can be implemented across all your marketing materials

DOWNLOAD TASKLIST

 

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

firearm hunting outdoor customer

Do You Really Know Who Your Customers Are?

By Firearms and Hunting

Do you really know who your customers are? This is one of the hardest questions for outdoor, hunting, and shooting sports business owners to answer.

  • Who specifically is our customer?
  • What are their pain points?
  • Who are they aspiring to become?
  • How does our product help them achieve their goals?
  • How do we guide them in their journey?

I think most of us will admit we don’t know our customers as well as we should. And in the era of COVID and social unrest, it’s more important than ever to know how consumer interests, motivations and spend are changing. This is especially true when you consider the millions of new gun owners, hunters and anglers coming into the market. 

By neglecting to have an accurate and well-defined customer or—buyer persona—you hinder the potential and effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Marketing is about knowing your customer better than anyone else. The understanding that comes with this insight allows you to speak their language at their level, at the right place and at the right time about your product or services in an authentic and human way. Clarify your message and create some great branding—and you got a good foundation to build your marketing program.

So What Are Buyer Personas and why Should I Care?
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are the granular view of the character in your brand’s story. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

How Are Buyer Personas Created?
Buyer personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews of your target audience. That includes a mix of customers — both “good” and “bad”— prospects, and those outside of your contact database who might align with your target audience. You’ll collect data that is both qualitative and quantitative to paint a picture of who your customer is, what they value, and how your solution helps them achieve their goals. 

In this post, I’ll give you the steps you need to accurately identify your buyer persona. This will allow you to focus your content and messaging like a laser for better results.

1. First Start With Some Background
It’s good first to start with some broad strokes and then fill in the blank areas as you go. To begin, start by answering the questions below. 


  • Basic details about persona’s role
    What do they do for a living?
    What is their level of education?
  • Key information about the persona’s interests
    List facts like big game hunting, CCW, archery, hiking etc.
    How often do they engage in these activities?
  • Relevant background info, like education or hobbies

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

TIP: For established businesses: When first starting, look to who your current customers are (if applicable). Write them on a big sheet of paper and find trends or commonalities among them. It’s a good bet that a lot of them will fall into the same bucket.

2. Demographics
Demographics round out the edges and fill in the blanks. Important as demographics are, they still are only one dimension of your customer. Use the questions below:


  • What is their gender? Male or female?
  • Age range
  • Household income (Consider a spouse’s income, if relevant)
  • Urbancity (Is your persona urban, suburban, or rural?)

3. Identifiers
Identifiers help you sound like your buyer persona. If your customers are western hunters, you’ll want to utilize your knowledge of big sky hunting and make sure your writing sets the right tone. If your buyer persona are mid-west hunters, you’re going to want to talk as such.

  • Buzz words

    List some industry buzz words and words that are commonly used by your buyer personas
  • Mannerisms

    What does your buyer persona sound or act like?
  • Language

    What kind of language do they use? Is it intelligent and articulate? or more southern?

4. Aspirations
Begin listing your buyer persona’s primary and secondary goals. This will begin to give you ideas on what kind of messaging, content and materials you should create. Interview them to get more detail.

  • Persona’s primary goal – What are they trying to get better at? 
  • Persona’s secondary goal – Is it to spend more time outdoors? 

TIP: When potential customers call, ask them why they contacted you. When you’re on the phone with your customer, make it a point to ask them some of the questions above.

5. Challenges

Now we’re getting into the nuts and bolts. List the challenges your buyers face. Finding property to hunt or gun ranges? Learning basic tactical skills? Creating relevant communication?       

  • Primary challenge to persona’s success – Is it finding the right equipment? 
  • Secondary challenge to persona’s success – Getting more range time? 

6. How We Help

Begin brainstorming on how you can help your personas. Think beyond what your product or service directly offers. Move in the direction of other dimensions, verticals or channels of your offering. What might you be able to provide that leads them to your solution?

  • How you solve your persona’s challenges – We offer free online hunting/firearm training. 
  • How you help your persona achieve goals – We give you a community to learn.

7. Real Quotes

To humanize, list some real quotations taken from your interviews and surveys. This will ground the persona even more in your mind and in the minds of your marketing and sales team. 

  • Real Quotes
    Include a few real quotes taken during your interviews that represent your persona well. 
  • Common objections
    Identify the most common objections your persona will raise during evaluating your product

8. Clear Messaging
Now that you have a good understanding of your persona, how can you distill this information into a short succinct clear message. This message should be used in your positioning statement, tagline or one liner. It should be the main storyline of your your brand. It can also be the trunk of which all your content hangs off of.    

  • How should you describe your product to your persona?
  • Include a few real quotes – taken during your interviews that represent your persona well. This will make it easier for employees to relate to and understand your persona.
  • Oneliner
    Make describing your solution simple and consistent across everyone in your company.

9. Add A Picture
 And Name Them
Last but not least, add a picture of them. If you have multiple buyer personas—pick a picture for each. It can be a current customer from your Facebook page or a stock photo. 

10. Communicate This To Your Company
How do you communicate this new understanding of your target customer with your entire organization? After all, if your sales and marketing teams don’t understand who they’re speaking to, it’s hard to craft a message that really resonates.

To get started, download the free buyer persona’s template below to get an example of how to present your buyer persona to your company for greater understanding and marketing ROI.

 

 

Outdoor Hunting Shooting Sports Buyer PersonaFREE DOWNLOAD: A Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona

The key to maximizing your marketing efforts

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer is. This will enable you to focus your messaging and maximize your marketing and sales. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for clarity.

Download Template!

 

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

POMA RISE: Virtual One-Day Industry Marketing Event

By Press Release

The Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) is hosting a virtual one-day event on June 10th from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM that will feature industry marketing leaders from Sig Sauer, Polaris, Black Rifle Coffee Co., Source Defense and Garrison Everest.

POMA RISE (Realistic Improvements, Simple Executions) brings a host of innovative business leaders together to help you kick start growth. Each speaker will deliver both inspirational and creative views on how brands can move forward, as well as three solid tactical recommendations for how organizations can not only survive, but thrive, in the post-Great Lockdown landscape.

These speakers are at the top of their game, spanning specialties in digital marketing, social media, e-commerce, content marketing, traditional marketing and beyond.

POMA Speakers

Speakers:

 

REGISTER FOR VIRTUAL EVENT

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

GoWild-Garrison-Everest-Outdoor-Seminar

2020 Vision Seminar: Outdoor Marketing in a New Era

By Events, Press Release

GoWild and Garrison Everest are hosting a free seminar for hunting and shooting brands to provide thought starters and marketing tactics in the post Great Lockdown era.

“Budgets may be frozen but it doesn’t mean we can’t move forward as an industry,” said GoWild Cofounder, CEO, Brad Luttrell. “This isn’t about predicting the future, it’s about relaying thought-starters and actionable tactics brands can consider or execute in the short term without big budgets.”

The event, “2020 Vision,” is a free hour-long seminar hosted online. The no-strings attached presentation will deliver two mini-presentations. The first, from GoWild, highlights changing consumer behaviors. Next Garrison Everest’s President and Founder, Joshua Claflin, will present tactics for marketers and sales teams. The event concludes with a town hall Q&A among attendees.

“COVID-19 could change the gun control debate for a generation, and permanently shift how people shop for shooting and hunting gear,” said Claflin. “There is a rapidly evolving new customer segment, as people who’ve never owned a gun or have sided with the anti-gun crowd are crossing lines. Reaching these customers is going to take shifts in messaging, tactics and marketing strategy.”

Brands interested in attending the free event can visit our landing page. All companies in attendance will receive a complimentary copy of GoWild’s 2019 Hunter Study, a $99 value.

This event is being limited to 25 companies.

REGISTER FOR WEBINAR

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

New Gun Owners Covid 19

3 Things Firearm Brands Need To Do Now In The Era of COVID-19

By Firearms and Hunting

Business owners and marketers must always try to stay out in front of market trends. Like you, I’ve been unable to understand the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry. I have only been able to guess what seven months from now will look like. We’ve all witnessed the cancellation of major conferences (NRA) and are watching—in amazement—gun and ammo sales break records. Not to mention a record number of NICS checks, spiking website traffic and search trends.

 

Gun buying trends covid 2020

Hornady spokesman Neal Emery described the demand spike “as the most significant and most rapid the company has ever seen,” saying that it is beyond the scope of what anyone could plan for. (Source: Shooting Illustrated

So with this in mind, I want to ask the question to you (that I have also asked myself): What are you doing to make the most of the flood of new gun owners into our industry? People who’ve never owned a gun or who have sided with the anti-gun crowd are crossing lines. Thanks to the NSSF, the government has designated gun shops as essential businesses. And according to Trevor Burrus of the Washington Examiner, COVID-19 could change the gun control debate for a generation. 

In the following are three action items that will help you make the most of this unique time in our industry’s history. 

1. Clarify Your Message for Beginners

SW Marketing Messaging

Smith and Wesson’s Website

When new gun owners land on your website—can you say that your message is simple to understand? For a long time, the industry has been talking in an echo chamber. If you’ve been around guns for a long time, you know the difference between a slide and muzzle—but for new owners, they most likely do not. Nor will they understand how your particular brand of firearm will help them feel secure, safe, and prepared over your competition. 

Smith and Wesson’s website is a perfect example. Don’t use industry jargon or jumbled home pages that confuse new owners.

Mossberg has the right idea. They have a video that pops up on load that shows how their MC2 Compact helps you feel protected. 

Action Item:  Create a clear welcoming website header like:  

    • Compact 9MM Pistol for Self Defense.
    • The Best AR15 to Defend your Home.
    • Dependable Mags for your Glock 43
    • Elite Performance Ammo in Stock.

Yes, these are not creative, brilliant or clever—and for a reason. When you have people panic buying, simple, clear language will help you increase sales. The brain is attracted to clarity, especially when it is distracted with other things like buying toilet paper. 

And don’t forget to follow up with a call to action like BUY NOW!

2. Create Educational Content and a Sales Funnel

Most brands have bypassed creating content over the years for other forms of advertising—but those who’ve been creating helpful content in the way of videos and blogs will have a significant advantage over brands who haven’t in the months (and perhaps years) to come. I’ll point out Mossberg again, who has been conducting content marketing since 2014. They are using their content to educate new consumers. In the process, they are on boarding a whole new generation of Mossberg owners because Mossberg is guiding them. People have a whole lot of time on their hands right now to learn about guns.

“As we are a privately-owned company, we don’t release sales numbers, but I can state that we cannot build enough guns currently to fulfill those orders,” Mossberg spokesperson Linda Powell said. “This rush feels similar to past responses to crisis, though it has ramped up at a more rapid pace.”

She said tactical and personal defense firearms are most in demand, notably the 590 Shockwave, 590M Mag-Fed and standard 590/590A1 shotguns. (Source: Shooting Illustrated

Sig is also addressing new owners with this blog post

Sig Marketing Messaging

Sig Sauer addressing new customer questions.

 

Action Item: Create helpful content in the form of a video or blog to help new gu owners learn about firearms and how to use them safely. Then utilize email automation to stay top-of-mind to onboard them to your brand—and when your products are back in stock. Your email should move your prospective buyer through a sales funnel to instigate purchase.  

3. Demo Your Products over Zoom?

With so many people getting familiar with Zoom—why not present your products virtually? This is your chance to introduce new customers and gun owners to your brand, products, features, how to be safe, how to store, and where to buy. 

By putting a human face to your brand, you can knock down some stigmas and present your brand and our industry in a positive light. 

Action Item: Launch live product demos on Zoom to new gun owners. 

In conclusion, the time is now to think creatively and get busy. When you look back at this time, will you be able to say you made the most of it, or will you allow it to pass you by? 

If you are looking for guidance on how to get started, please contact us for a free website and marketing assessment. 

 

Clear Messaging Tasklist for Outdoor, Hunting and Shooting Sports Business Leaders

CLEAR MESSAGING TASKLIST

How much is unclear messaging costing you? 
The following tasklist will help you (the business leader, director or executive) in the outdoor, hunting, adventure or shooting sports industry determine if your message is clear. It will help you and your team think about how to make your customer “the hero,” and position your brand as the “the guide” that will revolutionize your marketing.

Outcomes: 

  • Introduction to a 7-part framework to clarify your message
  • Know what to say and what order to say it in
  • Give your team a messaging process that can be implemented across all your marketing materials

DOWNLOAD TASKLIST

 

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

2020 Trends Affecting The Outdoor, Hunting And Shooting Sports Industry Marketing

7 Trends That Will Affect Outdoor, Hunting and Shooting Sports Marketing in 2020

By Firearms and Hunting

What does the next year hold for outdoor, hunting, and shooting sports marketing?

Last year was a rollercoaster of boom and bust, the proliferation of eCommerce, social media restrictions, the “big” arrival of influencer marketing, NRA shenanigans, virtue signaling, anti-gun democrat presidential come and gos, distributor bankruptcies, CEO shakeups, and big box retail changes.

In this post, I consider a few trends that I think will change the trajectories for marketers and business owners in the outdoor, hunting, shooting sports and defense industries. Here’s what to expect:

1. Millennials Are Now

For years, economists and marketers have been getting everyone in a tizzy about the Millenials. “The Millenials are coming!” – well, they’re here. Millennials now represent (People born between 1982 and 2000 or 18-34-year-olds) 30% of retail sales in the U.S., which amount to 1.4 trillion in spending and half the workforce. (Source: Adobe CMO).

millenial hunters

Photo credit: www.iwla.org

Despite the headlines that speak doom and gloom about declining hunting numbers—mostly due to millennial behaviors—I believe there is a silver lining. As marketers and business owners, the focus needs to change to a more explicit message about the value propositions of our sport to engage this generation and their underlying natural love for experiencing the outdoors.

To make my point, here are a few stats

  • 78% percent of Millennials would choose to spend money on a desirable experience over buying something desirable
  • They incredibly engaged with content and over 38% consider themselves content creators
  • Millennials spend more time outside and money than the average outdoor consumer (Source: oi.org)

The hunting and shooting industry is the epitome of experience and one that is very enjoyable. The trick is attracting and getting these people to experience what it feels like to hear the forest come alive at sunrise, the joy of seeing wildlife in their natural environment, the adrenaline rush of putting a buck in your sights, and the health benefits of fresh organic meat.

“We need to be recruiting in a different way than we have for the last 40 years,” said Brian Lynn, vice president of marketing and communications for the Sportsmen’s Alliance, a national hunting advocacy group. “The overall trend is down from 15 million to 11 million or so. There’s a whole bunch of little things going on. Millennials, it’s not that they’re not hunting or don’t have an interest. We actually see a lot of interest, especially in the locavore movements, field-to-table, field-to-fork-type movements — people wanting to know where their food comes from. The bigger issue is urbanization — people living in big cities, disconnected from their food.” (Source: Denver Post

I am optimistic that hunting will make a come back through the efforts of R3 (Recruit, Reengage and Reactivation), private landowner participation and brands focusing their content on beginners and people outside of the general hunting stereotype. Below is a graph of search engine trends on searches for “how to hunt deer,” “deer license” and “hunt deer” that point to an increased interest on Google since 2004.  

how to deer hunt trends

I think (as we all know), once you get someone into hunting or fishing it gets in their blood and they become hooked for life (pun intended). I think there is something intrinsically wired in us for it—more people need to feel it.

“Earthy crunchy aligns very well with deer hunting,” Charles Evans, 29, who works in hunter recruitment for the Georgia Wildlife Federation, told The Wall Street Journal.

I took a new friend who’s a Millennial to shoot sporting clays last week, and he loved it. We’re making plans for a second shoot next week. R3 efforts work. 

 

2. Field-to-Fork Movement Continues to Grow

I was talking to Kevin Orthman, president of POMA the other day who shared with me (and on LinkedIn) that the media group Chernin Group invested another 50 million (Source: Axios) in Netflix’s MeatEater series. This is interesting on several fronts because any significance in Field-to-Fork paid programming is significant to our efforts.

steven-rinella-meateater

Photo credit: Meateater

 

The question is, can the hunting and outdoor companies bridge the gap between the left-leaning half of the outdoor industry with the more conservative hunting side of the industry. Does this even matter? “The Meat Eater brand and content rally cuts across the whole country,” says  Mike Kerns, President of Digital at The Chernin Group. “The podcast performance for the brand is actually strongest in big DMAs like the Bay Area, Southern California, the Northwest as well as MidWest.”

Be on the lookout for more nature-oriented modern outdoor/hunting brands to emerge. I pointed this trend out in 2018, and it looks like it’s continuing to gain steam.

 

3. Retailers Have to Play Marketing Catchup

Centennial Gun ClubRetail environments (in and out of the industry) continue to struggle while eCommerce continues to grow. A few brands have adopted eCommerce over the last year, one in particular, Daniel Defense, who now sells direct with funding options. This trend will affect dealers and with more disruption to distributors on the horizon (see new Dealer Pro Kelly Brand App), things are definitely changing at the retail level.

NSSF continues to encourage retailers to add ranges, training classes and create a buying experience. Retailers have forgotten how to market effectively due to the boom years of Obama and are having to play catch up.

Customer Experience
Customer experience at the retail (and manufacturer level) needs to be placed under marketing. Customer service can no longer be a silo that just takes support calls, it must be integrated within sales and marketing. HubSpot calls this the flywheel. Retailers and brands must get better at instigating referrals (word of mouth) not only within our personal networks but also activating and incentivizing our customers. Retailers must also begin taking a closer look at their web presence to remain competitive in their local markets. See Centennial Gun Club for a good example on how to accomplish this.

 

4. Going International

President Donald Trump’s administration successfully completed the long-promised modernization of the export control regulations that began more than eight years ago under the prior administration, but which was never completed due to domestic gun control reasons. (Source: NSSF) What this means is that it will be easier for manufacturers to export products.

For starters,

  • The new rules eliminate the $2,256 registration fee.
  • The new rules transfer the licensing responsibilities to the Commerce Department, which means an optic, magazine or stock won’t be under the same scrutiny as a nuclear weapon or surface to air missile.
  • It also means foreign buyers can get their U.S. made products faster
  • Manufacturers don’t have to register with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls per ITAR. This will help smaller manufacturers
  • You don’t need Congress’ approval to sell 1 Million dollars in contracts

Source: Ryan Cleckner 

Overall, this lessens the burdens on manufacturers to compete in the global marketplace. This can add significant top line revenue to your company’s bottom line.

Hint: Look for an announcement next week (3/2/2020) on how you can take advantage of this immense global opportunity! 

 

5. GoWild! – The Industry’s Answer to Facebook?

GoWild FalconStrike MarketingWhen GoWild started two years ago the vision was to create a place for outdoor enthusiasts to share their adventures and hunts without being banned or shamed by Facebook. Several other companies have attempted to create a platform and failed, but now GoWild is emerging as a company who is making great gains in giving the outdoor community a place on the internet to call home. This is exciting for marketers on several fronts.

  • Engaged audience
  • Social commerce
  • Data and tracking for ROI

WOOX GoWild AdIf you follow the burgeoning ROI stats of Facebook, like you, I am itching—sometimes screaming—to get a piece of this for our clients. GoWild continues to grow by attracting investment dollars along with integrations from the likes of Garmin. I’m excited to see how this platform evolves over the coming year and am looking forward to how GoWild can be used to gain awareness for companies that create quality products.

 

6. Have More Fun in Your Marketing!

There were several great campaigns launched this past year that I think deserve mentioning.

Walther’s “Try Before You Buy” was a great way to differentiate and shakeup the gun buying process that tried to mimic popular subscription models.

Leupold’s Find a Pair” was also a fresh marketing idea. Leupold tied their new sunglasses launch to social media and partnered with their influencers to create a game of hide and seek to raise awareness.

I hope to see more (and do) campaigns like this.

 

7. Instagram Influencer Restrictions

In December, Facebook launched Brand Collabs for Instagram — their attempt to tap the burgeoning billion-dollar influencer marketing industry. If the tool takes off, Instagram could become the go-to for all things influencer marketing. They will use their new product to enforce their “no weapons” advertising policy. According to their announcement last month:

“Our advertising policies have long prohibited the advertisement of these products (firearms), and we will begin enforcement on this in the coming weeks.” 

Speaking with training instructor and influencer Ian Strimbeck of Runennation“As someone that’s been in the industry for almost 10 years I can tell you it wasn’t a matter of if they’d start restricting firearm branded content, but when.”

In my opinion, brands should continue their influencer campaigns for as long as possible. Announcements like this create more confusion than clarity. Instagram nor the Federal Trade Commission requires influencers to tag the companies they’re working with—only to state a declaration that the influencer is a paid spokesperson.

The FTC works to stop deceptive ads, and its Endorsement Guidelines go into detail about how advertisers and endorsers can stay on the right side of the law.

“If you endorse a product through social media, your endorsement message should make it obvious when you have a relationship (“material connection”) with the brand. A “material connection” to the brand includes a personal, family, or employment relationship or a financial relationship – such as the brand paying you or giving you free or discounted products or services.”

Make certain your influencers know about these rules and disclosures and check with an attorney who knows the firearm industry.

Looking forward, the next year looks interesting as more and more solutions to problems of advertising, community, and lifestyle are getting answered. With Trump’s reelection guaranteed in the Fall, the industry can continue to focus on innovation, getting back to normal (whatever that is), and growing our industry. 

What about you? What trends do you think will affect outdoor marketing in our industry this year? Please comment below.

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

outdoor influencer marketing

How to Track Your Outdoor 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


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, specializes about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

The-Future-of-Firearms-Advertising

What is the Future of Firearms Advertising?

By Firearms Marketing

The onslaught against the firearms industry has never in history been more fervent. Lawsuits are emerging at a disconcerting rate across the U.S., and as a marketer in the firearms industry tasked with advising clients on marketing advice I had to ask the question: 

What is the future of advertising in the firearms industry? 

In this article, I want to share five thoughts that will help you—the firearm marketer or business owner—think through your future advertising efforts to help you navigate and defend against the onslaught of our adversaries’ misunderstanding and the litigious efforts to destroy our industry and the good people in it.


1. What makes advertising effective?

Any piece of advertising (print, tv, radio, digital or otherwise) attempts to let others know about how a product or service can help them survive or thrive. If you are advertising a shoe’s new cushioning system that softens your foot strike or a pillow that enables you to sleep better, copywriters will typically use the following framework:

  1. Identify the customers’ problem 
  2. Offer your product as the solution 
  3. Show how your product solves the problem
  4. Show empathy and authority (why they should listen to you)
  5. Explain the consequences and successes of using your product
  6. Call them to action: Buy Now, Subscribe or Sign up

The above framework can be identified in almost every effective advertisement in the world. And yes, it does work when done correctly. Next time the MyPillow commercial on T.V. interrupts you, see if you can follow the above narrative. 

Advertising a firearm is no different than advertising a Toyota, Dr. Pepper, iPhone, or a pair of Nikes. Advertising seeks to inform potential buyers of a product’s functions and features that moves a buyer towards purchasing your product. By aligning your product’s brand attributes with that buyer’s worldview, you increase the odds of the purchase. We call this the customer transformation. Include an eye-catching image, a call to action along with a sizable media buy, and you’ve got the makings of an effective campaign.


2. But now we’re at risk.

If you’re a firearm brand that places an ad and your product is used in a shooting—even though the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects you—you could become the target of a potential lawsuit.  

gun ad

Photo credit: Remington

The Bushmaster ad being used against Remington Outdoor Co. in the Newtown shootings is now waiting to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs and allows the case to proceed, the case would go back to the Connecticut State Supreme Court to determine the merits. That could give the plaintiffs access to Remington’s internal marketing documents during the discovery process. (Source: WSJ)

UPDATE: November 15, 2019
U.S. Supreme Court denied Remington’s petition for review of the state supreme court decision. This means the plaintiffs may be able to gain access to Remington’s marketing materials through the Connecticut court. 

According to Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, “the families lawsuit is intended to shed light on Remington’s calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense American’s safety.”

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs will adversely affect the firearms industry and potentially set a precedence and open up every other industry to litigation. For example, if your tire falls off while you’re speeding and kills five people, those families could sue the tire company because the tire company’s ad told you that you were the kind of driver who likes to drive fast. 

Photo credit: Bridgestone



That’s why you need to understand how to protect your company’s brand from these frivolous lawsuits.

Take action

ATTEND THIS WEBINAR: Marketing Practices Liability in the Firearms Industry
Orchid Advisors and Williams Mullen are sponsoring a Free Webinar Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 2:00 EST 

Register by filling out the form on Orchid’s contact page and select “Webinar” under “I’d like to learn more about.”

Topics will include

    • A review of the PLCAA, the Connecticut case, and the theory of potential liability.
    • The severity of risk should an industry member get sued for criminal misuse of products.
    • Best practices for monitoring and policing marketing strategies.
    • Additional steps industry members should take to reduce risk.

  firearm advertising webinar
3. Virtue signaling

More and more companies whose CEOs worldview align with anti-gun sentiment and those who disagree with certain products and political positions are steering their ships in the direction of what is called “virtue signaling.” 

Virtue signaling looks like this: 

  • I don’t like your product 
  • Not liking your product can help strengthen my brand 
  • We should come out publicly against your product
  • Taking a position against your product will ‘hopefully’ breath new life into my diminishing brand 

We’ve seen this with Dick’s Sporting Goods and WalMart. You also might recall the Nike ad that featured Colin Kapernick as a way to strengthen Nike’s brand with its’ urban audience.

Photo credit: Nike

 

Shopify removed firearm dealers and manufacturers from using its platform last year. Due to the pressure of financial institutions and gun control groups, we can expect more virtue signaling in the years to come. 

Take action 

Manufacturers and dealers need to create open-source websites and avoid getting caught up in virtue signaling platforms and software companies who are against firearms. i.e. SalesForce. Make sure you know where your intended solution provider stands on the 2nd Amendment.


4. Social media and the ensuing increase in gun ownership

Facebook, Google, YouTube and Instagram make no secret that they are against the firearms industry. The latest bans and advertising restrictions implemented by the largest social media networks make it very difficult for the firearms industry to advertise their products—and from experience seem to be getting worse.

These restrictions are just another way they are shaming the firearms industry out of the public square of debate. However, this isn’t about debate anymore—this is blatant censorship. As customer behavior changes, firearm brands need to look for other strategies to help grow their businesses.

Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing programs, though once hard to instigate, can now be developed at scale without the use of certain software platforms. Mark Schaefer, a marketing expert and author who spoke at this year’s NSSF CMO summit about the coming “Marketing Rebellion,” talks a lot about people not wanting to be sold—but to be helped because advertising is losing its effectiveness. I tend to agree with him if you’re trying to market toothpaste or car insurance—but not firearms, which is an enthusiast and hobby sport. As a law-abiding gun enthusiast, I enjoy looking at ads in Guns and Ammo and so do other law-abiding gun enthusiasts. 

As violent crime rates increase and would-be presidential contenders like Francis Beto O’Rourke and others tout gun confiscation, people will—by instinct—seek ways to defend themselves. This is one of the reasons the women segment is outpacing any other segment in the industry. They will make their decisions on what their friends and family recommend and only use Facebook and Google to reinforce their intended purchase, which I believe contributes minimally to the buyers’ lifecycle when it comes to purchasing firearms. Last month’s record setting background checks underscores this trend.

Take action

Brands building social media groups and followers on third-party platforms are at risk of losing precious marketing capital. Utilize multiple social media platforms as well as pro-gun and pro-hunting platforms like Powderhook and GoWild. Build great products, utilize your email marketing, SEO/voice and bolster your customer service programs to build word-of-mouth.


5. God, America, Guns, Masculinity, and Trump

Another front on our industry is how advertising restrictions are tied to the #metoo movement, masculinity, and those who support President Trump. Every marketer knows that riding trends can help push a brand message further. Gun industry opponents are utilizing the current culture war to amplify their messages. This is why you see a united attack on Christians, law enforcement, guns, hunters, men, and President Trump. The opposition makes no effort to hide it.  

It will be up to marketing professionals to communicate a message of respect, strength, resolve and defense along with our product’s innovations that stands resolute in the face of these blatant attacks and censorship.

Take action

Review your advertising with firearm legal professionals to mitigate the risks of your advertising. 

 

So, what is the future of firearm advertising?

Regardless of the outcome of the Remington case—firearm advertising, which once required little to no legal involvement will now pressure prudent marketers to add a legal review in their timelines. Some won’t comply, and that is their right. However, with the culture war reaching new heights, fake news, the division in our country getting deeper, and the disregard of the United States Constitution—it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What are your thoughts on the future of firearm advertising? Please comment below. 

 


Josh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJoshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.