All Posts By

Joshua Claflin

Firearm content banned from YouTube

Firearm Content Gone From YouTube? Now What?

By | Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Back to the future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Hurry up and wait

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

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

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

https://garrisoneverest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/full30-video-content-creation.png

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

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

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

3. A pause in growth

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

4. What’s next?

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

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

 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Shot Show 2018 Firearm Marketing

Four Marketing Takeaways from SHOT Show 2018

By | Firearms and Hunting

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

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

1. Brand innovation pays off

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

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

Firearm Marketing Exhibit

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

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


2. Virtual reality

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

firearm marketing virtual reality

Here are some interesting VR Statistics to take note of:

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

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

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

 

3. Harvesting vs. Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SilencerCo, even calls their blog “Harvested.

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

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

Meat Eater

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

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

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

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

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

eva shockey

Photo credit: Dangersoup


4. Women’s influence grows

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

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

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

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

 

Grow Your Brand

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Facebook Change Outdoor Hunting and Firearms Industry

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

By | Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


How does this affect your brand?

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

 

Facebook organic reach

 

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

 

So what can you do to counter potential reach declines?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Outdoor Internet Marketing

5 Ways to Kick Off Your Outdoor Internet Marketing in 2018

By | Outdoor Marketing

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

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

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

1. Get a Website Audit

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

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

Outdoor Internet Marketing Databox2. Review Your Web Traffic Sources

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

3. Update Your Text and Images

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

4. Check Your Online Reputation

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

5. Put a Content Plan in Place

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

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

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Outdoor Lifestyle Photography

How Photography Influences Outdoor Lifestyle

By | Outdoor Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Brenton

Photo Credit: Fluid Peak Productions for Brenton USA

 

1. Creates a favorable first impression that engages your visitors

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

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

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

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

2. Makes your brand trustworthy

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

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

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

 

Shooting Photography

Photo Credit: Straight 8 Photography for F4 Defense

 

3. Creates style

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

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

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

Look for these elements when making a photo choice.

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

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


5. Look better than your competitors

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

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

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

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

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Outdoor Hunting Lifestyle Marketing

How Outdoor Lifestyle Marketing Can Bolster Your Content Strategy

By | Outdoor Marketing

If you’ve been doing content marketing for a while, you may have noticed that the traction you once had is beginning to wane.

You’ve been able to build a sizeable email marketing list, your social media following has grown exponentially and you’ve been able to boost online sales through organic website traffic.

However, with the explosion of content in our industry, especially in the hunting, camping, and CCW segments—how can you continue to breath new life into your brand and content marketing to keep growing?

In this post, we look at lifestyle marketing—and how by integrating your customer’s narrative into your brand’s story—you can put your product into a context that goes beyond its features and benefits.

What is lifestyle marketing?

When thinking about a lifestyle, first think about what a lifestyle is. A lifestyle is a set of habits, attitudes, beliefs, interests, opinions, ideas and thoughts based on an individual’s unique God-given personality.

For example, you may define the outdoor lifestyle as:

  • Adventure
  • Free
  • Family
  • Discovery
  • Conservation
  • Escape

Or you may define the 3 million CCW holders lifestyle (Source: Denver Post) as:

  • Freedom-loving
  • Defensive
  • Aware
  • Protective
  • Heroic
  • Concerned

“Lifestyle brands define who people are and who they want or hope to be.”


Many industry brands solely focus on their product’s features, and minimize their customer’s lifestyle or don’t incorporate them at all into their marketing strategies. When attention to lifestyle is left out—brands miss out on a pathway to connect deeper with their customers. Lifestyle brands give your buyers a goal and vision to become something better. This aspirational aspect is what makes lifestyle marketing so effective. (Source: Pixelee)

Exercise: How would you describe your lifestyle? What products represent how you live?

How do you build a lifestyle brand?

Turning a brand into a lifestyle brand takes some time. Consistent, intentional effort that is driven by your company’s leadership is key to permeating your company’s culture to drive authentic experiences. Below are six tactics to help you get started:

Know your Tribe
Tribe,” coined by Seth Godin, states: “Tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have joined tribes, be they religious, ethnic, political, or even musical. It’s our nature. Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time.” You must get to know your tribe as thoughtfully as possible to harness their pain points, interests and motivations—then you must lead them in the lifestyle your brand represents. 

Create awesome branding 
Brands that invoke the best visuals and messaging are more likely to garner emotional attachment. Almost all lifestyle brands have an active design component. A visually appealing logo/symbol of your brand that your tribe adopts will make them want to stick it on the back of their truck, or perhaps get a tattoo (just Google “Glock tattoo“).  

Invest in your culture
As your brand becomes more trusted, it’s important to show your people. Most companies in the hunting, shooting, and outdoor industry don’t show the people behind the scenes. The best cultures become the best lifestyle brands. Make sure they are living the lifestyle your brand embodies.

Leverage influencers
The lifestyle affinity is a natural fit for influencer marketing because your influencers are already living the lifestyle you want to integrate into your messaging. Your influencers can boost your content and storyline to their audiences through social media, garnering trust and expanding reach.

Create content
Content will continue to be an essential part of any digital or influencer marketing strategy for the foreseeable future, because of its effectiveness and long-term benefits. When creating content, don’t blow smoke about how great, amazing, game-changing, evolved, re-imagined, etc. your product is. Show how it improves your tribe’s lives without pushing your product.

Be present
Like any relationship, sometimes all it takes is showing up. Brand awareness is a key part of building a lifestyle brand, and this is where gorgeous cinematic hunting, camping or hiking video/photography and other tactics help you stay top of mind and part of people’s lives.

(Source: The A Group)

 

Four examples of lifestyle brands

Beretta

beretta-upland-lifestyle

Photo Credit: Beretta

Beretta’s lifestyle marketing consists of aligning their brand with an upper-class type of shooter and their experiences. The brand’s creative platform contains fonts that are clean and a color palette that suggests luxury. Their photography represents the customers they wish to align with that could be described as sophisticated, traditional and affluent—most likely influenced by the brand’s European origin. Part of what makes Beretta a lifestyle brand is its clothing line. Not only can you own and shoot the Berretta brand—but you can also wear it.

Beretta also integrates a robust content marketing program that adds value to its customers by helping them get better at their shooting and outdoor pursuits.

Sitka

Outdoor Marketing Llifestyle

Photo Credit: Sitka

Sitka Gear based in Bozeman, Montana is also a prime example of what it means to live the outdoor lifestyle. Sitka’s helpful articles, short films, and transparency in their design and manufacturing processes make it an excellent lifestyle brand. Much more than a camo company—their focus on their “Tribe” is based on their mission statement to “inspire, delight and enlighten hunters.” Their mission towards conservationism also gives the brand a much higher purpose, which makes it more attractive, exciting and admirable.

Yeti

outdoor-lifestyle-marketing

Photo Source: Yeti


No other company in the outdoor world does a better job than Yeti in integrating their products into the outdoor lifestyle. Yeti seeks to touch every aspect of someone participating in the outdoor world through story-based content. From Spearfishers to Big Horn Sheep Hunters—Yeti is a brand built for the wild as stated in their tagline. I found it especially interesting that they also have a Spotify list with songs from a broad genre that puts music to the Yeti Lifestyle. This is just another way lifestyle brands are looking outside the traditional channels to build their names into their customer’s lives.

 

Magpul

Magpul Outdoor Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Magpul


There was some confusion a few years ago when Magpul decided to evolve their firearm accessories brand into a lifestyle brand with the addition of apparel like gloves, shirts, and pants. Magpul has now become more than just a company known for its magazines, stocks, and handguards.

 

Make the connection

When thinking through on how to align your brand with your customer’s lifestyle—you must begin with their characteristics, problems, challenges, hopes, fears, and dreams; and start to build your marketing strategy around them, not your product.

Seek to dramatize your material around their outdoor, hunting or shooting activities—but also look for other aspects that define them. For example, your imagery can speak to the pride they have as a first responder, their desires to spend more time with friends and family, a lost loved one (see Beyond the Roar by Leupold below), ambitions of climbing Mount Everest, adventure (see Weatherby Timeless Video) or hunting with their Son or Daughter. Anything your brand can do to take them out or into a place they want to be is a critical component of lifestyle marketing. Your brand must become a storyteller that allows your customer to see themselves as their best self. 

The below video by Leupold is a great example of engaging lifestyle storytelling.

 

“Lifestyle marketing must be somewhat mythical and paint a visual that seems almost dream-like while remaining brutally authentic.” 

Today’s digitally empowered consumers are very astute. When you can get your target audience to build your product into their lives, making it a part of their narrative, you don’t have to solicit action. They feel like they found you, just the right fit for how they view themselves in the world. (Source: Marketing 360)

If your content strategy needs a boost, perhaps lifestyle marketing is the tactic you need for continued success.

Article image source: Fluid Peak Productions a lifestyle marketing company.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

Outdoor Website Design

8 Things We Learned Over The Years About Outdoor Website Design

By | Outdoor Marketing

Over the years, Garrison Everest has identified several factors that every outdoor website needs to be successful online. We’ve found (after completing over a hundred websites), brands who are meeting or exceeding their goals have these eight foundational website traits in common. By adhering to these basic premises, you will have a solid foundation to conduct digital marketing and grow your business more efficiently. 

outdoor-website-marketing-data1. Goals, KPIs, and Analytics

You can’t track what you don’t measure. Every website project should start with clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) on what you want to achieve. These goals need to be regularly tracked and reported on monthly. Having a good understanding of what metrics are important to you (visits, bounce rate, sales, shares, likes, clicks, subscriptions, conversations, etc.) will ultimately make your contact and sales generation more successful.

2. Credible Design, Photography and Copy

outdoor website lifestyle marketing

Engaging design, photography, and copy is a must in today’s digital environment. Canned stock photos will hinder the sales process and fail to build the necessary trust with your prospects. Short and concise copy—based on your buyer persona—is needed to grab and hold your visitor’s attention. Copy and imagery work together to tell your brand, product or services’ story—that ultimately spurs the sales process. Copy should be based on your prospect’s lifestyle and how you solve their problems.

3. WordPress Content Management System

WordPress is an online, open source website creation tool written in PHP. But in non-geek speak, it’s probably the most straightforward and most powerful blogging and website content management system (or CMS) in existence today. WordPress powers over 27 % of all websites on the web (Source: Tech Republic). It is easy to manage and scale as your business grows.

4. WooCommerce

For E-commerce installations, Garrison Everest strictly uses WooCommerce. WooCommerce powers over 28% of all online stores (Source: Pixelo). Plugin subscriptions are updated annually that add extra functionality to your website for a fraction of the cost. Plugins include shipment tracking, payment processing, deposits, email subscriptions, automation and more.

Automation and Abandoned Cart Email

For every 100 potential customers, 67 of them will leave without purchasing. How much would your revenues increase if you were capturing those sales instead of losing them? (Source: Shopify) An automation and abandoned cart email program can make your e-commerce store more profitable. And don’t forget to add an email subscription form for prospects to sign up for your blog and newsletter.

 

Outdoor Website

 

5. Fast and Secure Hosting

Garrison Everest partners with WP-Engine to power our client’s website. WP-Engine hosting comes with an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that shows your visitors you are a credible and trustworthy business giving you a rankings boost on Google. Our hosting also employs a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that makes your site faster and more secure—making it less likely to be brought down by hackers.

6. SEO and Content

Depending on your segment in the outdoor industry, updating your website’s blog regularly (at least twice a month) will be necessary for you to build organic rankings, links and value on search engines.

Companies that blog have better marketing results. Specifically, the average company that blogs has:

  • 55% more visitors
  • 97% more  inbound links
  • 434% more  indexed pages

Websites that provide helpful and relevant content will rank higher. Value-added content will also help grow your social media networks. (Source: HubSpot)

heatmaps7. Ongoing testing

Most companies will invest a significant amount of capital in a website, launch it, and then do nothing with it for three years. To get the most out of your website, ongoing audits, user interaction testing, heat mapping, copy, SEO and design experiments should be conducted to optimize your brand’s most important sales channel.

8. Instant Messaging

Gone are the days of forms for potential prospects to contact you. Since we’ve added Drift, the world’s first and only conversational marketing and sales platform to our website and other client websites—we’ve seen an almost 80% increase of leads. When prospects hit your website, they are searching for a solution to a problem they’re having. At this moment in their buyer’s journey, they are in the exploratory phase and are looking for answers to your questions. Instant message meets them at the right place and the right time.  

By adding and conducting these eight components on your outdoor website, you will have a firm digital marketing foundation in which to build your online business. 

Contact Us To Learn More


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

Marketing Firearms

Before You Invest In Firearm Marketing, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

By | Firearms Marketing

Most new business owners in the firearm industry come from an engineering background. When it comes time to discuss marketing, most will avoid the subject—because after all, how many engineers studied marketing in college?

In light of this fact, you may be feeling anxious to do some “sort of marketing,” but you’re not sure what that “sort of marketing” is.

Should you buy a banner ad on Outdoor Wire, develop a full-fledged content department like Sitka, sponsor a woman-focused group like the Well Armed Women, pay $10,000 to go to SHOT show—and what about Facebook and Instagram?

Before you get to the part in your business that requires you to spend some money on marketing—there are four questions you need to ask to ensure that when it does come time to invest in marketing—it will work.

 

1. Solve a problem that has mass appeal.

If you look at the biggest companies and brands in the world, they all have one thing in common—they solve a problem that everyone has: computing (Apple), fast food (McDonald’s), transportation (Ford), fast consumer goods (Amazon). Or they have improved upon an outdated product (coolers) that everyone has to have (Yeti)—or they have brought to market a better product like Magpul’s polymer magazines. 

 

Yeti Coolers

Photo credit: Yeti

Question: What is the #1 problem your product solves? Find that problem or unique difference and solve it.

 

2. Quality is job #1

A quality product that is reliable and durable is only the starting line in this industry. If you can’t do that, you need to go back to the drawing board.

According to a leading manufacturer rep, I had the opportunity to talk to the other day stated, “if word gets out on the street, you have a good product—the product will sell itself, just stay out of your own way.”

Question: Is your product of high quality and has it been thoroughly tested?

But this is still not enough—there are two other factors that form the basis of successful marketing—and that is timing and price. If the time is not right for your product, it can suck the life out of your business.

 

Maxim

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

3. Is the timing right?

A recent example of hitting the market at the right time is the Maxim 50 by SilencerCo. The Maxim 50 solves a huge problem everyone has: hearing loss and hunting in States where only shotguns and muzzleloaders are allowed.

According to Williams Mullen’s firearm industry practice group, “The Maxim 50 and its permanently attached silencer is not considered a firearm or a suppressor under the NFA.  Individuals looking for a hearing safe gun, whether for hunting, collecting, or recreational shooting, can now purchase one without having to go through the ATF’s burdensome registration process, which requires certain law enforcement checks, fingerprints, law enforcement notifications, a multi-month waiting period, and a $200 tax stamp paid directly to Uncle Sam.”

By integrating the silencer into a muzzleloader platform, SilencerCo. was able to solve a major problem in the market at the perfect time, earning massive industry attention. On September 19, 2017 upon the product’s release, SilencerCo’s website crashed due to the massive response.

Question: Is the timing right? What trends will fuel your marketing efforts?

 

4. Is it priced right?
If you can’t achieve good margins on your product, or if you extend yourself by going to market with several products (instead of just one or two), you might be heading down a black hole where there is no return.

According to Entrepreneur, no matter what type of product you sell, the price you charge your customers will have a direct effect on the success of your business. Though pricing strategies can be complex, the basic rules of pricing are straightforward:

  • All prices must cover costs and profits.
  • The most effective way to lower prices is to lower costs.
  • Review prices frequently to assure that they reflect the dynamics of cost, market demand, response to the competition, and profit objectives.
  • Prices must be established to assure sales.

A new resource in the industry you may not have heard about is Gun Broker’s Pricing Report. Gun Broker offers access to National Firearm Pricing and Trends to help you understand how to best price your firearms and accessories. GunBroker.com boasts 6 million unique monthly visitors a month and conducts over $3 Billion in cumulative merchandise sales. 

 

Pricing Report

 

What about sales and distribution?

For most startups and growth-phase manufacturers, distributors typically won’t take you on until you have a sales record. The exception is, of course, you have a breakout product – like the Hudson H9. So start with the above—develop a winning marketing strategy—and in time—and with some sales hustle, you’ll have distributors taking note.

In conclusion, by solving a problem that has wide appeal, building a quality and thoroughly tested product, launching at the right time and pricing your product accordingly will help make your marketing more successful. 

Free Marketing Firearms Ebook


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

firearm marketing seo

3 SEO Reminders for Firearm Website Optimization

By | Firearms Marketing

Search engine optimization is crucial for small-large firearm businesses when it comes to finding customers over the internet. Current estimates suggest that Google is processing roughly 4 ½ billion searches per day. It has largely replaced the Yellow Pages, print advertising, and even word-of-mouth recommendations when it comes to finding products and services.

Given that reality, it’s not surprising that so many small firearm business owners are constantly looking for a way to improve their visibility on Google (64% of market share), Bing (21% of market share) and others. However, experience has taught us that many of them miss the point in important ways. They want to get more search traffic but focus their efforts and attention on the wrong details and techniques.

In this quick post, let’s look at three reminders that firearm businesses need to keep in mind when optimizing their website for search.

1. Don’t Over-Optimize Every Page for Search

On-page search optimization is important and valuable, but it’s easy to overdo it. For one thing, content that is too focused on search visibility can have a dry, robotic feel. And for another, there are declining returns involved. Making a bunch of small changes to one page isn’t nearly as valuable as adding fresh content to your site in the form of a blog

This isn’t to say that you should prioritize quantity over quality, or that activities like keyword research, internal linking, and keyword optimization aren’t important. Instead, it’s a recognition that you need to balance your time and effort between polishing what you have and being a source of fresh content and ideas.

TIP: If you’re using WordPress, use Yoast to help you find the right balance of content and keywords.

 

2. Don’t Ignore Obvious Technical SEO Challenges

No matter how great the content on your website is, or what you’ve done to optimize your pages, Google isn’t going to pay much attention if you have obvious technical errors. Broken links, missing images, and slow page loading times are all signs of a poor user experience that will depress your search position.

Additionally, mobile functionality and SSL connections have become major search signals. If your website is missing these, then adding more content or focusing on different keywords isn’t going to make much of a difference. You simply can’t overlook the technical aspects of SEO and expect to get ahead of your competitors.

TIP: Use this Website Grader to see how your website stacks up.

 

3. SEO is an Ongoing Process

You can put a good search engine optimization plan into place, but unless you execute and refine your approach over time, you’re eventually going to end up being “stuck” in a lower search position. That’s partly because search patterns and best practices change, but also because it takes time and testing to increase conversion rates for incoming visitors.

In other words, search engine optimization isn’t something you’re going to do or invest in once and then cross off your list. If you really want to make it an important part of your inbound marketing plan, you’re going to have to stick with it over time.

When search engine optimization was still a new marketing technique, you could do a little bit of work and see your sales numbers increase dramatically in a very short period of time. Now, the rewards of earning a top position on Google are greater than never, but the competition is more intense. If you want to improve your bottom line through SEO, it’s imperative you keep adding fresh content, don’t overlook the technical aspects of your site, and follow a plan that keeps you moving forward.

TIP: Check out SEMRush’s free tool to get the inside track on SEO and your competitors.

 

Get Free Marketing Assessement!


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

Firearm Voice Search Web Marketing

What is the Best Way to Optimize Your Firearms Website for Voice Search?

By | Firearms Marketing

As you’ve probably noticed by now, everyone is using voice search these days. More and more, your customers are bypassing Google’s minimalist homepage and opting to simply ask an app — backed by artificial intelligence—to find what they are looking for. The change isn’t being driven solely by mobile devices, either – digital assistants are making their way into operating systems, bringing voice search capability to traditional Windows (Cortana) and Apple (Siri) laptop and desktop computers.

For the average internet user, this means more convenience than ever. For a marketer, though, the rise of these tools poses a brand-new question: how do you optimize your website for voice search?

In this post, we give you a few things to consider and how to prepare for the future.

 

1. The First Step Towards Optimizing Your Website for Voice Search

40% of adults now use voice search once per day, according to Location World. Some predict, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. If you want to capture voice search traffic (and you should), then it’s important to realize that these types of queries aren’t structured in terms of traditional keywords. Instead, they are spoken in a natural language question-and-answer format.

Although exact matching has become less important and relevant in recent SEO iterations, it does still hold weight with voice search. So, having text, titles, and headlines like the one we used above – how do you optimize your firearms website for voice search? – can be helpful. The more of this type of content you have on your website, the easier it’s going to be for voice searchers to find you.

 

2. How to Integrate Questions and Answers Into Your Website

For firearm marketers who are used to thinking in terms of market-based keywords, posting content in natural language terms can actually feel a bit awkward. Besides, you don’t want to undo your existing SEO efforts to capture voice search traffic.

Knowing that one great idea is to simply beef up your Frequently Asked Questions page. This is the one place on your website where you can post as many natural language phrases as you want, and they are likely to be structured in a way that Google can easily crawl and understand.

Additionally, you might consider adding separate pages or blog posts for questions that come up often or point specifically to your expertise. Articles like this one can standout in Google’s search listings without making your FAQ pages seem unnecessarily long.

 

3. Finding the Right Questions and Phrases to Target

As with anything else in search engine optimization, finding the right targets is every bit as important as executing your plan. And with nearly 50% of people now using voice search when researching products (Source: Social Media Today), you should do what you can to identify the kinds of questions your best customers are likely to ask when using voice-assisted search apps.

Open Siri and give these a try:

  • What is the best AR15?
  • How much does a gun safe cost?
  • Where is the closest gun range?
  • What is Springfield Armory’s XDE Series warranty?
  • How do I attract Millennial gun buyers?

Naturally, you could begin by evaluating the kinds of things buyers tend to ask you about on phone calls, chats or during face-to-face meetings. You could also look into your web analytics to see what searchers are typing into Google that leads them to arrive at your website. Another good source for material is Google’s own auto-complete function, which could suggest natural language question combinations to you.

Firearm Website Voice Search

Each of these is a good way to brainstorm new ideas, and all of them can help you bring more voice searchers to your site. At the moment, that simply means you have one more edge over your online competitors. As voice search becomes more and more popular, though, it could put you on the cutting-edge of SEO for years to come.

If you could use some internet marketing and search engine optimization advice that’s tailored to your business and challenges, now is the perfect time to schedule a free consultation with our team and see how we can help. The future is coming! 

Get Free Assessement!


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

Firearm Lifecycle Marketing

Use Lifecycle Marketing to Boost Your Firearm E-commerce Revenue

By | Firearms Marketing

Growth is hard—and expensive. The companies you see growing quickly, have a lot of money and usually have a really cool product. Does this describe you? 

When you think about ecommerce—the first thing most people think about is generating a sale. It’s all about the money, right? But what if I told you there’s more to it than that, and your thinking is too linear, and you’re leaving a lot of money on the table by not taking the process further.

In this post, taken from a recent webinar by Austin Brawner, of Brand Growth Experts for Klaviyo—you’ll learn three assertions about how to boost revenue through your e-commerce store via lifecycle marketing.

What is Lifecycle Marketing?

Lifecycle marketing is creating a managed communications or contact strategy to prioritize and integrate the full range of marketing communications channels and experiences to support prospects and customers on their path-to-purchase using techniques such as persuasive personalized messaging and re-marketing. (Source: SmartInsights)

 

Firearm ecommerce Marketing

Source: SmartInsights

What is Klaviyo?
Klaviyo is a marketing automation platform that helps e-commerce marketers get better results from data-driven marketing. In data-driven marketing, the main objective is to use data to get the right message to the right person at the right time. The best way for a firearm, hunting, and outdoor companies to do so (right now) is by email marketing.

 

Klaviyo Firearm Email Marekting

Assertion #1
The fastest way to grow is to outspend and out-convert your competition.

Right now web traffic is a commodity. You can go and cut a check to any industry digital media outlet, Google or Facebook (non-FFL items) to buy traffic. If you can spend $10 where your competitor can only spend $5, you win that customer. And if you can out-convert your competition, this means you are getting more of that traffic and more customers—which means more market share.

Assertion #2
Email marketing (when done correctly) virtually guarantees that you can outspend your competition. To spend more, you need to be able to either convert better or net a greater Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

To explain this, let’s look at the Cost of Acquisition Payback Model.

What is CAC and Why Should You Care?

To put it simply – CAC is the total cost of sales and marketing efforts that are needed to acquire a customer. It is one of the defining factors in whether your company has a viable business model that can yield profits by keeping acquisition costs low as you scale. (Source: ProftWell)

CAC Model Lifecycle Marketing

The Cost of Acquisition Payback Model says that it will cost you money to get a customer (red), but after that customer purchases from you, you begin to break even and start to make that money back—over time. The goal is to move those customers into the (green) through repeat purchases. And the best way to do that is through email. The reason? Email creates more repeat purchases which are more profitable. According to the Direct Marketing Association, it yields an estimated 4,300 percent ROI. Every dollar spent on email marketing offers a return of $44, says ExactTarget.

If you have customers, that are interested in what you’re doing and you’ve won them over with your brand and products, email (right now) is the best way to continue to market to them. In the table below, you can see how one company was able to double purchases—the second order is almost 4x more valuable than the first.

Firearm CAC

Source: Brand Growth Experts

But one of the hardest parts of e-commerce is turning a 1x customer into a repeat buyer. Customer churn is expensive, time-consuming, and taxing. Once you have your customer, you must work hard to keep them engaged.

Repeat business is the key from going to ‘feast or famine’ to stable, predictable revenue—like a SAAS company.

In a second example (below), when compared to Pay Per Click, you can see from this data, the difference between email and paid search, even when the order amounts are the same (250), the profit margin between email and paid is substantial. PPC obviously won’t apply to FFL items—but for scopes, holsters, safes, and other kinds of hunting, outdoor or firearm gear—this can be substantial savings.

 

Firearms PPC vs Email Marketing

Source: Brand Growth Experts

 

Assertion #3
The best way to implement email marketing is via a handful of proven lifecycle marketing campaigns.

Lifecycle Marketing

When a customer comes to your site, the customer is usually fairly excited and may end up purchasing more than one product from you. But over time, they become less engaged and will need more incentives and better offers to entice them to buy. So your goal as a marketer is to decrease friction with better offers. It’s also smart at this point to augment your email marketing efforts with content or inbound marketing to build/sustain your customer base and influence customer loyalty. 

The lifecycle dictates how to market: right offer, right segment, right time.

Conclusion: Master lifecycle marketing, master growth.

Email marketing combined with lifecycle marketing is one of the most powerful tools available to firearm, outdoor and hunting marketers—yet few have implemented it. Investing in a robust email marketing program that is wrapped into lifecycle marketing not only can generate revenue but build your brand and create customers for life.

Interested in seeing how your e-commerce store can be improved?

Contact Us Today!

 

Enhance your Firearm Digital Marketing


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

Firearm Marketing in a Slow Economy

4 Questions About Firearm Marketing When Sales Slow Down

By | Firearms Marketing

Whether you’re seeing a “Trump Bump” or a “Trump Slump”—there are plenty of conflicting reports out there that provide insight into the health of our industry. Some true, but most of them false.

However, when sales are in a slump or your segment of the gun industry is stagnant (i.e. suppressors), consistent and creative marketing can be done cost efficiently to give you a little extra boost if you know where to start.

In this post, I answer four questions recently asked of me by a friend in the firearms industry that pertains to marketing when things begin to slow down. I hope these answers will give you some insight on how you can cost effectively boost your online sales if you’re in a slump.

 

Q1. What should a company think about when determining its marketing strategy in a slower economy?

A: It’s generally accepted that it costs three times more to find a new customer than it does to sell to an existing customer. In a slow economy (or when sales slow), focusing on your current customer base by using cross-sell/upsell tactics and customer-only incentives through email should be part of your plan to boost/sustain sales. Firearm enthusiasts tend to be fiercely loyal to the brands in which they put their trust. If you’re not showing love to your current customers via email marketing and social media—they may go somewhere else. Firearm manufacturers can no longer afford to have a one-way conversation with their customers, especially in a slow economy.

 

Q2. How does the slower economy affect, if at all, the mix of print vs. digital marketing?

A: A majority of firearm companies have not moved with their customers online. We need to remember firearm customers are also buyers of smartphones, music, cars, home repair services, technology etc. Over 60% of people begin research for these products and services on search engines. I believe traditional marketing is still important in the firearms industry because a lot of the opportunities other industries have available have been taken away from firearm brands (Facebook Ads, YouTube, and Google PPC). However, as firearm enthusiasts become younger, more urban and more ethnic, a magazine will not be the first place they go to research guns. Trends show more marketing budgets are being allocated to digital marketing (influencers, email, marketing automation, SEO, e-commerce, and content) because it’s cheaper, trackable and can be done in real-time. 

 

Q3. What are some low-budget but effective marketing tactics firearms and gear companies should consider? 

A: Influencer marketing has always been part of a smart marketing mix in the firearms industry. I believe it’s never been more important given the rise in fake news and manipulative advertising. Influencer marketing can be a low-cost way to reach hunters/shooters who have trusted followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The second—and just as important—is combining email marketing with segmentation, abandoned cart, personalization and automated workflows. These programs have shown to have a high-rate of return on investment and are a highly effective way to convert new customers, retarget old customers and keep current ones engaged. 

Check out these email automation software providers:

  1. Klaviyo
  2. Seventh Sense
  3. HubSpot
  4. Mail Chimp / Mandrill

Q4. What marketing strategy or tactic is absolutely crucial these days — and why?

A. Today, companies still need a marketing budget that mixes print, tv and trade show—but when things slow down, digital and e-commerce can deliver more bang for the buck. This is especially important for manufacturers with smaller budgets and a small list of dealers. By focusing on helping your customers become better in whatever their particular interests are (recreational, competition, home defense, tactical etc.) along with an innovative product roadmap, firearm brands will be able to remain fresh and relevant.

Customers want to hear from the brands they trust. When your brand is the most trusted and top of mind—customers are more likely to choose your brand over any alternatives.

What do you think? Comment below or send me an email.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

firearm marketing success failures

5 Successful Firearm Marketing Failures To Learn From

By | Firearms Marketing

Over the past 17+ years as a designer/marketer—I’ve experienced many successes as well as failures. To fail is human, and to fail is to get better—as long as you learn from your mistakes and don’t give up.

After some recent time off and reflection on a recent face plant—I asked myself, how can I reduce failure and improve my processes, so I don’t repeat them?

In this “rubber meets the road” post, I want to share five hard-learned “successful failures.” I call them “successful failures” because I have learned from these “biffs” which have made me a better marketing professional and person. I hope you can apply some of these to your own business or marketing career—whether you work for a firearm brand or are going it alone.

 

1. Always identify the problem you’re solving.

I was recently approached by a large brand with the goal of expanding market share. They didn’t know how, why or where to start. This vague and all-encompassing goal had no clear finish line. After much time and thought I realized I had nowhere to start on building a strategy because the goal was too broad. After going back to get the information I needed, I was met with resistance because the VP was not open to new ideas. This left me with a proposal that talked in circles and that was ultimately turned down. 

When goals are not defined, they end up causing a lot of confusion. Pain must be identified to find the problem you’re trying to solve. If the goal isn’t black and white; figuring out which way to proceed can be costly.

Lesson: Define the pain points you’re trying to solve for and use the SMART method to determine your strategy. Get to the heart of the problem and stick to it. When things start to veer off-course—always point back to the goal you and your team agreed on. Do not accept directions or requests that are vague.

 

2. You can’t put lipstick on a pig.

Several years ago, I worked with a start-up who came to me with the goal of quadrupling their online sales in one year. The company was unknown, and the product had several flaws. They had ample budget from the start but soon ran out of money once the program didn’t bring in the expected revenue. This was mostly due to product returns, complaints and the fact this product was more of “nice to have” than a “have to have.” Plus, the product was overpriced and their website was poorly designed and loaded slowly.  

They raised more money, tried a different marketing approach with a different firm which also failed. They eventually went out of business.

I receive calls weekly from start-ups and entrepreneurs who claim their product is a game changer. In my early days, I would take any project that came across my desk. But after several failed projects—like the one listed above, I now know better.

When a new lead comes in, I’ll spend 15 -30 minutes on the phone to talk with that person to understand more about their product and more importantly—try to figure out what kind of person they are. After reviewing and running it through my qualifying filter which looks something like this:

  1. What is the problem this product solves?
  2. Is there a large group of people who have this same problem?
  3. Does this product address the problem in an easy way?
  4. Is this product a “nice to have” or a “have to have?”
  5. Does this product disrupt a category?
  6. Is it the right timing for this product?
  7. What trends can this product ride?
  8. Can I work with this person or company?
  9. What does the competitive landscape look like?
  10. What will it take to achieve this business’s goals?

After the above ten questions are answered—I’ll usually have a good idea on whether or not we can help them and go back to schedule a longer exploratory call. It’s taken a long time to get to this point of understanding and many setbacks.

Lesson: All the marketing in the world won’t make a bad product good.

 

3. Pick the right projects and learn how to “manage your boss” (or client).

I’ve met many hard-charging entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers over the years—and one thing I’ve learned through—trial and error—is how to best manage them. I’ve worked with many individuals who I’ve liked, some who have become good friends and others who I’d rather not ever think about again.

Everyone is different and everyone has different expectations, ways of learning communicating and working. It’s up to you to figure out how to best manage the relationship. 

In his book, Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker explains how to figure out the best way to work with your boss (or clients) through understanding your strengths, weaknesses, how you work, how you learn, your values and how you can best contribute to your organization. 

“Bosses are neither a title on the organization chart nor a “function.” They are individuals and are entitled to do their best work in the way they do it best. It is incumbent on the people who work with them to observe them, to find out how they work, and to adapt themselves to what makes their bosses (or clients) most effective. This, is fact, is the secret of “managing” the boss.

Lesson: Learn who you are, what you’re best at, how you learn and how you best work. Keep to your core set of skills and inform the people that you work with how you work. Then learn how your clients, boss or co-workers work. This will make for better business relationships and ultimately better marketing outcomes.

 

4. Slow down. 

I’m very eager to please my clients—and this has gotten me in a lot of trouble when the production schedule gets off track.  

By saying you’ll have it done on Tuesday and then are not able to deliver it till Friday because a hundred things popped up (hacked website, downed servers, file transfers, email issues or just life in general) will tarnish your reputation and leave people questioning whether they made the right decision to hire you. Or, you rush through the deliverable to find out (from the client) it’s riddled with spelling errors and missed requests. 

Lesson: Don’t be afraid when setting the timeline to add one or two days (or a week) to everything you promise to deliver on. When it comes to contracts or project specs, go over the schedule in detail to make sure everyone is on the same page and expectations are set correctly. If you’re going to be late, tell the recipient well in advance, explain the situation and remedy it as soon as possible. Send your team, clients or stakeholders progress/update at least twice a week. Always remind yourself of the adage “under promise, over deliver.”

 

5. Don’t deviate from your core skill set.

I try to focus on three disciplines: brand development, design and utilize inbound marketing tactics to deliver my client’s brand to their customers. When I find myself talking to clients about things out of my core area of expertise, things start to go sideways and I end up trying to stick a round peg into a square hole.

Lesson: Stick with your core skill set and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Find experts in the areas you need help with. You will cause yourself less stress and deliver a better work product.

To sum up, marketing a firearm business can be extremely difficult—filled with failures, restarts, and do-overs. This is a competitive industry. Sometimes you need to figure it out as you go before finding out what works.

It took NASA over twelve attempts to get a rocket off the launch pad (Source: Wikipedia). Imagine if NASA would have given up after the 11th try. There’d be a Russian flag on the Moon rather than the Stars and Stripes. 

Hard-lessons make us better. The world was built on them.

So no matter where you’re at, keep at it. You might be one month away from a breakthrough that will change your life and business forever. Keep trying and don’t give up. Figure out what you’re best at and focus on getting better. Slow down, over communicate, fail often—fail fast and always keep striving to achieve your goals, no matter what they are.

Questions. Comments? Comment below or send me an email.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

SEO and Firearm Content Marketing

SEO and Firearm Content Marketing – Why You Can’t Do One Without The Other

By | Firearms Marketing

With the firearms industry coming off of eight record years of growth—traffic on your website may be dropping, sales may be slowing, and panic may be beginning to set in.

You may have clicked on this post because you’re looking to get into digital marketing and you’ve heard SEO may be the place to start.

Whatever best describes you, in this short and abbreviated post, I’ll explain the difference between SEO and firearm content marketing and why in 2017 you can’t do one without the other.

SEO

SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. (Source: Moz) By gaining visibility on search engines through organic (non-paid) results, your business can generate traffic, which in turn can equal sales. And with over 81% of all product searches beginning on the web, if you’re not showing up in search, your business may as well not exist.

Organic traffic in the firearms industry has a much higher rate of return because people searching are actively buying. This means their wallets are open and they are looking for a solution to their problem.

There are many factors involved in optimizing your website for search engines. Listed below are top ten must-dos to start. 

  1. Your website must be mobile responsive.
  2. Keywords that your prospects are searching for should be placed in the title tags of your website.
  3. Make sure your images are optimized to their lowest file size to decrease page load times and that they are also named using your keywords.
  4. An informative META description on your web page(s) that also include your keywords.
  5. Writing content on every page of your website that contains those same keywords at least five times (or 0.8%) within a 600-word text block.
  6. Having a well-designed page structure and code base where load hogging scripts are compressed and placed beneath the web page’s fold (the visible area of your website when it pulls up).
  7. A fast server and content delivery network.
  8. A good user interface that also contains your keywords in the main headings <h1>, <h2>, <h3> etc.
  9. Keywords in your URLs when possible.
  10. A good sitemap that can be read by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others.

And that’s just ten. There are almost 200 other ranking factors that go into a well-optimized website.

 

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. (Source: CMI)

SEO and content marketing is like a double-sided coin. Just like weight loss, you can’t just work out and expect to lose weight, you have to make smart eating decisions too— day after day, week after week, month after month to achieve your goals.

SEO and content marketing are somewhat similar.

You can’t gain and sustain ranked keywords without doing both SEO and content marketing—day after day, week after week, month after month to achieve your goals.

Here’s why. Google who controls over 60% of the entire planet’s traffic indicates you must create fresh and relevant content (Source: Google) for your site to attain and sustain keyword rankings.

Once again, ranked keywords = visibility = traffic = $$$.

When you optimize your website or are building a new one from the ground up—SEO is needed to start the fire where content is the fuel that keeps it going. Depending on how competitive the segment you play in (ARs, Outfitting, Concealed Carry, Optics, Safes, Lasers etc.) you may need more or less content to compete. Online dealers get this. Companies like Optics Planet, Brownells, and Lucky Gunner have large digital footprints and have been building content for years and in the process turned themselves into a brand which Google also seems to favor

Content marketing also helps to build backlinks, gives empowering information to social media followers and your email marketing subscribers, and attracts Influencers. Backlinks are important because they tell search engines that your site is more popular than your competitors hence, giving you higher rankings.

SEO and content are a double-sided coin. You can’t be successful with one without doing the other. They go together like gunpowder and brass, bows and arrows, turkey hunting and 12 gauges. If you hope to start building your own digital footprint through SEO and content for the future, the time to start is now.

 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

artificial intelligence firearm marketing

What Does AI mean for Firearm Marketing?

By | AI Firearms Marketing, Firearms Marketing

Imagine knowing what email subject line always gets the highest open rate, what media buy offers the best value, and what combination of graphics, products, text, and CTAs produce the greatest results.

If you’re still skeptical on what you hear about artificial intelligence marketing or AIM for short, consider this post an introduction to help you understand what most are calling the “second industrial revolution.”

As more demands are put on marketers in the ultra-competitive firearms industry—an added advantage can mean the difference between who gets to market first and who doesn’t. We all know a great product goes a long way, but a great product with great marketing dominates.

For most of us, data can be a good thing—but it can also be a digital firearm marketer’s worse nightmare. With more and more data streaming in from social media, search engines, email marketing, automation, trade shows, banner ads, influencer platforms and others—data is or has become something of a curse. The term: “Paralysis by analysis” comes to mind.

That’s the irony with data-driven marketing. We have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets and dashboards upon dashboards—but do we really know what to do with it all? On any given day, you make a lot of small decisions that can have a significant impact on results:

  • What time should I send my email newsletter?
  • What topic should I write my next blog post on?
  • Should it be a blog post, or should it actually be a video?
  • And for that CTA in the conclusion, what color will actually make people click?

Thankfully, very soon, all of these questions will be answered by robots. Well, not robots, exactly … but artificial intelligence. (Source: HubSpot)

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence first and foremost isn’t what you’ve been led to believe in the movies. It doesn’t mean we’ll be under the rule of evil sentient beings i.e. the Terminator—or an army of robots seeking to take over the world. Even the best and brightest say that is an impossibility. (Source: GovTech) What it does mean is that man and machine will work together as a team.

Artificial intelligence is the “science of making machines smart,” says Demis Hassabis founder and CEO of AI company DeepMind (which was acquired by Google). At a basic level, “smart” means achieving a goal by mimicking human cognitive functions. That goal could be winning a board game, correctly identifying a cat in a photo, adeptly using data from sensors to drive a car or anything else a human can do.

There are many forms of AI already in existent. You might recognize a few already:

  • Siri by Apple
  • Watson by IBM
  • Einstein by Salesforce
  • Alexa by Amazon
  • Spotify Music Suggestions
  • Facebook face/tag recognition
  • Growthbot by HubSpot

How AI will help you

How AI correctly can be applied to the firearms industry, for the most part, is still unchartered waters. Companies with large eCommerce stores like GalleryofGuns.com and GunBroker.com may be the ones to benefit most from AI to help them analyze user data and trends—if they’re not already.

Other cutting edge manufacturers like Beretta who was one of the first to adopt marketing automation can adopt AI to analyze trends through their programs to send cross-sell and upsell email offers to their contacts at the right place and at the right time.

Tools like Databox can aggregate data from your entire Martech stack and give you a way to improve KPIs across the board based on accurate and definitive data that can be understood. Perhaps even a print ad in Guns and Ammo may be possible to optimize by design bots in the future.

AI Firearm Marketing Data

Business analytics by Databox combines data from multiple sources.

“AI is about automating known tasks without distraction. As humans, we get easily distracted. AI can operate without distractions and without wasting time, making AI teams more efficient,” says Digital Visionary, Kevin Kelly.

How AI can help you market more effectively

AI MarketingAI marketing assistants
If you’re looking to get started with AI, I recommend checking out Growthbot, a chatbot designed by Dharmesh Shah at HubSpot. Growthbot can help you discover keywords your competitors are using, top blog posts and other information that will inform you about your content marketing efforts. Here are a few sample commands of what Growthbot can do:

  1. What are top articles on recoilweb.com?
  2. What software does gunbroker.com use?
  3. Show me top posts from ammoland.com
  4. Company overview for sigsaurer.com
  5. Grade website walther.com
  6. Show me something funny
  7. Connect my Google analytics account
  8. How was organic traffic last week?

“Your marketing assistant in the future might well be an app that provides advanced analytics information to guide advertising or content-creation efforts to drive traffic to your company’s website,” says Dave Burnett of AOK Marketing.

These apps—most in their beginning stages—will continue to get smarter over time. They will help you save time, make smarter investment/media buying decisions and increase and accelerate revenue.

AI websites
Imagine a website you speak to, rather than typing in a search or clicking on the nav bar. A future prospect may visit Springfield Armory’s website, tell the site what they are looking for and then the site serves them three pistols for self-defense along with some videos and training articles—specifically designed and tailored to that known user’s interests.

This type of work is already taking place with companies like grid.io where all you do is place content and the site designs itself.

Better content through AI
Artificial intelligence platform Acrolinx uses a unique linguistic analytics engine to “read” all your content and provide immediate guidance to improve it. “Our technology is transforming how the world’s biggest brands create high-performing content,” says Dr. Andrew Bredenkamp, founder, and CEO. Other companies you should start becoming familiar with is MotivaAlbert, and BoomTrain.

Will AI take away our jobs?
Some say yes, some say no, regardless, what you should be doing right now is learning all you can about AI. How to use it, how it works and how you as a marketer will fit into the disruptive changes coming soon to our industry and marketing as a whole.

As you start to drink out of the fire hose that is AI, it’s important as firearm marketers to think ahead about how we can continue to push the industry forward in terms of technology, attract younger customers, delight current customers, and how all this wraps into protecting our 2nd amendment rights.

I predict, like others—AI will soon impact us all. Regulated industries seem to run 5-8 years behind when it comes to new technologies. Companies who can get out in front first will have a head start on what is sure to be an very interesting ride.

 

Enhance your Firearm Digital Marketing


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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