All Posts By

Joshua Claflin

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

By | Influencer Marketing

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

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

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

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

1. Define your Niche

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

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

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


2. Set Goals

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

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

 

3. Know Your Audience

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

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


4. Be Helpful—Don’t Sell

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

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

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

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

 

5. Be Authentic and Honest At All Costs

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

 

6. Build a Website and Blog!

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

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

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

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

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

 

7. Create a Good Mix of Content

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

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

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

 

8.  It’s not About You.

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

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

 

POMA

About The Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA)

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

Photo Credit: Tony Bynum

 

Learn More About POMA

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

brand-development-outdoor

4 Ways to Strengthen Your Brand Today

By | Brand Development

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

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

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

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

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

 

1. Map your brand’s touchpoints

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

Here is a simple representation of what brand looks like: 

 

What is a brand?

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

 

2. Align your brand

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

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

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

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

3. Connect your brand to your customer

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

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

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

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

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

4. Brand is built on consistent, helpful service

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

The hard truth about your customers today is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

how to track outdoor hunting firearms influencer marketing

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

By | Influencer Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Determine Goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Influencer Marketing Consultation


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Firearms Hunting Influencer Marketing

How to Become an Influencer in the Firearms & Hunting Industry

By | Influencer Marketing

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

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

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

 

What does it mean to be an influencer in 2018?

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


A. Engage by offering commentary and information

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

 

 

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

 

 

C. Engage with Adventure

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

 


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

 

firearms influencer marketing1. Define your niche

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

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

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

These numbers are substantial.

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

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

 

 

2. Invest in your own website

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

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

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

 

3. Negotiate costs appropriately

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

4. Ask for revenue share

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

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

 

5. Be responsive and follow directions

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

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

 

6. Focus on engagement

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

 

7. Track your results

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

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

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

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

Influencer Signup Form


Photo Credit: Brenton USA


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

nashville inbound marketing-services

How To Set SMART Goals For Your Business

By | Marketing

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

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

1. Create a Vision

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

 

2. Use the SMART method to set your goals

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

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

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

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

firearm-marketing-SMART-goals

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

goal-setting-planning3. Write it down!

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

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

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

 

Garrison-Everest-5-Marketing-Mistakes-3

5 BIG MONEY WASTING MARKETING
MISTAKES TO AVOID

So many businesses get marketing wrong. Are you one of them? 
In this ebook, you’ll learn about the 5 biggest mistakes we’ve seen in marketing over the past 15 years and how to avoid them. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, what to look out for when building your website, and give you a simple marketing plan that will save you money and grow your business.

DOWNLOAD EBOOK

 

 


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

Firearm Brand Development

Do You Really Need A Firearm Brand Strategy?

By | Firearms Marketing

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

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

But, do you really need a brand strategy?

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

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

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

1. Make it easier for the customer to buy

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


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

Photo credit: Business Insider

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


3. Brand clarity and delivery spurs employee motivation

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


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

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

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

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

A brand strategy will save you from making costly decisions.

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

brand strategy extension failures

Photo credit: Recoil

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

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

6. The brand development exercise creates innovation

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

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


8. A strong brand creates preference which, equals profit

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


Photo credit: Guns.com

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

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

So, do you need a brand strategy?

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

firearm-brand-strategy

Photo credit: Magpul

 

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

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

Photo credit: F4 Defense, Jason Swarr, Straight 8

 

 

hunting-outdoor-firearms-brand-interview-guideFree Download:
Brand Development Interview Guide 

Developing your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to draft the questions to ask your customers/clients to uncover your brand.

Download eBook

 

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

Firearm content banned from YouTube

Firearm Content Gone From YouTube? Now What?

By | Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Back to the future

Where were you in 2005 when the 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.

 

Get Free Social Media Assessment


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Shot Show 2018 Firearm Marketing

Four Marketing Takeaways from SHOT Show 2018

By | Firearms and Hunting

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

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

1. Brand innovation pays off

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

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

Firearm Marketing Exhibit

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

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


2. Virtual reality

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

firearm marketing virtual reality

Here are some interesting VR Statistics to take note of:

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

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

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

 

3. Harvesting vs. Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SilencerCo, even calls their blog “Harvested.

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

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

Meat Eater

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

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

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

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

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

eva shockey

Photo credit: Dangersoup


4. Women’s influence grows

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

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

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

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

 

Grow Your Brand

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Facebook Change Outdoor Hunting and Firearms Industry

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

By | Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


How does this affect your brand?

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

 

Facebook organic reach

 

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

 

So what can you do to counter potential reach declines?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Outdoor Internet Marketing

5 Ways to Kick Off Your Outdoor Internet Marketing in 2018

By | Outdoor Marketing

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

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

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

1. Get a Website Audit

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

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

Outdoor Internet Marketing Databox2. Review Your Web Traffic Sources

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

3. Update Your Text and Images

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

4. Check Your Online Reputation

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

5. Put a Content Plan in Place

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

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

Get Free Assessment


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Outdoor Lifestyle Photography

How Photography Influences Outdoor Lifestyle

By | Outdoor Marketing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.