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outdoor hunting shooting sports marketing buyer personas

Outdoor, Hunting And Firearms Customers (Do You Really Know Who They Are?)

By Firearms and Hunting, Outdoor Industry Marketing

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

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

I think most of us will admit we don’t know our customers as well as we should. And in the era of digital marketing, it’s more important and easier than ever to know how consumer interests and motivations. This is especially true when you consider the millions of new gun owners, hunters and anglers who’ve entered the market in the past few years since COVID.

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

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

So What Are Outdoor, Hunting and Shooting Sports Customer Buyer Personas and Why Should I Care?

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

How Are Outdoor, Hunting and Shooting Sports Customer Buyer Buyer Personas Created?

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

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


 

First Start With Some Background

hunting and firearms customers

Hunting and Firearms Segments (Southwick Associates)

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

  • Basic details about persona’s role
    What do they do for a living?
    What is their level of education?
    What is their annual household income?
  • Key information about the persona’s interests
    List facts like big game hunting, CCW, archery, hiking etc.
    How often do they engage in these activities?
    What magazines do they subscribe to?
  • Relevant background info, like education or hobbies
    What do they typically do in their spare time.
    Are they rushed for time, busy parents? Weekend warriors? Workaholics?

“When you have somebody purchasing to build their skills versus someone who’s purchasing to go hunting or because they have crime in their area — your marketing is going to be completely different for each one of them.” — Nancy Bacon, Southwick Associates 

 


 

Demographics

Demographics are the statistical characteristics of a population, such as age, gender, and income. Demographics can be used to identify markets, such as a younger demographic. Demographic data can also tell you more about a community than its size and whether it is growing or declining.

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

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

 


 

outdoor, hunting and shooting sports customers

Photo Credit: Chris Dorsey

What are their Identifiers?

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

  • Buzz words
    List some industry buzz words and words that are commonly used by your buyer personas
  • Mannerisms
    What does your buyer persona sound or act like?
  • Language
    What kind of language do they use? Is it intelligent and articulate? or more southern?

 


 

What are their Aspirations?

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

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

TIP: When potential outdoor, hunting and shooting sports customers call, ask them why they contacted you. When you’re on the phone with your customer, make it a point to get to know them and record it in your CRM’s contact record.

 


 

What Challenges Does Your Customers Have?

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

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

 


 

How Do You Help Your Customers?

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

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

 


 

Use Real Quotes

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

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

EXAMPLE: “I’ve been a hunter all my life, but lately, I can’t find anywheres to hunt with my son. Public land is too pressured and paying for a guide may be out of my price range. What do you suggest?” – Hunter Hal

 


 

Create Messaging That Engages Your Persona

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

  • How should you describe your product to your persona?
  • Include a few real quotes – This will make it easier for employees to relate to and understand your persona.
  • One liner – Make describing your solution simple and consistent across everyone in your company. Start with your problem, then tell them your solution. Remember, keep talking about your customer’s problems to keep them engaged.

 


 

Add A Picture of Your Personas and Name Them

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

Hunting And Firearms Customers

Photo Credit: TRACT Optics

 


 

Communicate Your Buyer Personas To Your Company

How do you communicate this new understanding of your target customer with your entire organization? After all, if your sales and marketing teams don’t understand who they’re speaking to, it’s hard to craft a message that really resonates. Add these personas into your HubSpot CRM and track effectiveness.

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

outdoor hunting shooting sports customer buyer personas

FREE DOWNLOAD: A Guide to Creating the Outdoor, Hunting and Shooting Sports Customer Buyer Persona

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

DOWNLOAD BUYER TEMPLATE
firearms-digital-marketing-footprint

10 Ways to Deepen Your Outdoor Brand’s Digital Marketing Footprint 2023

By Firearms and Hunting

 

Some of the best forward-thinking companies in the outdoor, hunting and shooting sports industry are diligently building their digital footprint online that in the long run, will return immense dividends. 

According to the latest Google algorithm, brands that:

  • Create consistent, helpful content;
  • Generate strong social signals;
  • Have fast loading and mobile-friendly websites;
  • and acquire good inbound links from authoritative websites;

…will outrank, outperform and outsell their competitors in the digital era. 

Digital Footprint 2023

Digital Footprint for 2023

What is a digital footprint?

Specifically listed with the outdoor, hunting and firearms in mind—a digital footprint is the combination of seven digital assets that build website traffic, website authority, and a viable audience that: 

  • Builds your brand
  • Increases revenue
  • Creates an indomitable digital barrier to your competitors

Ever notice how some brands just seem to be everywhere? They’re number one on Google. You see their banner advertisement on Guns & Ammo. You find a link to their product review. You may also see a piece of content in your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feed. And after a while you begin to notice your friends and family are talking about them as well.

If you’re serious about building your brand for the future, you must begin to consider how digital will play a role.

In this post, I’ve identified ten elements (up from seven in 2016) that are widely used from the top outdoor, hunting and firearm companies in the industry and how you can begin to build each into expanding your brand’s digital footprint.  

1. 10x content
10x content can be a video that demonstrates your product, a blog, infographic or downloadable offer that informs or answers your buyer persona’s (target audience) questions in context with one small catch… It’s got to be ten times better than your competition. It’s not enough to create mediocre content anymore. If you’re looking to get into content marketing by banging out a blog post here and there, it isn’t going to work. A high level of quality must be established based around the buyers journey to cut through the millions (or billions) of other pieces of content to be effective.

According to Moz, the criteria for 10 times better content consists of the following:

  • It has to have great UI and UX on any device.
  • That content is generally a combination of high quality, trustworthy, it’s useful, interesting, and remarkable. It doesn’t have to be all of those but some combination of them.
  • It’s got to be considerably different in scope and in detail from other works that are serving the same visitor or user intent.
  • It’s got to create an emotional response. I want to feel awe. I want to feel surprise. I want to feel joy, anticipation, or admiration for that piece of content in order for it to be considered 10x.
  • It has to solve a problem or answer a question by providing comprehensive, accurate, exceptional information or resources.
  • It’s got to deliver content in a unique, remarkable, typically unexpectedly pleasurable style or medium.

The more your content aligns with the above criteria the more opportunities will be created to rank higher on search engines, garner more inbound links, social media shares, views and customer trust.

2. Video
Video has become the leading form of content in recent years. All social media platforms now have a video option and for good reason. 91% of consumers want to see more online video content from brands. 86% of marketing professionals use video as a marketing tool. 66% of consumers find short-form videos to be the most engaging type of content on social media. 92% of video marketers say they’ve gotten a good ROI from video marketing. Should video be included in your marketing? It’s now a necessity to creating a robust digital footprint. 

3. Display (or banner) advertising
I’m not a big proponent of display advertising in the form of web banners, but I don’t see them going away anytime soon. The average click-through rate is less than 0.06% (Source: Hubspot). You’re more likely to complete Navy SEAL training than click on a web banner. SHOT Show sponsors this year only received between 0.1% and 0.08% CTR. I only suggest using banner advertising in conjunction with retargeting, sponsored content, events and middle of funnel offers. With the rise of ad blockers and repeated market research data that shows user’s intolerance to ad banners, banners can be a risky marketing investment as a standalone strategy. The upside to banners is that they are a viable way to keep your brand image top of mind. This however is difficult to track and like its print advertising equivalent—should be directed to landing pages that are designed to convert visitors into customers.

firearm-banner-advertising

 

4. Email
One of the highest returns on investment in marketing comes from email. You’ve probably already heard that email marketing will return $48 for every dollar spent. We’ve had campaigns that cost $3K provide a 1000x for specific products for a certain price. When set up correctly, automation generates revenue for your online store while you sleep. We love email as it’s the number one way to generate income as a digital marketing agency in the regulated hunting and firearms space.

5. Search engines
Search engine optimization ties in directly with point number one. With good SEO ingrained in your 10x content—your efforts will help you obtain top rankings. The hunting category and self-defense segments thus far are the most saturated—so if you’re in this class, you have your work cut out. However, opportunities still abound for brands who do it right among other categories (safes, hunting/tactical knives, night vision and ammunition to name a few) where there is still digital gold to be mined. Also work on creating back links from popular websites. 

firearms influencer marketing

Alex Zedra is a top firearm influencer.

6. Influencers
Many hunting and firearms brands are unable to advertise on social media platforms due to restrictions. However, there is an alternative approach that can be effective. By collaborating with influencers in the industry, you can showcase your products to a targeted audience. According to a study by Hubspot, 50% of Millennials trust product recommendations from influencers, compared to only 38% for recommendations from celebrities. This highlights the potential impact of influencer marketing. Utilizing influencers allows you to generate authentic content and build trust with your client’s customers. This strategy has been successful for the past six years, providing a proven return on investment. Overall, working with influencers can be a great way to reach your target audience and achieve positive results.

7. Social media
Facebook, Instagram. YouTube and other social channels continue to give the firearm and hunting industry grief. As long as you’re not blatantly trying to sell firearms directly or posting your latest trophy, you’re supposedly safe—but how long is this going to last? Can you imagine reporting to your CEO that you just lost your Facebook account of sixty thousand followers because of an inadvertent post? This has already happened several times. Regardless, these roadblocks can be overcome with 10x content that can still produce desirable results when adding in alluring photography and videos. We’ve all figured out that engaging photography with creative lighting and filters of MSRs and 1911s as well as beautiful hunting scenery amass likes and shares. The average Instagram post lasts 48 hours, while the average half-life of a Twitter post lasts 24 minutes. Invest in these aspects of your branding to continue expanding your digital footprint on a consistent basis by posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter three times a day and to Twitter at least ten times a day. For YouTube, invest in short form and long form video.

8. Product reviews
Manufacturers have a love/hate relationship with product reviews. Some are good and can help move the sales needle, and others paint the brand and product in a less than ideal light. However, having your product reviewed can create a good amount of web traffic and sales. 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and they are now essential for firearm and hunting e-commerce sites (Source: eConsultantcy). Manufacturers will always be under the eye of vocal hobbyists, so make sure to always enlist the right reviewers and thank them whether they get it right or wrong while directing that traffic to your website. 

9. Community
One way to think of community is by building your own private deer reserve. By creating a flourishing and self-sustaining habitat, you’ll have deer to hunt and eat for a very long time. The same analogy applies here.

Ever had to pay to hunt on private land? Right now, there exists opportunities to build your community before your competitors do. Access to the audiences you seek will become harder to find, and will become price prohibitive—especially for start-ups. Where I live, access to good hunting grounds are vanishing as more and more hunters are forced to pay to access private land where the opportunities to bag a big one still exist. 

Marcus Sheridan describes these brands as being part of the “Digital Land Rush.” He calls them “Digital Sooners” and they’re depicted as Innovators and Early Adopters below. Warrior Poet Society has built their community through their app.  Another group, Greyhive is working to also create a group of firearm tactical trainers.

CompNChoke Outdoor Web Design10. Website
Last but not least is your website. It should be prioritized and considered the first step in your strategy. The messaging on your website needs to be clear and concise, conveying what your business does, the problem it solves, and the steps taken to solve that problem. The navigation should be streamlined, with no more than 5 links. Additionally, your website should include at least five clear calls to action, social proof in the form of testimonials, reviews, and images of satisfied customers. Think of your website as a safety net – it needs to be solid and free of any issues before moving on to other marketing efforts. 

Add a CRM and a tracking and you’ve got all the pieces in place.

In conclusion, many outdoor, hunting and firearm brands lag behind their competitors and other industries concerning digital marketing. Many marketers and business owners in niche segments of the industry are missing out on lucrative revenue streams and community-building opportunities. By building a solid digital marketing footprint now, your business will be ready for what inevitably lies ahead when everything is plugged into AI

Article originally published April 30, 2016.

 

outdoor hunting firearm product launch tips

Don’t Overlook These Tips For A Successful Product Launch

By Firearms and Hunting

SHOT Show kicks off in a few weeks in Las Vegas, and gun aficionados, dealers, media, shooting enthusiasts, and other industry professionals worldwide will be in attendance. Product launches are always a highlight of any SHOT Show, and this year is no exception.

Unfortunately, most brands will manage their launches without adhering to a few proven methods that lead to a successful product launch. In my research and experience, there tend to be three key factors that determine the success of any product launch in the outdoor, hunting and shooting sports industry.

Although it may be too late for you to make any changes now for SHOT 2023, the following post will delve deeper into these three factors and how to apply them when planning your product launch later this year or for SHOT 2024.

Note: Before you get to any of the below, it is vitally important for brands to have done their due diligence before launching a new product. Researching the market, understanding consumer needs, and anticipating buying trends are essential to ensure you’re not wasting time and money on a product no one wants. 

 

1. Add Value and Activate Your Buyers

The first factor to consider in a product launch is to add value and activate your buyers (or email list). Begin by engaging with your target audience through various marketing channels and tactics by cultivating curiosity and piquing their interest in the product idea before the launch.

Utilize a a pre-launch campaign that builds excitement before the reveal and gives customers a chance to share input and what they can expect. It also allows companies to build relationships with potential customers or partners during the development process, which adds another layer of value to your launch efforts. People buy into what they invest in. This premise is the same reason crowd funding sites like Kick Starter are so popular.

Here are four ways how to add value before your launching

  1. Survey your email list on what they want
  2. Tease your new product idea through email and social media
  3. Get influencers to survey and ask their networks about certain aspects of your product: color, shape, function, benefits etc. 
  4. Write a series of articles stating the current problem and the solution you are considering solving

Track engagement and feedback and make adjustments early before investing heavily in your launch.

 

2. Create Hype and Desire Before Availability

Top Gun opened early this year and grossed huge box office numbers due to the high levels of hype and desire created before its release. The same principle applies for product launches. Companies must create the hype and generate desire for their product with consumers before revealing it; otherwise, interest may be low and short-lived.

Top Gun Trailer

A few ways to create hype and desire before the reveal include:

  1. Develop a story around the product that is compelling and interesting
  2. Leverage content marketing to create interest and discussion
  3. Use influencers or celebrity endorsements to generate buzz
  4. Use social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter to share sneak peeks of the product

Most companies just add their product to their website and send a press release to media outlets, but it’s important to think outside the box and try to create desire before launch.

SilencerCo’s 2015 Product Teaser

 

3. Law of Limited Supply or Scarcity

The law of limited supply or scarcity is the third factor to consider when launching a product. Companies must create a sense that the product is in high demand and low supply to drive pre-launch interest. Scarcity can be accomplished by limiting access to certain product versions or making it available for a limited time only. Here are a few ideas: 

  1. Price increase
  2. Limited runs
  3. Exclusive availability
  4. Early access/pre-order incentives
  5. Social media pre-launch contests with exclusive gifts, discounts, and prizes

These all create a sense that the product is highly sought after, creating high anticipation for the launch. It also encourages customers to take action sooner rather than later to get their hands on your new product. People want what they can’t have. 

Springfield Hellcat Release Video

In conclusion, when planning a successful product launch, brands must remember the three key factors that influence success:

  • Adding value and activate your buyers
  • Creating hype and desire before availability
  • Leveraging the law of limited supply or scarcity

With these in mind, industry brands can ensure that their products get off to a great start in 2023 and have ample time to prepare for SHOT Show in 2024 and beyond! 

Most product launches are uncoordinated, fall flat and do not reflect the investment, time and effort you put into developing your product. 

GET A PRODUCT LAUNCH PLAN

 

Sources:

  1. Launch, by Jeff Walker, 2021
  2. Photography by Chris Dorsey 

 

New Gun Owners Covid 19

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

By Firearms and Hunting

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

 

Gun buying trends covid 2020

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

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

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

1. Clarify Your Message for Beginners

SW Marketing Messaging

Smith and Wesson’s Website

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

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

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

Action Item:  Create a clear welcoming website header like:  

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

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

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

2. Create Educational Content and a Sales Funnel

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

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

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

Sig is also addressing new owners with this blog post

Sig Marketing Messaging

Sig Sauer addressing new customer questions.

 

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

3. Demo Your Products over Zoom?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

CLEAR MESSAGING TASKLIST

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

What you get:

  • Introduction to a 7-part framework to clarify your message
  • Know what to say and what order to say it in
  • Give your team a messaging process that can be implemented across all your marketing materials
DOWNLOAD TASK LIST
2020 Trends Affecting The Outdoor, Hunting And Shooting Sports Industry Marketing

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

By Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

1. Millennials Are Now

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

millenial hunters

Photo credit: www.iwla.org

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

To make my point, here are a few stats

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

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

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

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

how to deer hunt trends

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

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

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

 

2. Field-to-Fork Movement Continues to Grow

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

steven-rinella-meateater

Photo credit: Meateater

 

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

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

 

3. Retailers Have to Play Marketing Catchup

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

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

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

 

4. Going International

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

For starters,

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

Source: Ryan Cleckner 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

6. Have More Fun in Your Marketing!

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

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

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

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

 

7. Instagram Influencer Restrictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outdoor Firearms Hunting Advertising Agency

5 Ways To Make Firearm & Hunting Advertising More Compelling

By Firearms and Hunting

 

In recent years, print advertising across all industries have taken a hit. Advertisers are increasingly allocating more of their budgets to online ads and content at the expense of TV and print media.

While TV and online ads will continue to dominate the global ads market, print ads will be relegated to the last spot and have the smallest share in the advertising industry. (Source: Trefis)

Print is also expensive. The average full-page ad in Deer and Deer Hunting can run you $7,975 and for good reason. The quality of content by these publishers as well as the magazine’s reach can’t be beat and are still proven to be viable channels. But, how many times have you placed an ad with high expectations only to see your efforts vanish into thin air?

If you’re struggling or are considering placing an ad to increase sales or build brand awareness, I’d like to share with you five ways to make your firearm or hunting advertising more compelling and how you can tie those efforts in with your inbound marketing efforts to track effectiveness and ROI.

 

firearms advertising1. Use an interesting concept 
As important as photography is, you can make your ad much more efficient by integrating a brand concept into the design to make it more interesting. Take a moment to think about your brand and the value it provides to your customer. Is there a way to incorporate those values or benefits into your spread that not only showcases your product, but that also invokes an emotion to make your advertising more memorable. As the old saying goes, “People may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

A great example is Crimson Trace. They use a serious face inside a silhouette of a person using a laser in self-defense. They then communicate the mindset of their customer through the copy. 

Use Storytelling To Breakthrough
Story is a sense-making device used since the dawn of time to communicate—our brains are hardwired for it. Used properly, story will give you an edge over your competitors ads—even if their product is better.  The reason why story works so well is that it cuts through the clutter and distraction of today’s cute and clever headlines and clearly communicates the benefits of your product’s benefits without all the fluff. Too many brands play the hero, when they need to be playing the guide. This helps your customer understand your offering faster and helps them become something better e.g., a better marksman, more accurate, more aware, savvier or in some cases more advanced. 

2. Go beyond features and talk more about benefits
If you page through any firearms or hunting magazine almost all of the advertising is based on features. Don’t get me wrong, features are paramount, because they represent the manufacturer’s approach to solving a problem, but the problem is, everyone does this. Everyone says their product is superior, the best, most accurate, most durable or is the next big thing. And while that may be true, your biggest competitor isn’t the other manufacturer; it’s the clutter of “me-to” products in the marketplace.

gun-advertisement-features

Features!

To go beyond the features, you have to determine how your product will benefit the customer, and how this aligns with your brand’s positioning and the intrinsic characteristics of your buyer persona.  How will your knife perform when you’ve downed an Elk back in the dog hair—and it’s getting dark? Does the color of your knife’s handle or the strap on your head-mounted light solve this problem? Does your backpack make it easier to pack out without the hindquarter sliding all over the place?

Communicate the reasons why you built lightweight materials into your stock and hand guards. Tell them why less weight for the operator hiking 20 miles up Korangal valley in Afghanistan help them to go further that contributes to the success of their mission. Show these advantages in your advertising. Seek to connect the features with real-time application.

 

3. Create tension
Today’s consumer has seen it all, and they’re less likely than ever to notice even your masterpiece of art and copy, let alone internalize it. Your job is to craft a piece that rises out of the noise to make an impact. (Source: Luke Sullivan)

In his book, “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This”, Luke Sullivan explains the importance on drawing from highly emotional concepts to help customers remember your brand by creating tension or conflict.

In an ad placed on SilencerCo.’s website—they combine the oppressive event of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 with their goal of communicating legal ownership of suppressors and that we (the public) are being suppressed (stoking the emotions of us red-blooded patriots) from purchasing silencers and that we should stand up for our rights. Combining this imagery with their branding creates a highly, emotional and thought-provoking ad through the use of tension.

SilencerCo-Fight-the-Noise

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

 

4. Use faces
One of the first things we focus in on when we are born is the faces of our family. This isn’t just because they are always around in those first few weeks. The brain has a specific circuit for recognizing faces called the fusiform gyrus, or the fusiform face area. We are hard-wired to respond to faces. In the ads below, what ad are you most drawn to? (Source: Canva)

firearm-hunting-advertising-marketing

 

5. Track for measurement and ROI
Lastly, if you can’t track it, what’s the point of advertising? The answer is likely because companies are now used to understanding what their dollars are doing. When print, TV and billboards were the primary ad spots, attribution was not an easy task. But today, companies have built a habit of understanding how much revenue is generated by their ad spend dollars thanks to the Internet and Google Analytics. (Source: Small Biz Trends) With thousands of dollars invested, it makes sense to try to track your communication. Here are a few ways to do so:

• Create a vanity URL and place it in your ad and use Google Analytics to measure
• Create a QR code
• Offer a free downloadable offer like an ebook or whitepaper to generate leads
• Offer an incentive like a giveaway to generate leads
• Create a special call in or vanity phone number

By implementing print ad tracking you’re reducing the amount of traffic that is wrongly classified as Direct or Organic search and gaining insight into how your different print efforts are working. With this practice, you will be beyond most companies who do print advertising with little understanding of how their ad performs. (Source: Small Biz Trends)

So to wrap up, use interesting concepts, go beyond just features, create tension, use people’s faces and track your print efforts to understand if your advertising is effective. By taking these extra steps, you can create more compelling advertising and make better marketing decisions. 

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.

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.  

firearm hunting web design ecommerce sales

3 Secrets to Reducing Your Firearm Website’s Bounce Rate

By Firearms and Hunting

Do you know what your bounce rate is? A bounce rate is like having a hole in your boat. By not plugging it, you’re leaking potential revenue—and lots of it.

For example, if you look at your Google Analytics, and it says you’re getting 10,000 visits per month (which is a great amount of traffic), but your bounce rate is 60%—this means you only have 6,000 visitors—not so great. Bounce rate could be the one metric in your firearm or hunting brand’s digital marketing program that is holding you back from reaching your online sales goals.

When considering inbound marketing or any other kind of digital marketing program, it is necessary before any content is created to build an “inbound-ready website.” Since inbound is a long-term strategy that builds traffic, contacts, and customers over time, a firm and fast digital foundation (your website) is mission critical for success.

The web is a highly fast, get in and get out kind of medium. By making your visitors wait for more than 3 seconds, you’re leaving a lot of revenue on the table.

firearm hunting website design performance

Below are three critical considerations to reduce your firearm or hunting brand website’s bounce rate.

1. Site speed

The first place to start is to determine where your website is now and what to fix. Check out these four tools to determine your website’s speed
:

If your website takes 3 seconds to load, it’s time to raise some red flags and make the necessary changes quickly. 

The first step is to look for large images. Every image should be around 50K or lower. The smaller your images are, the faster your site will load. Video should be compressed if you’re embedding it.

The second step is to minimize scripts and combine CSS files or move javascript (the code that makes your site come alive) to the bottom of the website. This tells browsers to load the content above the “fold” (content you see in your browser’s window) first.

The third step is server speed.
A lot of us spend little to nothing on a quality web host. GoDaddy, WordPress Engine, Rackspace and others provide a reliable service, however when every second counts— and you’re serious about moving the needle on ROI, a dedicated server or a CDN should be considered.

What’s the difference between a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and a Dedicated Server?

Content Delivery Networks serve content across a network of “edge” servers putting your website in closer proximity to your visitors no matter where they are in the world. This makes download speeds faster because data doesn’t need to travel across a shared network. CDNs like Cloudflare or Amazon are fairly inexpensive and can be implemented relatively quickly. CDN’s are a must for companies who have (or are interested) in acquiring international customers. For a more technical explanation on CDNs, please see this resource.

CDN

Source: GT Metrix

A Dedicated Server gives you the same type of computing power of a new 2.4 GHz 8GB Mac laptop—except it’s deployed over the internet. This means instead of sharing your hosting with hundreds or perhaps thousands of other websites—you have one server dedicated to your site alone. A Dedicated Server will boost your website’s speed exponentially. In a recent test, we were able to get a 5 – 12-second savings (over mobile and desktop) from moving to a dedicated server versus a shared server. Dedicated hosting is worth it especially if you’re running an e-commerce store and every sale counts.

2. Use engaging images and CTAs

A mantra I’ve tried to live by when it comes to web design is “don’t let my website visitor think.” This means that when a visitor hits your site for the first time, they are in “learning or search mode” and it’s up to you to think for them by matching their question, curiosity or interest with the solution your product offers. Provide the information to them in a quick and engaging way; then define the path you want them to take to achieve your goal: share, like, signup, contact or purchase. Use CTAs to direct their actions. 

3. Engaging modules

Quality photography and video is a must in the firearms and hunting industry because of its experiential nature—but what works even better is something that is interactive that helps users learn about your product and that moves them further down the sales process. Rifle builders, tabbed or accordion modules, interactive content, surveys, etc. can keep visitors engaged for a longer period and keeps them coming back.

Google uses site speed, and there is indications that bounce rate (Source: Search Engine Land) as a ranking factor. So if you’re in a competitive segment of the industry and need a boost from your search engine marketing efforts, a dedicated server, CDN or both will make your website faster and move you up in rankings. 

By focusing on the above measures, you won’t be left wondering what’s wrong with your conversion funnels and can be free to concentrate on optimizing other areas of your digital marketing without the nagging suspicion that your website is holding you back.

 

 

firearms-growth-driven-design

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Introduction to Growth-Driven Web Design

Is your website performing at its peak, or has it been sitting idle for 2-3 years? Was your last website redesign over-budget, out of scope and delivered late?

In this ebook, Luke Summerfield explains a different approach to website design that will help you save cost, launch faster and create a more effective sales and marketing tool that will grow leads, customers, and sales online.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

How to use inbound marketing at SHOT Show

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Inbound Marketing Approach to SHOT Show

By Firearms and Hunting

 

With SHOT Show right around the corner, it’s do or die time for most firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, and related product manufacturers and service providers.

Buyers, dealers, distributors are all looking for the next big thing and to make profitable deals to stock their shelves and inventory for the coming year. The largest trade show of its kind in the world and the fifth largest trade show in Las Vegas, the SHOT Show features more than 1,600 exhibitors filling booth space covering 630,000 net square feet. The show, which is a trade-only event, attracts more than 62,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries. (Source: NSSF)

With so much of your hard earned money going into SHOT (booth design, travel expenses, sponsorships, product and staff)—the question then becomes, is SHOT Show going to pay off? Have you done the work of attracting buyers and prospects before the show that delivers qualified leads? Or is your approach more based on booth babes, free t-shirts and a celebrity selfie station to drive traffic? Isn’t there a more strategic, effective and trackable way that will make the most important trade show of the year pay off?

In the infographic below, we help you think through how an inbound marketing approach to SHOT Show can increase your sales opportunities by 20%. (Source: Demand Gen) And that continues to build sales and that creates a foundation for an effective and powerful marketing strategy all year long.

SHOT Show preparation begins right after the show is over. By taking this approach, your 2018 SHOT Show will be more successful. 

inbound-marketing-increase-sales-shot-show-infographic

shot show marketing sales plan

Steal My SHOT Show Strategy

By Firearms and Hunting

 

SHOT Show is right around the corner. If you’ve done an adequate job of promoting your SHOT Show presence and built a booth that rivals the Taj Mahal (or not)—the next and sometimes most difficult step is how to organize all those booth visitors you are going to attract into qualified leads. After all, that’s why you’re at SHOT right?

Before you hand over that koozie, T-shirt or iPad—have you determined the right questions to ask that qualifies your booths’ visitors—with the goal of turning them into promoters, leads or customers?

Trade shows, for the most part, are huge lead generators. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), exhibitors identify lead generation at 80-85% as the reason that companies exhibit at trade shows. This is closely followed by branding and customer engagement.

If you’re a wholesaler, distributor or manufacturer in the hunting, outdoor or firearms industry, here are 6 points from my B2B strategy for SHOT Show that you can steal to make the most of your leads and build better relationships with buyers and dealers. 

 

1. Set Goals

It’s crazy how many companies go to SHOT without some sense of what they hope to accomplish. If it’s a certain number of handshakes, booth visits, clicks, leads, sales, contacts, P.O.s—whatever, set a goal and make a plan to achieve it. It will give you some sense of measurement of how successful your show was. 

Steal my strategy: Take your overall  SMART goals for the year and decide what a good show ROI looks like. Begin setting up meetings two-three weeks out via email and personal messaging via LinkedIn and then broadcast your attendance on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Make sure to use the shows hashtags: #shotshow or #shotshow2024 so your posts show up in the SHOT Show App.  Track engagement through a good analytics tool. 

 

2. Identify the difference between a prospect and a lead

With over 65,000 attendees and 1,600 exhibitors do you know what your ideal customer/buyer looks like? It’s amazing how many marketers and salespeople don’t understand what the difference is between a prospect and a lead—let alone how to qualify them. A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their sales funnel. (Source: MarketingSherpa)  When someone strolls up to your booth without an appointment, they most likely are in the awareness/information gathering stage. They found you online, heard about your product/service or saw what you offer as they were walking by. 

Make sure that you have a list of questions to initiate a conversation that helps you identify where they are in the buying process and how you can best help them. I want to emphasize the word HELP. How can you help their business? 70% of people make purchasing decisions to solve problems. 30% make decisions to gain something. (Source: Impact Communications) Focus on that aspect and not pitching your product/services first. In the back of your mind, you need to be always thinking about uncovering what their problem is and how your product or service helps. 

Here’re a few examples:

  1. What brings you to SHOT Show? (identifies their intent)
  2. How did you hear about us? (identifies understanding)
  3. What kind of business are you in? (identifies who the prospect is)
  4. What are you looking for in this type of_____?
    (identifies if they are serious or are just browsing)
  5. What are your goals/challenges for the show/or 2017?
  6. What are some things you’ve been working on lately?

For more questions, see this post: 16 Sales Qualification Questions to Identify Prospects Worth Pursuing

By taking the time to focus and talk about their business—not yours—you are saying “you are important to me” which builds trust with the prospect. This brings down the hard-sell barrier and allows for a more engaging conversation.

Steal my strategy: If you’ve been executing an inbound marketing strategy throughout the past year, meetings at SHOT Show may be just a formality at this point. The sales cycle is 95% complete, and a face-to-face meeting is just icing on the cake on what will be a long and successful business relationship. The meetings I have at SHOT, are with qualified leads I’ve nurtured over the past 5-6 months. 

 

trade-show-booth-strategy3. Take advantage of the “Lookie Lous”

While no definite industry statistics are available on this, likely only 10-20% of booth visitors are potentially qualified leads, if that many. So the question becomes how to sort out the best potential leads from the rest before initiating an expensive and time-consuming lead qualification process? (Source: Biznology)

If you’ve come to the realization that the person you’re talking to is not a qualified lead or what I like to call a “lookie lou,” (someone who is strictly there out of curiosity and who may just want to grab some schwag)—what can you do to make the most out of this touch point while not wasting valuable time? For example, you may pass him/her off to your booths’ official “lookie lou” ambassador. Someone who is solely responsible for handling unqualified leads that free up your front-line sales person. That person might ask them to tweet about your brand with your company’s #hashtag in exchange for a booth chachkie. Most people will be willing to do this in exchange for some schwag.

The more activity you can create over social media the better. You may want to add a label or sticker to your giveaways instructing them what to post. When you see the person’s post, thank them and follow them back to close the loop.

Steal my strategy: Don’t let any touch point go to waste. You never know who the person you are talking to may be; they may be an influencer with thousands of followers or someone looking to place a big order. Make sure to gather their info and connect on social media and remain in contact with them to build your network.  

 

4. Enter leads into your CRM and follow-up fast!

Whether you’re scanning badges or entering leads into a CRM—send them a follow-up email within 24 hours or less. Thank them for stopping by and mention what you talked about to jog their memory. Depending on your conversation, make sure you find them and connect with them via LinkedIn if possible. Most prospects will be impressed on how fast you followed up. If you’re getting hundreds of leads per day—it will become difficult to follow up the night after the show because you’ll be exhausted. This is were using a CRM can come in handy.

Steal my strategy: Create your follow up email in advance with MailChimp, Constant Contact or your marketing automation tool and then import their names and email addresses, a note on the nature of the conversation and next steps. Send and track for engagement within 24 hours. Make sure to let them know that you will follow up by phone next week to discuss your sales conversation further or appointment details.

 

5. Qualify prospects through an automated workflow

Depending on how many contacts you gather over the week of SHOT Show, you may not have had time to qualify every single person you talked to. Or you may have experienced some push-back. Using your contact list, begin to nurture your leads through a series of emails based around a workflow that addresses the specific problems that your product or service solves. Link to your company’s blog and downloadable offers to educate your leads. Get your emails sent within 5 days. 

Steal my strategy: Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group) By educating your leads through automation, you speed up the sales process, save time, build trust, brand awareness and rapport. 

 

6. Standout through social media

Do you have a social media strategy? How are you going to use social media to draw and attract leads to your SHOT Show booth? A simple strategy starts first with automation. Using HubSpot’s social inbox, you can schedule all your promotional tweets and posts (Facebook and Instagram) in advance. Start with a schedule then create eye-catching graphics based on your promotions, product releases or giveaways. Make sure to include the hashtag #shotshow2107 and #shotshow along with your own specialty hashtag.  Then create a mobile-friendly designated landing page that specifically showcases your promotions and a meeting signup form. Make sure to use your hashtag in your printed materials like an ad or sponsorship. 

Steal my strategy: I was amazed on how few brands utilized social media. This gives savvy companies an opportunity to stand out and attract leads. Schedule anywhere from 6-10 tweets, and 3-10 Instagram posts/stories per day.

So to sum up, identify the difference of what a prospect and lead look like, make the most of every touch point, follow up within 24 hours, utilize automated workflows to nurture leads along your sales funnel and get busy on social media. 

Have a great show! 

Firearm Digital Marketing

What are Successful Firearm Digital Marketers Doing That You Aren’t?

By Firearms and Hunting

 

If you’ve ever launched a new website that didn’t attract visitors or sales, poured time and money into a search engine optimization plan that failed to improve your position in Google, or watched in vain as your social media posts fell flat, then you probably ask yourself a common question: what are my successful competitors doing that I am not?

In my experience, the answers tend to be surprisingly simple. Although a lot of business owners imagine it must come down to differences in budgets, we have learned that most successful firearm digital marketers simply share a few common traits and habits. If you’re seeing another company do better than you are, here are a few of the likely reasons why…

They know who their buyer personas are

While a lot of average marketers take a random approach to their messaging, the best know exactly who they are trying to reach and what kind of message they want to convey. If you aren’t sure what your best prospects look like, and where they hang out on the web, you’re going to have a hard time reaching them in a cost-effective way.

They have a distinct brand message

With so many me-too products, taglines, slogans and imagery in the firearm industry—successful digital marketers also have a firm understanding of what their brand purpose, positioning and value proposition is in their respective segments. They then beat key messaging into every piece of communication through text, imagery, tone, and style.

They invest in growth-driven web design

Unsuccessful business owners tend to see web design and digital marketing as a one-time cost. The best, on the other hand, devote a monthly or quarterly budget with the goal of improving and optimizing website performance over time. That’s important because consumer behavior, technology, and competitor tactics change roughly every six months. Conversely, it’s hard to do well when you take a “one-and-done” approach and try to accomplish everything at once.

They keep adding new blog posts and social content

Experienced marketers know that customer interest, search engine traffic, and a strong social following are all the byproduct of regular content updates and engagement. So, they work hard to release new content on a regular schedule. If you simply let your website and social profiles set without any new updates or additions, customers and search engines alike are going to perceive your business as having gone stale.

They check their web analytics regularly

The longer you spend in digital marketing, the more you learn that the devil – along with the opportunities – is always in the details. By paying attention to web analytics, you can see trends developing in real-time and remove bottlenecks from your website or sales funnel. But, if you aren’t keeping a close eye on the numbers—or you don’t even know what your numbers are—it’s difficult to make sense of the seemingly random results you get from your website from one week to the next.

They are getting experienced creative help

Web design and digital marketing are highly complex topics. Even if most business owners and executives could manage to stay on top of all that’s going on in our industry, they wouldn’t have time to execute most of their best plans and ideas. That’s why they turn to experienced creative teams that have a proven track record of success. Without a bit of outside help, they just wouldn’t have the time and focus needed to get everything done.

Digital marketing can be incredibly complicated, but it’s based on simple principles. If you aren’t getting the help you need, or the right kinds of results, now is the perfect time to call us and see how we can help!

Digital Firearm Marketing

3 Digital Firearm Marketing Trends Poised To Continue In 2017

By Firearms and Hunting

 

It’s not always easy to tell the future in the world of Internet marketing. New ideas, apps, and challenges can seem to spring up from nowhere in a heartbeat. However, there are some trends and ideas that are so clear and profound that you can’t help but notice them on the horizon. The rise of search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising (firearms excluded), and social media (as examples) were all fairly easy to see coming for those of us working in the firearms and hunting industry.

And so, as we gear up for the end of an eventful year and head into SHOT Show, it’s worth taking a moment to look ahead and see which new ideas are likely to pick up steam in the coming year as you evaluate your marketing plan. If you want to get a jump on your competitors, and make your business as profitable as possible, here are three firearm digital marketing trends you should prepare for in 2017…

1. Mobile-First Web Design

In a relatively short amount of time, responsive web design became the accepted way to create new websites because it allowed companies to maintain one presence that would work for desktop, tablet, and mobile visitors all at the same time. Now, many businesses are thinking primarily of mobile web visits, since they make up a growing majority of all web traffic.

Responsive design still makes the most sense for the average firearm or hunting business. The big change, though, is the knowledge that mobile visitors are likely to make up the bulk of your visits within the next year or two. And now with Google adding a mobile-only index to mobile users, if you’re not responsive, then you’re basically non-existent. 

2. Local And Niche Search Marketing for Firearm Dealers

Not so long ago, engaging in search engine optimization or pay-per-click marketing meant competing against other businesses in your market or industry from around the world. But, customers have gotten savvier – looking for both local businesses and those that can meet very niche demands especially when looking for the best deals.

The net result is that marketers have to be much more focused about the kind of visits they attract online. Targeting large groups of buyers might sound appealing, but it’s no longer efficient.

3. Conversion Optimization

Because the effort and expense associated with attracting visits to the website has gone up, the pressure on marketers to convert visitors into buyers has become greater, too. And so, companies aren’t just worrying about their search engine positioning, but also the rate at which potential customers are completing purchases and requesting information.

If your website isn’t efficient, then you’re leaving money on the table. Or, you might not even be making money at all. For those reasons, conversion rate optimization (which is the art and science of turning web visitors into buyers) is going to keep getting a lot of attention.

There’s no guarantee these will be the only three trends you have to worry about next year, but you can bet being ready for them will put you in a much better position than most of the other companies in your segment. Isn’t that worth aiming for?

firearms digital marketing

7 Firearm & Hunting Digital Marketing Factors You Can’t Ignore

By Firearms and Hunting

 

The term digital marketing gets thrown around quite a bit in the firearms and hunting industry. You know you need to “go” digital, but are still unsure what going *digital* exactly means or how to integrate these tactics with your current pre-paid outbound ad spend.

Digital marketing is an all-encompassing term that uses strategies like inbound marketing and content marketing or tactics like banner advertising, PPC (pay-per-click), SEO (search engine optimization) SEM (search engine marketing), social media and video, specifically on the internet to market products and services. Digital is not print magazine advertising, billboard, radio, tradeshow or T.V. Although digital is used to promote or augment these traditional mass marketing methods towards the desired result e.g. more sales, these methods are often difficult to measure.

Digital marketing budgets continue to increase as a preferred method of marketing and advertising by senior executives because of digitals’ ability to prove ROI. (Source: HubSpot)

According to the latest survey, more than two-thirds of Americans own smartphones. More people are shopping online—up 14% from 298.3 billion in 2015. (Source: Internet Retailer) And now for the first time over 50% of all web traffic is from mobile.

I would also add—just as an observation—more hunters and shooters are taking their smartphones into duck blinds, deer stands, and gun ranges. They’re searching for tips, products, and information while participating in outdoor activities. They are also comparing prices with other retailers online while shopping in-store. 

hunting-firearms-marketing

Photo credit: Bass Pro Shops

Although many customers still prefer to shop in-store—customers are increasingly buying firearms, ammo, hunting supplies and accessories directly online. (Source: NSSF)

With over 70% of the sales process starting online and digital marketing becoming something hunting and firearm brands can no longer ignore—here are seven factors necessary to making the move to “digital.”

 

1. Website: Build a mobile-friendly digital hub

Some of the biggest names in the industry still have yet to move towards a mobile-friendly or otherwise known as a responsive web page format (websites that scale with screen size). Did you know that Google—who controls over 60% (Source: Search Engine Land) of all web search traffic—favors websites that are mobile-friendly? 74 percent of mobile users will leave unresponsive sites. And nearly a fourth of all Internet users access the Internet solely through mobile devices.

If you haven’t made the move to a mobile-friendly website, this should be your number one priority because right now you’re losing out on hundreds to thousands of potential customers, subscribers, and sales. 

A recent Google survey of mobile users found that 72 percent of mobile users say it’s important to them that websites are mobile-friendly, yet 96 percent have visited a site that doesn’t work well on their device. Almost three-quarters of respondents said they are more likely to revisit a mobile-friendly site. Users are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete if the site isn’t optimized for mobile use, with 79 percent saying they will go back to search and try to find another site to meet their needs.

Almost three-quarters of respondents said they are more likely to revisit a mobile-friendly site. Users are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete if the site isn’t optimized for mobile use, with 79 percent saying they will go back to search and try to find another site to meet their needs. (Source: Search Engine Watch)

If this is starting to make you feel uncomfortable—there are several ways to get “mobile-friendly” fast. A complete website redesign is usually what’s required, but you can convert your current static website through making a few changes in your CSS (cascading style sheets) which means just changing your site’s code to percentages rather than fixed heights and widths. Talk to your web designer/developer on what it would take to make these changes if a web redesign isn’t possible.

 

2. Content: Build a robust content library

Starting with your positioning and brand strategy, create your content: downloadable offers, photos, and imagery. Start with your FAQs. How many of those questions can be turned into articles, how-to’s and videos?

Invest in professional photography and helpful search engine optimized blog articles and content, to begin building a digital foundation that can be grown and improved over time. The best part about content is that it can be tested, used across multiple formats and eventually retargeted. This can save time and money in the long run. Distribute this content far and wide through blog posts, email, social media, trade shows, dealer training, T.V. commercials and even in your sales process. Just like the print advertising you’re used to—think of content as “small ads” that “pull” your prospects to your brand through entertainment, education, and information—instead of “pushing” a message.  

 

social-media-firearms-digital-marketing

Photo credit: Springfield Armory

3. Social Media: Use a mix of “push” and “pull” 

One way to expand your shares and likes as well as drive traffic to your website is by having a good mix of helpful content in addition to the news, events and giveaways you’re most likely posting now. Brands that have this figured out are not only “pushing” their products but are also “pulling” their customers to them by helping them to become better at their identified interests. See Springfield Armory’s Facebook feed for a good example. 

“If you’re not heading in the direction of digital in the hunting and firearms industry, your brand is being left behind, and thousands if not millions of dollars are not making it into your company’s bank account.”

As mentioned above, you can only grow your audience and brand so far on social media with what you’ve been doing which most likely consists of “pushing” your product(s) with photos, videos, giveaways or questions i.e. “who’s going hunting this weekend?” Sure these posts are fun and sometimes drives engagement, but this doesn’t keep your brand relevant. Seek to add value and information to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds. Add in a video from Facebook Live to increase engagement. Aim to make your customers better, smarter and more informed. Your brand should be seen as “the expert” in your category. These tactics will pay dividends when your prospects or customers start looking to purchase that new optic, handguard, suppressor, lower, backpack, etc.

 

firearm-email-marketing

Photo credit: Stag Arms

4. Email Marketing: Your most effective channel

Email marketing is more powerful than it’s ever been. The reason is clear–for ten years in a row, email is the channel generating the highest ROI for marketers. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI. When you want to grow your business, acquire new customers, launch a new product, offer a promotion, you turn to email. Why? Because email delivers better than any other channel. Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. (Source: Campaign Monitor) And as discussed in my last post, 7 Ways to Deepen your Digital Marketing Footprint, email marketing is the main mechanism to build and stay in contact with your audience. 

 

5. Landing Pages: Capture your audience

Landing pages are used to capture user data, such as a name and email address. The sole purpose of the page is to collect information that will allow you to market to and connect with the prospect at a subsequent time. As such, a lead capture page will contain a form along with a description of what you’ll get in return for submitting your personal data. (Source: Unbounce

There are many uses for landing pages:

  • Ebook or whitepaper
  • Giveaways
  • Discount coupon/voucher
  • Contest entry
  • Free trial
  • Notification of a future product launch

While most companies don’t see an increase in leads when increasing their total number of landing pages from 1-5 to 6-10, companies do see a 55% increase in leads when increasing their number of landing pages from 10 to 15. (Source: HubSpot

 

6. SEO: Don’t miss out on organic traffic

SEO is becoming an increasingly overlooked way to drive more traffic and sales to industry websites. Top brands are missing out on traffic that typically total in the tens of thousands because they don’t rank for the terms their prospective customers are searching for. This leaves open opportunities for your competitors to outrank you in the digital space. People are no longer just searching Google, Bing or Yahoo—they’re also searching Facebook, Twitter, Gun District, YouTube, forums and other networks as well. 

Start by conducting what search terms classify your products and what will drive the most traffic with tools like Moz, SEMRush or Wordtracker. Most offer a free 30-day trial.

Here are a few examples of how many leading industry product search words you may be missing out on per month:

  • hunting scope: 4,400
  • ar15: 110,000
  • ak47: 49,500
  • gun safe: 90,500
  • hunting knife: 6,600
  • suppressor: 12,100
  • silencer: 9,900
  • hunting backpack: 1,600

(Source: HubSpot’s keyword tool)

 

7. Analytics: Measure your results 

Do you know what your bounce rate is? Do you also know if your social media likes or shares are translating into sales? Analytics are critical in any digital firearm or hunting marketing strategy because it allows you to track what’s working and what’s not. Analytics allow you to make better decisions like how much ROI your marketing is providing.

The ability to track and measure your marketing is perhaps the greatest benefit to going digital. This is especially beneficial for brands that run an online store.

Click here to get Google Analytics installed to begin measuring your website’s efficiency if you haven’t already. Without analytics, you’re flying blind.

Overall, most industry brands have a long way to go. Those who start now will be in a position to add a valuable revenue channel to their company’s bottom line and leave their competition in the dust. By building in the above seven factors, you’ll be well on your way to “going digital.”