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Firearms and Hunting

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How To Track and Score Your Digital Firearm Marketing Efforts

By Firearms and Hunting

 

When it comes to tracking digital marketing in the firearms and hunting industry, it’s easy to get confused with what metrics matter most. A lot of times we think we are tracking the correct metrics or ‘key performance indicators’ for improvement—but get lost in the pretty charts and graphs of what are commonly referred to as ‘vanity metrics’ that can lead us astray.

vanity-metricsIn this post, I want to give you a practical way on how to track, measure and report on your online efforts using a scorecard we use with our clients to prove the efficacy of our digital marketing efforts. The scorecard also helps us to understand where our strategy needs improvement and what to adjust over the course of our campaign(s).

So let’s dive in!

 

1. What is a KPI?
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a business metric used to evaluate factors that are crucial to the success of an organization. KPIs differ per organization; firearm businesses’ KPIs may be net revenue or a customer loyalty metric, while the government might consider unemployment rates, or non-profits, donations.

In digital marketing, there are three classes of KPIs we recommend you pay attention to.

A. Mechanical KPIs
Mechanical KPIs deal with the performance of your digital hub, or in other words—your website. Four critical KPIs to gauge are:

  • Organic traffic – The number of strangers visiting your website of their own free will that found you on the first page of search engine pages vs. paid where you paid to be on the first page.
  • Bounce rates – Bounce rate is one of the most misunderstood metrics. Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits (or web sessions). It is the number of visits in which a person leaves your website from the landing page without browsing any further. A good industry bounce rate to aim for is 20-30%. To decrease bounce rates, entice your users to click to a second page on your website.
  • Marketing Grader – Your website must be fast and load under 3 seconds and meet these basic standards.  Grade Your Website Now!
  • Search engine optimization –Does your website meet the minimum criteria to be considered optimized? Fix Your Website Now!

A fast-loading, search engine (and don’t forget mobile) optimized website is the first step in ensuring a strong digital marketing foundation.

B. Website Conversion KPIswebsite-grader
Website conversion KPIs deal with how well your site is changing traffic into leads and nurturing them for customer conversion. Here is a list of conversion KPIs and how to improve them.

  • Returning visitors – Add a blog and other fresh content to keep your prospects coming back.
  • Visitor-to-lead conversion rate – Create problem-solving offers with landing pages and forms to convert visitors into leads.
  • Lead-to-customer conversion rate – Does your shopping cart get above a 2% conversion rate? Crunch your numbers using this tool.
  • CLV– Customer lifetime value (CLV or often CLTV), is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.
  • CAC – Customer Acquisition Cost can be calculated by simply dividing all the costs spent on acquiring more customers (marketing expenses) by the number of customers acquired in the period the money was spent. For example, if a company spent $100 on marketing in a year and received 100 customers in the same year, their CAC is $1.00. (Source: Kissmetrics)
  • Workflow conversion rates – Research from Gleanster suggests that, even when it comes to qualified leads, more than 50% of leads aren’t ready to buy on the day they first convert on your site. If you call up these leads and push them into making a decision right away, you will likely lose them. Workflows help by nurturing these leads through an automated workflow that are based on a series of actions taken by leads on your website with the goal of nurturing them to customers or warming the sale. Make sure to track these steps and optimize for each stage.

You can also conduct A/B testing on small tweaks to your website that can be tracked over time, so you know if your metrics are improving or declining.

C. Brand KPIs
In the digital space (websites, mobile, social media, text, blogs, forums, etc.), it’s much easier to track brand engagement and understand if your brand is taking hold in your customer’s minds. One way is to monitor customer interactions and comments on social media or through Google Alerts. Record how many positive and negative social signals (likes, shares, retweets, and mentions) are posted about your firearm, ammunition or hunting product and track over time.

A few relevant brand KPIs are:

  • Direct traffic – Direct traffic comes from people who actively type in your brand’s name from memory, giving you a good indication of how well your prospects remember your products/services.
  • Brand mentions – How many people out there are posting positive or negative comments about your brand or product?
  • Network growth – Are your networks growing across your social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn)?
  • Blog subscribers – Are people finding your content interesting and signing up to receive more?

 

2. What KPIs don’t matter?
In the firearm and hunting industry, we are up to our eyeballs in statistics. From FFL registrations, background checks and the annual surveys released by the NSSF, these reports help us get our heads around how the industry is doing and how it relates to the health of our businesses. But there are some KPIs out there that just don’t matter.

Mentioned at the start of this post, vanity metrics are considered nice to have but don’t necessarily give us actionable data on making decisions about our marketing. Vanity metrics are things like registered users, time on site, pages/visits, downloads, and page views. They are easily manipulated and do not necessarily correlate to the numbers that matter: active users, engagement, the cost of getting new customers, and ultimately revenues and profits. (Source: Techcrunch )

I’ve talked to a lot of companies in the industry who consider Facebook and Instagram ‘Likes’ key metrics. But many struggle to tell me how many of those ‘Likes’ drive traffic, customers and sustained engagement.

Did you know that only 3% to 5% of your Facebook Page’s “fans” see the content you post? Regardless of how many people have clicked ‘Like’ once they’re on your brand’s page, the vast majority of them never return to the page itself and never see the content in their newsfeeds.

What to Measure Instead: % Feedback and Impressions

Use Facebook Insights, Facebook’s free analytics tool, to check which posts generate the highest level of engagement. The higher the level of engagement, the higher your EdgeRank score. (EdgeRank is kind of like SEO for Facebook newsfeeds) Think about the content and conversations that have the highest % feedback and impressions, and then come up with a plan for how you can replicate it. (Source: Hubspot)

reporting-add-on-funnel-reports

HubSpot Funnel Report Add-On

 

3. You can’t measure what you don’t track.
If you’ve ever tried losing weight, you know that every week you’ve got to stand on the scale to check your progress. Digital marketing is the same way. When it comes to tracking, there are a number of tools out there to use. We explicitly depend on Google Analytics and a paid software program called HubSpot.

When it comes to reporting, Google Analytics is way more powerful. It’s more flexible than HubSpot, and puts data in a granular, broken-down form. With Google, you can tell more about your online marketing and website mechanics as a whole, and you can slice the data in a million ways.

But, HubSpot shows you more about how individuals interact with your marketing and website. It lets you connect performance data to an individual lead, giving you insight into their specific journey, and helps you nurture them through the buying funnel. HubSpot is also better organized than Google, and will show you the need-to-know information about your marketing campaigns. (Source: Nectafy)

 

hubspot-vs-google-analytics-2

 

4. Track it with the scorecard.


firearms-digital-scorecardNow that you got a good download on what the right and wrong KPIs are, let’s turn these metrics into something you can use.

A good place to start is by setting a SMART goal across the board at 20%. 20% is enough to cause you to feel a little pressure and angst, but it’s not so high that it’s out of reach. Digital marketing takes time, and it’s important that at each stage you test your efforts to see if they’re working or not—in a logical way (we’ll be discussing what to test in a future blog post).

In our scorecard, we’ve listed out most of the metrics stated above in a table to track over 6-months. Make sure to collect data from your sales team every month to accurately report revenue. Pay specific attention to increases and pieces of content that help you make actionable decisions.

By scorecard tracking, you’ll be able to more accurately gauge the performance of your digital marketing efforts and turn strategy into targets.

As marketers, we track so many different data points to better understand what’s working and what’s not that it can become easy to lose sight of what’s most important. Reporting on your business impact doesn’t mean you should no longer pay attention to site traffic, social shares, and conversion rates. It simply means that when reporting your results to your executives, it’s crucial to convey your performance in a way that your C-suite can get excited about.

Rather than talking about per-post Facebook engagement and other “vanity” metrics, use the six metrics we detail in the below cheat sheet to report on how your marketing programs led to new customers, lowered customer acquisition costs, or higher customer lifetime values. When you can present marketing metrics that resonate with your decision-makers, you’ll be in a much better position to make the case for budgets and strategies that will benefit your marketing team now and in the future.

 

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Free Download:
Six Marketing Metrics Your Boss Actually Cares About Cheat Sheet Plus! Digital Marketing Scorecard

Do you know which metrics actually matter to your boss? In this cheat sheet of metrics, we’ll share the six metrics that do.

  • 6 marketing metrics that prove the value of your marketing efforts
  • Formulas and examples to help you calculate your own metrics
  • Explanations and scenarios of why these metrics are important and how to interpret them
  • Bonus! Digital Marketing Scorecard Template

Download our cheat sheet to show your boss the true value of your marketing.

Download Now

 


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.

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.” 

 

 

hunting-outdoor-firearm-inbound-marketing-checklist2

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Checklist

Are you utilizing the most efficient channels for your digital marketing?

Chances are, you might be overlooking a few that can help drive more business to your website. To make sure you’re not missing any opportunities, we’ve put together a Free Campaign Checklist with our partner HubSpot.

Download Checklist 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

firearm-inbound-outbound-marketing-tactics

How To Use Outbound Tactics To Accelerate Your Inbound Firearm Marketing Efforts

By Firearms and Hunting

If you’re one of those brands that work within the heavily saturated and competitive AR, optics, suppressors, hunting or concealed carry categories—an inbound marketing as a standalone strategy may not be enough for your brand to break through the clutter and stand out in a timely manner.

Inbound marketing takes time to build—but with the help of outbound marketing tactics—results can be accelerated. We all know that outbound ad spend is still a “needed” channel within the industry—but with the future belonging to those who are going digital, some brands getting to the game late will need to play a little catch-up as discussed in my last article about native advertising

In this post, I want to discuss how familiar outbound tactics like PPC (pay-per-click) can accelerate your inbound marketing efforts to bust through the clutter and supercharge your inbound marketing program.

1. Inbound marketing takes a long time

In the beginning, an inbound marketing program works like a slow moving train. When it leaves the station, it’s moving at a snails pace, but over time—as your efforts gain momentum— traffic, leads, and sales start to pick up speed that produces long lasting results. Typical inbound marketing campaigns can take up to 9-12 months to achieve their full potential, especially if you’re starting from scratch. This is partly due to the strategic nature involved in creating relevant and educational content about your products and the time it takes for Google to index and rank those helpful blog articles. When inbound is fully implemented—meaning you’ve built out your sales funnel, have at least 10-15 offers, 30-50 good optimized blog articles and lead capturing workflows—it puts your brand on the fast track to real marketing efficiency. But sometimes your marketing can’t wait that long—the VP of Marketing wants results now. This is where outbound comes in and acts like an accelerator.

inbound marketing content ad

Outbound/Inbound Marketing Ad Example

2. Use outbound tactics to accelerate your inbound marketing efforts

Unfortunately, for most hunting and firearm brands, Google, Instagram and Facebook PPC are not reliable (or available) options for marketers looking to purchase ad space due to these networks’ ban on firearm related products. Plus, some of these methods may cannibalize your dealers marketing efforts and relationships.

However, by advertising your content instead of your product as a way to attract prospects, drive website traffic, leads and subscribers—you can bypass some of these restrictions altogether. Or in other words, instead of being found organically through a keyword search or a Facebook post, you can advertise your content instead of “pushing” your product directly. See the ad by Amtech suppressors.

By placing paid or earned media, you can add a boost to your campaigns, test messages and get results faster.

 

3. Use the firearms marketing matrix to understand how inbound/outbound work together

A lot of times we get fixated and stuck on old strategies that are losing their effectiveness, and can’t see the full picture of what an integrated strategy of inbound and outbound looks like.

The below graphic titled the “Firearms/Hunting Marketing Matrix” gives a good visual on how to visualize the pieces on how your outbound and inbound fit together. 

Firearms Content Inbound Marketing-01

This visual was inspired by this matrix by First10 and Smart Insights.

Due to the experiential nature of the shooting, hunting, and firearms industry, a lot of attention and money is invested in the entertainment quadrant of the matrix. Print, social media, T.V. advertising, apps, etc., all provide the “emotional” component of your marketing strategy to gain awareness but lack the “rational” component for your buyer to make an informed decision and trust your offering. 

To break through people’s ad blockers and move your prospect(s) to the convert stage more efficiently, a “rational” inbound component is needed to educate your prospect(s). By having the right mix of inbound and outbound content, you are accelerating your marketing efforts that give you the cold hard data you need to make better “entertainment” marketing decisions. 

In conclusion, if you’re stuck in a highly competitive category and looking to turn on the benefits of an inbound marketing strategy but need to start showing results sooner rather than later, consider budgeting outbound ad spend that drives traffic to your blog posts and content offers to supercharge your results. 

 

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shooting-firearms-CTA

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Shooting and Firearms Industry

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Download Now
[/columns]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

 

firearm-inbound-marketing-tips

3 HubSpot Tips for Firearm Inbound Marketers

By Firearms and Hunting

HubSpot is the leading marketing automation tool for inbound marketing. Heck, they coined the term “inbound marketing.” If you’re using the system or are interested in HubSpot and how it can bring a much-needed understanding to your online marketing efforts, then in this post—I’ll give you 3 tips I’ve learned along the way to keep your HubSpot portal organized and running smoothly as you build traffic, leads, and sales for your firearm or hunting company.

1. Keep your CTAs organized
“CTA” stands for Call-to-Action. CTAs are those little (or big) bright buttons (see the bottom of this page) or small ads on your web pages, blog posts and emails. They are like beacons that lead your visitors through the buyers journey and tells them what action you want them to take and where to go on your website.

Here’s why CTAs are important:

  1. More than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA copy. (Unbounce)
  2. Emails with a single call-to-action increased clicks 371% and sales 1617%. (WordStream)
  3. Adding CTAs to your Facebook page can increase click-through rate by 285%. (AdRoll)

We live in an attention deficit world. CTAs help you focus your website visitors on what to do next. If your goal is to convert your website visitor to a customer, lead or subscriber—CTAs are how you do it.

CTAs however in HubSpot can get quickly out of control. By not organizing your CTAs properly, you’ll start to get lost when it comes time to analyze the data. A simple suggestion is to label your CTAs in this syntax: LOCATION: TITLE OF POST/OFFER. See example below.

firearm-inbound-marketing-cta

By keeping your CTAs organized by where they appear on your site and by title, you can quickly analyze which pieces of content are working and which ones are not. You can also use the various sort functions and charts within HubSpot. 

2. Start your persona and list segmentation early
One of the biggest mistakes I see when companies begin an inbound firearm marketing program is they start with unsegmented lists that they built from their previous email marketing program like MailChimp or Constant Contact.

This is problematic because they failed to capture key prospect information like hunter or shooter type, company name, and essential buyer persona interests. This leaves you with a mixed bag of contacts that doesn’t provide you with the understanding of who makes up your contact list, which is foundational to personalization or “one-to-one marketing.”

Personalization statistics:

  1. When asked to prioritize one capability that will be most critical to marketing in the future, one-third of marketers answered: “personalization.
  2. Marketers see an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalized web experiences. 
  3. Personalized CTAs resulted in a 42% higher conversion rate than generic CTAs.
  4. 74% of consumers get frustrated when website content appears that has nothing to do with their interests.
  5. 76% of marketers define real-time marketing as personalizing content in response to customer interactions.
  6. 78% of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing. 

If you’re planning on starting an inbound marketing campaign in the near future, start your segmentation efforts now if you’re still using a standalone email or form marketing application. Define your buyer personas and add in form fields that allow your prospective customers to self-identify when they provide their contact information when exchanging it for one of your downloadable offers.

firearm-inbound-marketing-personas

Buyer Personas

 

3. Build 10-15 landing pages to supercharge your lead generation efforts

Without a focused and persuasive landing page, your lead capture efforts will fall flat. But also just as important is that you have enough.

Landing page facts: 

  • 48% of marketers build a new landing page for each marketing campaign. 
  • 68% of B2B businesses use landing pages to garner a new sales lead for future conversion.
  • 16% of landing pages are free of navigation bars. 
  • A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their funnel.
    (Source: HubSpot)

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.

firearm marketing landing page

And look how that leads index number spikes, even more when a company has 40 or more landing pages on their website. And here’s how it breaks down for B2B and B2C businesses:

firearm marketing index pages

Source: HubSpot

Make sure to clone each form for each landing page so that you can label and test for maximum effectiveness, especially when working with workflows.

By keeping your CTAs organized, segmenting your contact list from the beginning and creating more than 10-15 landing pages—you’ll keep your HubSpot subscription running like a well-oiled M4. 

Have a question about HubSpot?

Contact Us!

 

 

[columns]
shooting-firearms-CTA

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Shooting and Firearms Industry

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Download Now
[/columns]

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.

 

 

firearms-guns-hunting-black-friday-email-marketing

4 Ideas for Your Hunting and Firearms Black Friday Campaign

By Firearms and Hunting

The biggest shopping weekend of the year is coming up and now is the time to begin preparing. 

U.S. Thanksgiving and Black Friday online sales last year totaled over $1.7 Billion in 2015. And with background checks setting new records in the firearm industry last year with 185K, you can bet that this year is going to be just as good or better. And a few industry resources of mine mentioned to me, although unverified—

  • “For the first time, more people shopped online than store purchases”
    (Black Friday 2015 –
    Dick’s Sporting Goods)

Assuming you’ve defined an offer on your website, whether it’s free shipping, a sales discount or you’ve arranged some kind of offer with your dealers, there is much you can do to boost this year’s Black Friday sales to get a piece of the action.

Below are four ideas to help you move the needle for your hunting, outdoor or firearms business—based on latest online retail statistics and what other savvy companies are doing to boost Black Friday sales.

1. Segment your email campaign
If you’re planning to send a blanket email to your subscriber list, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate. Sending blanket emails may work if you sell only one multi-use product, but if you have multiple buyer personas, who buy your product—you’ll need to segment those customers and tailor those messages to their preferences to make your email campaign more effective.

According to Mailchimp, segmented emails perform markedly better than non-segmented emails:

  • 14.1% more opens
  • 59.82% more clicks
  • 8.86% lower unsubscribes

“When we first started with digital marketing, we were one of those companies that would send a one-size-fits-all message to everyone,” says Matteo Recanatini, Beretta’s Digital & Ecommerce Manager. “We needed a more effective way to identify the different lifestyles and preferences of our customers and deliver content that actually mattered to them through different channels.” (Source: Hubspot

What if I haven’t been segmenting?
If you haven’t been segmenting your contacts through some kind of marketing automation software, and you have no idea who your subscribers are, then the next best thing is to get busy setting up individual landing pages per persona and offer an incentive or discount code so you can begin gathering this information. Create a form on your landing page that asks what their interests are and how they use your product for better understanding. After the initial blast, be ready to send a personalized email to those segments to increase engagement.  Once they fill out the form, direct them to a thank you page for them to claim their offer, whether it’s an ebook, whitepaper or even a coupon code. Your product may be one-size-fits-all, but your customers may have different interests. Figure out what those differences are and create personalized emails based on solving their problems or providing solutions while attaching a discounted sales price.

Don’t forget an attention-grabbing subject line.
Subject lines are critical—33 percent of subscribers decide whether or not to open your email based on the subject line alone. With email volumes increasing exponentially around the holidays, your subject line needs to work even harder to get potential shoppers to open your email and take action.

  • Stand out: Using emoji gun-emojican boost open rates.
  • Be festive: Beyond emoji, use words like “Holiday Sale” for promotions. Holiday-themed open rates tended to be higher.
  • Ask a question: “Ready to knock out your holiday shopping?” or “What will you do with your 50 percent off holiday coupon?”
  • Make it urgent: Emphasize pending deadlines like “Cyber Monday Sale ends today” or “Holiday door-busters till noon only.”

(Source: iMedia)

2. Send dealer locations
For hunting or firearms manufacturers who choose to downplay their online sales, you may want to help your dealers out by sending their offers to your subscriber list and then segment those dealers by location, so your subscribers know where to go to buy your products. Create some urgency around the sale and send them the address and store hours so they know where to go. This can also help you build stronger relationships with your most important buyers and show you care about them.

3. Put your deals on the home page
Americans plan to do almost half of their holiday shopping online this year, and one in five of those who own smartphones will use them to purchase holiday merchandise, the highest since NRF first asked in 2011. (Source: NRF)

If you have a website that is somewhat extensive, you may want to run your deals directly on your home page with a quick checkout option or link to your dealer locator. Make it simple and quick to take advantage of the shopping frenzy.

4. Get mobile now
For the first time, online traffic from mobile devices outpaced traditional PCs on Thanksgiving Day. As IBM predicted within one percent of accuracy, Thanksgiving Day reached a new mobile tipping point with smartphones and tablets accounting for 52.1 percent of all online traffic. Overall Thanksgiving online sales were up 14.3 percent compared to 2013. (Source: IBM)

If you haven’t gotten your website converted to a responsive platform—meaning that it renders well on tablet and mobile devices—you’ve limited your brand’s ability to take advantage of almost half of all internet traffic and potential online sales. (Source: Search Engine Land) The best hunting and firearm websites in the industry have converted over and so should you as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

Men say they always use mobile devices to check prices while shopping in stores versus just five percent of women. (Source: Kellogg Shopper Index)

Mobile will play a critical shopping role today, Saturday, and Sunday, with an estimated 60 million consumers planning to use their devices to shop, research purchases, or seek retailer information. (Source: InMobi)

If your site isn’t mobile, a quick fix is to redirect all web queries to a mobile-optimized page using the keywords of your deals during Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday and place your offers directly on that page.

Don’t forget to utilize your social media channels to amplify your sales and drive traffic.

So in conclusion, segment your emails to increase engagement, help your dealers out, put your deals on your home page for fast and easy checkout and make sure your site is mobile-ready to capture those in-store searches. 

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FREE DOWNLOAD: A Hunting, Outdoor & Firearms Marketer’s Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona


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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

firearm-native-advertising-marketing

Native Advertising And What It Means For Firearm Marketing

By Firearms and Hunting

According to the latest data from NSSF and Forbes, the number of gun manufacturers has surged by 25.8% since 2012. Standing out and getting the attention of your prospective customers has steadily gotten more difficult over the past four years, especially for companies just starting out.

As I discussed in my last article, 7 Ways to Deepen Your Firearms Digital Marketing Footprint—more and more content is being created in the hunting and firearms industry, and we are eventually reaching a state called “content shock,” —if we haven’t already. As we get closer to content shock, brands will need to create 10x better content than their competitors or risk losing out on cost-effective content marketing opportunities to build their audiences through SEO and social media channels.

Early adopters of content and inbound marketing have benefitted immensely. Just look at Beretta. Or how Stag Arms used their inbound marketing efforts to rank for the keyword “AR15,” which gets over 110,000 visits per month. Although many segments of the industry still exist to take advantage of content, others will become more saturated and harder to leverage. 

If you’ve found yourself in a highly competitive category (e.g. MSRs, Optics, Self-Defense or Hunting)—I want to discuss a new marketing tactic taking shape called “native advertising” and how this emerging trend can help you build your brand and tap into audiences more efficiently.

gunsandammo1. What is native advertising?

First, let’s unpack the word “native,” so it’s not so confusing. Native means to belong to. It means being a part of something as if it’s supposed to be there. So let’s say a gun company wanted to place a native ad on Guns&Ammo.com (G&A). G&A has over 115K followers on Twitter and 786K on Facebook and gets over 1,129,000 visits per month. (Source: Outdoor Sportsman Group

The gun company would first write in the style that G&A readers are accustomed to. They would make it look the same as well. Think fonts, colors, style, branding etc. So, in the end, you have an entertaining, helpful and relevant piece of content (video, blog or infographic) that looks like it came from G&A but is really from the gun manufacturer.

But wait, isn’t this sponsored content or what is called an advertorial? Not really, here’s why.

Almost half of consumers have no idea what native advertising is and of those consumers who do, 50% are skeptical. (Source: Wordstream) It also allows the gun company to tap into G&A’s audience with the goal of looking like a trusted piece of content from G&A rather than an untrusted advertorial or sponsored piece.

The key difference is that the native ad looks like it came from the publisher, not the advertiser. This breaks through peoples’ B.S. detectors and garners brand trust to a group of prospective customers the gun company otherwise would not have gotten access to.

2. Benefits of native advertising

Today’s businesses are seeing a shift in how consumers prefer to learn about brands. Click-through rates for banner ads were at 9 percent in 2000; today, they’re less than 1 percent. (Source: Forbes) Which is why content has become so effective. As a result, companies have turned to native advertising to promote their brands. So far, it’s proving more successful than traditional online advertising:

  • People view native ads 53 percent more frequently than traditional ads.
  • Native advertising can increase brand lift by as much as 82 percent.
  • Purchase intent is 53 percent higher when consumers click on native ads instead of traditional ads.
  • Native ads containing rich media can boost conversion by as much as 60 percent.
  • The native advertising industry will reach $4.6 billion in revenue by 2017.
  • 57% of publishers have a dedicated editorial team to create content readers will care about, leaving publishers in full control, not brands, which ultimately benefits readers.
  • People view native ads 53% more than banner ads.

3. Best practices for native advertising

According to Gemini, Yahoo’s native advertising platform—there are eight best practices marketers should be aware of when composing native ads. These are imperative, as the FCC is cracking down on native advertising because some can be seen as deceptive.

  1. Use people-based images
  2. Showcase your logo
  3. Add a “Sponsored” label to video ads
  4. Place the “$” symbol and a CTA on native mobile ads
  5. Trim native video ads to 15 seconds
  6. Add a brand mention
  7. Opt for auto-play, making sound an option
  8. Provide an option for “more”

And for an extra boost, try native video.

In a case study by Nielsen and Sharethrough, native video advertising outperformed pre-roll ads for five advertisers, regardless of the campaign’s category or marketing objective. For instance, the findings from the test campaign, whose primary marketing objective was to drive brand favorability, showed that:

  • Native ads generated 82% brand lift among users exposed to the ads.
  • Pre-roll units generated 2.1% brand lift among users exposed to the ads.

According to Chad Pollitt, in his ebook Native Advertising Manifesto, which I highly suggest you check out, says:

Sponsored content and native advertising does for B2B marketers what display advertising can do for B2C brands – drive ROI-producing traffic at scale. Cost per clicks or cost per thousand impressions are generally much less for native advertising.

David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising,” once said, “It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look and read.”

This is precisely what native advertising and sponsored content does for top funnel content marketers. It’s ideal, too, because it’s exactly what these marketers want from their content – to be read.

Tradeshow, email, print, and video/television advertising continue to be the mainstay of how firearm and hunting manufacturers create demand in the marketplace. But with the influx of new companies and increased competition—native advertising will become a valuable option for savvier marketers in the coming years.

 

[columns]
hunting-outdoor-internet-guide

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Hunting, Outdoor and Firearms Industry

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Learn More
[/columns]

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.

 

 

firearms-digital-marketing-footprint

7 Ways to Deepen Your Firearm Brand’s Digital Marketing Footprint

By Firearms and Hunting

 

Some of the best forward-thinking companies in the hunting and firearms 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. 

firearms-digital-footprint

Digital Marketing Footprint

What is a digital footprint?

Specifically listed with the firearms and hunting industry 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 7 elements that are widely used from the top firearms and hunting 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. Display 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 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 equivilant—should be directed to landing pages that are designed to convert visitors into customers.

firearm-banner-advertising

3. Social media

Facebook 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? Regardless, these roadblocks can be overcome with 10x content that can still produce desirable results when adding in alluring photography. 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 Facebook post lasts 3 hours, 7 minutes (Source: Edgerank), while the average half-life of a Twitter post lasts 24 minutes (Source: Edgar). Invest in these aspects of your branding to continue expanding your digital footprint on a consistent basis by posting on Facebook three times a day and to Twitter at least ten times a day.

4. SEO

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 and ammunition to name a few) where there is still digital gold to be mined. 

firearms-app5. Apps

Google announced that with its latest algorithm release their search engines will now begin indexing app content. That means that the content you create within your app will be indexed in search engines. This also offers expanded opportunities to claim top search engine rankings.

6. 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 always to enlist the right reviewers and thank them whether they get it right or wrong while directing that traffic to your website. 

7. Audience

The last and final element of your firearms digital marketing footprint is audience. One way to think of audience 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 audience 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. 

Chad Pollitt says in The Native Advertising Manifesto, “For some, this may sound like doom and gloom for inbound marketers out there. The good news is that many of the innovators and early-adopters that started publishing for the buyer’s journey early in their industry have built a substantive enough audience and acquired considerable domain authority. 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.

Native-Advertising

Facebook is another way to look at this. Facebook owns your audience. In fact, they charge you now to access it through their ad boosts. The cost that it took you to build that audience most likely reaches into the hundreds of thousands of dollars—yet they hold it captive! Brands that are working now to build their audiences outside of these fickle and increasingly anti-gun and anti-hunting networks will be better off. Those who are classified as the late majority in the above content marketing adoption curve will need to pay much more to access these audiences in the future. I predict large publisher sites like Ammoland, Truth about Guns, Recoil and Guns & Ammo to figure this out with native advertising. 

In my opinion, the firearms and hunting industry lags behind other industries in regards to digital marketing. Many marketers and business owners in the industry are missing out on lucrative digital marketing revenue streams and audience-building opportunities. By building a solid digital marketing footprint now, your business will be ready for what inevitably lies ahead.

hunting-outdoor-firearm-inbound-marketing

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Hunting, Outdoor and Firearms Industry

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Learn More

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

firearms-hunting-content-marketing

Where To Source Content For Your Inbound Marketing Program

By Firearms and Hunting

Because content is the lifeblood of all your content and inbound marketing efforts it will be important to figure out how and where you will source it. 

Studies shows business blogging and content creation leads to 55% more website visitors (Source: Hubspot). This one standalone fact is what makes creating content and writing blog posts so crucial when conducting content or inbound marketing. It’s nearly impossible to generate a steady flow of organic traffic and leads without content. By expanding your digital footprint with keyword rich blog posts, videos and downloadable offers, you create more ways for your prospective customers to find you.

In this post, if you’re a marketer or business owner starting an inbound marketing program in the hunting or firearms industry—I’ll give you five places to find ideas for your content (blogs, videos and offers).

1. FAQs

The first step after you’ve identified your buyer persona(s) is to create a list of all the questions your customers ask about your product. This should give you a good list of about 10-20 topics to start. Answer every question you can think of that’s been asked by your customers—then write those answers into 500-2000 word blog posts on your website.

2. Insource

Your company or network is full of experts who know a thing or two about your products and how it works in context. Interview them on topics your customers are most interested about. For some firearm or hunting companies, your sponsored shooting team or pro staff can provide valuable insight and information on current trends; what’s happening at the range or in the field where hunters and shooters tend to talk about the latest and hottest products.

3. Crowdsource

Crowdsourcing allows you to obtain (information or input into a particular task or project) by enlisting the services of a number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via your social media channels, forums, or on your website directly. Start by asking your audience questions and allow them to answer it themselves. Then take their input and compose them into posts.

4. Outsource

When all else fails, you can outsource your content creation to an inbound marketing agency or hire writers from websites like Writer’s Access, BlogMutt and Content Writers. All have gun and hunting friendly writers available. Another great industry resource you may not have heard about is the Professional Outdoor Media Association. You can post project needs on their website that will enable you to get in contact with some of the industry’s best writers and photographers. 

 

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5. Repurpose

If you already have content, you can reuse it. Have your outsourced writers transcript your videos into blogs. Create videos from your blog posts. Take a collection of blog posts and create an ebook out of them. Use some of your content as product promotions. The great thing about content creation is you can always recycle it. Don’t let any of your past content go to waste.

firearms-hunting-sales-marketing-funnelBring it all together

Now that you have a good collection of content, begin thinking through how your content will pull your visitor through your sales funnel. The goal in inbound marketing is to provide relevant content that educates your prospect through the buying process and gives them the information they need to make an informed decision. Top of the funnel topics consist of how-to’s, and tips and tricks. Middle of the funnel content consists of in-depth whitepapers and product demos. Bottom of the funnel offers consist of pricing and case studies. Create these offers and send them to your leads via email using a program like MailChimp. 

Schedule your content into monthly chunks and campaigns to stay on track. Post to your social media accounts daily and send to your email subscribers on a consistent basis. Track effectiveness with Google analytics or with your marketing automation tool.

In conclusion, sourcing and writing content doesn’t have to be difficult. Taking the time to plan and schedule can help you create consistent and viable content for your inbound marketing program.

 

[columns]
hunting-outdoor-internet-guide

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Hunting, Outdoor and Firearms Industry

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Download Now
[/columns]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

 

firearm-hunting-content-marketing

Are You Losing Your Opportunity To Compete Digitally?

By Firearms and Hunting

There are hundreds or maybe even thousands of product review sites and online magazines that create content (video, blogs, articles, etc.) in one form or the other about hunting or firearms. From how-tos to the best tricks and tips—the SHOT industry has no shortage of content. A quick search on Google for any topic about firearms or hunting brings back millions of results.

With all of this content being created—manufacturers and business service providers looking to begin a content or inbound marketing program might be asking: “Why create content when all of these other publishers are creating it for us?” “Besides, how many times can you write about “How to Skin a Deer” or “What Are The Best Guns for Concealed Carry?” It seems like everyone in the industry has written on these topics at one time or another.

In this post, I want to give you three reasons why you should still consider creating your own branded content in a time of content overload.

In his post, The Big Flaw with “Content Shock” and the Way We See Content Marketing, Marcus Sheridan, President of the Sales Lion, a content marketing and sales consultancy says, you can boil content marketing down into 3 simple words:

  • Listening
  • Communicating
  • Teaching

 

1. Listening

Listening will always be critical in business. Content creation allows you to demonstrate that you are actively listening to your customers. The firearms and hunting industry is hyper-competitive and finding ways to stand out are getting slimmer as more and more noise is being created.

Your brand’s ability to demonstrate that you are listening to your customers is a new and evolving competitive factor you will need to incorporate into your marketing strategy. This also needs to be apparent in the content you create.

2. Communicating

Effective communication will always dramatically impact consumers. Branded content from the manufacturer itself—not content created by industry publishers—is a trend that we are starting to see more and more of as mentioned in my last post: 7 Need To Know Firearm Inbound Marketing Indicators.

Mossberg, for example, continues to create their own content at a fierce pace. Mossberg (a $10-50M company) is actively investing in Mossberg-branded content that is communicating value, insight and expertise that is sure to be attracting new customers and retaining old ones. 

mossberg trafic rank

Public information provided by Alexa

According to the public information traffic ranking service provided by Alexa, Mossberg’s traffic and social networks continue to grow at a rate of 37-47% respectfully (Source: Hubspot and Alexa). Mossberg will continue to grow their online footprint that expands their audience, reach and rank. This will leave little room for other shotgun manufacturers to obtain top keywords in the future. Mossberg ranks 5th for the search word “Shotgun” that receives over 49,500 searches per month. Imagine what 49,500 visits to your website a month could do for your business. (Source: Hubspot)

Additional benefits of creating your branded content:

  • Generates rich organic and return traffic to your website
  • Content lasts longer and can be repurposed
  • Builds your audience over time
  • Improves search engine rankings
  • Grows social media channels
  • Produces a qualified and robust email marketing list

Content also benefits your dealers, distributors and wholesalers. The more you can educate your target market on your products the more likely you will be able to increase sales, which leads me to the next point.

3. Teaching

Powerful teaching will always be the key to generating consumer trust and action. Even though much has been written on just about every topic in the industry—there is still ample opportunity to rise above the noise to carve out your brand’s voice. By teaching your customers about your manufacturing processes, materials, and extensive product testing, you help your customers understand why your prices may be higher, and that backs up your claims. This also provides some transparency along with relevant and helpful content that solves your customer’s most burning questions. You’ll be able to build deeper relationships and garner more trust, which we all know leads to more sales.

This approach bodes well for manufacturers looking to reach the new generation of hunters and shooters who rely more on their digital devices than the old methods of TV, trade show and print.

firearms-hunting-content-inbound-marketing

Content grows with time

There is a lot of content being written in the industry. But, there still is ample opportunities for brands to get in on the digital gold rush by starting now.

Thanks to Marcus Sheridan for providing a much needed perspective on industries facing content overload.

What do you think about this blog post and the points it raise? Please comment below.   

 

 

[columns]
hunting-outdoor-internet-guide

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Hunting, Outdoor and Firearms Industry

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Download Now
[/columns]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

 

firearm-inbound-marketing-indicators

7 Need To Know Firearm Inbound Marketing Indicators

By Firearms and Hunting

Inbound marketing in the hunting, firearms, and outdoor industry is starting to grow. More and more brands like Havalon, Beretta, Springfield, Mossberg and others are integrating inbound marketing (sometimes confused with content marketing) into their outbound marketing budgets (print, t.v. and tradeshow). Content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and ultimately, to drive profitable customer interaction.” (Source: CMI) Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to your website by producing interesting content.

Buying firearms and hunting equipment is a long sales process due to cost, and the hundreds of choices buyers have to choose from. Inbound by nature is a highly effective methodology in educating your customers, dealers, distributors, and wholesalers about your products and brand that can speed up the buying process.

In this post, I share seven indicators I’ve seen that will determine the difference between a stellar inbound marketing program or a mediocre one. 

1. Low Saturation Index
A quick search on Google will reveal the amount of content you must contend with when starting an inbound marketing program of your own. Mark Schaefer calls this “content shock”—which means that there is so much content, that we simply don’t have the capacity to consume it all. When creating content, make sure that your brand has unique topics that you can bring to the table that will attract, convert, close and delight your customers. 

2. Product-Market Fit
Does your product or service provide value to your customer? The quicker your customer can understand the value, the more you know your product has achieved product-market fit. Without an understanding of who your customer is and the problem your product or service solves—it will be very difficult to focus your content that will generate traffic, links, shares and the sales you’re looking for. (Source: Entrepreneur

3. Audience
Great content marketers find their niche, and then write the heck out of the content that fits it. (Source: Outbrain) Does your brand own a niche in the industry that no one else serves? Can your content capitalize on creating a community of customers who are loyal to your brand that you can turn in to evangelists? We are fortunate in this industry to have many social media outlets and networks like AR15.com, Gun District, LinkedIn Groups and others that allow manufacturers to reach a captive audience of gun and hunting enthusiasts. Building a community of customers is also important that many top brands lack.

4. Web Domain
Did you just launch your website? The chances are that Google (the leading search engine with 89% of total web search traffic) may not index your domain for an entire year. I’ve seen first hand that when new websites are launched. Google keeps relevant blog posts and pages off the first page of results; keeping your site from gaining rankings. If this is the case, you may need to supplement your inbound marketing efforts with PPC and other outbound methods until your rankings improve.

5. Poor Competitor Content
Great content marketing starts with great content—and lots of it. (Source: Hubspot) A quick look at your competitors will reveal advantages or disadvantages that you can capitalize on or leverage. For example, if their content is poorly written, inconsistent, boring, self-promotional and doesn’t provide any real value—you have the opportunity to capture search engine rankings—which will benefit your efforts and customer preference when people are online looking for your kind of product.

6. Strong References
Another key component of inbound marketing is having strong references to draw from. Utilize others’ blogs and industry resources to back up your claims to ensure the information you are providing is accurate and relevant. This creates trust and credibility.

7. Price
The price of your products will also influence the success of your inbound marketing efforts. As noted above, inbound will work better when goods and services are above the $250 threshold. Products at this price point force consumers to examine products more carefully—opposite of an impulse buy. If you can’t determine what the buyers journey is from awareness to purchase, chances are you have a product that wouldn’t work well with inbound marketing.

By understanding how much content saturation is in your segment, your product/market fit, audience, web domain age, competitor weaknesses, availability of reliable references and a considered price point will help you create a more effective inbound marketing strategy.

 

shooting-firearms-CTA

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Firearms Industry

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
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5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

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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.

hunting-firearms-brand-voice-marketing-2

4 Simple Ways to Differentiate Your Brand’s Voice

By Firearms and Hunting

Brand voice is often misunderstood and encompasses a long list of steps to get it right. But it doesn’t have to be so exhaustive if you’re just starting out, or if you’re just looking to narrow the focus of your current brand to achieve greater differentiation in the marketplace.

Brand voice is not what you say in your copy, but how you say it. Just like your logo, imagery, font style, colors, booth design or the guy with the beard in your ad; brand voice helps your brand cut through the clutter and stand out against other competing hunting, firearms and outdoor brands.

This article assumes you’ve taken the time to research and create your buyer personas. If you don’t know what a buyer persona is or what that means, check out this article. In this post, I want to give you four simple steps to help you focus your brand voice.

 

“The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low-cost producer is the only winner.”

–Philip Kotler, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management

 

1. Go back to the beginning.
To figure out your brand voice, you need to go back to the beginning. Why was your company started? What problem does your products solve? What were the founder’s spark and reasons (besides making money) for going all in on their dream to bring your company to where it is today? This story, no matter how boring or exciting it is, creates the foundation for your brand’s voice which is a crucial starting point.

Action Item: Fill in the blank.

  1. My brand’s products solve  ________ in the marketplace.
  2. I want my brand to make people feel _______.
  3. I want people to _______ when they come into contact with my brand.
  4. Three words that describe my brand are _______ , _______ , and _______.
  5. I don’t want my brand to be like________. 

(Source: Muse)

Your brand can’t be something you’re not. Be true to who you are. There’s no one like you or the people who make up your company’s history and story.

 

2. Define your values.
You most likely have a grasp on your company culture. (Or if you’re just starting out, what you might like it to be someday.) A company’s values are typically on full display in meetings, Friday night after work and how people act when things go wrong. How do people respond to emails? What are some of the things hanging up around the office? Do the people who work in your office use the same colloquialisms, slang, and buzzwords? By mere observation, you can begin to pull out some of the values you all collectively share by the way you work.

A tone of voice both embodies and expresses the brand’s personality and the set of values. It’s about the people that make up the brand – the things that drive them, their loves and hates, and what they want to share with the world. (Source: Distilled)

Action Item: Reference Duck Dynasty
An excellent example of how to understand brand values is to watch an episode of Duck Dynasty. I chose Duck Commander because it’s a hunting company we all get to have an inside look at. It doesn’t take long to figure out what values Willie, Jase, Martin, Jep, Phil, and Godwin live by—and how those values integrate and define their company’s brand voice.

 

duck-dynasty-brand-voice

Photo Credit: New York Times

 

Action Item:
Think about the values that define your company then boil them down to three to four words. See the examples below:

• Apple: innovate, inspire, dream.
• Duck Commander: faith, family, ducks.
• Red Bull: adventure, try, adrenaline.

 

3. What does your brand look, act, and sound like?
To start bringing it all together, it’s important to relate your brand voice to real-world archetypes you already know and trust and by adding in your brand’s unique twist. Answer the questions below. 

  • If you could have a celebrity be your spokesperson for your company, who would it be?
  • If your brand was a car, what car would it be?
  • If your brand was a band? What would it sound like?

Example:

Our brand is Clint Eastwood, driving down the road in a ‘69 Camero Super Sport listening to AC/DC holding (enter your brand’s product).

 

firearms-hunting-brand-voice

By using this example, you can begin to shape your brand’s voice that creates real differentiation in the marketplace. Use this brand voice statement to inform your copywriters and designers to help them in their ideation and the creative direction of your brand.

 

4. Bring your brand to life in your copy and imagery.
Now that you know your company’s origins, the collective values of your people and have given it some real-world representation, it’s now time to integrate it into your copy and brand standards. Don’t get all hung up on doing this perfect right out of the gate. It will take time to perfect, but with a little practice, your brand’s voice will begin to take shape. It’s also helpful to think and identify other brands who have similar voices.

A word of caution. Always use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Failure to do so will cause a piece of copy to come across as amateur and untrustworthy. Use a tool like Grammarly to perfect your writing. 

Experiment and add in the below elements (if they align with your brand’s voice) after you’ve written a concise piece of copy.

  • Use (and commit) to humor
  • Sometimes swear words work (sparingly, of course)
  • Add in your company’s slang words 
  • Use double negatives
  • Be bold and opinionated
  • Add in some creative or big vocabulary words
  • Bold statements
  • Descriptive analogies
  • Use the same words consistently
  • Use pronouns for style
  • Break some grammar rules

(Source: Distilled)

As marketers or business owners, it’s easy to get wrapped around the axle on what constitutes brand voice. By looking at your company’s origins, your company culture, and building some example archetypes, you’ll be able to shape your copy that gives it a real personality that connects with your target buyer personas.

 

 

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

Developing your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to uncover your brand.

Download Template

 

 

 

 


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.

 

drone-video-firearms-hunting-outdoor-marketing2

5 Reasons To Use Drones In Your Next Hunting or Outdoor Marketing Video

By Firearms and Hunting

Videos will be responsible for nearly three-quarters of all internet traffic by 2017, potentially outpacing brands’ investment in them.

Last year, it was reported that 70 percent of marketers are making video content a priority. The latest data suggests companies should begin to consider a larger investment in video marketing if they want to generate more traffic, leads and purchases through their websites. (Source: Syndacast)

Consider these facts:

  • 54% of senior executives share work-related videos with colleagues, at least, weekly.
  • 93% of marketers use video for online marketing, sales or communication.
  • 65% of video viewers watch more than 3/4 of a video.
  • 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with best ROI.
  • 50% of online video now accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic.
  • 78% of people watch videos online every week.
  • B2B and B2C marketers all over the world say video is the top 3 most effective social media marketing tactic.
    (Source: Hubspot)

Below is a guest post by our friends at Birds Eye of Big Sky—an unmanned aerial videography company based in Missoula, Montana whose recent work includes projects for National Geographic, PBS, HBO and the movie “The Revenant.”

If you’re interested in how you can bring a new level of interest, excitement and competitive edge to your firearms, hunting or outdoor brand through the use of drones, here are five reasons to consider a drone for your next content or inbound marketing video. 

1. Scenic Landscapes Can Be Captured Economically Using a High-Quality Cinematic Drone

The latest high-end drones enable you to obtain stunning aerial capture of the natural environment of your product being used in that setting. Showcase your product in the spectacular outdoors and catch the eye of the visitor to your site with panoramic sweeping views or action sequences captured via the drone platform. Most hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are there because of the beauty of the natural settings in which they use your product—reward their visit to your site with gorgeous views and engaging imagery that shows your product in action.

 

2. Exciting Angles and Cinematic Production Value

Unique and exciting angles and perspectives can be obtained by videographers using drones. You may not immediately notice it, but many recent television commercials, internet content, and even feature films are being photographed using drones because of their unique and exciting capabilities. Imagine your product being used on a mountainous ridge, a moving vehicle, down range or boat in a scenic locale, or shot through a forested trail by a drone in the air. The possible perspectives are limited only by your imagination (and the skills of your camera crew).

3. Increase Visits and Purchases

Because of the notoriety of drones in the public eye, by using drone photography in your marketing efforts, you will grab the attention of viewers who will be drawn to your advertising message simply by the fact that drones have been used in the production of your video. According to data from Syndacast, videos will be responsible for 74 percent of all internet traffic by 2017. Website visitors are 64% more likely to buy a product on an online retail site after watching a video. In addition, visitors who view videos stay on the site an average of 2 minutes longer than those who don’t view videos (Source: comScore)

4. Show your Customers that you are Cutting-Edge and Modern

Because drones are new, high tech, and perceived as innovative and cutting-edge, your use of drones shows your customers that you are a modern, forward-thinking organization that embraces new technology and ideas. This will create a perception in the viewer/customer that they are dealing with a market leader and innovator. If being perceived as such is an important part of your corporate image, then you should consider using the drones in the production of your next branding/marketing video production.

drone-video-firearms-hunting-outdoor-marketing

Photo Credit: Birds Eye of Big Sky

 

5. Show your Support to Preserve, Protect and Promote Wildlife and Fishing Habitats and Conservation

Drones are now used in a myriad of ways by researchers, fish and game authorities, conservationists and others to study ways to improve wildlife and fishing habitats, monitor the environment, research migratory, feeding and reproductive behavior, and many other functions. All of these efforts will benefit wildlife and fish populations and habitats, and thus enhance hunting and fishing opportunities and enjoyment. By embracing the use of the drone technology, your company is implicitly cooperating with researchers and scientists in the modernization and improvement of tools and techniques to improve the natural world for all to enjoy, now and in the future for the benefit of future generations.

To learn more about Birds Eye of Big Sky, please visit their website: https://www.birdseyeofbigsky.com

By Edward Meier
Birds Eye of Big Sky

View Drone Photography Gallery

 

 

shot-show-2016-marketing

5 Key Marketing Takeaways From SHOT Show 2016

By Firearms and Hunting

By now your feet have hopefully gone back to their original shape, and your head has cleared from the craziness of what ended up being an epic SHOT Show 2016.

I logged over 20,000 steps and 11 miles on my Garmin between Thursday and Friday and thought I was able to get into every major exhibit on the main floor. I kept my schedule open on Thursday to catch up with friends, track down Willie, Jase, Goodwin and Martin for an autograph, take in Dana Loesch’s live radio broadcast and as luck would have it, run into Kyle Lamb and Jim Shockey.

Now that the show is over, and you begin to re-group and think about next year’s show (yes, it’s time to start getting ready). I wanted to share a few of my thoughts from a marketing perspective on the event and give you a few takeaways on how you can make next year’s SHOT Show even better.

1. Creative marketing concepts in exhibits
The exhibits I felt that had the most energy and excitement were the booths that incorporated an original concept that brought their brand story to life. They somehow tapped into my craw to create an extremely memorable experience. Not only did these concept exhibits pick up media attention—but they also seemed to be having the most fun. The three most interesting exhibits I experienced were: CAA/Kalashnikov USA, Battle Arms Development, and SilencerCo.

CAA/Kalashnikov’s exhibit was like stepping into an underground Slavic dance club. Hard white floors, high ceilings, AKs on the walls and the contrasting American/Russian imagery and other European-type aesthetics added to the experience. For a brief moment, I felt like I was somewhere else other than Las Vegas.

Battle Arms Development’s mad scientist theme featured employees wearing white lab coats under blue lighting which created a similar vibe to CAA—but more science-fiction-like. The added Star Wars and super-hero themed rifles made the exhibit absorbing and engaging.

SilencerCo’s booth had a covered walk-in that integrated seamlessly with their ‘Fight the Noise’ campaign along with their catalog, booth staff, past year’s advertising campaign and website. With a gray spray-painted outdoor scene and impressive imagery, the booth was also very experiential that brought the brand to life. Darren Jones, Media Relations and Sales with SilencerCo, said, “This show has been completely overwhelming—in a good way. We’ve had tremendous response to our newly launched products, and it will probably be one of our best years ever. We fully expect the ball to keep rolling.” (Source: NSSF)

silencerco booth

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

Takeaway: The highly saturated MSR segment and burgeoning suppressor segment will become increasingly harder for brands to stand out. Consider integrating a theme into next year’s booth that incorporates and aligns with your brand’s story to make it more attractive. Introduce your theme in your advertising and digital marketing over the next 11 months. Take your booth visitors out of SHOT Show and into your brand’s world. This would play exceptionally well down on the first level where the exhibits aren’t as exciting.

 

2. Sig Sauer goes big

shot-show-sig-sauer

Photo Credit: Fox News

This second point also ties into #1. The exhibit that stood out head and shoulders above all others on the main floor was Sig Sauer. If you saw it, you know what I’m talking about. It was unbelievable. Sig looks to be doubling down on their repositioning effort as a “total system provider.”

“Obviously, SHOT Show is important to us,” said Tom Taylor, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Sig Sauer. “We made a huge investment in the booth because we want our customers to know that we are a total system provider. And it was evident from the crowd in the booth that the effort wasn’t lost on anyone.” (Source: NSSF)

Takeaway: To make a lasting statement—go big! (if you got an extra few million dollars in your budget).

 

3. Busyness hindered social media
I frequently posted on Twitter and couldn’t help but notice that a lot of brands were not engaging with the network as much as I expected. There were two hashtags being used: #shotshow (23,699 tweets) and #shotshow2016 (14,345 tweets)—which fragmented the feed and caused some confusion on which one to follow. Some brands I noticed didn’t use the show’s hashtag at all. Instagram got 55,555 posts.—and noticed that #shotshow wasn’t even trending on Facebook. In comparison, events become trending topics on Twitter when they have over 50K followers. So the question I ask is ‘why wasn’t there more tweets/posts!?’

A few thoughts:

  1. It was a really busy show. A lot of my friends and client’s booths—where I got a chance to get behind the counter—were jammed packed. Buyers were lining up which barely gave us time to talk. Mike Schwiebert, Vice President of Marketing for Weatherby, put the show in context by saying, “In my 17 years of working SHOT Shows with Weatherby, this is perhaps the busiest show I’ve ever had.”
  2. Perhaps the industry still doesn’t understand the power and opportunity of these networks and how to use them effectively during trade shows—or they just don’t care.
  3. Businesses who cater to the military and law enforcement may be frowned upon. Most manufacturers who work with three letter agencies, choose not to engage with social media—for obvious reasons.
  4. It will be interesting to compare this year with next year’s event.

Takeaway: Using conference hashtags are important because it allows you to reach a larger audience. Even though the show was busy, there exists an opportunity to stand out by posting to social media more regularly throughout the week to drive traffic to your website and booth. Other exhibitors don’t seem to be taking advantage of this opportunity. Maybe you can?

 

4. Trending: lightweight and quiet
I noticed a lot of companies incorporating carbon fiber into their platforms like Christensen Arms’ CA-15 VTAC as well as suppression like the new Maxim 9 by SilcencerCo., and Daniel Defense’ 300 BLK integrally suppressed rifle—the DDM4 ISR300. Patrick Woods from Spring Guns & Ammo said, “One of the biggest innovations he saw was lighter-weight long guns. “There’s a lot of new rails out that are much, much lighter, that still provide the modularity that people are looking for in an AR-15, and are still incredibly durable and rigid.” 

Takeaway: How can you begin to integrate lightweight materials into your product offerings? Knife handles, tactical gear, holsters, cans, hand guards, stocks, barrels, mags, etc.? This may be worth taking a look at.

 

5. The industry is strong and “on alert.”
Paul Pluff, Director, Marketing Communications with Smith & Wesson, said, “This is the premier show for us, and once again this has been a very busy time. The response to our new products has been fantastic, and based on what we’re seeing; we’re very much looking forward to the year ahead.” (Source: NSSF)

With the ever-increasing attacks on our industry from the administration and the anti-gun/hunting groups—the industry remains extremely strong. I was surprised by some who suggested to “hold back” on spending for development and hiring until things pan out in Washington. I can see their point, and most likely many will heed the advice. However, rewards always favor the risk takers. We have to be “on alert” as NSSF President Sanetti suggests, but we must also continue to push and grow our businesses regardless of the political climate. I expect many forward-thinking manufacturers to continue with their plans irrespective of the industry warnings and threats we face this year.

Takeaway: We are always going to have opposition to our industry, lifestyle and heritage. But it shouldn’t stymie innovation and manufacturers’ plans to continue with their development plans. To do so would mean to admit defeat.

To wrap up, exhibits who integrated creative concepts had greater interest, use social media in future shows to help your brand gain greater awareness, lightweight, and quieter products are on the rise, and with a strong industry powered by some of the smartest and bravest people in the world who keep this country safe (collectively and individually) 2016 looks to be a great year.

What were some of your takeaways? Please comment below.

 

[columns]
inbound-marketing-hunting-outdoor-firearms-trade-show

Free Ebook: The Inbound Marketing Trade Show Planning Guide

In this planning guide, you will learn how to use inbound marketing to make your trade show more successful and profitable.

  • Picking the right tools
  • Defining clear, measurable goals
  • Tracking and measurement
  • What to do before, during and after the show
  • Tips and tricks to drive booth traffic
Download Now
[/columns]

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.

hunting-firearms-brand-extension-marketing

The 5 Rules Of Brand Extension For Firearm and Hunting Companies

By Firearms and Hunting

There will eventually come a time in your firearm or hunting company’s history that you’ll discover opportunities to branch out into new product/service segments or into new categories all together.  

Brands take years and thousands of dollars to develop. The most effective and safest way for established brands to introduce new products and services without damaging their brand is by utilizing a practice called brand extension. Brand extension leverages the equity and power of your current brand to penetrate new segments and categories faster and for less cost.

However, utilizing brand extension does come with some inherent risks. If the product doesn’t align or make sense with its parent brand, you may risk diluting your brand altogether. You also may end up alienating your current customers—leaving them wondering what it is you stand for. 

The golden rule in brand development is to be known for your one thing. You can read more about identifying your brand’s one thing here. But for this article’s purpose, your one thing must align with the new product or service you are introducing.

Below are a few simple rules with examples to consider when using brand extension to penetrate new customer segments or if you’re evaluating bringing a new product/service to an entirely new product category.

 

Ruger Pepper Spray

Ruger Pepper Spray

Rule #1. Do not dilute your current brand
.
Brands that can successfully extend into a different product category have already established brand equity. If your company has yet to build brand equity, you will find leveraging an unknown brand is like starting from scratch. It is better to carefully extend by appealing to a segment of your current base while trying to reach new customers.

Industry example:
Ruger is using its name to sell a line of pepper spray products. Although this tactic seems somewhat strange from the manufacturer, I can see where this makes sense. Ruger has built its brand on reliability, you may recall their tagline “Another reliable firearm from Ruger.”  Their pepper spray may be reliable, but does it fall out of alignment with what the Ruger brand is known for: firearms? I would have suggested starting a new brand from scratch and subtly mentioning that it was manufactured by Ruger. This I feel would leave Ruger’s brand essence in tact while introducing a high-quality pepper spray while not confusing customers.  

 

sig-suppressor-ad

Sig Sauer Silencers

Rule #2. Identify your brand’s core attributes.
You must know your buyer persona and brand’s core attributes (also known as brand values) in order to understand if your brand can successfully carry a new product into a new category. For example, if your attributes are classified as rugged and tactical, and you want to extend a new product to be smart and sleek, your new brand extension is going to be out of alignment with what the parent brand is known for.  

Try to tie the new product to the parent brand’s core attributes as much as possible. Utilize the dominant elements of your logo, imagery and color palette. The goal is to keep the branding recognizable while offering up a slight variation to signify the difference.

Industry example:
Sig Sauer introduced their line of suppressors back in 2013. This is an example of a firearms brand entering an entire new category (suppressors). Except this time it works pretty well. The ad and their website stays close and aligns with the main Sig brand making this extension work seamlessly. 


Rule #3. Make sense out of your reasoning
.
There have been some grand out-of-industry brand extension failures over the years. If you’re unsure about extending your brand with a new product, go with your gut, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Here are a few that failed to hit the mark:

brand extension

Would you fly on Hooters air? Wings yes, flying no. 


 

Rule #4. Decide if you are a House of Brands, Branded House or a Hybrid.
Are you a House of Brands or a Branded House? What’s the difference? Brand Architecture is an important consideration when introducing new products. A House of Brands relies on multiple brands while the parent brand sits in the background and mostly goes unnoticed. A Branded House is a corporation who runs multiple brands under the same name. A Hybrid is a combination of both. 

An example of a House of Brands is the Freedom Group. Freedom Group owns Remington, DPMS, Bushmaster, Barnes Bullets, Mountain Khakis, Tapco and others. For comparison, an out-of-industry example would be Proctor and Gamble (Tide, Vicks, Downey, Crest, etc.).

browning-brand-extension

Browning Clothing Brands

An example of a Branded House would be Springfield Armory, Glock, and most other manufacturers. For comparison, an out-of-industry example would be FedEx (FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight and FedEx Services). 

An example of a Hybrid is Browning. Browning manufactures knives, guns, safes, clothing, ammunition, flashlights and more. They even license their brand out. Each category has their own individual brand with Browning’s brand intrinsically intertwined. For comparison, an out-of-industry example would be Coca-Cola.

Rule #5. Test it out with your customers
 before going all in.
Not sure if your brand extension will work? If you have a loyal customer base, a little transparency and getting your customers input on your plans can go a long way. Utilize a small test group or conduct a survey to test the new product and record the feedback for validation of your offering. Testing is always the smart thing to do first before going all in. 

In conclusion, extending your brand can be done, but it must be done with careful consideration. Make sure whatever you do doesn’t dilute your current brand that you’ve worked so hard to establish. Know your brand’s core attributes and make sense out of your reasoning. When designing your new branding—stay close to your brands’ look/feel and test it out on a small group of your most loyal customers with surveys. If you’re just starting out and you know that somewhere down the line you’ll be adding more products—take the time now to plan for how those products will be added into your brand architecture to save time and cost.

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

Developing your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to uncover your brand.

Download Template

 

 

 


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.

 

firearms-marketing-automation

What Marketing Automation Tool Is Right For Your Firearms Company?

By Firearms and Hunting

Will 2016 be the year you make the move to inbound marketing? Several of the industries top manufacturers like Beretta, Mossberg, Stag Arms and Springfield Armory have engaged in marketing automation with more soon to follow. Companies are 3x as likely to see higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns than on outbound. Will you be the first in your category? 

I am typically asked about the differences between HubSpot and other marketing automation tools for inbound marketing. If you’re someone evaluating marketing automation software the list of options gets fairly long: Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, Oracle, NetResults, SAS, SilverPop, LeadFormix and more… Each have different price points, contact and email limits and other factors that affect your budget and the potential success of your inbound campaigns—but who to choose?

As an inbound marketing agency in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, we wanted the best solution for our own business and our clients—which is why we chose HubSpot. After being with HubSpot for the past two years, here are seven points for you to consider if you’re evaluating marketing automation for your online marketing efforts. 

firearms-marketing-automation-app1. All in one
We’ve been conducting “disjointed” inbound marketing for many years for businesses in the form of SEO, landing pages, email, blogging, CTAs and content offers. We made the investment in HubSpot in January 2014 to tie all our online marketing efforts together. It allows us to save immense amounts of time and cost to handle all our inbound marketing activities from one online source; instead of needing five different applications for SEO research, email/workflows, forms, analytics and social media management. Another great feature about HubSpot is the iPhone App. Marketers who check their metrics 3x+ times a week are over 20% more likely to achieve positive ROI. This is why the iPhone app is great as it allows us to keep tabs on our client’s campaign activities on the go—allowing our team to access campaign metrics in real-time. 

2. Cutting edge sales/marketing training
What attracted us to HubSpot is their sales and marketing support. There is a steep learning curve to doing inbound marketing, but the support, video training, and weekly consultations have made it easier for us to learn and teach our clients about inbound marketing. As a Certified Hubspot Partner Agency, we receive monthly training on the latest marketing and sales techniques from the marketing industry’s leading experts that help us market our client’s products and services more effectively.

This is a key benefit to our clients. Even though we have degrees in marketing or business and years of experience in marketing—being on the cutting edge and up-to-date on the latest sales and marketing trends is immensely valuable. With the increasing level of complexity in marketing: social, mobile, technology, shifting demographics, etc., I feel HubSpot is at the forefront of providing their customers the best possible training and support to navigate the changing landscape.

3. Voted #1 by marketers
HubSpot coined the word inbound marketing and defined an entirely new category like Coke, Band-Aid and Kleenex. HubSpot can also boast that they are the #1 marketing software voted by marketers.

4. They have our back, we have yours
As a HubSpot agency partner, we have their backing with all our clients’ inbound marketing efforts. Our dedicated account rep and sales manager are there to help us with all our questions, problems and issues. When our clients hire us, they also get HubSpot’s amazing staff, support and inbound marketing expertise.

5. Awesome people
Another reason we went with Hubspot is their people. They really “get it” and are there to help businesses like yours (and mine) succeed in inbound marketing.

inbound marketing6. You get what you pay for
There are obviously other software companies that have lower price points with features similar to HubSpot. But what you don’t get is a sense that other companies are serious about helping their clients. With HubSpot, when you commit with them, they go all in with you—to me as a marketer and business owner—that’s really big. This attitude is uniformly passed down to our clients

7. Inbound and internet marketing is the future
To do internet or inbound marketing requires a shift in thinking to be successful. Companies who have made this shift are reporting amazing results (See the Beretta case study). PPC, radio, print advertising, trade shows, cold calling, etc. come at higher costs now-a-days with fewer returns. According to a recent study done by IBM, 86% of CEO’s are demanding more marketing ROI. Inbound marketing on average costs 62% less per lead than traditional outbound methods—which makes committing to inbound marketing very attractive. 

HubSpot’s methodology, training, people, support and software has given us the ability to prove ROI in greater ways than ever before to our clients. Due to the fact that buying a firearm is a considered buying process, inbound marketing is a perfect methodology for conducting online marketing. Bottom line, HubSpot is an amazing company with an amazing product which is why we chose it over other marketing automation companies.

 

Inbound Marketing Toolkit

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Tool Kit
 

Running a successful marketing campaign for your business is all about having the right tools.
This guide will dive into 
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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.