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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.

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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

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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.

 

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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
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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.

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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 
which marketing tools you should keep at the ready.

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How To Do Traditional Firearms Marketing the Inbound

How To Do Traditional Firearms Marketing the Inbound Way

By Firearms and Hunting

There are several ways to construct a marketing campaign for your hunting or firearms product. Most of the time, you gather your team in a room, pound out some ideas—based around a new product release—and figure out a way on how to best bring it to the masses. Sometimes this is driven by your ad rep at Guns & Ammo or Field & Stream calling to make you aware that their full-page Spring ad deadline is looming (that costs $5,000 bucks) and that “there’s still space available.”

So you get busy creating the messaging, source the photography and get the designer to pull it all together to submit your files 2 minutes before the 5 PM deadline.

Few weeks go by as you wait in expectation for the ad to drop expecting a sales boost and… nothing. You see a slight bump in website traffic, but little to no sales. Sound familiar?

In this post, I want to give you three quick points on how to combine traditional “outbound” marketing tactics with inbound marketing tactics to help you create more effective traditional marketing campaigns that optimizes your marketing dollars and sales.

1. Create a backbone strategy with inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a long-term strategy that is formed around your ideal customer (or buyer persona) that focuses specifically on how to solve their problems or how to improve their job, hunting or shooting experience. This is a drastic departure from the typical marketing strategies were it’s all about how cool the product is, the latest review or how superior it is to other products. This kind of messaging is getting old and everyone uses it. Inbound is about building trust and being helpful. This allows your marketing and sales to stand out and has been proven to be more effective instead of the say it and spray it” method of most “interruptive” traditional marketing methods.

An inbound marketing strategy then uses six web-based components that consist of: 1. Content (blogs, videos, webinars, ebooks and whitepapers), 2. SEO, 3. Email marketing, 4. Social media, 5. CTAs and 6. Landing pages. These components form the framework when marketing online. Since inbound is entirely web-based, it’s completely measurable. This allows your marketing team to analyze what pieces of content and messages are working and what are not.

Since inbound marketing revolves around goals, ROI and analytics—this gives your marketing team a highly effective strategy that becomes the hub for all your marketing activities, including print, T.V, trade show and radio.

 

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Example of print ad with inbound offer.

2. Create relevant offers and include them in your ads

Buying ads or TV spots can build your brand’s awareness and can bring short-term sales, but often times it’s very hard to measure.

One of the ways you can gauge your ads’ effectiveness is by placing a free downloadable offer on it that drives your audience to your website.

By creating helpful downloadable offers like catalogs, spec guides, hunting tips or in this example: “The Beginner’s Guide to Pheasant Hunting”  your personas will be enticed to exchange their contact information for your offer allowing you to communicate with them further. Use a vanity URL like www.yourfirstshotgun.com/hunt and a specialized call in number to track engagement.

 

3. Track ROI, analyze and adjust

So what did that $5000 full page get you? The chances are that if you properly identified your audience, utilized a targeted publication and included a downloadable offer, you will generate traffic and sales. At the minimum you grew your email marketing list from prospects who downloaded your offer for future lead nurturing. 

If you did not achieve the results you wanted, you might need to go back and rethink your positioning, message and drill more into defining your persona. If it worked, rinse and repeat.

By combining the tactics of traditional “outbound” marketing with inbound marketing, you will find you have more data to rely on to make your advertising campaigns more effective. Use these three points for your radio, trade show and TV campaigns as well.

 

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How to Use Growth-Driven Web Design To Build Your Firearms Business

By Firearms and Hunting

 

If you’re a firearms manufacturer or work for one, you’re most likely familiar with the term “Agile.” If you’re not, here’s a quick primer: In regards to product development, Agile is a process that says you will make incremental iterations along a timeline based on wish lists or goals for your product (or service) in short development cycles, learning and improving as you go based on customer feedback.

Contrast this with traditional approaches to firearm manufacturing—were it’s an all or nothing approach to product development, which is typically how most manufacturers’ processes go.

With manufacturing going through massive transformation (Source: McKinsey), process and management terms like Agile, Scrum, Six Sigma and Lean—are becoming more commonplace and accepted manufacturing processes due to rapidly changing consumer behaviors of personalization, faster delivery, and customization.

Steve Denning from Forbes writes: “One would think that with the declining returns from traditional business strategy the need to become more agile would be obvious and that firms would be embracing the radical management practices and values of Agile. Yet even today, Agile is largely ignored by senior management and business schools. In some ways, Agile remains the best-kept management secret on the planet.”

But what does “Agile” have to do with your website?

Your website is the hardest working sales person in your company. Here’s why:

  • It doesn’t go home at night
  • It’s working 24/7/365 for your business
  • It is the hub of all your marketing and advertising activities
  • 57% of the sales cycle is over before a dealer or customer contacts/purchases from you because they visited your website first (Source: CEB)
  • 80-90% of your customers research products online before purchasing (Source: Retailing Today)
  • It is the basis of all your social media efforts
  • It can reach more interested dealers, distributors and customers than any trade show, print ad or T.V. show
  • It’s the source of building a viable email marketing list
  • Every customer interaction can be tracked

And the list goes on and on. With more and more of your customers researching and buying firearms and accessories online first (Source: NSSF), your website should—and if not—be your hardest working sales person. 

In this post, I want to introduce you to a different way of thinking about your next firearm website design (that you most likely are dreading) and how you can approach it in an “agile-way” that is more budget-friendly, produces greater results and is based on your customer rather than assumptions.

Traditional Web Design

For a long time, the all-or-nothing approach to web development has been the standard. A typical project starts out with you knowing that your company’s website is outdated and needs to be redesigned.

So you go searching online for a design agency to develop the site. You narrow it down to 3 firms and choose one based on price, capability and delivery.

Typical website design costs range somewhere between $10,000 to $80,000+. This means you have to come up with a large sum of capital up front and then devote 3-4 months of your time to the project. Your site goes live—most likely over budget and out of scope—and then it sits there for 2-3 years until you have to redesign again.

firearms-website-design-risks

 

But there is a bigger problem.

How will you know that the website you just launched is the best possible performing website that achieves your revenue goals and provides you a return on your investment? With a traditional approach, you base your firearm website design on a hypothesis of what will work—not what’s been proven. And this is why the traditional approach to web development is broken.

Growth-Driven Web Design

Now let’s apply an “agile” approach, or what is called by Luke Summerfield, Growth-Driven Design to web design and development.

In a growth driven design model or GDD, you do everything in a traditional web design model, except you adjust and build your website in short intervals over time based on user feedback, not assumptions of what your users want.

 

growth-driven-design-firearms-website
There are three main benefits to Growth-Driven Design:

  1. Minimize risk associated with traditional web design
    You work to avoid the risks of traditional web design by taking a systematic approach to shorten the time to launch, focusing on real impact and continuous learning and improvement.
  2. Continuously learn and improve
    You are constantly researching, testing and learning about your visitors to inform on-going website improvements. Through continuous improvements, you can reach peak performance.
  3. As you learn, inform marketing and sales (and vice versa)
    Growth-Driven Design is tightly integrated with inbound marketing & sales. What we learn about visitors helps inform and improve marketing & sales strategies and tactics (and vice versa).

The GDD process is much more effective, and it turns your website into a sales and marketing machine that is constantly improving over time versus leaving your website to drift over the next 2-3 years like most companies in the industry do. (Source: Luke Summerfield)

The Growth-Driven Design Process

Instead of going through the long traditional web design process of one and done, with GDD—you focus on creating strategy first, getting online quickly with the bare minimum requirements—and then iterate over the course of the next year as you plan, develop, learn and transfer your understanding to marketing and sales as you go, then rinse and repeat. 

growth-driven-firearms-website-design

1. Strategy
In the strategy phase, you do everything in the traditional web design process but, prioritize what you need now, and what you will need later allowing you to get online faster.

  • Goals
  • Personas
  • Website & Analytics Audit
  • User Experience Research
  • Fundamental Assumptions
  • Global & Page Strategy
  • Brainstorm Wishlist

2. Launch Pad Site
In the launch pad phase, you go live with your new website with the bare minimum requirements based on what has worked in the past. This typically involves listing all your best selling products (or services), adding new photography, new design template(s) and some new content or positioning messages.

  • Map out process: Messaging, copy, wireframes, UX, design, develop, Q&A
  • Collaborate with team based on specific customer/client and action items

3. Plan, Develop, Learn and Transfer
After the launch pad site has been launched, using tools like heat mapping, usability testing, analytics and qualitative customer feedback, you build and improve your website. Also worth mentioning is the SEO benefits that keeps your content fresh, which according to MOZ, allows you to rank higher on Google

If you realize the importance of how your website can grow your business, Growth-Driven Design offers a greater opportunity for forward-thinking firearm companies to engage their customers with an increased level of customer satisfaction, communication, product development and brand building that in the end ultimately saves you time, cost and grows your business more effectively. 

So to sum up, Growth-Driven Design:

  1. Gets your new website launched faster
  2. Takes a phased approach that helps your budget
  3. Is based on user feedback, not assumptions
  4. Is constantly being improved over time (content, functions, features, modules, etc.)
  5. Works with single stakeholders within your company one at a time, minimizing internal conflict and achieving each department’s goals more effectively
  6. Less up-front cost and risk

If you’re interested in learning more about GDD and if it might be a good fit for your firearms business, download the eBook below. I’d also be happy to take whatever questions you have to help improve your current website and inbound marketing efforts.

Related Resources:

Summerfield, Luke. Rethinking Web Design Webinar
(Accessed October 30, 2015)  https://www.growthdrivendesign.com

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How to Get Started with Inbound Marketing on a Small Budget

By Firearms and Hunting

For some hunting, outdoor or firearms manufacturers, getting started with inbound marketing may be too much at this point in your company’s history.

You’re serious about growth and have thought a lot about your goals, but you just don’t have the resources to go all in on hiring an agency were typical retainers start at $3,200 a month. Plus the purchase of a full-blown marketing automation software platform like HubSpot, Marketo or Pardot is out of reach to do it right.

So what do you do when you’re ready to start inbound marketing, but you just don’t have the resources to pull the trigger?

In this post, I’m going to give you four steps on how to start inbound marketing on $1,500/mo. or less that can jump start your digital marketing strategy of attracting visitors to your website, converting visitors to leads and leads to customers.

1. Design an “inbound-ready” website that enables conversion 
The best websites in the industry have three things in common in addition to being e-commerce enabled. One, they have a blog that is active and is—at minimum—updated weekly with helpful, relevant content that speaks to your customers or buyer personas. Blogging also builds links and increases your search engine rankings which means more traffic.

Two, they have social share buttons attached to content that increases the likelihood of your content getting shared over social media networks like Facebook and Twitter where hunters, fisherman, and shooters hang out.

And three, they have downloadable offers with landing pages to capture visitor information so you can continue to market your product and services to them after they have shown interest and left your website.

By having the minimal aspects above in place, your website meets the basic criteria of what it means to have an “inbound-ready” website. Only through content offers (whitepapers, ebooks, videos, case studies, etc.) will you be able to convert visitors into leads that will provide the necessary contacts to build a viable email marketing list of prospective customers.

But that’s only the beginning of what it means to be “inbound.”

 

2. Install lead intelligence
marketing-automation-analytics-2You can’t do inbound successfully unless you have set goals and have a tracking and analytical tool that allows you to test and see what content is working and what isn’t—in real-time. Google Analytics is great, but you need a tool that tells you a little more about your prospects. Like how they found you and what they’re interested in.

Leadin is a free and simple tracking tool that allows you to see who’s on your website specifically and provides the context of what your visitors are interested in. It can also tell you what pages they visited, what offers they downloaded and what social media channels they are on so you can potentially engage in a more meaningful trust-building conversation. No more guessing who is on your website and where your traffic is coming from, and did I mention it is free?

 

3. Create basic lead nurturing workflows
Another powerful feature with LeadIn is that no matter what form your visitors fill out on your website they are automatically added to your favorite email marketing programs like MailChimp or Constant Contact instantly. This allows you to define simple automated workflows that nurture your leads through your sales funnel. So for example, if you have a contact who has visited your website 15 times but has not purchased that $1800 rifle, but has downloaded a spec sheet, you may want to send him/her a series of emails to help him figure out what rifle is the best for him or why your rifle is better than your competitors.

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels available. (Source: McKinsey & Co.) Some studies suggest that it’s 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. (Source DemandGen). 

 

Leadin-Contact

Leadin Contact Intelligence

4. Analyze performance
One of the biggest features of marketing automation software is that it centralizes all your contacts in one place, versus having it spread all over your inbox sporadically when a form is submitted. It allows you to organize, track and analyze the performance of your campaigns and hone your messaging to make it more effective.

Leadin also gives you an understanding of your contacts and demonstrates the value of inbound marketing analytics.

The whole point of doing inbound marketing versus the traditional approach i.e. trade show, magazine, and T.V advertising and for some—cold calling, is to reach your customers at the right place at the right time, and this is online when your prospects are actively searching for a solution to their problem.

You may be getting excited right now—but a word of caution. The above steps will give you a starting point to doing and learning inbound, but it doesn’t take the place of a full inbound marketing program.

This smaller approach or “Inbound Lite” doesn’t take into account the time-saving features of building landing pages, list segmentation, campaigns, social monitoring, comprehensive workflow analytics and search engine optimization intelligence found in marketing automation software. But with the right mindset and some of these budget-friendly tools in place—you can be on your way to doing inbound.

Is Inbound Marketing Right Firearms Business

Is Inbound Marketing Right For My Firearms or Hunting Business?

By Firearms and Hunting

Over 55% of today’s marketing budgets are being shifted from traditional marketing (print, trade show and TV) to content or inbound marketing (Source: CMI). As a business owner, business development or marketing professional in the hunting, outdoor or firearms industry, you may be wondering if inbound marketing is right for your business.

Inbound marketing is not a tactic or channel, but a methodology for savvy businesses who want to become more relevant and current with consumer trends and who recognize the importance of building longer relationships with their customers and getting more ROI from their marketing budgets.  

In this post, I’ll give you 7 indicators why inbound marketing might be a good fit for your business.

1. You question the effectiveness of your current marketing
You spent $5000 on a Facebook campaign, but it only brought in a few customers. Your website traffic is on the decline because of recent Google algorithm changes and that full-page ad you ran in Guns & Ammo—well let’s just say it failed. Does this sound familiar? These are common problems for hunting, outdoor and firearms businesses trying to market in today’s competitive marketplace.

Due to changes in technology (Mobile, Internet, On-Demand, DVR, etc.), consumer behavior has shifted.

Instead of the traditional marketing practices of the last 100 years that beg, borrow or buy peoples’ attention, your customers now have the ability to choose where, when and how they hear your message. They can easily fast forward through commercials, skip an ad or flip to the next page. And with everyone head down on their iPhones, they may not see your message at all.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, attracts customers who are already interested in learning about your products and who are motivated to finding a solution to their problems. 

2. You’re willing to learn

At this point, you may have done some research on how inbound marketing works and may have already concluded that inbound might be a good fit. You know that inbound marketing:

  • costs 62% less per lead than traditional “outbound” marketing methods
  • has the ability to track how many website visits become leads and how many leads become customers
  • increases traffic by 55% via blogging
  • generates 3 times more leads per dollar spent
  • yields higher rankings on search engines
  • builds your brand
  • unlocks more marketing budget because it proves ROI

Through the process, you’re going to learn more about your customers and explore new ideas about your business you’ve not yet considered. This all creates and establishes thought leadership that pushes your brand to new heights and leaves your competitors in the dust.

3. You’re willing to change your thinking

In order to be successful in inbound, your company must change the way it thinks. The culture must evolve—starting from the CEO/owner down to your pro staff. The typical hope and pray approach to marketing can now be replaced by measurable analytics that show you what’s working and what’s not.

4. You’re willing to become a writer
 (or at least try)
You must be consistent and motivated to see the program through. This means blogging 1-2x a week at minimum. It means creating remarkable and relevant premium content in the form of ebooks, whitepapers, webinars and videos on a consistent basis. If you do not have the time to create content, ask an agency for help.

You may shutter at the thought of writing or blogging. However, once you begin most people find they thoroughly enjoy it. Think of it as your contribution and legacy to the industry. The old adage “it doesn’t exist, till you write it down” applies here.

5. You want to grow or sustain your business

For product companies in competitive categories like optics, lasers, accessories, knifes and MSRs, the ups and downs of sales and cash flow issues affects your company’s ability to plan for the future. Inbound has the potential to supply your business with a steady flow of new customers every month. By expanding your digital footprint online, your brand is in more places. 

6. You have a long buyers’ journey
Segments that can benefit the most in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry from inbound marketing are products that include a longer buyers journey. This is typically associated with products and services that cost over $250. With over 60% of all purchases beginning with an online search, companies looking to break away from the pack have ample opportunity to crush their competition and grab more market-share with inbound because it helps nurture your prospects through the sales funnel that provides valuable information for your customers to make informed decisions. 

7. You’re in it for the long haul

Have you ever trained for a marathon? It takes about 3-4 months to create the endurance and fitness needed to cover the 26.2 miles on race day. The mindset of the inbound marketer is to consistently build—day after day, week after week, month after month—a foundation of valuable content that results in increased traffic, leads and customers over time. Depending on your website’s age, current rankings and functionality—inbound can take anywhere from 4 to 6 months to start showing results.

In conclusion, there is no doubt inbound marketing works when executed correctly. The Beretta case study demonstrates inbound’s effectiveness to build and sustain a steady flow of sales. Inbound marketing is a proven methodology for today’s consumer behavior—meeting them at the right place, at the right time and on their terms. If you’ve become a believer in inbound and are ready to change the way you think about marketing, are disciplined, motivated and committed for the long haul—then the benefits of inbound marketing are waiting for you. 

 

Inbound Marketing Toolkit

Free Download:
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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-content-marketing

3 Kinds of Hunting and Firearms Content You Should Be Writing

By Firearms and Hunting

If you’ve committed to—or are just getting started with content marketing to help your hunting, outdoor or firearms company drive more website visitors, convert visitors to leads, increase sales and build your brand—there are three kinds of content you should know about that forms the foundation of your content marketing strategy.

Most companies in the industry are getting their content wrong. Most content is highly self-promotional that serves the company rather than their customers. Other brands write about topics that have no relevance to their buyer persona’s problems or questions. Further yet, once companies start writing content, they give up in 3-4 months.

Creating content is not easy and takes time, devotion and the commitment of your entire team to make it work. However, by having a better understanding of what kind of content you need to be creating in the first place, you can focus and plan more effectively so your efforts don’t fall flat.

According to Google/YouTube and Mark Schaefer, author of the new book, The Content Code, there are three forms of content: Hygiene, Hub and Heroic.

Hygiene Content
Hygiene content makes up the bulk of what you see out on the web. Hygiene content is the lifeblood of your content strategy and keeps your website fresh. These pieces of content typically involve your run of the mill 500-800-word articles that gives your readers “How-To’s”, “Tips and Tricks” and the “Do It Your Self” articles. This kind of content keeps your audience engaged and helps you maintain your search engine rankings. (Source: SEOMOZ)

Some examples of this type of content would be:

  • How to Clean Your AR-15
  • 3 Ways to Become a Better Turkey Hunter
  • 5 Best Hunting Apps for Hunting Coyotes

Hub Content
Hub content goes more in-depth about a certain subject and usually is 1000-2000 words in length and serves more as a reference piece that your readers visit time and time again. Hub content or “evergreen” content serves to attract visitors to your website and keeps them there. This kind of content builds brand loyalty and in most cases will help in building links to your website. You know you have created a piece of evergreen content by quickly looking at your analytics to see what pages of your blog consistently get the most visits. These types of articles require planning, a lot of thought, research and understanding of the topic to make them valuable to your readers. Hub content is also critical in building thought leadership in your category. Hub content also remains high on search engines for an extended period and is typically staggered throughout the year.

A few good examples of Hub content are:

Heroic Content
This is the hardest content to produce and also the most surprising. Heroic content—also sometimes called viral content—typically receives thousands to millions of shares and views and is highly entertaining and educational all-in-one. Heroic content also challenges perceptions and opinions and can be controversial or polarizing.

Here are a few examples:

By focusing on creating these three types of content: hygiene, hub and heroic, your content/inbound marketing strategy will remain consistent and focused all year long. Plan your hub content in advance and think about how to come up with one or two good viral pieces. Then fill the rest of your content calendar with helpful hygiene content to keep your audience engaged and your website fresh.

 

hunting-firearms-best-website-design

The Hunting and Firearms Industry’s Best Website Designs

By Firearms and Hunting

What makes a great website? Most of the time you know it when you see it, but you just can’t put your finger on it. To have a website that stands head and shoulders above your competitors, brands must focus on creating engaging user experiences. To do so, here are ten points to keep in mind: 

  1. Design for your buyer persona
  2. Less really is more
  3. Use interesting colors and quality imagery
  4. Make sure it works on all mobile and tablet devices (responsive)
  5. Gives users something to “stick” around for like a blog, videos or other forms of helpful content
  6. Write content in your buyer persona’s language
  7. Make your content easy to share
  8. Optimize for search engines
  9. Add an SSL for extra security if you’re running a shopping cart
  10. Must load in under 5 seconds

Earlier this year, Google announced that if your website was not mobile friendly—or in other words “responsive”, you could be penalized in search rankings. And with more than 95% of all product searches starting online and more algorithm changes on the way, it’s important to take advantage of these changes to make sure your website will remain competitive. One way most hunting and firearms websites are ensuring their survival is by adopting content marketing. By creating consistent content in the forms of blogs, videos, whitepapers and downloadable offers, companies can keep on top of the search engines and provide a “branded” user experience to their users. This is a significant trend away from which historically has been left to content publishers like Field and Stream, Guns & Ammo and others.

In this post, we looked at over 200 websites in the hunting and firearms industry and chose one from 25 categories to see how the industry is moving forward by adopting the latest web trends and technologies. Last time I checked the Webby’s  (Website awards) weren’t giving any awards for brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, so we hope to change that with this post. 

Use this post to gain ideas for your own website or to get inspired. 

 


Accessories
Magpul’s great products combined with stunning imagery and their unique sense of humor reflects perfectly on their brand personality.

magpul

 

Ammunition

Barnes does a great job with imagery and creating some interesting features like their load data and information page. They also feature their community members that adds to its credibility and “social proof.”

barnes

 

Attractants
Big & J’s website uses great imagery and product callouts.

bigj

 

 

Blinds (and Tree Stands) 
Muddy’s website has a lot of engaging imagery and a full-screen interface that makes for a clean user experience.

muddy

 

 

Bows
Bear Archery does a great job using “parallax” technology on their page scroll and telling the story of their products. Along with clever imagery (see hunter in the sky) this site makes it fun to scroll.

bear

 

 

Clothing
5.11’s firearm accessories website does a great job of communicating quickly their large line of apparel and accessories and helps the user get to where they want to go quickly.

5.11

 

Coolers
No surprise here. Yeti’s website is also very clean and does a great job with text and imagery to convey their brand’s messaging. Thier “Field Notes” blog provides great recipes and how-tos on cooling game along with other interesting content.

yeti

 

 

Decoys
Bigfoot Decoys website uses really great imagery and a simplified navigation menu. Check out their dealer locator.

bigfoot

 

 

Fitness
Not only is Mountain Ops an interesting newcomer to the hunting industry, its products and branding are very persuasive as redefining hunters as “wilderness athletes.”

getmntops


Food Plot
Packed full of information, BioLogic’s website helps users figure out what products to use and provides relevant information about their products.

biologic

 

Handguns
Springfield Armory’s website is very clean and utilizes a good amount of whitespace. Packed with great video content, blog and reviews, the site does a great job using graphics and content to educate its users.

springfield

 

Game Calls
Knight and Hall gets honors in the game call category. They also have a great blog packed with calling tips and other great hunting information.

knighthale

 


Game Cameras

Wildlife Innovations combines their celebrity lineup with their line of innovations. Real faces of real people make it interesting to look at and scroll through.

wildlifeinnocations

 

 

Game Feeders
On Time’s brochure-ware site is super simple in look and feel and does a great job of communicating the brands products. If you have a low budget, this is a good example of what can be done.

ontime

 

 

Gun Cleaning
Although the Hoppe’s website is not responsive, it was still the standout among its competitors. This heritage brand does a great job of bringing its brand into the 21st century.

hoppes

 


Holsters
Interesting imagery and typography makes the Blackhawk! website very engaging. We also liked how they used vertical imagery to scroll the user down the page.

blackhawk

 

 

Knives
Kershaw’s website uses a clean and minimalistic design that showcases its products nicely.

kershaw

 

 

Lasers
Crimson Trace’s website uses an interesting type style along with their signature campaign imagery of peoples faces in silhouettes.

 

crimsontrace

 

 

Modern Sporting Rifles
Bring the rain! Black Rain Ordinance does a great job of communicating their unique brand on their website.

blackrain

 


Optics
Burris uses a unique minimalistic menu function that opens up the page to its great imagery and content callouts.

burris

 

 

Packs
Badlands website uses a darker (and meaner) color palette to communicate the seriousness of their brand, combined with their sponsored hunters and shooters makes the site very engaging.

badlands

 

 

Patterns
Mossy Oak leads the pattern category. With plenty of great content, interesting design and great imagery, Mossy Oak’s website is engaging and does a great job of presenting their sub-brands (upper left).

mossyoak

 

 

Safes
Securit leads the safe category with interesting imagery, persona-based navigation and a great library of content.

securit

 

 

Suppressors
Our leading favorite only because SilencerCo. is the coolest brand out there right now, but also because its got our good buddy Jep on the home page. Their #fightthenoise campaign has been highly effective.

silencerco

 

 

Rifles
The winner of our review is Mossberg. With helpful content, amazing imagery, persona-based navigation and a responsive design, you can tell a lot of work went into this website.mossberg-winner-3

If you’ve noticed one thing about the websites listed in this post, it’s the investment in quality photography, graphic design and copy. These three elements combined with solid programming and ease-of-use is only the first step in joining the digital age of marketing. Turn your website into a powerful sales tool by adding useful, helpful and consistent content that helps your customers solve their problems and that answers their most burning questions. 

What do you think of our list? Who did we miss? What was your favorite? Please post your comments below!

hunting-firearm-outdoor-website-ebook

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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-experience

5 Ways To Boost Your Hunting or Firearms Brand’s Experience

By Firearms and Hunting

With so much economic upheaval and pressure to stand out in today’s hunting, outdoor and firearms marketplace; business owners and marketers have been feeling the pressure to produce greater results.

One overlooked element is how you create better brand experiences for your customers. Brand experience goes beyond the basic function of the product or service and seeks to connect with your customer on an emotional level that makes your brand the preferred choice in your category by adding something extra. 

How do top brands create great brand experiences? I took a closer look at a few brands inside and outside the industry and boiled it down to five things that stood out to me on how to go about building a great brand experience—and how you can begin implementing them into your own branding and marketing efforts. 

1. Find your “one” thing
Most of the world’s best brands are known for “one” thing. It can be tough (Ford); it could be repeating arms (Winchester); it could be rugged (Marlboro) or status (Rolex)—it may even be duck hunting (Duck Commander). Whatever the case, the best brands are known for “one” thing that puts them head and shoulders above others—and in the process define an entire category. The first step in boosting your brand experience is to know and understand what your “one” thing is. Communicate your one thing over and over again in every piece of marketing until your name is associated with that one word that places your brand on the top shelf of your customers and prospects minds. 

2. Rise above function to connect on an emotional level
Once you’ve drilled your prospective buyer with what your one thing is, you then must begin to connect your brand at an emotional level. Zig Zigler said it best; “People don’t buy for logical reasons, they buy for emotional reasons.” Your product or service should mean something more than what it appears to be. Can your brand make your customer feel better about themselves? Can it make them feel different when they put it on? Will it win the admiration of their friends? Take a look at some of the top brands for an example of how they connect at the emotional level:

  • Coke is Brown Sugar Water > Happiness in a Bottle.
  • SilencerCo. is a Suppressor > Fight the Noise.
  • Budweiser is Fermented Barley and Hops > King of Beers.
  • Matthews is a Bow Manufacturer > Supremely Accurate.

Great brands rise above the functional attributes of their product to connect to their customers emotionally.

3. Take your customers somewhere
Does your brand take your customer somewhere? It doesn’t have to be a physical place, it can be a state-of-mind. For example, when you turn on your truck—how does it make you feel? Do you feel like a bad ass or a grocery getter? How about when you put on your favorite football team’s jersey—do you feel like you’re part of the team? When you sip on a Corona, does it take you to the beach? Great brands take their customers somewhere.

4. Build a cult-like following
There is a company out there called Johnny Cupcakes. Ever heard of it? Neither did I till I was at a marketing conference this summer. Johnny Cupcakes founded by Johnny Earle, named America’s #1 Young Entrepreneur creates custom designed t-shirts that are then sold in a store that looks like a bakery—all over the world. At first glance you’re probably like “what?” But what makes the Johnny Cupcakes brand interesting is its cult-like following. So much so, that people tattoo Johnny’s logo on themselves and stand in line for hours to get his latest designs. Think Apple when they release their new iPhone. When his customers order a shirt from Johnny online and receive it in the mail;  it’s better than Christmas. His packaging seeks to create an experience pre-primed by his brand’s irresistible appeal. Not only do they get the t-shirt they ordered, but there’s always something extra. Sometimes they get a sticker, maybe a book, a used candy wrapper or Johnny’s used sock. Sounds silly—but Johnny’s fans love it. What can you add to your customer experience that gives just that little extra touch? Doing so, may help you create a cult-like following that will give back to your business for years to come.

5. Give them a community
Another important aspect of great brand experiences is being a part of what Marketing expert Seth Godin calls a “tribe.” A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader and connected to an idea…. People want connection and growth and something new. I’m a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association. I’m included in a community of other marketing professionals in the industry—giving me a network and a small sense of belonging. Think of the communities you belong to. How do they make you feel? 

It should feel good. Can you do the same for your customers?

All marketing doesn’t have to be tradeshow, print or a TV sponsorship. Marketing can be an app, a community group or some random chachki in your packaging. Look at other ways to stand out from your competitors. 

To sum up, to boost your brand’s customer experience, find your “one” thing that makes you different, be something more than just a function, take your customers somewhere and give them a sense of accomplishment and community.

 

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


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[/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-logo-design

5 Hunting Logo Design Failures To Avoid At All Costs

By Firearms and Hunting

It is inevitable that at some point in your company’s history you will be faced with a logo redesign or a rebranding of your hunting, outdoor or firearms company.

Remember the good ole’ start-up days? It was a lot easier just to design a few concepts that made sense, approve it and get on with building your business. But now things are a little more complicated: you have thousands of customers, a few sub-brands, hundreds of employees counting on you and a few more competitors. Suddenly, that little insignificant symbol that no one thought twice about is a big deal.

For business owners or marketers, managing a logo redesign is a major change—and change is hard! To help you stay clear of any potential pitfalls, here are five things to keep in mind during the course of your next hunting, outdoor or firearms logo redesign project.

1. Get an outside perspective
When designing a new logo, it’s critical to start with an understanding of what your customers think about your current identity and brand. Their input will form the foundation of your creative brief and give substance to your efforts. Their answers may provide key insights that you otherwise would have missed.

For more information on interviewing your customers please see: 8 Ways to Build Your Hunting Brand

2. Identify your value propositions
If you’re designing a new logo without a solid understanding of what your brand stands for, it’s likely you’ll struggle to define accurately what your key differentiators are and what value you bring to the marketplace, your employees, customers, and channel partners. If you’re struggling to identify what your “why” is, it may indicate a deeper problem, and you may need to take a deeper look at your brand. Below is a TED talk from Simon Sinek that explains how to create a brand that dominates your category—worth the watch. 

Remember, a logo is a representation of what you want to communicate and should be connected to your visual system or “kit of parts” i.e package design, trade show booth design, website design, product catalogs, advertising etc. A logo rarely functions on its own.

3. Write a concise creative brief
If points 1 and 2 (above) are not defined, then your creative brief will be filled with guesses and estimations. It’s possible to still create a logo, but you may be missing out on key insights that would be helpful to your design agency when they begin the project. A good creative brief contains the following points:

  • Project summary
  • Audience profile or buyer persona
  • Perception/tone/guidelines
  • What needs to be communicated
  • Competitors
  • Examples of logos you like/dislike

detailed creative brief saves time, endless revisions and equips your branding agency with the right information to maximize the design process.

4. Don’t design by committee
When you receive your first round of concepts back from your branding agency don’t email it out to everyone in your company for feedback. Chances are you’ll get a hundred different suggestions and “advice” on what needs to be changed. Don’t include those who haven’t been involved in the process from the beginning.

The famous maxim: a camel was a horse designed by committee—is true in this situation. Form a select team of 2-4 people to help you choose the best logo for your company. Make sure all options have been vetted and are properly understood before presenting to your company’s stakeholders—then send out your top 2 choices to the company (if you want their involvement).

And as hard as it may seem, make sure to design your logo based on what your customers want and expect, and not so much on what you like. 

5. Present the logo properly
Another reason not to send your concepts out to the company until you have a strong consensus of what the strongest 2 or 3 final concepts are—is to make sure each concept is explained properly.

Create a video or website (See American Airlines) about what the new logo means and how it will look with the other parts of your visual system.

Redesigning a new logo is a challenging exercise. To get it right, you must take the time to talk to your customers, identify your value propositions, write an accurate and concise creative brief, collaborate internally and present the concepts thoroughly. By doing so, you will avoid these common logo redesign pitfalls.


hunting-outdoor-firearm-logoFree Download: Creative Brief Template

Creative briefs help keep projects running smoothly and prevent misunderstandings and delays by:

  • Connecting objectives with creative strategies
  • Building team consensus
  • Aligning expectations
  • Defining clear, measurable goals

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy

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

How Inbound Marketing Increases Your Dealers & Distributors Firearm Sales

By Firearms and Hunting

I am often asked by frustrated manufacturers in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry about how inbound marketing can specifically help their business increase sales over their entire chain of distribution.

They are frustrated because many have bought email lists thinking they could send their offers to interested distributors or customers, redesigned their website that cost thousands of dollars only to get zero increase in traffic, hired an SEO firm to boost traffic or even spent money on a trade show sponsorship that brought little to no results. And cold calling doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to. 

Some have been left feeling burnt with little or nowhere else to turn except to some other web or PR firm making big promises.

In this post, I want to look at three components of the distribution chain: the distributor, the dealer and direct-to-consumer and give you three bottom line takeaways on how inbound marketing is different from traditional methods you might have used in the past and how specifically inbound marketing can help your business’ bottom line.

So let’s go…

First, let’s start with the distributor
Distributors are always on the look out for the next hot product. They want to know if your brand’s product can get a good margin, sell quickly and most importantly, know if their investment in your product will pay off. (Source: Entrepreneur

To attract more distributors, you can utilize the inbound marketing methodology to create content to establish your brand which in turn, creates “thought leadership.” Nobody knows more about how your product helps customers than you. By publishing your content on B2B networks like LinkedIn, where distributors are looking for new products and ideas—you can really stand out among your competitors.

hunting-firearms-linked-groups

Top hunting, outdoor and firearms LinkedIn groups

There are several active groups on LinkedIn you should join.

By creating and sharing helpful information and answering questions about your product, you begin to build brand awareness and trust within your network. Trust is a large consideration when creating a partnership with a distributor. Buyers go through about 57% of the purchasing process before ever talking to sales. (Source: CEB) This means that helpful content has the potential to create trust with your potential distributor before you even talk. This makes the selling process much easier and more likely to end in a purchase order.

Example Questions Your Inbound Marketing Should Address

  • How much profit can we make when selling your products? (Address this on both a per-unit level and an expected total sales level.)

  • How does your product compare financially to other similar products? What are the profit levels you can bring compared to someone else’s product?

  • Does your company provide additional marketing funds to help sell these products? What exactly do you do to help them sell?

  • Is there a demand for your product? What need does it serve, and which retail market is most likely to be effective when selling it?

  • Do you produce a variety of different products that can also easily be distributed?
    (Source: Iqnection)

hunting-firearm-distribution-inbound-marketing

Inbound marketing tracking sources report

 

Since inbound marketing is internet-based, it’s also trackable. Imagine knowing exactly how your marketing has affected your bottom line and being able to show a prospective distributor real results. This can be very powerful especially for startups or mid-sized companies looking to create a strong sales case study.

Bottom line: Inbound marketing increases sales by building thought leadership, trust, speeds up the sales cycle and is trackable.

The Dealer
Dealers and distributors interests are sometimes the same in how they can sell more to the end consumer. Unlike the distributor who is more interested in a quality product and good margins, the dealer—who is also interested in those things—wants products that have a large customer base and can profit quickly.

Did you know that 81% of products are researched online before purchase? (Source: Adweek). Inbound marketing creates greater opportunities for your products to be found online. By creating content that helps your customers become better shooters, better hunters or provides insight and tips pertaining to whatever product or service you sell—you build your brand and cultivate a deep interest for your brand’s products that are based on trust—not persuasive ad messaging.

And with 54% of shoppers wanting to actually see the product before they purchase it, inbound can potentially drive customers to your local dealers with a sense of trust already established in your brand which increases the likelihood of purchase which benefits your dealers. (Source: Social Times)

Bottom line: Inbound marketing increases sales by creating greater awareness of your brand online where customers start their searches for your products.

Direct-to-Consumer
As an end-user, your customer also goes through a lengthy buyer process before deciding to purchase your product. One of the key differentiators of inbound marketing (assuming that you built a good product) is that it delights your customers and turns them into promoters of your brand’s products after purchase.

Social media is like digital word of mouth. Word of mouth and referrals—as we all know—is the best kind of marketing there is. Inbound uses social media to encourage sharing over social media networks that spreads your content and messaging to a larger audience.

80% of all new product searches begin online, so if your product is not taking advantage of the benefits of the hundreds to thousands of online searches within your product category every month, you’re missing out on a viable revenue stream. (Source: Adweek)

Bottom line: Inbound marketing increases sales by turning your customers into promoters of your brand.

These are just three ways on how inbound marketing can help increase sales for your hunting, outdoor or firearms manufacturing company throughout the distribution chain. Inbound marketing builds trust, establishes thought leadership, speeds the sales cycle, increases traffic to your website and turns customers into promoters of your brand.

Larger brands like Beretta, Stag Arms and Mossberg have already adopted inbound marketing programs. In a case study by HubSpot, Beretta reported a 76% increase in organic leads to customers last year with inbound marketing. And with more than 80% of CMO’s increasing their content budget, (Source: Ad Age) the question becomes, who’s going to break out in your product category first?

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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

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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-customer-reviews

How to Deal with Negative Customer Comments

By Firearms and Hunting

 

“This product sucks, I bought it and within five days it broke. I called the manufacturer and had to sit on hold for 15 minutes to figure out how to get my money back. And when I finally did get them on the line, I had to go through four different service reps to find out it wasn’t under warranty. I will never buy from this company again, and I’m going tell all my friends to stay away.” – John M. from Facebook

Sound familiar?

At some point if you’re a manufacturer and sell products online in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, negative feedback is not a matter of if, but when. We work in an industry where reputation is everything. People are highly passionate about the shooting, hunting and the outdoor sports—any negative experience like faulty products, bad customer service or false information will be met with a highly passionate response.

According to a new survey conducted by Dimensional Research, an overwhelming 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. (Source: Marketing Land)

In this post, I’ll give you five ways on how to deal with negative customer comments to help you minimize damage to your brand and neutralize an angry customer.

1. Deal with the problem immediately
When a customer is unhappy, whatever the reason, it’s important to act quickly. A negative review or comment on your website or social media page has the potential to be seen by other potential customers. You don’t want the customer’s anger to fester. By acting quickly it shows you care about the customer and providing good customer service.

2. Be polite, apologetic and public
The old saying, “the customer is always right” is applicable here. You have to swallow your pride, be polite and apologetic. If the customer is unreasonable, others will see this on your feed and know you are doing all you can to remedy the situation. For example, if they sharpened their knife with a grinder and want their money back because it was milled to a toothpick, this obviously is not your fault. Be polite and explain to them that your product isn’t supposed to be sharpened in this manner. This makes you look better in the eyes of the people observing. If it gets too heated, take it offline. It’s not worth it to try and win an argument on social media for everyone to see.

3. Make it right, if possible
In all instances, whatever you can—within reason—try to make it right with the customer. If you have to send them a new product or refund their money—expedite their request. You’ll end up saving your brand’s reputation and cut off any negative reaction the angry customer might engage in. Like writing a blog or producing a video about their negative experience, posting a review on Google or filing with the Better Business Bureau. All of these are almost impossible to overcome and will affect your business’ bottom line.

4. Pick your battles
It seems like there are a lot of people who just like to kick up dust and cause trouble. We’ve all observed unwarranted attacks in forums from people who just want to attract attention or make someone else look stupid. If a person attacks your brand or product for no apparent reason, respond as politely and tactfully as possible. Use facts to back up your reply. Most of the time they are only trying to stir up controversy. Before responding, see how big of following they have on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and if others feel the same as they do. Sometimes, you may just have to ignore or delete their comment. Sometimes they may be right. 

5. Hire the right people
By employing the right people for your organization you can drastically reduce the number of customer complaints from a customer service standpoint. 62% of B2B and 42% of B2C customers purchased more after a good customer service experience. If you get an angry customer who calls in demanding their money back, it’s going to be very important that the person who takes the call incorporates the above points. We’ve all experienced the grumpy customer service person. Make sure your customer service rep is trained correctly and can resolve the situation quickly. In the same survey, 72% blamed their bad customer service interaction on having to explain their problem to multiple people. (Source: Zendesk)

Working in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry is highly rewarding work and sometimes not for the lighthearted. By dealing with negative customer feedback quickly, being polite, doing all you can to make it right, picking your battles and hiring the right people, you’ll be able to save and manage your brand’s reputation more effectively when dealing with negative customer comments and reviews.

 

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

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In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer is. This will enable you to set SMART goals that focus your marketing and branding efforts.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

How To Measure The Value Of Your Hunting Or Firearms Brand

How to Measure The Value of Your Hunting or Firearms Brand

By Firearms and Hunting

Most company’s in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry today base brand value solely on sales volume, and sometimes even Facebook likes.

According to a recent survey of over 400 (non-industry) marketers, 80% of them believed building brand awareness is “extremely” or “very” important, 76% admitted that they don’t know what percentage of their target market is aware of their brand. And nearly 70% said they weren’t sure how to measure brand awareness. (Source: Survey Monkey).

I believe these numbers are even higher in our industry, because most brands still solely focus marketing spend on traditional methods like print, tradeshow and TV to boost sales that are hard to track and prove ROI.

In the past, figuring out brand value and brand equity, for the most part, were left to the academics and statisticians to figure out. Even today, there are still varying opinions from the experts about how to measure brand value and equity with not a lot of consensus or standardization to the process.

However, with the rise of email and web-based survey tools—hunting, outdoor and firearm companies that have invested in web-based ways to collect customer data, can now evaluate and understand their brand’s value without spending a fortune on complex traditional research. No longer are focus groups, mail-in reply cards, rebates, unsolicited emails and statisticians necessary. 

The goal of brand development and branding (two separate disciplines) is to create awareness and preference of your products over your competitors.

“Preference cannot happen unless you know how your customers think and feel about your brand.”

If you’re interested in understanding how you can maximize your brand for increased sales, gain market share or increase customer satisfaction, there are four aspects you need to take into account to figure out your brand’s value to understand how it impacts your bottom line.

To begin, you want to start with non-customers and customers alike. By utilizing a web-based survey system and tapping into your customer database—you can incentivize your customers to take the survey or utilize a non-customer sample to acquire the data you need.

According to the BrandAsset Valuator model, your company’s brand health and future can be determined by collecting consumer insights in these four key areas:

1. Differentiation
How well does your brand stand out from your competition? You can measure this by asking questions about how often your customers come across your brand, if they recognize it and if it stands out from your competition.

Takeaway: When your brand is different, people are curious and want to know why.

Industry Example: By being bold and utilizing a strong visual with a unique brand position and product features, people will naturally be curious about your brand and will want to know more about it. One brand that comes to mind is Patriot Ordnance Factory. POF-USA was the first company to take the gas piston AR to market and has been leading the way with their revolutionary platform innovations ever since. I like their approach to using 18th Century subject matter, and how they intertwine Revolutionary War concepts with present day 2nd amendment rights.

POF hunting outdoor firearms brand

2. Relevance
This area examines aspects of price, convenience, and if the products you produce are of use. You can determine this aspect by asking questions of the likelihood of them to purchase your product or whether they purchased it in the past.

Takeaway: If your product is more relevant than it is different, your brand may no longer be interesting which means you are competing on price and convenience alone. This will help you determine how to change your messaging and perhaps direct product development.

Industry Example: Your hunting product may have extensive distributorship in Cabella’s, Bass Pro or Walmart and other large retailers with high sales volume, but that doesn’t always means you’re the strongest brand customers prefer. Perhaps you’re just the cheapest and most convenient. If you’re the only product on the shelf, that the customer needs, you still may lose out to a competitor with a stronger brand when and if they come along. Don’t settle for second best.

Marketing experts like David Ogilvy believe that there’s more to a company’s success — or failure — than pricing, convenience, or location. Success is defined by brand equity or overall brand power, which is your brand’s value as determined by consumers’ positive or negative attitudes about your brand. (Source: Survey Monkey)

3. Esteem
How well regarded is your brand? Does it hold a high level of superiority and respect in your customers mind? Would they drive across town to purchase it? Are you on top of their list to visit at the upcoming trade show? By being able to answer these questions—you’ll be able to uncover how well respected and needed your product(s) are. This perhaps is one of the most important aspects of brand assessment.

Takeaway: When customers hold your brand in high-esteem, they want to buy it to know why.

Industry Example: When Colorado passed a law that limits ammunition magazine capacity to 15-rounds, Magpul, moved their entire operation out of Colorado—along with $80 million dollars in revenue and 200 employees and some other 400 supply chain jobs (Source: Washington Times). I assume it was a rough time internally for Magpul. But the industry stood next to them and the situation generated a great amount of positive press and a great deal of respect with their customer base. 

magpul-brand

Photo: Magpul

 

4. Knowledge
How well do your customers know your brand? Have you told the story correctly that they can tell it back to you? What makes you different and why? Is it positive or negative?

Takeaway: When customers have a knowledge about your brand, especially if it pertains to negative perceptions, they may think they don’t need to learn anything more and will begin to look at your competitors.

Industry Example: Heritage brands tend to suffer most from the knowledge aspect. For generations, your family may have used products or shot the same brand of gun, but one ammo or magazine malfunction or negative customer service experience may cause them to reevaluate their options. Beretta is an ideal example of how a 500 year old company continues to reinvent itself to remain relevant and attract a new generation of customers and brand advocates. 

berretta

In conclusion, gathering data for data’s sake without implementation is a fool’s errand. Make sure before conducting a survey that evaluates your brand—that it is connected with a clear initiative and goal you can use to spur growth, sales, attract talent, increase workforce efficiency, communications or direct product development.

Once you see how high or low the above 4 factors stack up, you can begin to determine your brand equity based on brand stature and brand strength. This will allow you and your team to create a strategy on how to maintain your brand’s position, or how to improve it.

When customers have a chance to choose between your product or your competitors, and they choose you, that’s good for business.

 

6 Secrets on How To Increase Online Firearm Sales

6 Secrets on How To Increase Online Firearm Sales

By Firearms and Hunting

The typical firearms buying process can take up to 3 months. (Source: NSSF) From online research, background checks, buying a safe, FFL transfer, learning how to shoot, cleaning accessories, holsters and figuring out what gun to buy can take a long time for someone who’s new to the idea of owning a gun or someone who is considering an MSR.

81% of all purchases begin with a web search (Source: Retailing Today). And even more astonishing is that 57% of the sales cycle is over before your customers even contact you (Source: CEB). These two statistics are the main drivers why you need to maintain and optimize your website—which is crucial to increasing online firearm sales. 

In a recent survey, 29% report to having already purchased a firearm online and 58% are willing to consider purchasing one online. This data is most likely higher today. (Source: NSSF 2011)

And unfortunately with more gun regulations on the way, rising crime and unrest, customers will continue to seek ways on how to protect themselves, home, family, and property.

Firearms sales are booming. (Source: CNN)

Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of customers searching the web on how to buy, shoot and own a gun. Here are the top searched keywords per month according to MOZ:

  • ar15: 110,000
  • ammunition: 90,500
  • gun: 90,500
  • shotgun: 40,500
  • hunting rifle: 5400
  • rifle scope: 3600
  • firearm: 2900
  • ar15 accessories: 2400

So how do you get a piece of this lucrative online traffic? Below are six secrets to increase your online firearm sales.

1. Understand the buyers journey

Does your website adequately address and incorporate the buyers journey? Is it answering your prospects questions? Does your website simplify how they can buy a gun from you? Are you building trust with your prospect?

To understand how to maximize your online sales, you must first understand the buyer journey. See example below:

firearms-buyer-process

You may be missing out on ways to grow your business or build a more predictable sale forecast by not understanding your buyers journey.

2. Know who your customers are

Each brand in the industry is typically a product of its company culture or its owner. How does your style match your prospective customer? To maximize your online sales, you must define the buyer persona. Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns. Create content based on your ideal customer or buyer persona. (See ebook below)

3. Create valuable content

Blogs are great ways to attract more customers. Firearm manufacturer websites (49%), magazine articles (40%), and online forums/blogs (38%) are the most referenced information sources when considering the purchase of a handgun.(Source: NSSF 2011)

Eighty-two percent of manufacturers are incorporating content into their marketing strategy, according to the 2015 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends report, recently published by the Content Marketing Institute.

If you’re not blogging on a consistent basis, you are losing out on a viable and predictable way to sell and market more firearms.

Three big names in the industry have already adopted content and are moving into the digital era. Beretta, Mossberg, and Stag Arms have already integrated inbound marketing into their marketing programs and are having massive success. See Beretta case study. 

Why leave content to industry magazines (that you have to pay for) when you can create content for your own company that attracts prospects, builds your brand and retains your current customers? After all, you are the expert. You work in the industry, and build guns every day. By sharing your knowledge with your prospects or customers, you become the known expert, which in the end equals profits.

Here are some stats on why blogging works:

  • Blogs convert readers into buyers. 42% of consumers look to blogs for information about potential purchases; 52% say blogs have impacted their purchase decisions; and 57% of marketers have acquired new customers with their blogs. (leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal)
  • B2C companies that blog generate 88% more leads per month than those that do not (Source: Rick’s Tips)
  • 79% of online shoppers spend 50% of their shopping time researching products online (Source: HubSpot)
  • Blogs attract repeat visitors who continue to come back to their website for fresh content.

4. Create downloadable offers to generate leads

When blogging consistently on topics that answer your customers most burning questions—you attract them to your website where you are then able to keep them their longer and keep them coming back. When creating a downloadable offer in the form of: How-to guides, pricing info, catalogs, etc. and then trade this information for their email address—you earn their permission to send them more offers.

This allows you build a qualified email marketing database that moves your customers from strangers to loyal customers and enables you to close more sales.

5. Nurture customers through email marketing

In 2014, email marketing was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States. (Source: eMarketer).

Email marketing allows you to educate your prospects and customers on your products, cross-sell or upsell, generate new sales down the road and establish your expertise.

Email marketing is the most effective way to personalize messaging and ROI in the firearms industry.

6. Pull, don’t push

Ever wonder why all social media posts look the same? 

Notice how most social media messages are all about “pushing a message.” Instead of pushing your message on your customers, a better way is to “pull” them to your message. By creating valuable and relevant content that solves their problems, answers their questions or helps them become better at something, (i.e. knowing about guns) you will attract them to your message and your brand much more easily. This gives your followers valuable information that they will appreciate and remember when it’s time to buy that second gun.

In conclusion, companies in the firearms industry can increase their online sales by focusing on the buyers journey, creating and identifying their buyer persona, creating content based on solving their customer’s unique problems, creating downloadable content offers, nurturing through email marketing and using social media to pull your customers to your message and content rather than pushing it on them.