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Firearms and Hunting

How to Choose A Marketing Agency For Your Hunting or Firearms Company

How to Choose A Marketing Agency For Your Hunting or Firearms Company

By Firearms and Hunting

 

Like most business owners, (marketers or business development professionals) in the hunting, outdoor and firearms you are tasked with a million things a day. Payroll you’ve got to make, the person you have to fire, the new person you have to hire, the server replacement, the sales team meeting at 4, review the new product design project plan plus you got to make the plan for this weekend’s hunt.  

When it comes to your branding, marketing or design—your thoughts immediately go into overdrive when you remember that one of your customers commented that your website did not pull up for them on their iPhone (because your company’s home page is not mobile-friendly). You’ve also seen a steady decline in online sales, most likely due to that old 4-step shopping cart you’re running. Your sales team needs new collateral that showcases the new product line and the packaging needs updating, plus you got to get ready for SHOT Show. 

But where to start? The designer you used last time missed the mark. The design firm you called doesn’t work with hunting or firearm companies and there is no way you’re using Bob’s son again for the catalog. Choosing a marketing and branding firm can be a daunting and time-consuming process. You need someone you can trust. Someone who is responsive, trustworthy, reliable and knows what they’re doing. The problem is finding those people—the diamond in the rough—someone who meets your expectations and will get the job done right and prove that your investment was worth it.  

If you’re looking for a new marketing and branding partner—here are 8 things that will help you choose the agency that solves your toughest business challenges.

1. Start by clearly defining the problem
Simple enough… but not so fast. We often times don’t go far enough to define what the problem actually is. A good marketing and branding agency will get to the heart of your challenges and pain points to help you make the right decisions—not through a hard sell like a haggling car salesman—but someone who truly takes an interest in your business and cares about your success. Is it really just a website redesign or is it really that the website isn’t converting leads. Is it really just a logo redesign, or has the entire organization changed as such that what really is required is brand development. A good hunting and firearms marketing and branding agency will get to the heart of the matter. 

See this article: Do I Really Need A Brand Strategy?

2. Set goals
Be specific about your goals. The better your goals are the better the marketing agency will be able to suggest strategies and approaches to solve your problem. Use the SMART goal method to set specific benchmarks that will move your business forward.

3. Do they have a process?
Processes are important because they define a linear way of solving a problem and accomplishing an objective. Most marketing and brand development companies will follow some type of process. Make sure it is clearly defined so you know what to expect as you move forward through the project. The process should be easily found on the agency’s website or be communicated on the initial call.

4. Call up references
Make sure to call on references. In today’s world, everyone is a skeptic. One way to make sure that the firm is ‘mustard,’ is to see if they have a good set of testimonials. Look on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites to see if reviews exist. Check their case studies page to see past experiences and how they’ve helped other businesses with similar problems.  

5. What are their capabilities?
Today’s best agencies are hybrids. They can offer traditional and digital services to meet your needs and know how outbound and inbound marketing methods fit together to offer you a range of solutions to achieve your goals. They want and desire to earn ‘trusted advisor’ status shedding the horrid ‘vendor’ designation. The most successful agencies desire and thrive on their client’s successes and truly show interest and passion about their service or product.

6. Are they problem solvers?
What is the principal’s experience? Do they have a good track record in the industry and the business acumen required? There are a number of firms out there who lack true experience in solving business problems. Ask for past examples or how they might approach your current branding, marketing or design challenges. 

7. Do they practice what they preach?
Does the marketing agency have a strong and identified brand? Do they utilize a business-first approach? Is their style unique? Are they themselves implementing the programs they are suggesting to you? It’s important that they specifically focus in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry—but you may want to consider a firm who also works in other industries so you don’t get ideas that are only generated in an echo chamber.  Other industries are far more advanced in marketing and branding tactics than the hunting and firearms category, so knowing how your customers are reacting to other industry tactics and strategies is just as important—because they will expect the same from you. 

8. Do you like them as a person?
This goes a long way. 80% of the time your intuition is the best way to choose a marketing and branding agency. If you are compatible as people, you most likely will work well together—assuming everything else adds up. Let’s not forget that business is all about relationships. Pick an agency you like and who you can work with.

In conclusion, a good hunting and firearms marketing and branding agency will know how to get to the heart of the problem, help you set SMART goals, have a clearly defined process, good references and testimonials, a hybrid service offering, are natural problem solvers, practice what they preach, and are people you like.

 

 

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Brand Development Interview Guide 

Developing your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to draft the questions to ask your customers to uncover your brand’s most important messages.

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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.

 

7 Hunting, Outdoor and Firearm Brands That Are Changing the Industry

7 Brands That Are Changing the Hunting, Outdoor & Firearms Industry

By Firearms and Hunting

The hunting, outdoor and firearms industry is changing—again. New faces, mainstream cross overs and digital marketing are exciting flashpoints that are driving new revenue opportunities, changing perceptions and redefining how companies are approaching their business development and revenue goals.

In this post, I picked seven brands that are changing the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry for the better. Either they are changing perceptions and opinions, making advancements in product design or tapping into new revenue streams through internet marketing. These factors are drawing new hunters and shooters, especially women (Source: Shooting Industry Magazine) and improving the industry’s image with the general public—which in the end, benefits everyone’s bottom line.

If you’re responsible for sales, marketing or business development in the hunting, outdoor or firearms industry, here are a few brands worth taking a closer look at. You may want to take some of these ideas into account for your next product release or upcoming brand marketing program.

 

mountan-ops-hunting-brand

Photo: Mountain Ops


1. Mountain Ops: Health and Wellness

The country is becoming more and more health conscience. Coca-Cola and Pepsi sales (Source: Fortune) are in decline as well as Big Macs. (SOURCE: Fortune).

Consumer healthcare is a $502 billion market that will grow by almost 50 percent to $737 billion over the next five years. This growth will be driven primarily by preventive health and wellness categories such as vitamins, nutrition, weight management and fortified foods and beverages—fueled by demand from health-focused consumers and the growing wealth of emerging market consumers. (Source: Accenture

Hunters have always known the health benefits of staying in shape to hunt and to harvest lean organic venison or elk from the field, but few companies have capitalized on this burgeoning trend until now.

One such company is Mountain Ops. Mountain Ops offers outdoor performance nutrition supplements aimed at the outdoor athlete—or hunter who is looking to shed a few pounds. Their suite of products: Yeti, Blaze, Enduro and others help hunters prepare for the miles of hiking, running and the grueling pack-out (or drag) that consists of strapping 80+ pounds of meat on your back. They help hunters get prepared for hunting season by maximizing their gym time with supplements and energy products to fuel their hunts. Mountain Ops brings an interesting aspect to the outdoor market in that they focus on the health and wellness side of what it means to be a hunter.

 

eva-shockey-hunting-brand

Photo: Field and Stream

2. Eva Shockey:
Conservation


There is no doubt that Huntress Eva Shockey continues to bring a positive impression to the hunting industry. Field and Stream and Fox News recently said she is the “New Face of Hunting.” In a male dominated sport, Eva is attracting women to the hunting lifestyle and bringing attention to our principles of conservation. Her brand image breathes new life into the sport hunting category. Backed by Under Armour, Eva has the platform to propel the message of conservationism to skeptics in the general public, attract women and change negative perceptions.

 

 

 

tracking-point-brand-tech

Photo: Tracking Point

 

3. Tracking Point: Wearable Tech

Wearable tech is a growing trend outside of the hunting/firearm world with buzz surrounding the Apple Watch, Google Glass and a plethora of fitness trackers. One such company in the firearm industry is Tracking Point. The new Shot Glass™—the world’s first weapon-integrated digital shooting glasses—allows you to see around corners, share your target practice, record your hunt. 

“Wearable tech, designed to enhance the shooting and hunting experience, changes the way you experience the sport,” said TrackingPoint CEO John Lupher. “ShotGlass™ adds an element to hunting and shooting that is beyond belief.”

With Tracking Point blazing the path in wearable tech, you can expect other innovations in the future. I think it’s important for companies to focus on tech innovations as a way to keep up with the younger generation. I understand the importance of keeping hunting traditional (even though this is a tactical product), but there may be opportunities for companies to expand on tech offerings that appeal to different segments of the market who want these kinds of gadgets.

4. Benelli: Product Design

benelli-hunting-brand-828u

Photo: Benelli

Benelli’s new 828U is eye-catching and worth note from a product design standpoint. Leave it to the Italians to design this one. The 828U breaks the mold on shotgun design and brings a new and modern look that positions its products as refined, innovative and cutting edge. Its sleek lines, metal contrasts and patented steel locking system looks and feels like something from the future. These new and improved attempts at gun design are motivating the industry to bring more style to the products they produce. The 828U will push other companies to improve their product designs, making the tools we hunters and shooters use look a lot more innovative.


5. Duck Dynasty: Virtues

Duck-Dynasty-hunting-brand

Photo: patdollard.com


I don’t think any other brand or group of people have done more for the hunting industry than Willie, Jace, Si and Phil. With over $40 million dollars in revenue in 2012, and the number one cable show in history, no one can deny that the Robertson Family/Duck Commander/Duck Dynasty brand has pushed hunting and our virtues more into the mainstream as they have. It’s not known how the industry as a whole has benefitted from Duck Dynasty—but I would bet their impact has been very positive for all of us.

 

6. Outdoor Edge: Innovation

outdoor-edge-brand

Photo: Outdoor Edge



Outdoor Edge continues to push the envelope on what’s possible with knife design. The SwingBlade combines a skinning blade with a gutting blade to create an all-in-one hunting knife that really stands out from its competitors and creates a much-needed tool when it comes to field dressing. Outdoor Edge is pushing the blade category forward in terms of functionality, utility and innovation by continuing to come up with new and creative ways to design a knife.

 

7. Beretta: Marketing

beretta-logo

Beretta has made big changes in the way they have marketed their brand and products over the years. By utilizing an inbound marketing strategy,  they have proven and validated the inbound methodology in the hunting, outdoor and firearms space. Much of the industry still focuses on traditional marketing practices, such as trade show, print and TV. Recent statistics have shown that these methods are rising in cost, losing their effectiveness and do not prove or create the necessary return on investment they once did. According to a recent case study by HubSpot, Beretta improved their conversion rate of organic leads to customers by 76%, attained a 15% conversion rate of social media visitors to customers, and drove 4,000 sales in a single day during Black Friday—all through their website that utilizes inbound marketing.

Beretta is improving the industry by showing that inbound marketing is a valid strategy for reducing and maximizing marketing costs, improving customer satisfaction, attracting talent, creating brand preference and helping marketers improve ROI.

In conclusion, these are just a few of the top brands I see that are changing and leading the industry to new heights. As companies and marketing teams struggle to figure out how to keep up with the latest trends, internet marketing tactics and product designs, one thing is for certain, as markets change, brands must change with them.

What brands do you admire or think are changing the industry for the better? Please post your comments below.

 

hunting-outdoor-internet-guide

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

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

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

Download Now

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

 

hunting shooting firearms social media company

5 Ways To Understand How Social Media Can Work For Your Hunting Company

By Firearms and Hunting, Inbound Marketing, Social Media


If you’re like most business owners or marketers in the firearms, shooting and hunting industries, social media is still a bit of a mystery. A lot of marketers and business owners think that social media is a waste of time or are vague on how to effectively use it. Like all things we don’t understand, we typically just shrug it off.

We know we have to have a Facebook page—and maybe even a Twitter account, but still we struggle to grasp the importance of social media and its use.

Social media can be explained like this: Social media is digital word-of-mouth. Like traditional word-of-mouth or referrals, you share content, ideas, recommendations, stories or pictures with people who are your neighbors, friends or family. If you stop for a moment and think about it, most of the services and products you have bought in the past—have come from referrals by neighbors, friends or family.

If people find your information (i.e. content) useful or interesting—odds are they will share it, tweet it, like it or buy it.

Social media helps get your information or content out to more people—and given the right circumstances, can grow your website traffic, leads and customers exponentially. By spreading your content far and wide—you cast a bigger net, which means you increase your odds of generating more customers.

Here are 5 ways to finally help you understand how social media works in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry. 

 

1. Social media starts with valuable and relevant content 

If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, then social media starts with creating content. You can’t attract new customers without generating content. Content can be created in the form of blogs, videos, whitepapers, ebooks or infographics. Tweet, share and post these pieces of content and distribute them on your social media networks to maximize your content reach. Write your content specifically for your buyer persona.

Should I post the same content on all networks?

To help you better understand the differences of social media, here are few comparisons made by social media guru, Guy Kawasaki (1.7 million followers on Twitter)

  • Facebook = People. It’s mostly for communicating with those with whom you already have some connection.
  • Twitter = Perceptions. It can help you build your reputation and visibility.
  • Google+ = Passions. It’s for sharing your passions with others who have the same passions.
  • Pinterest = Pinning. It’s about beautiful images and finding great stuff.
  • LinkedIn = Pimping. He means this in a good way, Kawasaki said. “LinkedIn can help you position yourself as a serious person and influencer.”

For Facebook, you’ll want to bring your content down to a human level and mix it up with real-life experiences. Try to make your content sound “casual” and make it fun. Posts on Facebook should be about office happenings and culture. Think reality show.

For LinkedIn, dress your content up in a suit. Make sure you add your own personal comment as to why you’re posting. Try to think in terms of how to establish yourself as an influencer or perhaps even a thought leader.

For Twitter, you only have 140 characters to get your point across. Your tweets should be short and succinct. Try to invoke curiosity or urgency to drive clicks to your content.

Buffer found that tweets with images receive 18% more clicks. Always add an interesting, eye-catching picture. This also goes for Facebook and LinkedIn.

What the heck is a hashtag?
Hastags (#) are used to identify a subject. So if you were to post something about Elk hunting in the Rockies you may tweet something like: “Elk Hunting is the Best in the Rockies! #hunting #firearms #wyoming” What the hashtag does, is allow other users to search for the same hashtag. This creates a small micro-community that follows an interest, event or subject.

2. Identify which channels work best for your business

Not all social media channels work and operate the same (as noted above). The only way to understand what network works for you is to experiment. We typically have more success on Twitter and LinkedIn than on Facebook. So we concentrate a lot of our efforts on those channels because they are more B2B oriented.

If you’re focused on reaching women (which is currently exploding in the industry) – you may want to try Pinterest as their members are almost 90% female.

Google+ should be used to help with increasing search engine rankings and indexing your pages. Google continues to struggle with creating a viable social network. However, Google+ should not be overlooked. 

 

3. Curate other people’s content and follow back your customers!

In order to start gaining followers, you must tweet, post and share often–especially on Twitter. It’s recommended that to gain followers on Twitter you need to tweet at least 4x a day—for starters. It’s been proven the more you tweet, the more followers you get.

You won’t have enough content in the beginning—so tweet other industry/topic relevant content. Make sure to follow the 80/20 rule: tweet 80% of other people’s content and only 20% of yours. By retweeting, favoriting and sharing other people’s content, you gain followers as people are likely to follow you back.

For LinkedIn and Facebook, I recommend once a day or at least 4 times a week to maintain top-of-mind awareness. Back off if you sense people are getting annoyed or you start losing followers. Always be professional and courteous. Do not use profanity or coarse language.

Most companies in the industry are highly self-promotional. They are always tweeting out their latest products, sales, deals and happenings—push, push, push.  Their social media strategy dictates that:  Follow less people and have more followers than we’ll be considered more important.” Companies in the hunting, firearms and shooting industries should follows their customers back. Social media isn’t about being the most popular kid on the playground—it’s about sharing and  associating with the people you are trying to help, build a relationship with to turn them into life-long customers. 

Here’s how this plays out. I’m considering a new AR-15. So I head to Twitter and follow Stag Arms, Colt and Daniel Defense so I can learn more about their products and get updates on their latest news to help make a decision on what AR-15 to buy. Out of those three companies, Stag Arms ends up following me back! Wow. A big brand like Stag, wants to follow me? Guess who I’m going to buy from. Stag! So go ahead, follow back! You tell your potential customers you’re interested in them and you care about them. This goes along way in establishing your branding and inbound marketing strategy

 

4. Boost your content on Facebook

Facebook has changed its news feed recently and it has become harder to get your content in front of the right audience. Facebook now offers “boosts” to reach your target audience outside of your network for increased exposure. Boosts start at $20 and go up from there. Boosts are a cost effective way to drive traffic and capture likes, leads and shares.

 

5. LinkedIn is about establishing yourself as an influencer and thought leader to establish credibility

Once you commit to creating valuable content, you’ll begin to learn even more about the industry and your buyer personas. An amazing thing happens when you start to research, read, tweet, post, write and curate content. You wake up one day and realize that you’re living on the bleeding edge of the latest trends, industry news and technology. You become a resource that others will find useful. I tell this to my customers who are venturing into inbound marketing. Like training for an Ironman, you start out slow, but gradually over time, you gain momentum and fitness to go the distance—and before you know it, you’re a stud triathlete.

Ok, if you’ve made it this far down on this article, you may be asking, OK great, how does participating in social media really help my business? Here are 5 important reasons:

  1. Builds your brand and reputation
  2. Social proof (i.e. a lot of followers) establishes trust among leery visitors
  3. Attracts customers you otherwise would not have reached
  4. Drives traffic to your content and landing pages to convert visitors to leads
  5. Establishes yourself as resource, influencer and thought leader to a global audience

So there you have it.

If you were confused about how social media works—you should now have a better understanding. Social media starts with valuable content, choosing the right network, curating other peoples content (80/20 rule), following your prospects back, tweeting to drive traffic, boosting on Facebook to gain shares, and using LinkedIn to establish yourself as a credible thought leader. If you still have questions? Contact us or give us a call to see how to make social media work for your business. 

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

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

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

Download Now

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

NRA 2015

6 Key Marketing Takeaways From NRA 2015

By Firearms and Hunting

[dropcap]I [/dropcap]was fortunate to attend The NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday. I started in on the exhibits at 10 AM which only gave me 4 hours to hit my goal of hitting all of the 550 exhibits over 9 acres before my first round of meetings starting at 2 PM.

Being at the show was an amazing experience. It was good to be among the thousands of people who share the same values as I do for shooting, patriotism and the 2nd amendment.

If you’re a business owner or are responsible for marketing or sales for a hunting, outdoor or firearms company, here are 6 takeaways from a marketer’s point of view if you weren’t able to attend NRA 2015.  

1. Brand aesthetics

The first thing that struck me once I entered the exhibit hall and started down the 9 acres of trade show booths, stands, signage, pop-up displays, guns and gear, was the amount of time, attention and refinement that had gone into the exhibits. Most of the larger exhibits were mobile storefronts. DPMS pulled in an entire tractor-trailer that served as a basic store on wheels. Trijicon’s booth was at least two stories high. These large-scale booths that can cost upwards to a million dollars, added real value to the show.

NRA Booth Design

Marketing Takeaway: There are over 5,500 trade shows a year in the firearms industry. To compete effectively, an investment in graphic design and environmental experience is a must. From photography to apparel—your ability to capture the imagination of your customers and present a professional image should be a top priority.

There are a few exceptions. If your product is unique but has to work within a lower budget—a simple booth design can work just as good. The important thing is to create a professional, credible brand image and boost the experience of your products unique features.

2. The industry is growing

With 78,000+ attendees, rest assured the industry is strong. According to a recent study by Hoovers, the firearms industry is expected to grow 3% over the next three years due to the following trends:

  • Target Shooting Growing More Popular
  • Participation by Women
  • Investments in Gun Safety
  • 3D Printing

With an increased interest in home defense and personal safety— fueled largely by anti-gun legislation attempts, anti-gun groups, and oversea conflicts—the largest sales are coming from the handgun and concealed carry segments. Younger buyers are attracted to Modern Sporting Rifles, which is also driving new products and new product development.

Marketing Takeaway: Manufacturers and industries associated with the Firearms industry should have a positive outlook and move forward accordingly with plans that involve growth because all trends are pointing up. 

3. Technology & product design is evolving

A large part of the industry seems to be focusing on concealed carry and suppression. It seemed that a lot of the stage talks, break-out sessions and latest gear were directed towards personal defense.

There were also plenty of new sleek and modernized gun designs that appealed to hunters, especially Beretta and Benelli.

The Benelli 8828U and Ethos shotgun looks even better up close. Its sleek design, fluid lines and materials represent the latest in gun design.

Beretta’s shotguns and Black Rain Ordinance’s 300 Blackout also caught my attention.

NRA Booth 2015

Marketing Takeaway: Technology and product design is evolving. As the industry looks to attract younger customer segments, greater attention to modern design, materials, patterns, colors, personalization and technology are being applied.

4. Fragmented customer segments

Once you enter the hall, you are surrounded by thousands of people of all ages. There is an exciting energy and vibe. The people that I had an opportunity to meet and talk with were genuine, helpful and interested in what I had to say. People were extremely polite despite the crowded environment.

Marketing Takeaway: Focus on your customers or what is called your buyer personas. Know exactly who your customers are and why your product will appeal to them. Although the customer base of the Firearms industry share common beliefs and values, it is comprised of many different customer segments. I saw a 40-year old dad looking for a way to protect his home and a retired special ops looking to impress his buddies—both looking at the same gun. Knowing your customer should be at the top of your list at all times, which brings me to my next point.

NRA Booth 2015 Kimber

Kimber – NRA 2015

5. Differentiation and brand experience

Amongst the sea of people, towering booths, music, sights and sounds it can be hard to stand out, especially if you are not a brand like Colt, Sig Saurer, Daniels Defense or Remington. The strongest booths were the ones who utilized a strong branding system were colors, type, imagery and materials worked together to form an experience and impression to make their prospects or customers feel something. For example, when I walked into Kimber’s exhibit, it felt like being in an upscale mountain ski chalet in contrast to Black Rain Ordinance, where it was like being in a special forces planning room.

The most successful booths were those in which you were able to experience what the brand was communicating.

Among other successful booths that weren’t so “experiential” was Mossberg, who had the Duck Dynasty clan, Tactical Tailor, which used custom photography from Straight 8 to capture their brand’s essence.

mossberg_nra2015

Marketing Takeaway: Invest in your brands experience and make sure that it is consistent across your packaging, website, content, ads and trade show booth. If you are unable to do what the larger brands do, use people to classify your target market in a setting in which your customer can envision themselves, e.g. Benelli’s perfect pheasant hunt.

nra booth benelli

6. Drive sales through internet/inbound marketing

It was nearly impossible to connect to the internet while in the exhibit hall. I wanted to follow the show’s hashtag: #NRAAM. What I found was that a large majority of the show’s participants weren’t tweeting and the exhibitors weren’t either. I wish I would have received this one about Marcus Luttrell from Remington: 

I also noticed that many of the brands present did not drive attendees to their websites to track engagement, gain insight and benchmark responses for future shows. Glock was the one exception with their GlockLive streaming program.  

Marketing Takeaway: Firearms companies can take advantage of digital/web marketing i.e. social media, mobile and content to drive traffic, sales and reach the next generation. Firearm and hunting companies who recognize that their customers are changing how they receive content will have an advantage over their competition. There were thousands following the event on social media who weren’t able to attend NRA. Brands who did not utilize their website and their social media channels may have missed out on opportunities to build their brand and generate additional sales.

My day ended with a long drive back home with a good stack of business cards, new friends and the feeling that the NRA knows what it’s doing. As a shooter and hunter, the heritage and freedom I love is in tact.

What were your top takeaways? 

[columns]
hunting-outdoor-internet-guide

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

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

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

Download Now
[/columns]

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Hunting-Outdoor-Firearm-Distribution

6 Considerations When Choosing Wholesale Firearms Distribution

By Firearms and Hunting

It’s come time to take your hunting, outdoor or firearms company to the next level.

You’ve gone to great lengths to prove your product is a winner and have a validated sales case study. You’ve figured out your inventory and fulfillment dilemmas and have the right people in place to scale your operation.

The next step is to generate more revenue, reach a broader audience and grow your brand.

Choosing a distributor for your custom tactical rifle, tree stand, hunting knife, optic or accessory can be a somewhat complicated process. When looking at expanding your business, you basically have three options in getting your product to your customers: Sell direct, use distribution or a combination of both.

A distributor— the proverbial middleman—maintains an active network of retailers and becomes your outsourced sales department leaving you to focus on your brand, operations and running your business. By utilizing a distributor, you ship your product to them and in most cases, they handle the rest.

In this article, are six considerations for new or emerging hunting, outdoor or firearms/accessories manufacturers considering distribution.

1. Know your customer

Believe it or not, one of your hardest questions to ask as a business owner is: Who—specifically—is our customer? I think most of us will admit we don’t know our customers as well as we should. By neglecting to have an accurate and well-defined customer or—buyer persona—you hinder the potential and effectiveness of your marketing and branding efforts once your product(s) goes mainstream.

Marketing is about knowing your customer better than anyone else. A strong marketing and branding program will entice and attract distributors and wholesalers. Communicate the specifics of your customer to your potential distributors (and/or dealers) for maximum sales and branding effectiveness.

2. Understand your product

A lot of times, you can loose focus on how your product will fit into the marketplace. Make sure to define what it is and how it will be merchandised. Is your product an aftermarket add-on or OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) upgrade or both? Understanding how your product fits into the marketplace is key in negotiating terms and structuring a contract.

3. Define your pricing

Before setting up meetings with distributors, make sure to define your pricing that includes MSRP, MAP, Dealer, Distributor, and OEM—make sure to pad enough in for overhead and profit. This will help you determine who the right distributor is. If you fail to examine all the factors involved in your pricing, it could be detrimental to your business down the road.

4. Define your manufacturing and shipping volumes

Quality is everything in this industry since it is so highly concentrated. Never cut corners or sacrifice craftsmanship. Once word gets out that your product is faulty, it will be difficult to recover. 

In order to maintain quality—define your manufacturing and shipping volumes that you’ll be able to handle while still maintaining quality control.

If you are creating your product by injection molding and/or assembling in-house—what volume can you handle without having to expand? If you receive a large order from an OEM or a P.O. from Cabella’s—can you ramp up? Know what your capacities and contingencies are and prepare for it.

5. Don’t sign exclusive agreements, unless…

When you’re just starting out, it may be tempting to take that first exclusive deal. Only sign the agreement if it makes sense and if payment is made in advance.

6. Research and ask the important questions

When considering distribution, don’t go into it blindly. It can be a very exciting time in your business’ history, so do your due diligence to understand if the buyer is the right partner. Here are a few important questions to ask:

  • How many sales personnel does your company employ?
  • What are your distribution points?
  • What size of dealers do you typically work with?
  • What is your annual sales volume as a whole?
  • Do they market a similar product that has been successful? How much did they grow the product’s sales over the last three years?
  • What is the size of the initial purchase order size and what is your annual commitment to my product?
  • What are your terms? (Remember you are not a bank so be very careful of whom you give terms to. 30-90 days can seem like a lifetime if you have financial obligations like shop and equipment payments.
  • What are your limitations? Can I sell to dealers or consumers directly? If not, negotiate a higher price.

In conclusion, by understanding who your customer is, how your product fits into the market, manufacturing and shipping volumes, contract exclusions and asking the right questions—you’ll be better equipped to negotiate terms and identify the right distribution partner for your firearms, hunting or outdoor product.

Matt Burkett is President and Owner of Predator Tactical, a firearms manufacturer, accessories and training company. 

 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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.