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Firearms and Shooting

firearm marketing facebook

5 Ways to Build Your Firearm Company’s Facebook Audience

By Firearms and Shooting

 

There are almost 2 billion users on Facebook, that’s billion with a “B.” As a firearm manufacturer, you can’t pay-advertise to any of them—nope, zip, nada. And to make matters worse, with Facebook’s new algorithm—only 2% of your audience will ever see the posts you upload.

If you’ve looked at the rules or supposed “guidelines,” they can leave you scratching your head when it comes to firearm advertising. Even I admit, there isn’t a clear understanding of what you can and can’t do. Can you advertise optics if they are on an AR? What about safes with firearms in them? Apps? I’ve reached out to Facebook with these questions and scoured other’s request to no avail. So in this article, I want to give you a few safe and simple “organic” alternatives on how to build your Facebook audience without getting your account suspended.

Why you shouldn’t ignore Facebook.
Right now, we are in a moment in time where brands made today through digital channels will be around for the next 50-100 years. It’s been deemed by some in digital marketing circles as the “second golden age of advertising,” because of advertisers’ ability to accurately target millions of prospective customers with a high degree of detail and precision for low-cost. On Facebook, if you don’t sell firearms or ammo, you can potentially reach thousands of potential customers for only a $20 boost. 

According to Gary Vaynerchuk of Vayner Media, most Fortune 500 brands have yet to figure this out, exemplified by their continuous spend on traditional mass media tactics like print and T.V. But this will all soon change as they figure out that digital offers a better way to advertise to their target audiences for greater effectiveness. You’ll start to see Facebook advertising costs go through the roof just like they did with Google PPC.

So with a goldmine of potential customers on the line, and like a dog trying to get at a woodchuck in the woodpile—how can you harness Facebook to build your brand, audience, drive contacts and customers to your website or dealers if you’re in the firearms industry?

 

1. Build your followers through email marketing
If your firearm or hunting website is not asking your visitors to signup for your newsletter, special offers or promotions, you’re potentially losing out on an opportunity to build a viable email marketing list as well as add followers to your Facebook page. In every email you send, you should be incentivizing or asking your subscribers to follow you on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and the burgeoning network SnapChat.

 

2. Harness Twitter
Twitter is probably the easiest network to build. All you have to do is tweet—and tweet often. Tweet out your photography, videos and blog posts 5-10x a day using hashtags like #firearms, #optics, #hunting or other content specific tags based on your customer’s interests for people to find you. When you receive a new follower, follow them back and ask them to follow you on Facebook. It’s amazing how fast you can build your network just through this tactic alone. Stag Arms is a prime example on how to use Twitter.

 

3. Incentivize User-Generated Content
Probably the most useful tactic in digital marketing is to instigate user-generated content (UGC) from your current followers. A study by Reevoo found that “70% of consumers place peer recommendations and reviews above professionally-written content.”

Prospective customers are much more likely to buy from you when they see others using and promoting your product—especially if you’re trying to reach Millennials. This act of “customer-submitted” content is highly shareable and credible. By getting your followers to generate videos and then share your posts with their network on Facebook, you have the potential to exponentially grow your following.

When you have followers that comment, like and share your content, reward them in some way, so they keep doing it. People share content based on their interests, what they want the world to know about them and sometimes to make them look smarter or better in some way. You may want to send them a coupon, patch or something else to show them your appreciation. You can potentially build an entire UGC marketing program on this strategy alone.

 

4. Content via Blogs/Videos
If you’re not engaging in some form of content marketing, you’re missing out on adding real value to your followers and a chance to build trust and start a dialog with your followers—not to mention tapping into rich organic search traffic to attract even more fans. When writing your blog posts or videos, add social signals to the top of your blog posts to help readers share. Answer questions directly on Facebook and use it as a virtual department store.

Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook’s Founder and CEO, who is rumored to be somewhat a hunter, because he “prefers only to eat meat he kills”—predicts by 2020 90% of content online will be video. If you haven’t begun experimenting with video, you’re already falling behind. 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it. (Source: Animoto)

 

5. Tap Small to Medium Industry Blogger Audiences and Influencers
Another overlooked aspect of the firearm industry is partnering with blogging sites with small to medium sized audiences. By submitting guest (or paid) posts commonly known as native advertising and getting these publishers to share your content with their audiences, you can potentially reach a larger audience.

And you can always take the influencer route where you can compensate popular industry shows like 4GuysGuns, The Gun Collective, IraqVet8888 and Hickok45 to share your content as well—either as an ad, review or video reel highlight.

It’s not easy to market in the firearms industry, and it will take more creativity, ingenuity and the adoption of other up and coming platforms and alternative “gun-specific” social networks to reach your prospective customers. Things are constantly changing, but one thing is for certain—Facebook is not going away anytime soon.

 

Contact us for a free digital marketing consultation and how we can help you be more effective on social media.



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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

firearm marketing rollout

How to Roll Out Your New Firearm Product (SHOT Show 2017)

By Firearms and Shooting

 

This past year, we’ve seen several new products hit the market with plenty more to come in 2017. Several manufacturers unveiled new products at last week’s SHOT Show—which generated a lot of buzz among show attendees that resulted in hundreds of thousands of free advertising and purchase orders. Which begs the question—how can you create the same kind of buzz and attention for your upcoming product rollout? 

In this article, I look at this year’s four hottest releases: The Maxim 9 by SilencerCo., The Saint by Springfield Armory, the new H9 by Hudson Mfg. and, The Fixx by Q, LLC. When considering your product and how to introduce it to the industry and your prospective customers—here are ten considerations to take into account that will help you roll out your firearm product correctly and with greater success.

 

1. Proper testing before release

This obviously goes without saying. In this industry, it’s better not to launch a product until it’s been properly tested, validated, beat to death and reviewed—otherwise, you risk immense failure and expense. 

During the testing phase, be sure to collect any and all questions or concerns. Be patient and don’t rush your testing. SilencerCo. announced last year their integrally suppressed pistol, the Maxim 9, which at the time of the announcement— back in 2016—was already a year in the making. “You only get one chance with our marketplace. If I put out a product that is somewhat reliable or durable, and then I tell them it is going to get better, they won’t believe me. You got one shot. It has to be as good as it can be out of the gate.”  Says, Jason Schauble, CRO at SilencerCo.

Point being—don’t go to market until your product is ready.

 

2. Set goals, plan, and have a contingency plan

Depending on how your testing went—which can be many years in the making—you’ll want to start planning on what a successful rollout looks like well in advance taking great care that there will be no surprises on launch day. 

“Managers must learn to engage the brand team and marketing, sales, advertising, public relations, and web professionals early on, thus gaining valuable feedback that can help steer a launch or, if necessary, abort it. Hearing opposing opinions can be painful—but not as painful as launching a product that’s not right for the market or has no market at all.” (Source: HBR )

How will you know if your product rollout is successful? Will you have enough inventory in stock to fulfill orders once they ship? Do you have a plan to ramp up if the product takes off? How will this product disrupt your segment or the industry? Be prepared for the after effects of a successful rollout or even a failed one by planning for the best and worst-case scenarios. Set goals based on the SMART method. Instead of setting a goal like “dominate the industry” which is all fair and good—get specific. Set a goal like: I want to drive 400 dealer registrations, grow my Facebook followers by 1000, sign 50 purchase orders and earn 5 major media mentions. 

 

3. Determine your budget

At this point in your company’s history, you may only be able to afford a standard press release and a trade show booth at SHOT Show. But if you’re a larger brand, you may have the ability to go big by buying several media placements that blanket TV, PR, print, trade show and digital. Are you looking to cannonball the pool like Springfield Armory did with their SAINT release—or something smaller like Hudson Mfg. who introduced their new H9 at SHOT this past week with a new website, booth and earned media from the Gun Collective (see video below). Adequate budget should be put aside well in advance to create the buzz, interest, and sales needed for a proper launch. 

 

4. Build product launch assets

On top of all the decisions needed to time and plan your rollout, there is a library of assets required to pull it off. Below is a content list you will need to communicate your product’s validity.

Video List

  • 1-5, 60-90 second buzz-producing videos to be distributed over email and social media
  • 3-9 minute product demonstration video
  • Post launch video of others using your product (See the SAINT’s Popper Palooza Launch Video)
  • Video of the raw progress and story—use it for buzz, post-launch videos, and blog articles

Photography

  • Working off of your brand positioning, create the imagery (glamor shots) you’ll need to position the product in your prospects’ minds. Utilize imagery styles, models, influencers, and BETA customers to communicate its unique attributes.
H9 Glamour Shot

Photo credit Hudson Mfg.


Website & Social Media
There is a reason why most brands will build a standalone website for their product. By having a product website specific to your product’s launch—you will keep the focus on your product, and not on your other offerings (if you have them). Utilize other media assets to draw attention to the site like Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

Firearm Product Launch Website

Press Kit

• Press releases
• Media kit with approved or exclusive imagery
• Technical data
• Description, story and write-up

 

6. Answer-based blog articles

Create articles on the questions your reviewers and inevitably what your customers will ask. Record these topics as they come up during the testing and planning phase. Post these articles on your blog, optimize for search engines and incorporate this into your post-launch campaign. Slowly trickle these pieces of content out to your growing email subscriber list for the purpose of nurturing those leads into customers. It will be important to answer these questions as they will build trust and help provide a better customer service experience. 

 

7. Influencers

In the firearms industry, it is imperative to get your product into the hands of as many targeted influencers and industry professionals as possible. Begin recruiting them during the testing phase to help promote your product post-launch. Send them free or review product along with your press kit. Looking at Hudson Mfg’s launch, they included well-known firearm training instructor and firearms aficionado, Chris Cerino. Give your reviewers and bloggers a product spec sheet that describes what the product is, what it isn’t, what makes it different, the story behind it and high-res graphic assets so they aren’t putting out pixelated photos. It’s important to steer and guide your product brand adequately so the blogosphere and the forum guys don’t make up their own.

 

8. Outbound Ad placements

Target the publishers that will best reach your buyers personas. Get their media kits and publishing dates well in advance, so you don’t miss their deadlines. Create a batch of different banner ad sizes and similar print ads from your photo and video library you’ll want to place on sites like Ammoland and others. Duplicate these in your social media feeds. Use retargeting Ad platforms that can increase banner ad response rates by 400%. (Source: CMO)

Outbound Firearm Ad Placement

 

9. Start the buzz

2-3 months out from your launch date, start creating the buzz. Release teaser emails, place your banner ads, launch your website and let the industry know something is coming. Build it by communicating your value propositions and using your teaser imagery over social media that announces the big reveal with small snippets of your product. Track response through your analytics tool and social media comments. Be prepared to make any copy or imagery changes. 

 

Firearms Launch Party

Photo credit: Q, LLC

10. Launch day event

Depending on your goals, planning, and budget, your launch day event can be as simple as doing a Facebook Live post at your local range or a massive launch party like Q’s Q-ball at the Voodoo lounge. 

Product launches are typically more effective at a trade show where you can rent out a suite to invite industry friends, dealers and distributors to celebrate your success that further instigates buzz and word of mouth. 

Track the response of your event, record questions, and plan for inevitable marketing improvements as there will be many. Release your post-launch content, retweet/share social media posts and try to stretch the buzz that you’ve worked hard to create for as long as possible. Follow up with all distributors, dealers and buying groups promptly.

After several years of hard work, you can either cannonball the pool or dip in hoping someone will notice you. If you’ve innovated something that will disrupt the status quo, an investment in a proper rollout will give you an immense ROI for years to come. Rolling out a product is a delicate and stressful process. But done correctly, it will build your brand, jumpstart your sales and help you make your mark on the gun industry and perhaps history. 

Contact us for a free marketing consultation and how we can help launch your firearm or hunting product.

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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.

Millennial Gun Marketing

How to Attract the Millennial Gun Buyer

By Firearms and Shooting

 

Now that the Presidential election is over, there seems to be a lot of confusion on what will be the fate of the gun industry. Will it slide into stagnant growth like in the Bush years or will it continue on its “up and to the right” meteoric trajectory of the past eight?

There are several trends that indicate continued stable growth. The fear of terrorism, mass shootings, distrust in law enforcement and illegal immigration to name a few. But more importantly is the trend of more “non-gun types,” like Millennials who are buying firearms for the first time. 

Millennial gun buyers are comprised of those who are between the ages of 19 to 35 in 2016. They are urban, ethnic, young, educated, and are composed of both men and women (Republican and Democrat) who are health-conscience and tech savvy. They see their world as a dangerous place and are do-it-yourself minded that are empowered to not only protect themselves but also their friends and families.

Millennials represent a new opportunity for firearm brands. Marketers that have shied away from this demographic in the past—are now rethinking this burgeoning segment—due to the anticipated economic and political environment. The era of the white, all-male, blue-collar customer is giving way to the younger, urban and more female firearm buyer.

In this post, I want to explore a few thoughts using the recent launch of The Saint, by Springfield Armory on how to attract these kinds of customers and earn their trust to help you build the next generation of firearm brand loyalists.

1. A new kind of gun marketing

With the launch of Springfield Armory’s SAINT in November, it’s no mystery who SA was targeting in their ads. If you direct your attention to their sexy imagery, messaging and tone—it’s aimed at people who are young, athletic, attractive and active. When I first saw the lead-up campaign, I thought SA was coming out with a fitness program (see point #3).

“Springfield has specifically targeted Millennials in its ads and creation of the clever campaign moniker complete with hashtag, says Jacki Billings for Guns.com. #DefendYourLegacy encourages consumers to engage in conversation with each other online and across all social media platforms. Also, the company assembled multimedia featuring young people accomplishing physical feats with voice-overs spouting catchy phrases such as “train your fear” — perfect for a generation known for 120 characters or less.”

Smith & Wesson also is picking up on this trend. “With younger, more urban buyers in the market, as well as more women, it’s a new demographic shopping for guns than in the past.” (Source: The Motley Fool)

Will SA set a new paradigm in advertising for the gun industry? I believe we’re going to start seeing a slight shift from the typical tactical and “mercenary-esk” imagery to newer, fresher campaigns from manufacturers focused on younger demographics that are more defense oriented and who are more female—SilencerCo. already being one of them. 

2. Millennials spend more time online

According to AdAge, Millennials are spending an average of 25 hours per week online – and they’re craving content-driven media. They’re scouring websites, blogs, and social media because they feel empowered by all of the remarkable content they’re discovering. They’re also sharing, liking, pinning, tweeting, snapping, forwarding, and commenting on all of their findings to impart this sense of empowerment to the online community. So, what makes this type of content really resonate with this group? Millennials trust what they feel is authentic. (Source: Hubspot)

Millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts (influencer marketing), who happen to be strangers, than advertisements and 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites. (Source: Hubspot)

If you’re not actively focusing your efforts online—now is the time to make a move to reach Millennials. They are not Guns and Ammo subscribers nor do they watch the Outdoor Channel.

Millennial Firearm Marketing

Photo credit: Springfield Armory

3. Integrate with things they already know and trust

Buying or shooting a gun can be somewhat of an extended and considered buying process as Millennials consider their options. One way to help bridge the gap is to infuse things that they already know and trust. Springfield Armory, whether they intentionally did this or not, used athletic imagery (models working out) to create the appeal of the SAINT campaign as well as shots leveraging the Under Armor brand to initiate trust. 

Fitness and self-defense go hand in hand. And it’s interesting to point out: 81% of Millennials say that they exercise regularly, compared to only 61% of Boomers. 76% of all regular exercisers are Millennials.

Military service members know the saying “Physical fitness is the cornerstone of combat readiness” by heart. Physical exercise keeps soldiers, airmen, seamen and Marines in top condition, so they’re always ready for any mission. Source: U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command: Standardized Physical Training Guide

Point being, fitness is a priority for urban and suburbanites—its a natural integration with the self-defensive nature of owning a firearm. I predict this trend will grow. 

4. Get your product in their hands

I don’t think there is a better way to sell a product than to get it in the hands of your prospect at a local gun store/range after a well-thought out lead nurturing process. I recently experienced this with my Millennial friend who was considering the SIG P320. After researching online and talking to me about what he should buy for a home defense weapon, we decided to head down to our local gun shop here in Indianapolis – Point Blank to shoot it. After squeezing through a few mags, he was hooked.

If you can combine lead nurturing that directs prospects to their local dealers for a hands-on demo of your product, your chances of closing that sale increase significantly. Research conducted by Forrester has shown that marketers see an average 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs non-nurtured leads. Furthermore, the research also reveals that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost (Source: Forrester, 2014). 

In conclusion, Millennial gun buyers are an untapped market segment waiting to be engaged. This is an exciting time to be in the firearms industry as opportunities exist to reach new buyers we didn’t have time for in the past eight years. This is sure to change the face and image of the industry forever. 

 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Firearm Website Design

10 Things To Boost Your Firearm Website’s Credibility and Trust

By Firearms and Shooting

 

If your website was designed over three years ago, there is a good chance that your firearms business is missing out on potential leads and sales.

If your website is suffering from high bounce rates, low traffic, cluttered pages or is just plain ugly—it may be time to update your website.

Here are ten things to keep in mind.

1. Design a professional impression

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure that your website is credible. Don’t use pixelated and small pictures of your products. Take the time and invest in your photo library. Most prospective customers will get annoyed and leave your site for your competitors—especially if they’re are struggling on what firearm to buy. Use a credible color palette and a clean layout that uses white space as a design element that doesn’t crowd your pages’ most important messages.

2. Verify and cite your sources

When blogging be sure to cite your information; include a link to the source on everything you reference. This will allow you to leverage industry experts and lend credibility to your topic. This also will help in getting your content shared on social media by industry influencers. (Source: HubSpot)

3. Show your people

Your people are the key differentiator in a marketplace full of identical competitors™. Show your people and list their expertise and link to their personal social media profiles like LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. This shows “social proof” and humanizes your brand.

4. Show real testimonials of real people

If you have great testimonials and reviews, ask your customers if they wouldn’t mind having their picture on your website. This improves your credibility and trust factor even more. Find them on Twitter and follow them back!

5. Make it easy to contact you

Give your customers an easy way to contact you if they have a problem with your product. Use a contact form, list your physical address, add a picture of your building, a map with directions, phone number and email address. Use your Facebook page or Twitter feed to answer questions or concerns about your products.

6. Don’t make your visitors think

Create an easy and intuitive navigation bar that segments their interests. Create a content strategy that is easy to read and follow. Use big section titles, white space and visuals to improve the “stickiness” of your web page. Don’t clutter your pages with paragraphs of text. Identify the 2-3 main points you want to communicate about your services or product and format the page accordingly. Ask yourself: what is the number one thing I want our prospect to know about our product/service? Use a Call to Action (CTA) that tells them what to do next: sign up for your email updates; follow on Facebook, download manual.

7. Refresh content regularly

Customers that see a website that is regularly updated—assign more trust to your company. Create a blog and update it at least weekly. Companies who blog receive 55% more traffic, 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages. (Source: Writtent). By building your website pages based on your keywords—brick-by-brick, over time— you will naturally accumulate more traffic.

8. Security

Add a secure socket layer (SSL) to your site that proves to your prospects and customers that their data is safe and that you are a credible and viable business. It’s also been shown that Google will give you a slight bump in rankings. (Source: Search Engine Land) You can get an SSL at GoDaddy.com for around $60.

9. Avoid spelling errors and typos

Have you ever came across a website filled with sporadic spelling errors? Or the improper use of your, you’re, there or their? Make sure you have someone proof your copy to get rid of any spelling errors and typos. Correct grammar and spelling is crucial in today’s content-consuming internet. 

10. Create a responsive layout for mobile and tablet

51% compared to desktop (42%) use mobile as their primary internet source. (Source: SmartInsights) When designing your website, make sure that the layout responds on desktop as well as mobile and tablet devices. A cluttered or misaligned layout can be very distracting and reduces your brand’s credibility.

In conclusion, by taking into account these ten things to boost your firearm website’s credibility and trust—you will increase leads, on-page visits and reduce bounce rates and ultimately your bottom line. 

 

firearms-growth-driven-design

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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.

3 Things Firearm Marketers Can Improve

3 Things Firearm Marketers Can Improve

By Firearms and Shooting

There are some things you just can’t change. From increased government regulations, internal politics, everything going digital or the IT guy who won’t upgrade your website—the firearms industry contains much of the same roadblocks and beaver dams as other marketers face, but with a few twists.

This industry is unique from other industries because unlike a tech or shoe company that is unregulated—we must abide by certain industry imperatives that hinder our ideas and abilities to improve or attain our goals.

Thinking about some of these imperatives and roadblocks on my way to NRA a few weeks ago, I came away with three things I feel we as marketers can do better in the firearms industry that will improve the individual brands we manage and perhaps the industry as a whole from a digital marketing perspective.

Shipping and faster delivery of goods

Digital has acclimated the public to expect instant results and quick responses. The commerce world is trying hard to keep up, and the delay is justified. Physical products take time to deliver, and right now there’s not a clear answer on how to speed up the process. However, because the larger industry knows that this is the key to success and driving the competitive market, the truncation of purchase fulfillment is a huge trend any e-commerce marketer should have a keen eye on. (Source: iMedia

There isn’t much that can be done in the way of speeding firearms to responsible customers when they have to go through the background check process. Some states like Hawaii, Colorado and California require a 10+ day waiting period. It can be months for NFA items. 

But when it comes to selling your other non-FFL items online (accessories, apparel, etc.), much can be done to create a better customer experience that may help offset delayed online firearm purchases.

Taken from a study done by eConsultantcy, when asked what would lead or has led to a recommendation of a retailer, the availability of free shipping or discounted shipping is the top factor.

Timely arrival of shipments and free or easy returns were the next most important factors.

“Since 41% of shoppers said ‘receiving my product when expected’ led them to recommend a retailer, both proactive communication regarding delivery time and reliable delivery are critical aspects to a positive customer experience.”

By implementing free shipping, communicating the expected delivery time, free returns and a way for easy exchange, you can increase your customer’s view of your brand. Brands will never be able to ship firearms directly to customer’s residences, but they can speed up their fulfillment processes in-house. Starting with an effective website and a well-managed fulfillment process is the first step. 

Complacent dealers are also a source of frustration for your customers. They may receive your product on time, but it ends up sitting in the backroom without the dealer notifying the customer. Don’t leave this important step to the dealer. Make sure to follow up with your customer to let them know their product is available for transfer. Find the bottlenecks and work with your dealers to improve over time—then track customer satisfaction.

Personalization

Personalization is a symbiotic relationship. On one side you, the marketer, are providing a spot-on experience for consumers that makes them feel understood, valued, and connected. It’s a positive engagement that’s borderline electric for the visitor. Don’t you get a little jolt when you’re served up an article, product recommendation, or email that’s perfectly aligned with your wants and needs?

On the other side are the consumers who, in exchange for this warm and fuzzy experience, reward you with more meaningful engagement, quicker conversions, higher cart values, increased spend, and ongoing loyalty. They’re happy with the relevant experience you’ve delivered. They dive in deeper. You collect more data points and create greater relevance. The cycle continues. That’s the personalization payoff. (Source: Adobe)

Your brand likely has a 5–20 percent chance of selling to a new prospect versus 60–70 percent for an existing consumer. Compound that with the fact that, on average, 55 percent of marketing budgets are spent on new customer acquisition, and it’s no surprise that increasing loyalty among existing users can reduce costs by as much as 10 percent. (Source: 5OneMedia)

Building a mutually beneficial relationship with your customer should be a priority that will increase profits. Why don’t most marketers engage in personalization? I think most don’t know where to start and for others it’s about getting over the hurdle of understanding who their customer is. You may be able to boast a large following on Facebook—but do you know who those people are? Facebook likes are considered vanity metrics that provide some indication of how your brand is perceived, but how are those likes and shares translating into revenue?

There are numerous tools out there to help you get better at personalization, and it begins with surveying your audience. Leveraging social media is one way to proceed. Tools like Social Mention, Talkwalker, Hootsuite, and Hubspot’s social media inbox monitoring tool, can help you get a better grasp on who makes up your audience. Survey Monkey is also a very inexpensive tool to start asking your customer questions to form your buyer personas that in turn will be used to develop your inbound and outbound marketing strategies. Having a firm grasp on your audience is the first step in getting your marketing right.

Point of purchase

When I think of a gun shop, the same image always comes to mind: barred windows, dusty racks, scratched glass counters and unfriendly customer service—at least in my town. Now contrast this experience with the soaring grandiose trade show booths of SHOT Show. Recall the experiences of being in those booths (if you were able to get out and walk the floor). How did they make you feel? Shouldn’t those same experiences be applied to every firearm retail environment?

One gun store getting it right is The Athena Gun Club in Houston. 

If you’re a gun dealer reading this article, take note. If you want to be the dominant dealer in your area, attract a younger customer and be a “shooting destination”—investing in your retail environment is something you should highly consider, and as marketers, we should highly encourage. We know we’re getting past the point were our typical demographic is defined as the white, 55-year-old male. We have to begin thinking more seriously (and with dollars) about how we can attract the next generation of gun enthusiasts by integrating our brands into the retail environment to create a cohesive brand experience.

Beretta Gallery

Beretta Gallery

Four retail environmental factors that form an engaging retail atmosphere are:

  1. Aesthetic drives experience – colors, texture, lighting, even smell—allows for a better and more welcoming experience that makes the customer comfortable. Your mood changes when you’re in an engaging environment—like staying at a luxury hotel. It allows your visitor to “open” up and drop their guard. It makes them feel good and perhaps more inclined to buy.
  2. Contributes value – The experience is informative, enjoyable and memorable. “People will forget what you say, but not how you make them feel.”
  3. Sends an aspirational message – The atmosphere you create says something about what you’re trying to communicate. Are you high-tech and polished, or 1990?
  4. Affinity – Points 1-3 make it harder for the person not to come back when faced with apathy, laziness or other options (Source: Forbes)

touch screen digital signage kiosk-1Another idea is to place a kiosk in your dealers that help the customer learn more about your products. This can help aid in a less than ideal dealer experience.

A quality and reliable product will always sell itself. As marketers, we have to make sure that a clear brand impression is sustained throughout the buying process and well after purchase. Faster delivery, personalization and point of purchase are only three areas that can make a big impact on your bottom line. What are your thoughts?

 

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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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Should You Market Your Firearm Brand on GunTV?

By Firearms and Shooting

The new live television shopping network for guns launched last Friday (March 31st, 2016). According to GunTV’s website, the channel will address the need for education, information, and safety regarding firearms commerce in America while responsibly offering access to purchasing firearms and related consumer goods live from 1 AM to 7 AM in the morning (for starters) with the hope of being live 24/7/365. 

I spent a few hours watching the program online this weekend and in this post share my initial thoughts—from a marketing perspective—whether GunTV is a viable option for marketers in the firearm and hunting industry to reach their prospective buyers.

1. What is a home shopping network?

The idea of a home shopping network is a new concept in the firearm and hunting industry. So to gain some understanding of how home shopping networks work, let’s take a look at a few statistics:

  • The largest home shopping network is QVC (the largest of HSN, ShopNBC or Evine) that broadcasts to over 235 million homes in six countries. (Source: Wikipedia)
  • QVC converts 17% of their TV viewers to online buyers. (Source: Internet Retailer
  • Home shopping networks viewership consists mainly of women whose ages range from 25-54, with a household income of $60,000 (Source: Entrepreneur).
  • Women are more likely than men to watch home shopping networks. (Source: Google, Consumer Behavior)
  • Ron Perlstein of Target Marketing says: “Truth be told, it’s the female of our species who has made home shopping the miracle of modern merchandising. So, if your target market is females over the age of 40, get ready to turn home shopping into a home-run derby for every product in your line.”
  • HSN and QVC’s online web sales range from 13-16% (Source 2004: Tripod)
  • The sales pitch is a backyard chat. (Source: Mental Floss)

It’s no secret that the womens segment in the firearm and hunting industry is exploding with an 85% increase in female shooters and hunters from 2001 to 2013 (Source: NSSF). With these points in mind, I see GunTV as an opportunity for manufacturers to reach women and beginner shooters. It will be interesting to see if GunTV can attract a balanced audience of both women and men. GunTV looks to add a strong social media presence that drives traffic to their online shopping cart that may help balance the audience. However, with Facebook’s latest ban on selling firearms, this may be a tricky line to walk.  

2. Safety-oriented

One of GunTV’s major premises is safety. The hosts take a lot of time explaining how a firearm works along with instruction on how to properly handle one. After each segment, there are two to three minutes of public service announcements devoted to safety tips. These sections include information from the NCPC, Remington’s 10 Commandments of Gun Safety (below) and NRA’s Eddie Eagle

 

3. An opportunity for startups

“Home shopping networks have the potential to rapidly get your product or invention out to the masses with the intention of being seen and purchased by millions,” says Kellie Oliver, Home Shopping Network Expert. GunTV may provide a much-needed opportunity for startups to build awareness and boost initial sales. 


4. Will GunTV work?
Below is a video on how GunTV works:

The network’s founders Valarie Castle and Doug Bornstein (The Social Responsibility Network) have been in the multi-media marketing business for over 30 years, and both have worked at home shopping networks. Their past positions and experience include K-Tel Direct, Positive Response TV, Guthy-Renker, Rolling Stone Magazine, National Lampoon and A&M Records. Their client list includes the successes of Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, Tony Robbins and more. (Source: Fundable) The company is based in California, near Palm Springs. 

As of this post date, only a handful of manufacturers which include manufacturing conglomerate Taurus, based in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Legacy Sports International (Howa Rifles and Citadel), Magnum Research (Kahr Firearms Group) have signed up, along with a few items from Magpul and Beretta. GunTV has partnered with Sports South, a large and long-established gun wholesaler based in Shreveport, Louisiana, which supplies Walmart and gun shops across the country, to be its distributor.

Time will tell if industry marketers accept GunTV. Larger and more established brands will need to commit before GunTV can reach its promise of offering a vast selection of products.

It’s only been a few days, but I find GunTV at this point in its early stages to be a considerable option for marketers wanting to reach women and beginner shooters.

What are your thoughts on GunTV?  

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

firearm-brand-development-strategy-2

Daniel Defense: The 3-Legged Stool of an Effective Firearm Brand Journey

By Firearms and Shooting

Your firearm brand is built by multiple touch points (advertising, customer service, product experience, etc.) repeated day after day, month after month, year after year to establish a collective understanding of what your brand stands for in the mind of your customers and the broader firearm industry.

According to an NSSF survey: Accuracy, Reliability, and Manufacturer Reputation are the most sought after qualities in a firearm—especially an MSR. How do you build a brand that conjures up these same feelings and opinions?

In this post, I’ll outline the journey your brand must take when looking at building an effective long-term brand strategy by using a three-legged stool analogy and the legendary story of Daniel Defense to help you think clearer about how to move your business forward and how to create a stronger brand reputation that increases your brand’s equity and ultimately your success. 

Where to start?
Brand strategy is the business case for change at a brand level. It envisages the future position of a brand in the marketplace, based on the company’s wider business aspirations and its ability to deliver and market brands that align with that desired position. (Source: BSI)

When asking what your desired position is—where do you see your company in 5, 10 or 15 years? Do you want to be known as the brand with the most aesthetically pleasing platform? Or perhaps to be referred to as the lightest firearm. These aspirations must be guided by a strategy to get you to a place in the market that belongs only to you in the mind of your customers. Getting to your desired perception may involve taking several paths. It may be first to target and invest in the government sector to establish a reputation before entering the ups and downs of the consumer market. It may be to build your reputation as an OEM first before creating your consumer branded line of products. Whatever your goal is—it must be linked directly to the problem you’re out to solve coupled with a scalable business model that gives you sustainable growth.

Stool Leg 1: Solve the problem

big-hole-upper

Photo credit: Daniel Defense

Marty Daniel started in 2001 by creating the Big Hole Upper Receiver—which forever improved the way we mount sighting systems to ARs. This led to several other products like the M4 12.0 hand guard that was a direct replacement for the Army Marksmanship Unit. Marty’s product solved a problem in the industry that gave him the starting point of building the reputable brand Daniel Defense is today. His starting point was recognizing a problem and solving it. (Source: Guns & Ammo)

How to get there.
The purpose of brand strategy, is to identify how far the brand must “travel” perceptually in order to be competitive, the benefits of getting there for the business, the purpose and values that the brand culture will need to adhere to in order to make that journey and the competitive resistance that the brand may encounter getting to that end point. It’s the why and the where. (Source: BSI)

Stool Leg 2: Build respect

What aspects of your story must be created and perfected to get you to your ultimate brand destination? Is it an investment in talent? Is it infrastructure? Is it a reputation among law enforcement or the special operations community? Define how you can link your marketing efforts to strategy, product development, operations, and other areas to create unique value for your customers, so you have a compelling story to tell.

After the success of Marty’s upper, and a follow-up sling mount product—he designed the RIS II Rail System and was awarded a lucrative contract with SOCOM. And then won an additional contract with the UK Ministry of Defense’ which in essence proved his engineering prowess and design capabilities as a serious manufacturer. This created the second leg of his stool: Respect.

How to stay there once you arrive.
Staying on top is sometimes much harder to achieve than getting there. So you must ask: “What’s my next success?” What has your brand planned for next? How will you capitalize on what works? Why will that feel like a natural extension of the relationship that your customers already have with you? Your purpose should provide clear guidelines for future development. (Source: BSI)

Stool Leg 3: Scalability

By thinking of itself as a manufacturer of the world’s finest weapon systems—not just rails or rifles—Daniel Defense has extended its development license considerably. It can literally look for new ways to give people experiences they haven’t had and positions them to be one of the largest manufacturers in the industry. 

three-legged-stool-brandTo scale his business, Marty saw three components to add to the momentum of Daniel Defense: In-house equipment (hammer forge machining) that allowed him to control quality, output, and price. This all lead to increased customer service and his intuition to surround himself with competent staff and employees. Today, Daniel Defense is the epitome of an American success story and one of the most admired brands in the firearm industry.

You can build a brand around the three most coveted value propositions in the firearms industry: accuracy, reliability, and a strong reputation—by thinking critically about the journey it’s going to take to get you to your desired brand position. This path may be somewhat familiar of other firearm brands, but proving your product’s ability to fulfill a niche in the industry, proving that your product is reliable and scalable, you have the three legs to sustain your brand that will stand the test of time and win the hearts and minds of those who depend on what you create.

 

 

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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.