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Stop What You’re Doing And Blog Like This…

By Firearms Marketing

It’s 2022 and you most likely know about blogging for your hunting, outdoor or firearms company, but I see so many companies still getting it wrong. 

For those who take the time and energy to blog—there exists many benefits and clearly defined advantages for your business. The most important being SEO. 

Call it content creation or blogging—blogs have been shown to increase website traffic by 55% (Source: Hubspot). Done consistently, blogging will compound over time into more traffic, more leads and more sales through your website. Blogging is one of the key components in an internet or content marketing strategy. Blogs power your search engine optimization and social media efforts to greater heights. In a time of digital transformation, embracing content and inbound marketing is an incredibly smart move.

If you’re the type of business owner or marketer who sees the advantages of blogging and are committed to thought leadership, driving website traffic and to building your brand, this post will help you become a more effective blog writer in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry.

1. Start with your audience

A lot of times, you may be blogging just for the sake of blogging. But this is where a lot of people go wrong. There is a methodology to blogging. For starters, you must understand your audience at the granular level to make your writing efforts pay off. A great way to get inside the heads of your prospects is to interview your current customers. Ask them why they value your brand, what keeps them up at night and what their biggest challenges are. For example:

  • How to call in a hung up turkey.
  • What is the best AR15 for home defense?
  • How to become a better sports clay shooter.
  • How to field dress your game quicker.
  • What are cheaper thermal vision alternatives?
  • Best places in Montana to look for sheds.
  • What level of fitness do I need to hunt bighorn sheep?

By asking the right questions, you will be able to write the right blogs that capture your audience’s attention.

For maximum benefit, consider turning your blog into a podcast or video. 

2. Teach them something

Just like this blog is attempting to teach you something—your blog should attempt the same. Like the examples shown above, the first and best way to approach a blog is to answer the questions you hear most from your customers. Compose a list, perhaps starting with your FAQS and turn them into 700-1000-word blog posts.

TIP: Posts with 1000-2000 words or more are shared almost twice as much.

3. Pick topics based on your keywords

If you’re blogging on topics that don’t include your keywords you’re camouflaging your blogs. Keywords drive traffic to your website and show up in search engines where your prospective customers are. Pick topics that your customers are searching for. To find out what keywords you should be blogging on, you’ll need to take a closer look at your analytics. You may even consider using a paid keyword tool service like Moz, Wordstream or utilize your Google Adwords tool. 

TIP: Write for humans, not search engines. Don’t stuff keywords into your copy.

4. Formatting

Formatting is another factor you must consider. Your readers will typically scan topics and headlines before committing to reading your post. It’s kind of like channel surfing. To make the most of the one shot you have to grab your reader’s attention, your blog posts should take on a format like this to allow for easy scanning:

  1. Ahunting-firearm-blog-post-formatttention-grabbing headline 
  2. Engaging image
  3. Share buttons
  4. Introduction and hook
  5. Introduce the problem you are solving and who the post is for
  6. Tell the reader what to expect
  7. Cite your sources for credibility
  8. Number your sub-heads
  9. End with a recap and conclusion
  10. Use a call to action to generate a lead or sale

By formatting your blog properly, you’ll increase the likelihood of getting it read. 

5. Ignition

Sharing is considered the “holy grail” in social media. It’s one thing to “like” or “favorite” a post, but a share has the potential to drive traffic and build brand awareness exponentially. When a person shares your content, it says something about them to their friends and followers. According to Mark Schaefer’s new book, the Content Code, people share content on the basis of making themselves look smarter or to communicate something about their interests and personalities. Sharing “ignites” your content that allows your brand to penetrate into new audience groups.

Make sure to add share buttons at the top of your posts and make sure the blog data automatically populates is the first step in getting your post shared.

6. Consistency

If you start a blog, you must commit to blogging on a regular and consistent basis. By starting out strong and then getting sidetracked in 3-4 months, will hinder your efforts and leave your followers hanging. They’ll forget about you and eventually unsubscribe or tune out. If you’re going to commit to blogging, commit to it and stick with it. You can start out by committing to once a month and build up from there. The more you blog—statistics show—the more traffic you get.

hunting-firearms-blog-stats

7. End with a call to action

At the end of every blog post, you should end with a call to action. Whether it’s a downloadable offer, a video or even a call to purchase one of your products—make sure to capitalize on the momentum and interest you just created with your reader once they get to the bottom of your post.

In ending, when writing a blog post, start by knowing your audience, teach them something, write articles based on your keywords, format, make it easy to share, be consistent and end with a call to action.

By including these points in your next hunting, outdoor or firearms blog post, you’ll start seeing lower bounce rates, increased traffic, and more subscribers, shares, likes and favorites. 

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firearm-brand-product-development-strategy

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

By Brand Development, Branding, Firearms Marketing

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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Firearm Brand Strategy

Do You Really Need A Firearm Brand Strategy?

By Firearms Marketing

Maybe you’ve just come out with some disruptive technology, game-changing accessory or new firearm platform.

Or maybe your business has been around for a while and you’ve realized that to compete in today’s environment, you need to focus more on your messaging and how your company and/or products are understood.

But, do you really need a brand strategy?

The truth is… a brand already exists, even if you’ve never taken the time to develop it.

Your customers, dealers, distributors, employees, and partners already have some kind of feeling, thought or understanding of you or your product—negative or positive. 

What is the difference between branding and marketing? Marketing and branding is a two-sided coin. Branding is about feeling and emotion (fonts, colors, imagery, tone etc.). Marketing is about generating activity in the marketplace (advertising, PR, email, trade show etc.). 

Below are 10 surprising facts that you may not have considered in regards to your brand development strategy and why it’s important to have one—if you intend to leave your mark on the firearms industry.  

1. Make it easier for the customer to buy
Customers make decisions on products they know and trust. If a customer is not familiar with your brand, they are less likely to buy it.

Think of the last time you were in the gun store and you had to pick up some ammo. Hornady—a ammunition category brand leader—was not on the shelf. Do you buy the “I’ve never heard of you” brand of ammo—or forgo the purchase altogether? Most likely, you’ll wait till the next trip or drive across town to another store. Brands help us make buying decisions.

Photo credit: Business Insider

2. Make it easier for the sales team (and dealers) to sell
Having a strong brand reputation in the marketplace will allow your dealers and sales team to close more sales based on brand performance alone. A reputation for service, quality and the ability to solve your customer’s problem will be more likely received and sought after.

3. Brand clarity and delivery spurs employee motivation
Brands give your employees purpose. Having a clear cultural direction, goal and mission based on your brand values will create higher performance and productivity. A strong brand will turn your employees into brand advocates versus people who just show up to collect a paycheck. It will also give you and your stakeholders a clear understanding of your vision, mission and purpose.

4. Increase the value of your company over time
Brands are line items on today’s most valued companies. The Coca-Cola brand alone accounts for 51 percent of the stock market value of the Coca-Cola Company (Source: Brandchannel). The same could be said for Ruger or Smith & Wesson.

By developing a strong firearm brand—especially for companies with/or seeking investors—brand development aids in building a successful exit strategy. 

5. Brand definition brings clarity to your business goals and direction

If you have a good product that everyone is excited about, alot of times you just have to stay out of your own way.

A brand strategy will save you from making costly decisions.

A recent example is Vista Outdoors’ Black Hawk product line of silencers. Black Hawk a gear supplier for military and law enforcement agencies—ventured into the silencer market and after just eighteen months pulled out.

brand strategy extension failures

Photo credit: Recoil

In May of 2016, when the silencers were first announced, many were musing if this was too far a departure from Blackhawk’s bailiwick. When asked why the line was being dropped, a Vista representative put that musing to rest: “After completing a strategic review of our product lines, we determined that suppressors did not align with our core business. In order to streamline our products more efficiently, we felt it was best to eliminate suppressors from our current line-up.” (Source: Recoil)

Millions of dollars would have been saved if brand managers would have practiced “brand discipline.” Read more on The 5 Rules of Brand Extension.

6. The brand development exercise creates innovation

Most of us are so busy we sometimes just go through the motions in our businesses day after day with the mentality of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it attitude.” By purposefully sitting down and thinking about your brand, product and business you will give yourself and your team time to create new processes, products, components and other ideas that will drive innovation. This is time well spent and the life blood of successful firearm brands.

7. Saves money on future design and advertising costs
Instead of reinventing the wheel every time that new ad needs to be placed, trade show booth or package redesigned—your brand standards will provide a guideline for consistency that creates visual recall and recognition.


8. A strong brand creates preference which, equals profit
By consistently delivering the same value, service and quality—along with the same visual identifiers—you begin to create preference and repeat customers. This is called “branding.” The goal of brand development is to create preference, branding is to create recall.  


Photo credit: Guns.com

9. Attract talented employees
In today’s war for talent—companies are struggling to find talented and skilled workers. Those with strong employer brands coupled with a strong corporate brand will win.

10. Provides the foundation of all your marketing efforts
Without a brand strategy, it will be very difficult to focus your influencer or inbound marketing efforts. The absence of your customer’s buyer personas, key messaging and brand-centric visuals will make any marketing effort less effective. 

So, do you need a brand strategy?

Well, if any of the above points appeal to you—I would say yes—brand development is a business necessity for business owners serious about growth and leaving their mark on the firearm industry. Even if competition is non-existent—you eventually will need to develop your brand to pre empt competition as Magpul has done, who by all measures dominates the magazine market.

firearm-brand-strategy

Photo credit: Magpul

 

We have in any given category 10-20 of everything (ammo, handguards, holsters, ARs, shotguns etc.). By having a well-defined brand, you will be able to compete at a higher level than your competition, stand head and shoulders above the rest and build a valuable asset for the future.  

One last thought to end on: Brand is the last remaining business currency.”

Photo credit: F4 Defense, Jason Swarr, Straight 8

firearm brand marketing

The 5 Rules Of Brand Extension For Firearm Companies

By Firearms Marketing

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

Brands take years and thousands of dollars to develop. The most effective and safest way for established brands to introduce new products and services without damaging their brand is by utilizing a practice called brand extension.

Brand extension leverages the equity and power of your current brand to penetrate new segments and categories faster and for less cost.

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

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

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

 

Ruger Pepper Spray

Ruger Pepper Spray

Rule #1. Do not dilute your current brand.

Brands that can successfully extend into a different product category have already established brand equity. If your company has yet to build brand equity, you will find leveraging an unknown brand is like starting from scratch. It is better to carefully extend by appealing to a segment of your current base while trying to reach new customers.

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

Compare this to a brand like TASER, who is known for non-lethal self-defense products.  

 

sig-suppressor-ad

Sig Sauer Silencers

Rule #2. Identify your brand’s core attributes.

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

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

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

 

Rule #3. Make sense out of your reasoning.

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

brand extension

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

 

Rule #4. Decide if you are a House of Brands, Branded House or a Hybrid.

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

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

browning-brand-extension

Browning Clothing Brands

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

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

Rule #5. Test it out with your customers before going all in.

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

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

firearms marketing agency

How to Choose A Firearms Marketing Agency

By Firearms Marketing

Most business owners, (marketers and executive directors) in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry 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 CNC machine replacement, the sales team meeting at 4, the new product design project plan—plus you got to make plans for this weekend’s shoot.

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 firearms or hunting marketing agency—here are 8 things that will help you choose the partner 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 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.

Do any of these problems sound familiar:

A good hunting and firearms marketing agency with years of experience will be able to 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. Is it a revenue goal?  Can you really double sales in one year? The more defined your goals are the better the marketing agency will be to suggest strategies and approaches to achieve your goal. Use the SMART goal method to set specific benchmarks that will move your business forward.

3. Do they have a proven process?

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

4. Verify references

In today’s world, everyone is a skeptic. One way to make sure that the firm is ‘solid,’ is to see if they have a good set of testimonials. Look on Facebook, Google 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 do they specialize in?

Today’s best agencies are specialists in 2-4 areas like email, SEO, influencer or PR or an industry. 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. Also be sure to check their certifications. HubSpot, Google, Email etc. certifications mean they’ve put in the time to deliver value.

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 real-world business problems. Ask for past examples or how they might approach your current marketing challenges.

7. Do they practice what they preach?

Does the marketing agency have a strong and identified brand? Are they themselves implementing the programs they are suggesting to you? It will be important that they understand the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry. This will save you time so you don’t have to teach them about the subtleties of our industry. 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. Especially now that the industry has added over 5 million new gun owners.

8. Do you click with them?

80% of the time your intuition is the best way to choose a marketing agency. If you are compatible as people, you most likely will work well together—assuming everything else adds up. I’ve had many opportunities over the years to work with well-known brands but in the end, we just didn’t click. Business and marketing is all about people and relationships. Pick an agency you like and who you can work with.

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

firearm influencer marketing

What’s Around the Corner for Firearm Influencer Marketing in 2021?

By Firearms Marketing, Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing in the shooting sports industry has changed a lot since 2016. Back then, brands didn’t understand how to collaborate with influencers, and influencers weren’t sure what to charge. Most influencers were happy to receive a free product—but all that has changed.  

Marketing budgets continue to expand for influencer marketing as more money pours into influencer pockets. Brands are going to spend up to 15B on IM by 2022 (Source: Business Insider). And for a good reason—the effectiveness of an influencer strategy continues to yield unprecedented results— 5x, 10x, and even 2000x return for just one video posted on YouTube. 

In this article, I look at a few shifts brands and influencers should be aware of in the outdoor, hunting and shooting sports industry as we move into 2021. 

firearms influencer marketing

Photo Credit: Alex Zedra

1. Increasing Prices, More Significant Returns

Influencer costs continue to rise. On average, it costs 500% more to collaborate with prominent influencers today than it was just three years ago. As you might guess, this is due to increasing network sizes and content that is Hollywood-grade. For example, I’ve worked with a prominent influencer for the past three years. He used to charge $1,000 for a YouTube review—today he charges $6,000. This cost may seem steep, but his content (over time) has generated massive returns for our client(s). As influencers increase their followings and their brand grows, their economic value and ROI increases as well. 

Authenticity and engagement remains the secret sauce that makes influencer marketing so powerful. Alex Zedra, a popular influencer in the firearms industry—who has over 2 million followers—works with several top brands and runs her own AZ branded fan store says,

“Companies are starting to recognize the creativity and the impact creators have on a brand. Influencers know what content/ads work best for their following. It comes off organic and genuine—better than a corny television or magazine ad.” 

 

2. Here Come the Talent Agencies!

Over the past five years, the talent agency business model has rapidly adapted to influencer marketing. Talent agencies believe that an influencer can be treated the same as a famous actor, model, or athlete. 

In the entertainment industry, talent agencies begin by finding talented actors to represent their agency. They attract and contract actors that they believe will book jobs for them i.e. commercials, radio spots or movies. (Source: Top Hollywood Coach) These agencies then add a percentage to the total bill — usually 10-30%. 

However, some have figured out that the talent agency model can be adapted to influencer marketing, which may seem the same on the surface—but are quite different and pose challenges to both the influencer and the brand manager.

According to Danielle Wiley of The Sway Group, a leading influencer marketing agency with first-hand experience, says, “The talent agency model simply isn’t ideal for full-scale production of highly successful influencer marketing campaigns.” Furthermore, “Today’s influencer marketing industry has evolved beyond simply securing paying gigs for creators: the most successful campaigns are the result of expert creative guidance and in-depth program management from start to finish.”

In other words, to make influencer marketing work, you shouldn’t just approach it as “hiring an influencer.” The strategy involves collaboration, management, ongoing communication and support to make it useful—for both the brand and influencer.

The good and the bad of talent agencies

If you’re a professional influencer who is too busy to market yourself, then signing up for representation may be a good idea. Still, you should be aware of the upside and downside of working with talent agencies.   

The upside:

    • Talent agencies can help you market your influence. 
    • Signing exclusive contracts may guarantee you more jobs.
    • Joining a group of other managed influencers makes you feel supported.

The downside:

    • Talent agencies are tempted to favor higher-priced influencers than lower-cost influencers.
    • Talent agencies can throttle or block influencers’ earning potential by increasing costs.
    • Influencers are locked into exclusionary contracts that prohibit them from working with brands they want to work with.
    • You may be forced to give up your current relationships to the talent agency that may harm your existing agreements.
    • Talent agencies may require you to do more work than you typically agree to.

So depending on your needs, hiring a talent agency comes with the good and the bad. If you’re an influencer, I recommend not signing exclusive agreements so that you can maximize your opportunities. 

3. Saturation and Competition is Increasing, But So Are The Number of Influencers

As a person who conducts marketing in the industry, I commend the folks at Black Rifle Coffee. They were wise (before influencer marketing was a thing) to sign up every famous gun influencer (mostly women) on social media. It seems like you can’t go anywhere without seeing one of the industry’s top female gun/fitness/politico influencers wearing something with the BRCC logo on it. Other brands have also done a great job as well: Vortex, Yeti and Liberty Safes to name a few. 

 

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We work in a highly competitive industry where most brands are blocked from advertising on Facebook and Google. More and more brands are making the move to influencer marketing, which is causing saturation and are finding that the influencers they want to work with are already representing their competitors. 

But don’t fret—there are also thousands of new gun-related content creators popping up every day. And with 7 million + new gun owners this year, you can expect even more. As of this writing, according to our search tool, there are 48K influencers with a global reach of 8.1B—with the majority going to female accounts. 

how many firearms influencers are there?

NOTE: 8.1B does not represent people; it means total social media accounts. 

4. What is Your Influencer Marketing Plan B? 

As we move into 2021 and the Biden/Harris presidency looming, what can industry marketers expect regarding social media and the use of influencer marketing? Working with influencers is an effective way to build brand awareness, especially for lesser-known brands. But what would happen if all gun-related content were suddenly shut down? Instagram made a move earlier this year with their Collab Tool to require all influencers to start tagging brands they work with and threatened to shut down all gun-related accounts. We have yet to see the massive cancellations they promised. A popular YouTuber’s Facebook page got pulled down this year, only to be re-activated after public outcry—but how much longer will these efforts work before full-out censorship? How would you pivot if your influencers got shut down? 

Here are five things I would consider:

  1. Move investment into podcasts and podcast sponsorships
  2. Identify ways to identify and engage forum influencers at scale
  3. Incentivize customers as influencers at scale – See Live Capture by Upfluence
  4. Incentivize at the counter/retail level – See ExpertVoice
  5. Test out lesser-known/used channels like Parler, MeWe and 99 others 

This is the year to think seriously about what your Plan B is if influencer marketing plays a big part of your marketing plan.  

5. A Few Things We Are Looking Forward to in 2021 

Olivier Kennedy of Enigma Swiss says, “We live in a post-truth world, influencer marketing is one of the rare trust enablers that works.” Influencer marketing is not going away anytime soon and is one of the best ways to earn your prospective customer’s trust. And with the “sold-out year” upon us (more to come on that later), remaining relevant will be crucial as manufacturers struggle to fulfill demand.  Below are a few things we’re going to do more of this coming year to make influencer marketing more effective: 

  1. Turn our client’s customers and counter-level retailers into ambassadors
  2. Recruit more pico influencers (300) to create content for our clients and rely less on larger influencers
  3. Offer more revenue sharing opportunities to our influencers, so it’s a win-win situation for both the brand and influencer 
  4. Focus more on niche influencers
  5. Focus less on vanity metrics and more on performance

Another ample opportunity on the horizon that I’m excited about is social commerce’s evolution on platforms like TimeToGoWild.com, Everest.com and Guns.com.

In conclusion, we’ll see influencer prices continue to increase, more brand saturation and competition, and talent agencies hinder influencers. Think about your Plan B if you rely heavily on influencers and keep an eye on new exciting new trends like social commerce.   

What about you? What do you see in regards to influencer marketing in 2021? 

 

 

Photo Credit: ETS Model and Influencer Charissa Littlejohn: https://www.instagram.com/charissa_littlejohn/

8-Remarkable-Firearm-Industry-Brands-Emerging-From-The-Pandemic

8 Remarkable Firearm Industry Brands Emerging From The Pandemic

By Firearms Marketing

COVID-19 continues to upend entire industries like travel, hospitality, entertainment, events, restaurants, and education, to name a few (Source: McKinsey)—while the outdoor, hunting, firearms, and shooting sports industry has—and continues—to set new sales records. Multiplied by social unrest, riots, lawlessness in our cities and the upcoming election, we have yet to see the end of how high sales will go (that’s if the supply chain can keep up). 

It’s been an interesting experience because while the economy around us has spiraled out of control, our industry has not only survived the past 6 months—but has thrived. The only way I can describe it is like being in economic vertigo. Big pieces of the global economy are going one way, but our industry is going another (up). 

In this article, I wanted to point out a few brands that I’ve found worth mentioning (that you might not know about) in the times we find ourselves in. If you’re a business leader, director, or marketing/sales professional—the below examples will help you think through your offerings, marketing programs, and perhaps spot future trends.  

 

Brenton USA

Photo Credit: Brenton USA

1. Brenton USA – Finding the Whitespace

Bartt Brenton, founder of Brenton USA hunts with ARs. After several years of not finding an AR suitable for hunting, he decided to design his own. Bartt, a former engineer at the world’s largest cyclotron at Michigan State University, brings a fresh approach to hunting with his Performance-Grade AR Hunting Rifles. Brenton approaches his rifles from a hunting perspective—rather than a tactical orientation. This approach means hunter specific controls, sizing, calibers (450 BM, 350 Legend, 6.5 Grendel, 6mm ARC etc.), and components designed for the hunter, not the warfighter. The AR provides the hunter with the latest in firearm design and gives hunters who have decades of experience a whole new hunting experience—and for those returning from overseas, a familiar platform to hunt with.  

Why is this remarkable? 

I find Brenton USA an excellent example of finding whitespace and growing in an extremely saturated market. 

 

Easy Export

Photo Credit: EasyExport

2. EasyExport – International Firearm Exports

Up until now, exporting firearms, parts, optics, accessories, and suppressors has been a tedious and risky proposition. EasyExport, founded by compliance and export attorney professional Jeff Grody, makes it easier for firearm manufacturers to tap international markets without the hassle of navigating the complexity of export regulations.

EasyExport enables U.S. sellers and lawful foreign purchasers of firearm products to do business easily and legally online by efficiently solving all the regulatory challenges. EasyExport’s interface allows e-commerce companies to vets and qualify approves oversea purchasers that who then seamlessly connect to sellers’ their websites to shop. After the purchase is complete, EasyExport clears the order for shipment after the purchaser has been approved.

Why is this remarkable? 
EasyExport solves a complex problem that allows firearm companies to tap the expanding and lucrative international market. EasyExport is currently in BETA with four customers: ETS, Volquartson, TANDEMKROSS and LaRue Tactical and is set to launch later this fall.

 

WPSN

Photo Credit: Warrior Poet Society

3. Warrior Poet Society – Building a Community

John Lovell, former 2nd Battalion Army Ranger started like most YouTubers: reviewing products and providing shooting tips— but over time, John’s purpose turned into a movement—just as he intended.  

John’s Warrior Poet code: “Be a protector and lover of people” has attracted over 1 million followers across YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. 

Social media giants and big tech continue to demonetize, throttle back and censor accounts that promote capitalism, the military, 2A values, and faith. Seeing the writing on the wall, John and his team launched the Warrior Poet Society Network (WPSN). The channel features content on firearm and personal defense training, leadership, family, and faith that subscribers can access through the website, app, Roku or Amazon Fire. 

Why is this remarkable? 

Eventually, YouTube, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram will pull the plug on 2A content. They are quickly moving this direction already because it’s not a matter of if, but when. (Source: Bearing Arms). Several off-YouTube channels exist like Full30.com and GunStreamer.com, but none has attempted to create a branded community with such a defined purpose. I find this remarkable and refreshing. 

 

hunting-scope-and-optics

Photo Credit: TRACT Optics

4. TRACT Optics – Trailblazing E-commerce

COVID has changed consumer behavior forever, and according to new data, this means consumers are:

  • Making fewer trips to the store
  • Shopping more online
  • Looking for deals more regularly
  • Aligning with brands that share their values

Source: Valassis

Founded by two former employees of Nikon, TRACT Optics, set out to create high-performance optics without the high-retail markup. TRACT launched its online company back in 2015. TRACT utilizes a direct-to-consumer model that allows them to not only manufacture higher-quality performance-grade optics without high retail markup costs but also to deliver a personalized online brand experience. 

E-commerce sales have jumped over 42% from last year because of COVID and continue to increase. (Source: DigitalCommerce360) What we’re seeing is more brands shifting focus to online sales. To some companies surprise, COVID has changed opinions on e-commerce: “Hey, this e-commerce stuff works.”

For example, Daniel Defense launched a full e-commerce website early this year, where customers can order rifles direct. Glock announced last month that it is selling through Guns.com. When brands like DD and Glock make a move like this, you can be sure others are soon to follow. These types of tectonic shifts have the potential to change the entire dealer/distributor model forever. 

Why is this remarkable? 

There are an estimated 5 million+ new first-time gun owners as of this writing (Source: National Review). And we’re still a few weeks away from the election. 2020 will be the biggest sales year the firearms industry has ever seen. If big brands have forgone e-commerce in the past, you can be sure they’re talking about it now. TRACT was one of the early pioneers to step out of industry norms and trail-blaze what is now quickly becoming the new normal. 

 

FalconStrike Recoil Pad

Photo Credit: FalconStrike USA

5. FalconStrike – Innovation

For years, reducing recoil has been left to rubber pads and expensive contraptions built into stocks—until now. Martin Gaudet, founder, and inventor of the patented FalconStrike has come up with a way to reduce recoil through hydraulics in a compact and easy-to-install pad. As Baby Boomers and GenXers get older, FalconStrike helps more aging joints and the less stout deal with the punishing effects of recoil. The pad borrows its design from the aerospace industry where Martin’s systems have been used on aircraft and in the space program. This understanding has led to a drastic reduction in recoil energy, push back, muzzle rise, and felt recoil. All of these combined factors give shooters more accuracy, comfort, and more time shooting. 

Why is this remarkable? 

Recoil is a constant when it comes to shooting. Less of it is always a good thing. A softer, more comfortable shooting experience makes a better time for all when smaller calibers can’t be used.

 

True Velocity Guns and Ammo6. True Velocity – Breaking the Mold

I always thought that if the industry could figure out how to mainstream caseless or rechargeable ammo—that it would set the industry on a course that resembles Star Wars. But for now, we’ll have to settle for True Velocity. True Velocity’s premium composite-cased ammunition made from polymer offers distinct advantages over conventional brass-cased munitions, including drastic weight reduction, heat signature elimination, and significantly improved accuracy. The casings are also 100% recyclable. 

Why is this remarkable? For decades ammunition has relied on brass casings, but now there seems to be an alternative. This kind of thinking will continue to push the ammo segments into new territory and give consumers a second option. The round has been reviewed and reported to be just as accurate if not better than its’ brass counterpart. How will this change the future of ammo? Right now, ammo backorders have been rumored to stretch out (for some brands) 2-3 years. Finding new ways to manufacture ammo is a problem that needs to be solved.

 

Sig Sauer

Photo Credit: Sig Sauer

7. Sig Sauer – Capitalizing on Customer Journey

One-way to quickly become a top 5 gun manufacturer (outside of winning a lucrative military contract) (Source: Shooting Industry) is through understanding how and when to add products to the customer journey. The thinking is if a customer trusts you for one purchase like a pistol, they will trust you for more, like a rifle, optic, and ammunition. And this is what SIG has done. SIGs’ loyal customer base has allowed the company to expand into electro-optics, ammunition, suppressors, and air guns that provide their customers with a “complete system.”

Why is this remarkable? 

Most firearm manufacturers get stuck in creating just one product—however, to expand and grow, it may be necessary to expand your offering into other segments as long as you can maintain your brand focus and profitability. 

 

MantisX

 

8. MantisX – In-Home Shooting Practice

MantisX is a revolutionary shooting system that helps shooters improve their shooting precision. It can be used on pistols, rifles or shotguns (or bow)—dry fire or live fire. While attached to a pistol or rifle, MantisX analyzes your shooting mechanics, diagnoses issues, and coaches you on how to improve. With so many new shooters coming into the industry and the scarcity of ammo and firearm instructors, MantisX is a good way to practice shooting fundamentals and stay sharp until you can get back to the range.

Why is this remarkable? 

MantisX allows me and other experienced shooters the ability to save on ammo while keeping shooting skills sharp until ammo supplies get restocked. New shooters will also benefit. 

In conclusion, as the COVID era runs its course, we’re seeing many brands strengthen their position, launch products in uncertainty and pivot to new online opportunities—domestically and internationally. We have a few more months to go, but I concur… “What a crazy year it’s been!”  

What about you? What brands have stood out to you during this time? 

firearms defense marketing plan strategy

INFOGRAPHIC – A Simple Firearms Marketing Strategy That Works

By Firearms Marketing

If you had $10-$15,000 dollars to spend on marketing, where would you spend it?

Would you buy some banner ads? Redo your branding? Run an SEO campaign? Do a press release? Put it all on a print ad in Guns and Ammo and let it ride? This is a tough question I get all the time. Most business owners in the firearms, shooting, tech and defense industries struggle with making a determination on what to do when they want to market that they usually just throw up their hands and land on attending a trade show—which doesn’t get them the reach and awareness they are really looking for (at scale) to grow their business.

The below infographic gives you a simple firearms and defense marketing strategy that has been implemented over a thousand times by some of the world’s top brands—and in most cases has quadrupled revenue and has provided a 3x to 8x return on investment within 3 months. By implementing this simple plan correctly, investing in the long term and committing to improvement, you’ll have a solid marketing program you can build off of for years to come.

 

firearms marketing strategy

 

By taking the time to clarify your message and figure out these aspects of your brand’s story, you will be able to transform your marketing, attract new customers and stand out in the crowded marketplace.

  • Schedule a call with me, get a clear plan on how stand out in the crowded outdoor, hunting, defense and firearms marketplace

 

 

5-Keys-To-Stand-Out-and-Attract-New-Customers

5 KEYS ON HOW TO STAND OUT IN A COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE

Is your brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2022 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.

DOWNLOAD EBOOK

 

 

Sources:

  1. Harvard Business Review: The Curse of Knowledge
  2. Time: You Now Have A Shorter Lifespan than a Goldfish
  3. Campaign Monitor: The New Rules of Email Marketing
  4. INC: 84 Percent of People Trust Online Reviews As Much As Friends
  5. StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message

 

The-Future-of-Firearms-Advertising

What is the Future of Firearms Advertising?

By Firearms Marketing

The onslaught against the firearms industry has never in history been more fervent. Lawsuits are emerging at a disconcerting rate across the U.S., and as a marketer in the firearms industry tasked with advising clients on marketing advice I had to ask the question: 

What is the future of advertising in the firearms industry? 

In this article, I want to share five thoughts that will help you—the firearm marketer or business owner—think through your future advertising efforts to help you navigate and defend against the onslaught of our adversaries’ misunderstanding and the litigious efforts to destroy our industry and the good people in it.


1. What makes advertising effective?

Any piece of advertising (print, tv, radio, digital or otherwise) attempts to let others know about how a product or service can help them survive or thrive. If you are advertising a shoe’s new cushioning system that softens your foot strike or a pillow that enables you to sleep better, copywriters will typically use the following framework:

  1. Identify the customers’ problem 
  2. Offer your product as the solution 
  3. Show how your product solves the problem
  4. Show empathy and authority (why they should listen to you)
  5. Explain the consequences and successes of using your product
  6. Call them to action: Buy Now, Subscribe or Sign up

The above framework can be identified in almost every effective advertisement in the world. And yes, it does work when done correctly. Next time the MyPillow commercial on T.V. interrupts you, see if you can follow the above narrative. 

Advertising a firearm is no different than advertising a Toyota, Dr. Pepper, iPhone, or a pair of Nikes. Advertising seeks to inform potential buyers of a product’s functions and features that moves a buyer towards purchasing your product. By aligning your product’s brand attributes with that buyer’s worldview, you increase the odds of the purchase. We call this the customer transformation. Include an eye-catching image, a call to action along with a sizable media buy, and you’ve got the makings of an effective campaign.


2. But now we’re at risk.

If you’re a firearm brand that places an ad and your product is used in a shooting—even though the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects you—you could become the target of a potential lawsuit.  

gun ad

Photo credit: Remington

The Bushmaster ad being used against Remington Outdoor Co. in the Newtown shootings is now waiting to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs and allows the case to proceed, the case would go back to the Connecticut State Supreme Court to determine the merits. That could give the plaintiffs access to Remington’s internal marketing documents during the discovery process. (Source: WSJ)

UPDATE: November 15, 2019
U.S. Supreme Court denied Remington’s petition for review of the state supreme court decision. This means the plaintiffs may be able to gain access to Remington’s marketing materials through the Connecticut court. 

According to Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, “the families lawsuit is intended to shed light on Remington’s calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense American’s safety.”

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs will adversely affect the firearms industry and potentially set a precedence and open up every other industry to litigation. For example, if your tire falls off while you’re speeding and kills five people, those families could sue the tire company because the tire company’s ad told you that you were the kind of driver who likes to drive fast. 

Photo credit: Bridgestone



That’s why you need to understand how to protect your company’s brand from these frivolous lawsuits.

Take action

ATTEND THIS WEBINAR: Marketing Practices Liability in the Firearms Industry
Orchid Advisors and Williams Mullen are sponsoring a Free Webinar Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 2:00 EST 

Register by filling out the form on Orchid’s contact page and select “Webinar” under “I’d like to learn more about.”

Topics will include

    • A review of the PLCAA, the Connecticut case, and the theory of potential liability.
    • The severity of risk should an industry member get sued for criminal misuse of products.
    • Best practices for monitoring and policing marketing strategies.
    • Additional steps industry members should take to reduce risk.

  firearm advertising webinar
3. Virtue signaling

More and more companies whose CEOs worldview align with anti-gun sentiment and those who disagree with certain products and political positions are steering their ships in the direction of what is called “virtue signaling.” 

Virtue signaling looks like this: 

  • I don’t like your product 
  • Not liking your product can help strengthen my brand 
  • We should come out publicly against your product
  • Taking a position against your product will ‘hopefully’ breath new life into my diminishing brand 

We’ve seen this with Dick’s Sporting Goods and WalMart. You also might recall the Nike ad that featured Colin Kapernick as a way to strengthen Nike’s brand with its’ urban audience.

Photo credit: Nike

 

Shopify removed firearm dealers and manufacturers from using its platform last year. Due to the pressure of financial institutions and gun control groups, we can expect more virtue signaling in the years to come. 

Take action 

Manufacturers and dealers need to create open-source websites and avoid getting caught up in virtue signaling platforms and software companies who are against firearms. i.e. SalesForce. Make sure you know where your intended solution provider stands on the 2nd Amendment.


4. Social media and the ensuing increase in gun ownership

Facebook, Google, YouTube and Instagram make no secret that they are against the firearms industry. The latest bans and advertising restrictions implemented by the largest social media networks make it very difficult for the firearms industry to advertise their products—and from experience seem to be getting worse.

These restrictions are just another way they are shaming the firearms industry out of the public square of debate. However, this isn’t about debate anymore—this is blatant censorship. As customer behavior changes, firearm brands need to look for other strategies to help grow their businesses.

Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing programs, though once hard to instigate, can now be developed at scale without the use of certain software platforms. Mark Schaefer, a marketing expert and author who spoke at this year’s NSSF CMO summit about the coming “Marketing Rebellion,” talks a lot about people not wanting to be sold—but to be helped because advertising is losing its effectiveness. I tend to agree with him if you’re trying to market toothpaste or car insurance—but not firearms, which is an enthusiast and hobby sport. As a law-abiding gun enthusiast, I enjoy looking at ads in Guns and Ammo and so do other law-abiding gun enthusiasts. 

As violent crime rates increase and would-be presidential contenders like Francis Beto O’Rourke and others tout gun confiscation, people will—by instinct—seek ways to defend themselves. This is one of the reasons the women segment is outpacing any other segment in the industry. They will make their decisions on what their friends and family recommend and only use Facebook and Google to reinforce their intended purchase, which I believe contributes minimally to the buyers’ lifecycle when it comes to purchasing firearms. Last month’s record setting background checks underscores this trend.

Take action

Brands building social media groups and followers on third-party platforms are at risk of losing precious marketing capital. Utilize multiple social media platforms as well as pro-gun and pro-hunting platforms like Powderhook and GoWild. Build great products, utilize your email marketing, SEO/voice and bolster your customer service programs to build word-of-mouth.


5. God, America, Guns, Masculinity, and Trump

Another front on our industry is how advertising restrictions are tied to the #metoo movement, masculinity, and those who support President Trump. Every marketer knows that riding trends can help push a brand message further. Gun industry opponents are utilizing the current culture war to amplify their messages. This is why you see a united attack on Christians, law enforcement, guns, hunters, men, and President Trump. The opposition makes no effort to hide it.  

It will be up to marketing professionals to communicate a message of respect, strength, resolve and defense along with our product’s innovations that stands resolute in the face of these blatant attacks and censorship.

Take action

Review your advertising with firearm legal professionals to mitigate the risks of your advertising. 

 

So, what is the future of firearm advertising?

Regardless of the outcome of the Remington case—firearm advertising, which once required little to no legal involvement will now pressure prudent marketers to add a legal review in their timelines. Some won’t comply, and that is their right. However, with the culture war reaching new heights, fake news, the division in our country getting deeper, and the disregard of the United States Constitution—it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What are your thoughts on the future of firearm advertising? Please comment below. 

 

firearms-defense-marketing-webinar

Outdoor Wire: Garrison Everest now offering certified StoryBrand messaging services

By Firearms Marketing, Outdoor

Nashville, Tennessee — Standing out in the competitive outdoor, shooting sports and defense marketplace can be difficult—if not impossible. Everyone says and does the same things that hinder the best products and services from reaching their potential. And with more distractions from smartphones, emails and advertisements, having a clear and concise message is more important than ever.

Garrison Everest is pleased to announce its StoryBrand certification and that it is now offering this proven framework to the outdoor and firearms industry. The StoryBrand framework is based on New York Times best-selling author Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand, Clarify Your Message so Customers will Listen. Its framework is built around the power of storytelling that is applied to marketing to help brands communicate more clearly in the age of distraction. StoryBrand helps outdoor, firearms and defense brands do the following:

  • Answer the seven universal story points all humans respond to
  • Understand the real reason customers make purchases
  • Learn to simplify a brand message so people understand and act on it
  • Learn to create the most effective messaging for websites, advertising, email and social media

Thousands of businesses have trusted StoryBrand to help them clarify their message, revolutionize their marketing, and grow their businesses. It has been used in major motion pictures, award-winning websites and ad campaigns.

“I see many brands not communicating clearly as I look across the industry. Confusing messaging is stymieing their growth and perhaps the growth of our industry. StoryBrand helps you clarify your message so customers will listen,” says Josh Claflin, president of Garrison Everest.

About Garrison Everest

Do you struggle to stand out in the marketplace? Whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your product or service to the next level, get the guidance, expertise and assurance you need to maximize your marketing dollars, rise above the marketplace noise and beat your competition. Garrison Everest offers several marketing solutions to help you stand out, attract new customers and grow your business. Schedule a call at www.garrisoneverest.com

About StoryBrand

StoryBrand helps brands clarify their message so that customers listen. The StoryBrand framework, which is trusted by over 10,000 organizations, will help you confidently create websites and emails that actually work, without spending a fortune on marketing that doesn’t. Learn more at www.storybrand.com

Garrison Everest is offering a Webinar: How to Stand Out In the Marketplace with StoryBrand on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 at 1PM (Central Time Zone). Seats are limited and will fill up fast. Save your seat at: https://www.garrisoneverest.com/storybrand-webinar

 

 

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

CLEAR MESSAGING TASKLIST

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

Outcomes: 

  • Introduction to a 7-part framework to clarify your message
  • Know what to say and what order to say it in
  • Give your team a messaging process that can be implemented across all your marketing materials

DOWNLOAD TASKLIST

 

How Firearms Companies Can Outthink Their Competition With Inbound Marketing

By Firearms Marketing, Outdoor

For most emerging firearms and outdoor sports companies growing market share comes down to a matter of numbers.

You know your product is good because you’ve gone to great lengths to make it durable, reliable and functional (which is an absolute must in this industry).  You’ve received positive feedback from your customers, signed some solid purchase orders, your website, packaging and brand look great—but you just can’t seem to grow in the way or as fast as you’d like.

Smaller firearms, and outdoor sports manufacturers struggle to take their businesses to the next level because of the expensive barrier of entry to print advertising, T.V and trade shows.

Market industry leaders—or the goliaths—enjoy market dominance and the bulk of the market because of years of brand building. Their massive marketing budgets are hard to beat, making it seemingly impossible for the David’s or the emerging companies to compete against.

However, as some us well know—to bag the beast—you must outthink the beast.

If you haven’t noticed lately, magazine subscriptions are in decline (Source: Folio) and everything seems to be migrating online. Your customers are going to the internet first to research products. Look at some of these revealing statistics:

  • 61% of global Internet users research products online. (Source: Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance)
  • 93% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine. (Source: Hubspot)
  • 90% of the purchase lifecycle is over before a customer decides to buy (Source: iMedia)
  • 65% of U.S. shoppers research products and services on a computer and make a purchase in-store (Source: Cisco)

… and these numbers are on the rise.

In this article, I give you 6 points about how you can “outthink” your competition in the firearms, shooting or outdoor sports business by looking at an online strategy first—versus investing more in trade show, TV or print.

1. What is inbound marketing?

Since 2006, inbound marketing has been an effective marketing method for doing business online. Sometimes called “digital” or “content marketing,” “inbound” is the opposite of “outbound marketing.” Where outbound is buying print ads, placing a TV spot and praying for customers; inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests and by solving their problems and answering their most burning questions about: “What AR-15 should I buy? What do I need in an optic? Or what kind of recoil pad is the best? — you naturally attract website visitors—or inbound traffic—that you can convert to customers and turn them into promoters of your brand. (Source: Hubspot)

An inbound approach also lends credibility and trust to your dealers by enabling them to reference great information off your website when their customers are asking for recommendations on what to buy or how your product works.

2. Why inbound marketing now?

Consumer behavior has shifted over the years. The days of “push” advertising and “salesy” tactics have lost their effectiveness. If you think about it, you yourself skip television commercials when watching your favorite show on the Sportsman Channel, ignore flashing online ads when surfing GunsandAmmo.com, hang up on cold callers, tune out radio ads that you have no interest in and throw the direct mail in the trash. Years of being bombarded with this “intrusive” form of advertising has changed the way consumers prefer to get information about the products they want to buy. Inbound turns outbound on its head. Instead of constantly pushing your message on your customers, you attract them to your website through your content.

Inbound marketing has been proven to generate 54% more leads than traditional paid marketing and saves you $20K on average a year over outbound marketing.

 

3. Content is the secret sauce

Content can be a blog, video, checklist, ebook, whitepaper or a download that attempts to solve your customer’s problems in a relevant way. Blogging is the best way to get started. Did you know that if you’re not creating content on a regular basis, Google will drop your search engine rankings?

For a good example of a blog, take a look at Beretta’s blog.

4. What am I going to write about?

Everyone is an expert in something. If writing isn’t your forte, you can always hire someone to help you out. There are hundreds of industry writers looking for work. Start by forming a list of questions that you hear most from your customers or dealers. Take that list and form it into a series of blog posts. In time, you’ll have more than enough to write about.

Most companies in this industry who blog—are blogging mostly for self-promotional purposes. Shooters, firearms, and outdoor enthusiasts don’t want to hear how great you are—they want to hear how you can help them. In the process, you’ll earn their respect, trust and ultimately their wallet.

5. Online marketing is not about Facebook and Instagram likes

There are plenty of manufacturers who have thousands of followers and likes on their Facebook/Instagram page. However, those likes don’t necessarily translate into website traffic and sales—especially now that less than 1% of your posts are ever seen by your followers. It is important to show “social proof” but Facebook likes alone does not mean you have an online marketing strategy. And with more and more anti-gun sentiment on social media, investing in Facebook is getting risky.

6. Get there first

Today, there are only a few companies in the hunting, firearm and outdoor sports industry doing inbound marketing. From working in multiple industries and in the firearms/outdoor industry with a very well known brand—that the world, in general, is moving more and more online. The companies who start now will have a huge advantage down the road. By owning the online space in your category—be it knives, firearms, tactical rifles, safes, optics, suppressors, EDC etc.—you will gain significant advantage over your competitors.

 

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SHOT Show 2019

Five Marketing Takeaways from SHOT Show 2019

By Firearms Marketing

After a cold and windy Range Day, a ride in Glock’s submarine, Aquila’s mini-shells and a peek at Maxim Defense’ new gun—SHOT Show 2019 has left me wondering what the coming year holds.

Glock SHOT Show 2019After taking some time to think through my experiences and having a few discussions with clients and industry professionals—here are my top takeaways from a marketer’s perspective—on what I thought of this year’s largest shooting, hunting, and outdoor industry trade show and some marketing ideas for your consideration.

1. Increased International interest?

Clients and friends I talked to agree—there seemed to be an increased international interest this year. I saw and spoke to a lot more companies from Turkey, India, Scandinavia, Israel, and others than previous years. I was approached by a couple of European companies about expansion into the U.S. market. There are a few things that could be driving this, and I don’t want to speculate, but with more international brands entering the U.S. market, competition in 2019 and future years may get a bit tighter.

2. Brand communication shifts indicate where the market is moving.

Three exciting brand shifts that caught my attention belonged to Mossberg, Daniel Defense, and Springfield Armory.

Mosssberg SHOT Show 2019Mossberg goes black.
A hunting brand long known for their shotguns looks to have finally completed their evolution into a tactical/self-defense brand with their new MC1sc 9mm Sub Compact pistol along with an entire booth and website redesign that aligns with their “Arm Yourself” campaign theme. They also traded their traditional blue and yellow color palette for black and yellow. This change is a total rebrand of the 100-year-old company.

Daniel Defense SHOT Show 2019

Photo credit: Daniel Defense

 

 

 

Daniel Defense mixes in the country.
On the opposite end—Daniel Defense with the release of their new bolt gun moves to the middle between tactical and outdoor which signals a push to balance the brand between the two markets. A quick look at their website shows the Ambush models front and center. They incorporated a more apparent outdoor theme into this year’s catalog, which also indicates where the manufacturer’s head is on current trends.

Springfield focuses on being more real.
Springfield Armory’s catalog pictured models on location in Wyoming (my home State – Go Pokes!) riding four wheelers, camping, fishing, fending off bears and hunting. These look like regular folks which to me was a breath of fresh air in contrast to the often overused black tactical imagery. This kind of imagery also started popping up in some of Glock’s materials.

Springfield Armory SHOT 2019

Photo credit: Springfield Armory

So what do these shifts in brand communication mean?

  • Top brands are aware of the trends that point to a more humanistic approach
  • Hunting is still essential, but self-defense is where the money is at
  • Brands still struggle to walk the line between being a tactical and hunting company (or both)
  • Younger marketing professionals are taking the reigns reflected in this year’s marketing materials
  • Is “Tacticool” finally over?  🙂

4. “An Unprecedented Effort”

NSSF’s outgoing president Steve Santenni stated that “NSSF is embarking on an unprecedented effort to get out the positive messages about our industry across the country. Using all the tools available to us, we will fight the shaming and name calling being thrown against us, with the truth that we are a critical part of the solution.”

I applaud the NSSF for taking this on. But in order for this to work, NSSF must have a clear message, rally the involvement of manufacturers, dealers, and distributors, media, create a coalition of out-of-industry ‘gun friendly’ groups and then track and optimize this effort over time to ensure success.

Our industry is full of good, honest, hard-working regular people who follow the laws, pay their taxes and want to raise their families and live in peace—this must be emphasized. NRA’s “Safest Place” Campaign during the last Presidential election is an example of a step in the right direction. However, to win over the Millennials and grow our numbers (shooting and hunting) a more humanistic, trust-building, fact and value-based approach will be required—not another glossy PR campaign.

Here are a couple of ideas and a framework you can use to contribute to the effort:

  1. Define your audience. What does your customer/audience want?
  2. Who is the villain in your story (or the problem you are trying to solve)?
    Misinformation, government control, political agendas, anti-gun/anti-hunting sentiment, failed mental health programs?
  3. How can you guide your customers/audience to the solution?
    Show the faces of real people in our communities (CCWs, LE, Vets, Pastors, Teachers, Firemen, Doctors, Moms, Dads, etc.) who are contributing to the desired solution. Tell the stories of how a firearm helped a family survive a home invasion. Or how Venison provides fresh organic field-to-plate protein to localvores. Show empathy and authority.
  4. What is the plan to get your audience to the solution?
    What resources, events and actions need to be developed? How much will it cost?
  5. What are the direct (community involvement, donate, sign up, call your senator) or transitional (downloadable educational materials, webinars, attend a speaking event)  calls to action?
  6. Explain what success and failure looks like.
    Paint a person absent of the ability to protect him or herself—show what the difference would be.
  7. Show people how they can transform into something better: safer, more confident, healthier, active etc.

I encourage you (Industry Marketers) to consider incorporating the positive attributes of not only your products but industry contributions into your advertising. We are the messengers that shape opinion, attitudes, and culture. It’s upon us to communicate the positive attributes of our products for conservation, self-defense and the Second Amendment—without compromise—in the best positive light. Don’t just say we support these efforts—show your audience why. Allow those messages to permeate into the mainstream in greater frequency. We are the rescuers, the conservationists, the warriors and the people who want to protect, who fight for the good of others. It’s high time to take back the public square of opinion and confront those who’ve tarnished our good name in a respectful tone with more focus and effort.

5. Looking forward

2019 will be another turbulent year for our industry. More virtue signaling, boycotts, anti-gun/hunting protests, rants, and the upcoming Democratic primaries and Presidential election will keep our industry on the front burner. This turbulence will affect sales, marketing budgets, trade show attendance and our ability to plan for the future.

Use your platform to spread far and wide the positive attributes of our industry and the good-willed people in it.

Those are my thoughts; I’d be curious to know yours? Please comment below…

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

Josh Claflin, Principal at Garrison Everest, helps companies in the outdoor, active, tech and firearms industry who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels. 

firearm hunting customer review marketing

How to Get Online Firearm Customer Reviews That Boost Your Business

By Firearms Marketing

 

It’s not hard to figure out that online reviews are essential to building and maintaining a firearm, hunting or outdoor business these days. After all, we all use our phones, search engines, and social media profiles to look up new businesses and products every day.

Customer trust in businesses is fading. HubSpot Research found that customers trust recommendations from friends and family over any type of online marketing and advertising your brand can create. And in the absence of trusted recommendations, according to BrightLocal, 85% of consumers trust online reviews are much as personal recommendations—the single most trustworthy and credible source of “advertising” out there. (Source: Hubspot)

This fact puts an exclamation point on the notion that you need to establish a robust digital footprint and keep the positive feedback flowing.

What many marketers and business owners want is a way to speed this process up and make it less time-consuming. So today I want to share some quick and easy tips you can use to get the online reviews you need to boost your bottom line in the real world. Here’s how you can get started…

 

Make Your Brand Review-Worthy

Before we get into the online marketing component of things, it’s worth pointing out that the best thing you can do to get more and better online reviews is to build a great product and create a brand that cuts through the clutter. Make sure your team is well-trained, and your products or services represent good value for the money. Do that, and many of your customers will feel compelled to leave positive reviews for you just because they’ve had a good experience.

 

Complete Your Online Profiles

You can’t accumulate dozens or hundreds of positive online reviews if buyers don’t have a place to leave them. In addition to issuing a space for reviews on your website, it’s crucial that you have an existing presence on Yelp (Dealers and Instructors), Facebook, and glowing reviews on YouTube, Full30.com, industry blogs, and publisher sites. Having completed accounts with photos and contact details makes your business easier to find while encouraging customer feedback at the same time.

 

Double Check the Pertinent Details

Although you may be primarily concerned with accumulating reviews online, you should know that all of these profiles serve a secondary purpose, as well. Google will often scan online business listings to verify things like location and contact details. That makes it very important that all of your different profiles be consistent from one entry to the next. In search results, your ratings will also show up in the results that will further build trust with your prospects.

firearm customer review ammo

Get Some Social Buzz Going

The outdoor and firearms community is not shy about sharing and interacting on social media—encourage them to add their comments, reviews, and experiences on your Facebook page or your website directly. Not only will their friends and contacts be able to see their comments, but you may see your reviews multiply—as groups of acquaintances and people in their network get in on the act to share their stories and opinions. Don’t be afraid to engage—and make sure to be available on Messenger, online chat or set up a chatbot.

Automate the Process

Setting up your accounts and getting those first few reviews is the hardest part of the process, but the work isn’t finished once a few buyers say good things about your business. The key is to keep your profiles up to date and encourage even more positive feedback. That gets a lot easier when you have the right tools.

Several services can automate this process. We utilize workflows within Klaviyo to ask for reviews 14 days after our client’s customers purchase from them. Other options include Rivet Works or Podium that gives you the capability to ask for reviews via text over mobile.

You can also set up free Google alerts or purchase social listening software like Mention to help you stay on top of negative reviews and leverage the positive ones to drive engagement and online sales.

In conclusion, if you’ve been missing out on the tremendous upside presented by online reviews and other cost-effective web strategies, now is the perfect time to implement them.

Contact Us Today

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

Five Online Firearm Marketing-Mistakes To Stop Repeating Today

Five Online Firearm Marketing Mistakes To Stop Repeating Today

By Firearms Marketing

Albert Einstein once defined insanity by doing the same thing again and again and expecting different result. While he probably didn’t have online marketing in mind at the time, his quote is as relevant to the business owners we work with as it is to any physics professor in the country.

The point here is that there are thousands, of firearm business owners and executives out there right now who keep repeating the same internet marketing blunders repeatedly and then wonder why they aren’t getting better results. These errors can take a lot of different forms, of course, but there are a few we see every week.

To help you from making or repeating them, let’s look at five online marketing mistakes you should stop repeating today…

1. Ignoring Your Website

You don’t have to do a lot to your website to keep it running, but you can’t completely neglect it, either. Looking after things like updates (to your content management system and plug-ins) and adding new articles or pages can keep your site relevant and secure. Additionally, you should schedule a website audit 2-3x a year so you will be aware of any underlying programming issues that could slow your pages down, cause security concerns, or lead to error screens. Consider taking a growth-driven design approach to your next website design process. 

 

2. Only Posting Promotional Updates or Press Releases

Obviously, you want to use your website to promote products. However, that doesn’t mean your customers want to read nothing but promotional messages. Avoid turning your blog into a PR dumping ground. Knowing that, smart marketers will walk a fine line, giving fans and followers a steady mixture of information, entertainment, reviews, and offers to make a purchase. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your email newsletter, your social feed, or any other online channel: don’t just ask people to buy from you every day—provide value, be helpful, make people stop and think.

 

3. Taking Content From Competitors

We are continually amazed at how many marketers think they can get away with borrowing things like content, images, logos, names, video, and other materials from their competition. Even if the source material is slightly altered, using something that has been copied from another company is bad for your business. It opens the door for other business owners to sue you, customers to ignore you, and Google to blacklist you from the search engine listings. Don’t use content if you don’t own it.

 

4. Dismissing Negative Feedback

You will never be able to please 100% of the buying public all the time. And, those people who are most annoyed with you also happen to be the ones who are going to leave negative reviews, so you shouldn’t take everything to heart. However, if customers are complaining about the same things again and again, don’t dismiss their feedback. Every review is an opportunity to learn. If you don’t take that opportunity, it’s going to hurt your business.

 

5. Paying for Lackluster Results

Some business owners will pay online marketing invoices for months or years, even when they aren’t getting the results they expected, simply because they don’t know what else to do. But, that’s not the way you want to run your company, and it isn’t going to lead to positive growth. If you’re getting lackluster results from your online marketing campaigns, or no results at all, think about switching to a more accountable vendor.

 

Influencer Marketing Metrics Firearms Industry

 

Time to Turn Your Website into a Business Asset?

If you feel like you pour time and money into your website without getting much in return, this is your chance to set your business on a new path and get one step ahead of your competitors. Contact us today so we can set up a free consultation to evaluate your strategy together and find an affordable and effective way to boost your online marketing results.

Contact Us Today

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Influencer & Inbound Marketing + Strategy
Josh helps brands in the outdoor, tech, firearm industries who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and grow in the digital era of marketing.

Marketing Firearms

Before You Invest In Firearm Marketing, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

By Firearms Marketing

Most new business owners in the firearm industry come from an engineering background. When it comes time to discuss marketing, most will avoid the subject—because after all, how many engineers studied marketing in college?

In light of this fact, you may be feeling anxious to do some “sort of marketing,” but you’re not sure what that “sort of marketing” is.

Should you buy a banner ad on Outdoor Wire, develop a full-fledged content department like Sitka, sponsor a woman-focused group like the Well Armed Women, pay $10,000 to go to SHOT show—and what about Facebook and Instagram?

Before you get to the part in your business that requires you to spend some money on marketing—there are four questions you need to ask to ensure that when it does come time to invest in marketing—it will work.

 

1. Solve a problem that has mass appeal.

If you look at the biggest companies and brands in the world, they all have one thing in common—they solve a problem that everyone has: computing (Apple), fast food (McDonald’s), transportation (Ford), fast consumer goods (Amazon). Or they have improved upon an outdated product (coolers) that everyone has to have (Yeti)—or they have brought to market a better product like Magpul’s polymer magazines. 

 

Yeti Coolers

Photo credit: Yeti

Question: What is the #1 problem your product solves? Find that problem or unique difference and solve it.

 

2. Quality is job #1

A quality product that is reliable and durable is only the starting line in this industry. If you can’t do that, you need to go back to the drawing board.

According to a leading manufacturer rep, I had the opportunity to talk to the other day stated, “if word gets out on the street, you have a good product—the product will sell itself, just stay out of your own way.”

Question: Is your product of high quality and has it been thoroughly tested?

But this is still not enough—there are two other factors that form the basis of successful marketing—and that is timing and price. If the time is not right for your product, it can suck the life out of your business.

 

Maxim

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

3. Is the timing right?

A recent example of hitting the market at the right time is the Maxim 50 by SilencerCo. The Maxim 50 solves a huge problem everyone has: hearing loss and hunting in States where only shotguns and muzzleloaders are allowed.

According to Williams Mullen’s firearm industry practice group, “The Maxim 50 and its permanently attached silencer is not considered a firearm or a suppressor under the NFA.  Individuals looking for a hearing safe gun, whether for hunting, collecting, or recreational shooting, can now purchase one without having to go through the ATF’s burdensome registration process, which requires certain law enforcement checks, fingerprints, law enforcement notifications, a multi-month waiting period, and a $200 tax stamp paid directly to Uncle Sam.”

By integrating the silencer into a muzzleloader platform, SilencerCo. was able to solve a major problem in the market at the perfect time, earning massive industry attention. On September 19, 2017 upon the product’s release, SilencerCo’s website crashed due to the massive response.

Question: Is the timing right? What trends will fuel your marketing efforts?

 

4. Is it priced right?
If you can’t achieve good margins on your product, or if you extend yourself by going to market with several products (instead of just one or two), you might be heading down a black hole where there is no return.

According to Entrepreneur, no matter what type of product you sell, the price you charge your customers will have a direct effect on the success of your business. Though pricing strategies can be complex, the basic rules of pricing are straightforward:

  • All prices must cover costs and profits.
  • The most effective way to lower prices is to lower costs.
  • Review prices frequently to assure that they reflect the dynamics of cost, market demand, response to the competition, and profit objectives.
  • Prices must be established to assure sales.

A new resource in the industry you may not have heard about is Gun Broker’s Pricing Report. Gun Broker offers access to National Firearm Pricing and Trends to help you understand how to best price your firearms and accessories. GunBroker.com boasts 6 million unique monthly visitors a month and conducts over $3 Billion in cumulative merchandise sales. 

 

Pricing Report

 

What about sales and distribution?

For most startups and growth-phase manufacturers, distributors typically won’t take you on until you have a sales record. The exception is, of course, you have a breakout product – like the Hudson H9. So start with the above—develop a winning marketing strategy—and in time—and with some sales hustle, you’ll have distributors taking note.

In conclusion, by solving a problem that has wide appeal, building a quality and thoroughly tested product, launching at the right time and pricing your product accordingly will help make your marketing more successful. 

Free Marketing Firearms Ebook


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, 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.