Skip to main content
Category

Firearms Marketing

Firearms Ecommerce

5 “Must-Do’s” Before Starting a Firearms Ecommerce Website 2024

By Firearms Marketing

Firearms and shooting industry companies recognize the importance of a robust firearms ecommerce platform for both current and future success. This awareness has heightened, particularly in response to shifts in consumer behavior driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we approach this year’s election cycle, online competition is expected to intensify due to rising global conflicts, increasing crime rates, anti-gun industry attempts at bans, and evolving state politics and laws. To navigate this landscape effectively, it is crucial to grasp the essential elements of conducting business online. This article delves into key aspects to ensure your online presence aligns with success.

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  1. How to build your ecommerce website for your buyer persona
  2. The importance of preparing your product library
  3. Identify product fulfillment methods
  4. Security issues
  5. Should you consider an enterprise solution?

With more retail outlets closing, disruption within distribution, some large firearms and hunting brands are bypassing distribution and dealers and going straight to the customer. The manufacturer/dealer relationship is still vital to most brands, and will remain so for the foreseeable future — but the trends are getting harder and harder to ignore because of customer behavior changes.

Here are some interesting statistics according to Fortunly:

  • More than 80% of online shopping carts are abandoned before checkout on mobile devices.
  • American consumers spent around $9.12 billion on online shopping during Black Friday 2022.
  • eCommerce sales are expected to surpass $735 billion by 2023.
  • It is estimated that 95% of all purchases will be made online by 2040.
  • eCommerce businesses lose more than $75 billion per year because of bad customer service.
  • eCommerce sales are expected to reach $7.3 trillion on a global scale by 2025.
  • Around 80% of US customers said that free shipping would make them more likely to make an online purchase
  • Credit cards are the most popular payment method for shopping online, followed by electronic wallets and debit cards.

In this post, I want to give you five critical “must-dos” (before you consider how to generate traffic) if you’re evaluating a new e-commerce website initiative that will help you organize your firearms marketing team, save time and make it easier and faster to implement your new e-commerce-based website if you are a manufacturer or retailer.

1. Build Your Firearms Ecommerce Website for Your Buyer Persona

Before you get to the part of what you want your website to look like, nothing will bring your web team more clarity and focus than understanding your buyer persona.
You most likely have a good idea of who your customer is—but taking the time to understand what they want from your website will make all the difference. Seek to understand what their wants, needs, problems, behaviors, and questions are.

Create a web experience based on them and use story to create clear messaging.  This will ultimately make for higher sales and less abandoned carts.

2. Prepare your Firearms Ecommerce Product Image Library

firearms ecommerce product image

Photograph products on a clean white background.

The second step is establishing your product library. If you’re a large manufacturer, you may have over 2000 SKU’s that are jumbled into a hundred different sizes, on gray backgrounds, outdated, or that show your product in a less than ideal format. Since this aspect of the project can take the longest, you can save a lot of time by starting now.

Start by creating a shot list:

  • What products need to be reshot?
  • Which product images can be reused?
  • Locate a lifestyle photographer
  • Have the photographer provide the raw sizes and cropped images set to 1000 x 1000 pixels for use on the website

Sort all these on a spreadsheet so the photographer can easily sort and organize when it comes time to shoot your products. Make sure you place all your products on a white background. Placing products on a clean white background allows your product to be the hero and creates a clear understanding in your customers mind without any unnecessary background clutter.

3. Identify how you’re going to fulfill orders

With over 20,000 (Source: CNS) laws on the books—determining how you want to fulfill orders that comply with federal, state and local laws is the next consideration and if you’re a firearm manufacturer. Below are five considerations.

1. Utilize a third-party cart.
Ruger, for example, utilizes the GearFire,  Gallery of Guns.com and other providers to sell its products directly online. All you need to do is apply for membership with your FFL and set up an account. This can also be done through your distributor. This allows your products to be embedded in hundreds if not thousands of online gun store websites and outdoor specialty retailers and takes the hassle out of you (or your staff) having to deal with running your online store. The downfall is you rely on their somewhat antiquated looking shopping cart that doesn’t align with your website’s look and feel.

2. Ship direct to customer via an FFL
Daniel Defense’s website is an example of how to set up a shopping cart where the product is shipped directly to an FFL of your customer’s choosing. They will enter their local FFLs address, notify them that your firearm is being shipped to them, and the FFL will handle all the paperwork. This all happens after the purchase. There are hundreds of shopping cart software solutions on the internet from WooCommerce and Adobe Magento to name a few. Choose the software that best suits your needs and one that you feel is easiest to use. I recommend WooCommerce as it is used by over 21% of all shopping carts on the web if you’re doing a custom install with WordPress.

2024 UPDATE: Payment processors will be your biggest hinderance to selling online. Most of the larger ecommerce platforms are intertwined with processors like Stripe, Paypal and others that restrict firearm sales. I do not recommend signing up with any third-party solutions like Miva, Volusion, Wix, Squarespace, GoDaddy, and especially Shopify, who in August 16, 2018 banned Franklin Armory from using their platform. When building on these networks, you are essentially handing over your lawful online business that puts you at risk because these providers can shut you down at anytime—sometimes without warning. Big Commerce, Magento (larger sites) and WooCommerce are better options. There are also FFL-based platforms like Celerant and Orchid designed for dealers that can be more suitable for your needs.

firearms ecommerce diagram

 

3. Dealer only
Springfield Armory, Benelli and Beretta only sell through their dealer network—some use a hybrid (dealer and third-party cart). You can purchase other accessories on their websites, but to purchase a firearm you are redirected to a dealer locator.

4. What States should I NOT ship to?
Some manufacturers do not ship to New York, Illinois or Hawaii. Other states have magazine restrictions like Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and California. The anti-gun laws in these States are very confusing and can leave you open to a lawsuit. It’s better to not even take the risk unless you have a good attorney advise you on your options.

5. What shipping provider should I use?
The shipping of firearms seems to constantly change. The main rule of thumb is to always ship to an authorized FFL—never to a personal residence. Below is the latest information from GunBroker.com. If you have any questions, it’s always wise to check with your attorney, USPS, UPS or FEDEX representative.

  • US Mail – unlicensed persons:
    • Unlicensed persons can ship a rifle or shotgun by US Mail.
    • Unlicensed persons cannot ship a handgun by US Mail. Pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person (for example, short-barreled shotguns and short-barreled rifles) are defined as handguns.
    • Postal regulations allow the Post Office to open your package for inspection.
    • Ammunition cannot be shipped by US Mail.

    You can search the US Post Office Postal Explorer site for specific USPS regulations regarding firearms and ammunition (Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Matter).

    US Mail – licensed persons:

    • Licensed persons can ship rifles, shotguns, or handguns by US Mail. In fact, we suggest you use the USPS, as it is now the most cost-effective way to ship a handgun.
    • To ship a rifle or shotgun, you need only inform the Post Office the package contains a firearm.
    • A licensed manufacturer, dealer, or importer can ship a handgun via the US Post Office if the licensed dealer fills out a US Post Office Form PS 1508 and files it with the local Post Office branch where the handgun is to be shipped.

    You can search the US Post Office Postal Explorer site for specific USPS regulations.

    FedEx (Updated January 14, 2023):


    UPS (Updated January 14, 2024)
    :

6. Flat rate or box size?
The easiest and most hassle-free way to ship your products is by weight. You can set-up different weight tiers of pricing for all of your products. However, if you’re in a segment that is highly competitive and $5-$10 is a factor in getting the sale, then be prepared to discount your shipping.

4. Get the Security Issues Out of the Way

The next “must-do” is security and encryption. Everyone who sells online must take precautions for their customer’s data. And with every website now a target for hackers, it’s more important than ever.

1. Payment Processor or Gateway
To take payments online, you first need a payment processor. Authorize.Net acts as the middleman in between you and your merchant bank account that securely transfers funds from your customers’ credit card to your account. During this process, Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover—whatever credit cards you accept on your site all take a percentage of the sale, usually 1.5-2%. Your bank may also charge a percentage as well. Be sure to configure these fees into your product costs.

New for 2024: Most payment processors and emerging State laws (especially in California) now require you to verify age before allowing minors to enter your website.  Check with your attorney if this applies to your website.

2. A Secure Socket Layer or SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and your customer’s browser and is now required on all websites. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.

3. Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy pages are essential in protecting your site from users who may encounter problems. These important legal pages on your website ensure your business is protected from any fraudulent behavior from users. Read here for more information and some horror stories. Always get an attorney to look over your T&C and PP before launch.

4. Secure and Speedy Hosting is usually the last component considered when building your firearms ecommerce website. But beware, there are many services out there who sell you on services and packages you don’t need and who guarantee speed and security but fail to deliver. One #2A friendly company that we recommend is WP Engine. WP Engine provides you with a secure and fast platform to run your WordPress website. For many years, we have enjoyed little to no downtime and fast speeds. With Google now ranking websites based on speed, WP Engine remains a good choice for the firearms industry.

  • Content Delivery Network
  • Included SSL
  • Content Page Performance
  • Fast 24/7 Support
  • Staging Server
  • 24/7/365 Backup

Pick A Plan

5. Consider an Firearms Ecommerce Enterprise Solution

For enterprise manufacturers, it may be time to connect your CRM, ERP, and WMS and eCommerce altogether. Companies like NetSuite, Sage, SAP and HubSpot serve larger companies with large global inventories with complex supply chains. These software solutions allow you to manage your inventories in greater detail and with greater efficiency. If you’re a large manufacturer, taking the time to explore these solutions may be what you need rather than a simple shopping cart. A SAP or NetSuite implementation can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If that seems like overkill, there are other solutions that can be connected to your back-office operations and warehouse that tracks inventory, shipping, and accounting – all who are FFL friendly.

In conclusion, when considering your next firearms ecommerce store, it’s important to identify who your buyer persona is, get a good product image library created, identify what kind of shopping cart setup you want, make sure you have the right security components in place to take payments securely and if you’re an enterprise manufacturer, consider a larger solution to more efficiently run your operations.

By taking into consideration these five “must-dos,” you’ll have what you need to engage a web development firm and make your website project go much faster.

 

GET FIREARMS ECOMMERCE HELP

These Are My Top Marketing Tips for Firearm Brands in 2024

By Firearms Marketing

As we move into 2024, the firearms marketing landscape for firearm brands continues to evolve (no surprise there), presenting challenges—and opportunities. It’s crucial to carefully rethink or plan your customer journey, considering aspects like messaging, branding, email, SEO, social media, and permitted paid advertising, as well as upsells and community engagement to keep your brand front and center and your business growing.

Adding to the complexity are the influences of AI, political dynamics (election year), and shifts in consumer behavior. Given these factors, I’m closely monitoring and sharing my top marketing insights and trends for the year.

1. Invest in Branding and Design

leupold firearm marketing branding

Consistent branding and design from Leupold

In an increasingly crowded market, establishing a solid brand identity is and still will be crucial. Brands need to focus on creating a compelling narrative and add their faces to their faceless brand (people want to do business with people) that resonates with their target audience. Striking visuals and cohesive design elements across all platforms, from packaging and direct mail (yes, it still works) to online presence, play a pivotal role in capturing and retaining consumer attention. Consistency in branding helps build trust and recognition, fostering a loyal customer base. But more than that, it will make your brand stand out in your segment and attract more customers. 

TIP: Invest in design this year. With the power of Generative AI, most brands can invest more in their creativity from either in-house design teams, agencies, or private freelancers.  

generative ai for firearms marketing

Image generated by GenAI (What’s wrong with this picture?)

2. GenAI: Harness the Power of Artificial Intelligence

Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing strategies is becoming more prevalent. AI tools can provide valuable insights into consumer behavior, enabling brands to tailor their messaging and outreach more effectively. Conversational marketing with chatbots, voice/videobots (on the horizon), personalized recommendations, and AI-driven analytics are just a few examples of how GenAI can revolutionize how firearm brands engage with their audience. 

Widely utilized tools such as HubSpot, Upfluence, Klaviyo, and Rank Math expedite the content, design, and development processes, enabling us to gain deeper insights into purchasing behaviors, search engine optimization, predictive analytics, and segmentation.

TIP: If you haven’t, work AI into your workflows. Start with Midjourney, ChatGPT, or BARD or HubSpot’s ChatSpot and begin experimenting. If something doesn’t turn out, keep in mind its getting smarter and better every day. 

3. Enroll in the Parallel Economy and Don’t Forget Your Brand Values

Regrettably, our nation remains increasingly polarized along political lines. And with the election coming up, it will only intensify. The trend of corporate activism, often referred to as “wokeness,” is causing customers to distance themselves from previously culturally influential brands such as Disney, Bud Light, and others. Platforms like PublicSq, Mammoth Nation, and ExpertVoice.com are expected to gain even more traction in 2024. There is already a noticeable shift towards these platforms among online consumers. Customers now have a wide array of choices, with 10-20 options for everything, and brands that effectively communicate novelty and their unique brand values will emerge as standout choices.

TIP: Talk about your brand values for conservation, sustainability, 2A rights, or family values to stand out and break through the clutter. Consumers are actively looking for you! 

4. Amplify Your Brand’s Reach and Engagement with Macro Influencers

Influencer marketing still remains a powerful tool, but budgets are shifting toward macro influencers (50K-100K) – individuals with influence at a much smaller scale and with more diverse and local followings. Collaborating with influencers authentically aligning with your brand’s values (mentioned in point 3) can significantly boost visibility and credibility. Firearm brands should seek partnerships beyond endorsements, fostering genuine connections with influencers who embody the lifestyle and ethos of their target audience. You can get more reach and awareness for less. 

TIP: Find influencers who are plugged into women’s firearm networks, minority firearms groups, and online communities—or start one yourself! What was once very broad, the focus should be narrowed, and messages tailored per audience and their specific interests. 

5. Capture Attention in Seconds with Video and Short Form Content

Video content continues to dominate online platforms, and the rise of short-form videos is unstoppable. Brands should invest in creating engaging and shareable videos that highlight product features, showcase outdoor experiences, and tell compelling stories. Platforms like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels will continue to offer a unique opportunity to connect with a younger audience, so crafting content that aligns with these platforms’ trends is essential.

 

short form video for firearms marketing

Video Shorts by Warrior Poet Society

TIP: I wouldn’t say I like TikTok and actively steer clear of the platform due to its questionable privacy practices and the fact that it is operated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, for those willing to explore it, TikTok offers a channel for influencers to connect with a younger audience. I prefer to stick with YouTube and Instagram—for now. It makes me sleep better at night. 

6. Privacy and AI Bans: Navigating Regulatory and Possible Pending Search Challenges

With third-party cookie deprecation looming, brands must prioritize first-party data collection and utilization. Expect to see a shift towards self-service ad platforms and contextual targeting strategies.

The increasing scrutiny and regulation of artificial intelligence pose challenges for marketers. Brands in the firearm industry should stay informed about evolving AI regulations, ensuring compliance with ethical standards and privacy concerns. Proactively adjusting to evolving legal environments will be essential for preserving trust and credibility. Google’s AI is already inclined to suggest negativity towards firearms in search results. This tendency is likely to intensify over time, especially with the influence of the growing multi-million dollar anti-gun industry.

TIP: Create compelling user-first content and prepare for the possibility of a decline in traffic as AI starts providing answers to searchers’ questions that might have otherwise directed them to your blog or website. While everyone else is regurgitating AI generated content, create value based content written by humans. 

In 2024, the marketing landscape for firearm brands is characterized by the dynamic interplay of technology, design, and shifting consumer expectations. Additionally, there are ongoing efforts to de-platform, ban, and exclude those with 2A and self-defense interests from the public square. By considering these tips and trends, you can strategically position your brand as an innovator, effectively connecting with and engaging your target audience through novel and compelling approaches.

Have you got a question? What are your marketing plans in 2024? Post it below.

 

 

5 Firearm Marketing Tips for 2024 

FREE DOWNLOAD: 5 “Must Do” Firearm Marketing Tips for 2024

 

Are you ready for 2024?
Global conflicts, increasing crime rates, and a presidential election will define 2024. Defense-minded, law-abiding citizens will seek ways to enhance their sense of security for the protection of their families, properties, and rights. Prepare for this heightened interest by proactively organizing your website and firearms marketing strategies to capitalize on the upcoming surge.

GET READY FOR 2024!

 

Photo credit: Strikeman

5 Firearms Marketing Alternatives You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

By Firearms Marketing

Reaching the over 8 million new gun owners who have recently entered the firearms market is more challenging than ever, especially in the realm of firearms marketing. However, firearm brands that have dedicated time to developing their brand and digital firearm marketing programs are now seeing significant rewards. In 2022, they experienced the third-highest sales record for guns, ammunition, optics, and accessories, with a notable contribution from female buyers.

If you’ve been on the fence about marketing and are now ready to capture this moment, in this article you will learn about:

  • Podcasts – Podcasts will continue to be a strong channel in 2024.
  • The Parallel Economy – Tap into anti-woke, pro-american networks and social media platforms
  • ExpertVoice – Incentivize behind-the-counter retailers and experts.
  • Focus on women and minorities – Women and minorities are the largest purchaser segment of firearms over the past 3 years—are you focused on them yet?
  • Influencers – Reach your audience through trusted firearm social media content creators.

If you’re not a big well-known brand like Ruger or Smith & Wesson, marketing your firearms brand and line of products for recreational shooting can leave you scratching your head wondering what to do.

Facebook, Google and YouTube which was once a bastion for firearm, ammunition, and hunting knife companies to advertise, now bans all paid advertising related to direct weapon sales. And Instagram announced in 2020 that they will begin cracking down on influencers who work in the firearms segment. We’ve seen several accounts cancelled over this past year.

Fox, the NFL and other major media outlets that used to be friendly to firearm manufacturers have shut the door as well. You may remember when Daniel Defense tried to run an ad in 2003 on the Super Bowl.

Below I’ve identified five firearms marketing alternatives that you haven’t thought of yet that will help you get your message out, build your brand and attract new defensive and recreational minded customers.

firearms marketing podcast1. Firearms Marketing Podcasts

The old is new and the new is old. In the last two years we’ve seen a resurgence in podcasts. Podcasts like Dan Bongino, GunTalk and Colin Noir and others offer a way for your brand to reach a broader audience and leverage the trust of the host. According to Influencer Marketing Hub:

  • There are over 2 million podcasts
  • More than 420 Podcast Listeners
  • 78% of Americans Are Aware of Podcasting
  • Almost 62% of US Consumers Listen to Podcasts
  • 180+ Million Americans Have Listened to a Podcast
  • 68% Listen to the Whole Episode

Podcasts are more influential than influencers according to Ad Age.

2. The Parallel Economy

As a growing number of Americans become aware that many of the brands they traditionally supported are diverging from their cherished values, a wave of new companies is emerging. These new enterprises pledge alignment with core American principles such as freedom and nationalism. Networks like PublicSQ, Truth Social, and Mammoth Nation have specifically catered to conservatives distancing themselves from corporate practices associated with “wokeness,” exemplified by companies like Target, Bud Light, Disney, and others.

firearm marketing alternative public sqIn response to this shift, an increasing number of shooting sports brands are making their debut on these alternative platforms, seizing the opportunity to connect with a captive audience that shares their values. The growth of these networks is noteworthy, with PublicSq reporting substantial milestones. According to Business Wire, in just 13 months since its nationwide launch, PublicSq has seen its Consumer Members and Businesses on the Platform surpass 1.4 million and 65,000, respectively, as of July 31st. This marks a remarkable growth of 272% and 98% since December 31, 2022, respectively.

The trend extends to direct-to-consumer brands as well, with EveryLife, PublicSq’s inaugural venture in this category, experiencing a robust start. Launched on July 13th, EveryLife generated an estimated revenue of $300,000 in its first 19 days of sales. Impressively, around 60% of EveryLife orders were monthly auto-renew subscriptions, indicating a sustained customer commitment.

Other companies, like Old Guard Pet Co., founded by Dr. Maggie Gooding, exemplify this pro-American shift. Old Guard Pet Co. not only produces pro-American dog food but also actively supports veterans and values aligned with American principles. Well-known firearm brands such as Sig, EOTech, and others are increasingly available through online retailers, signaling a broader shift toward these alternative platforms. It seems only a matter of time before brands themselves migrate to these platforms to reach an audience that resonates with their values.

firearms marketing on expert voice 3. ExpertVoice

ExpertVoice is a website that connects brands with experts in various fields, primarily sales associates and behind-the-counter workers in retail stores like Scheels, Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, and thousands of other retailers in the U.S. These experts can try out products and provide feedback and reviews to help promote the products to their followers and communities.

Brands can also use ExpertVoice to offer special discounts and promotions to these experts. It is a platform for companies to connect with and engage influential people who can help promote their products to a broader audience. ExpertVoice harnesses the most effective firearm marketing channel of all: Word of Mouth. By getting listed on ExpertVoice, your brand can connect with the people your customers interact with when in the store actively shopping for gear.

firearm marketing women

Photo credit: Glock

4. Firearms Marketing to Women & Minorities

Women and minorities are a burgeoning segment in the industry as you might already know (Source: NSSF). You should consider using content or sponsoring a free shooting class or range day in your local newspaper or county magazine to attract interested customers.

Women are helping change some of the negative stereotypes typically associated with the firearm industry. Firearm manufacturers should consider this trend and do all they can to promote it. Almost all brands like Glock have added women in their imagery and are creating sections in their publications and websites that speak directly to them.

5. Influencers

Influencer marketing is a type of firearm marketing that uses category leaders or celebrities to communicate your brand’s message and content to their vast number of followers. Instead of buying print ads or filming commercials, you use the influencer to get the word out for you instead. The industry is taking increased notice of influencers like Guns Out TVHickok45, IV8888, and Warrior Poet Society. Influencers who have large networks of trusted followers represent an important component of your marketing mix. By tapping these well-known hunters and shooters, you can gain entrance into larger audiences.

 

Final Thoughts on Firearms Marketing

Aside from the firearms marketing options mentioned above, you might consider exploring Hulu’s self-serve ad platform, which is being utilized by brands like Strikeman. You may have also come across advertisements by Henry Firearms on popular talk radio shows. Glock has also experimented with commercials that don’t display firearms visually. These are some examples of how you can bypass anti-gun sentiments.

In conclusion, digital marketing can be made more effective and efficient with the use of podcasts, exploring the emerging freedom economy, targeting female audiences, and influencer involvement. Look for things to change again this year with the rise of AI platforms like ChatGPT and Google Bard.

 

5 Firearm Marketing Tips for 2024 

5 “Must Do” Firearm Marketing Tips for 2024

 

Are you ready for 2024?
Global conflicts, increasing crime rates, and a presidential election, 2024 will be intense. Defense-minded, law-abiding citizens will seek ways to enhance their sense of security for the protection of their families, properties, and rights. Prepare for this heightened interest by proactively organizing your website and firearms marketing strategies to capitalize on the upcoming surge.

STAND OUT IN THE MARKETPLACE

 

Article was first written in October of 2020—updated December 9, 2023. 

what is firearms marketing

Maximizing ROI with Effective Firearms Marketing Tactics (The Complete Guide)

By Firearms Marketing

In today’s competitive firearms market, driving sales and maximizing ROI demands a strategic and targeted approach. Navigating the complex landscape of firearms marketing requires more than just a surface-level understanding of the industry—it calls for a comprehensive arsenal of effective tactics. From leveraging digital platforms to harnessing the power of compelling storytelling, the key lies in deploying methods that not only elevate brand visibility but also resonate with the firearm enthusiasts’ community.

Crafting a multifaceted marketing strategy tailored to the unique intricacies of the firearms industry is essential for businesses aiming to stand out amidst the crowd. This article delves into the pivotal tactics that can ignite sales and propel your brand towards lasting success. By honing in on the most impactful strategies, you’ll translate marketing investments into tangible results while forging meaningful connections with a discerning audience.

Dig in as we go through the basic frameworks of firearms marketing, where precision, creativity, and a deep understanding of the market are the ammunition for driving remarkable ROI.


 

Understanding the firearms market

The firearms market is a complex and ever-evolving industry that encompasses a wide range of products, from handguns and rifles to ammunition and accessories. Understanding the nuances of this market is crucial for devising an effective firearms marketing strategy. It’s essential to stay abreast of constantly changing state and federal regulatory changes, industry trends, politics, and consumer preferences to tailor your approach accordingly.

Firearm Market Facts: 

  • Across the United States, 16.4 million firearms were sold in 2022.
  • The U.S. Firearm industry contributes $51.3 billion to the economy.
  • The firearms industry employs 169,523 people across the U.S.
  • 45% of American households own at least one firearm.
  • The U.S. firearm industry is worth approximately $28 billion.

(Source: Zippia)

To truly resonate with the firearms community, businesses need to appreciate the cultural, political, and historical significance of firearms. By recognizing the emotional and practical roles that firearms play in the lives of enthusiasts, collectors, law enforcement, military, CCWs, hunters, competition shooters and others—marketers can create campaigns that speak to these deeper connections. Furthermore, a thorough understanding of the competitive landscape and market dynamics is essential for identifying opportunities and setting realistic goals for sales and ROI.

firearms marketing in the firearm market

PRO TIP: Individuals who own firearms exhibit a wide range of attitudes, interests, sub-cultures, and beliefs. It’s essential to recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach may not be effective in firearm marketing. Before starting a firearm business or conducting marketing, ensure to conduct a thorough investigation.

 


 

firearms marketing

Participants in National Shooting Sports Month. Photo Credit: NSSM

The importance of marketing in the firearms industry

Marketing serves as the bridge between firearms businesses and their target audience. It’s not just about promoting products; rather, it’s about building firearm brand recognition, establishing trust, and nurturing long-term customer relationships. In a crowded market, effective marketing and exceptional branding can be the key differentiator that sets a firearm brand apart from its competitors.

Moreover, given the sensitive nature of firearms, responsible and ethical marketing practices are highly recommended. This includes adhering to legal regulations and promoting safe and responsible firearm usage. A well-crafted marketing strategy can also help in dispelling myths and misconceptions surrounding firearms, thereby contributing to a more informed first-time buyer, and pushing back on those who seek to ban firearms.

Essentially, marketing in the firearms industry goes beyond merely boosting sales. It involves shaping perceptions and nurturing a culture of respect, empowerment and responsibility. This, in turn, appeals to individuals who wish to defend life, liberty, and property—rights guaranteed to every American under the United States Constitution.

PRO TIP: In light of recent lawsuits and ongoing pressure from anti-gun groups, it’s advisable to review your advertising and marketing practices with legal experts specializing in firearm industry laws.

 


 

firearms marketing shots show

Attendees at SHOT Show

Target audience and buyer personas

Understanding the target audience is fundamental to the success of any marketing campaign, and the firearms industry is no exception. Firearms enthusiasts encompass a diverse range of individuals, from hunting and sport shooting enthusiasts to collectors and self-defense advocates. Each segment has distinct motivations, preferences, and purchasing behaviors that need to be considered in crafting targeted marketing messages.

There are six firearm market categories (as shown in the Firearms Market graphic above). And within each category—numerous segments and sub-segments.

  1. Defense
  2. Hunting
  3. Competition
  4. Enthusiasts
  5. Industry
  6. Media

Developing detailed buyer personas can provide invaluable insights into the psyche of potential customers. By understanding their demographics, interests, and pain points, marketers can tailor their messaging and offers to resonate with specific segments of the firearms community. Whether it’s addressing the technical specifications that appeal to avid shooters or the historical significance that captivates collectors, aligning marketing efforts with the intricacies of buyer personas is pivotal for driving engagement and conversions.

PRO TIP: Outline your personas early in your marketing to direct your messaging and goals.

 


 

Crafting compelling content for firearms marketing

In the digital age, content has emerged as a powerful tool for engaging audiences and driving brand awareness. For firearms marketing, compelling content goes beyond product descriptions and specifications—it’s about telling stories that resonate with enthusiasts on a personal level, answering questions about your product and its unique specifications and innovations. Whether it’s highlighting the refurbishing of a family heirloom or sharing the experiences of individuals whose lives have been positively impacted by responsible firearm ownership, storytelling can humanize brands and forge emotional connections.

In addition to storytelling, educational content that provides valuable insights into firearm maintenance, training, safety practices, and industry developments can position a brand as a trusted authority. This not only fosters credibility but also cultivates a community of informed and loyal followers. Leveraging various content formats such as blogs, videos, trade show presentations, range demos, infographics, and podcasts allows marketers to cater to diverse preferences and capture the attention of a wider audience. All of this serves to drive qualified traffic to your firearms ecommerce website that generates email subscribers and lifetime customers

PRO TIP: Utilize a clear messaging framework to tell compelling stories and clarify your messaging.

 


 

firearms marketing on social media

Photo credit: Aquilla Ammunition

Leveraging social media for firearms marketing

Social media platforms are a thorny issue in the firearms industry. Rules are hard to understand and at times don’t make sense. The threat of getting cancelled or censored is an ongoing occurrence. Regardless, social media is still an indispensable channel for firearms marketing, offering the ability to reach and engage with a vast audience. From sharing visually captivating images of firearms to fostering discussions around industry-related topics, social media presents a myriad of opportunities for brands to showcase their offerings and connect with enthusiasts.

Creating a consistent and authentic brand presence on social media can humanize the business and facilitate meaningful interactions with followers. Engaging in two-way communication, responding to inquiries, and soliciting user-generated content can further reinforce brand loyalty and advocacy. Leveraging paid advertising on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are mostly a non-starter but if you have a product that aligns with their rules (safety glasses, ear protection, dry-firing, apparel, holsters, cases etc.) you can use precise targeting, ensuring that marketing messages reach the most relevant audience segments. By maintaining a strategic approach, social media can be used in amplifying brand visibility and driving conversions.

PRO TIP: Given the sensitive nature of firearms, marketers must approach social media with a nuanced understanding of platform policies and community guidelines. Always have a plan B, and don’t build your content on one platform.

 


 

Email marketing strategies for firearms businesses

Email marketing remains a stalwart tactic for engaging existing customers and nurturing leads within the firearms industry. Crafting personalized and relevant email content can keep the brand top-of-mind for enthusiasts, whether it’s announcing new product launches, sharing educational resources, or offering exclusive promotions. Building segmented email lists based on customer preferences and behaviors allows for tailored messaging that resonates with specific segments of the audience.

firearm marketing email examples

Steinel Ammo Co. Email Marketing

Moreover, email automation can streamline the communication process, ensuring that timely and targeted messages are delivered without overwhelming subscribers. Incorporating visually appealing designs and compelling CTAs can enhance the effectiveness of email campaigns, prompting recipients to take desired actions. Furthermore, tracking and analyzing email engagement metrics provides valuable insights for refining future campaigns and optimizing ROI. When executed thoughtfully, firearm email marketing can foster enduring customer relationships and drive repeat purchases.

PRO TIP: Flexible Email Service Providers (like Klaviyo or HubSpot) work the best. Never conduct cold/spam emailing. It doesn’t work and it ticks your would-be customers off.

 


 

firearms content marketing

Photo credit: Pew Pew Tactical

Search engine optimization for firearms websites

With a plethora of information available online, ensuring that a firearms business’s website ranks prominently in search engine results is crucial for driving organic traffic and generating email subscribers and sales. Implementing sound firearm SEO strategies involves optimizing website content, meta descriptions, and tags with relevant keywords that resonate with the firearms community. Additionally, creating valuable and shareable content that attracts backlinks from reputable sources can bolster the website’s authority and visibility.

Local SEO is particularly important for firearms businesses with physical storefronts, as it helps prospective customers in the vicinity discover and engage with the brand. Ensuring consistent business information across online directories and maintaining positive reviews can bolster local search visibility. Monitoring and adapting to search engine algorithm updates and user behavior trends is essential for staying ahead in the competitive digital landscape. By prioritizing SEO, firearms businesses can establish a strong online presence and attract qualified leads.

PRO TIP: Make sure to prioritize exploring new alternative search engines like Brave and Duck Duck Go, as well as traditional platforms like Yahoo!, which continue to be popular among older enthusiasts.

 


 

Influencer marketing in the firearms industry

Influencer marketing has emerged as a compelling avenue for firearms businesses to amplify their reach and credibility. Collaborating with firearms influencers who have a genuine passion for firearms and a dedicated following within the community can yield authentic and impactful endorsements. Whether it’s showcasing product demonstrations, sharing personal experiences, or participating in industry events, influencers can lend a human touch to the brand and foster trust among their audience.

Identifying influencers whose values align with those of the brand and whose audience mirrors the target customer base is essential for creating authentic partnerships. Leveraging influencer-generated content across various marketing channels can amplify brand visibility and stimulate engagement. Moreover, tracking key performance indicators such as engagement rates, website traffic, and conversions resulting from influencer collaborations is crucial for assessing the impact on ROI. When executed with transparency and integrity, influencer marketing can be a potent catalyst for expanding the brand’s reach and driving sales.

PRO TIP: Choose influencers that have true influence, not influencers who don’t necessarily have subject matter expertise.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by MrBigKid (@mrbigkidmedia)

 


 

firearms marketing ROI tracking

Track your marketing channels for ROI

Tracking and measuring ROI in firearms marketing

Measuring the effectiveness of marketing efforts is imperative for refining strategies and allocating resources judiciously. Establishing clear KPIs aligned with specific marketing objectives—whether it’s increasing website traffic, improving lead generation, or boosting sales—provides a framework for evaluating ROI. Leveraging analytics tools to track and analyze campaign performance across various channels offers actionable insights into what resonates with the audience and where adjustments are needed.

Attributing sales and conversions to specific marketing touchpoints, such as social media campaigns or email promotions, enables businesses to discern which tactics are most impactful in driving revenue. Additionally, calculating the cost of customer acquisition and lifetime value can provide a holistic view of the ROI generated by marketing initiatives. Continuously refining strategies based on data-driven insights and consumer feedback is pivotal for optimizing ROI and staying ahead in the competitive firearms market.

PRO TIP: Conduct quarterly marketing audits to understand what channels are working and what channels are not. Use a tool like Databox to accurately track and monitor your business in real time.

 


 

Conclusion: The future of firearms marketing

As the firearms industry continues to evolve, so too must firearms marketing strategies adapt to the changing landscape. With advancements in technology, shifting consumer behaviors, politics, and evolving regulatory environments, firearms businesses need to stay agile and innovative in their approach to marketing. Embracing emerging digital platforms, harnessing the power of data-driven insights, and upholding sound marketing practices will be essential for driving sustained growth and ROI.

By fostering genuine connections with the firearms community, telling compelling stories that resonate with enthusiasts, and leveraging a diverse array of marketing tactics, businesses can navigate the complexities of the industry and thrive in an increasingly competitive market. The future of firearms marketing lies in a harmonious blend of creativity, authenticity, and strategic precision—a formula that will continue to fuel success and enduring relationships with firearm enthusiasts.

In conclusion, by embracing the multifaceted nature of firearms marketing and honing in on the most impactful strategies, businesses can ignite sales and propel their brands towards lasting success. With a deep understanding of the market and a commitment to consistent and sound marketing, firearms businesses can maximize their ROI and carve a meaningful presence within the firearms community.

This comprehensive approach, coupled with a dedication to continuous improvement and adaptability, will empower firearms businesses to thrive in an industry that demands precision, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to authenticity.

 

5 Firearm Marketing Tips for 2024 

5 “Must Do” Firearm Marketing Tips for 2024

 

Are you ready for 2024?
Global conflicts, increasing crime rates, and a presidential election—in 2024, defense-minded, law-abiding citizens will seek ways to enhance their sense of security for the protection of their families, properties, and rights. Prepare for this heightened interest by proactively organizing your website and firearms marketing strategies to capitalize on the upcoming surge.

GET FIREARM MARKETING TIPS

firearm influencer marketing

What’s Around the Corner for Firearms Influencer Marketing in 2024?

By Firearms Marketing, Influencer Marketing

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

Marketing budgets continue to expand for influencer marketing as more money pours into influencer pockets. Brands are going to spend up to 69B on IM by 2029 (Source: Influencer Marekting Hub). And for a good reason—the effectiveness of an firearms marketing 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 firearms industry as we move into 2024. 

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 six years. He used to charge $1,000 for a YouTube review—today he charges $13,000. 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. The Talent Agencies

Over the past eight 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 Firearm 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 Woox to name a few. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Katie Pavlich (@katiepavlich)

We work in a highly competitive industry where most brands are blocked from advertising on Instagram, 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 8 million + new gun owners this year, you can expect even more. As of this writing, according to our search tool, there are 68K influencers with a global reach of 18B—with the majority going to female accounts. This is up over 75% from 2021! 

 

firearms influencer marketingNOTE: 18B does not represent people; it means total social media accounts. 

4. What is Your Influencer Marketing Plan B? 

As we move into 2024 and the presidential election 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. Several popular YouTubers pages have been pulled down over the past few years, 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 Truth, 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 2024 

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. The integration of AI
  2. Turn our client’s customers and counter-level retailers into ambassadors
  3. Recruit more pico influencers (300) to create content for our clients and rely less on larger influencers
  4. Offer more revenue sharing opportunities to our influencers, so it’s a win-win situation for both the brand and influencer 
  5. Focus more on niche influencers
  6. 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 firearm 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 2024?

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

firearm email marketing

The 4 Principles of Effective Firearm Email Marketing

By Firearms Marketing

Email marketing in the firearms industry continues to be a viable and cost-effective way to reach current customers and build trust with those who’ve yet to buy from you.

With more and more channels being taken away from  firearm marketers (Facebook/Instagram Ads, YouTube, Google PPC, etc.) email marketing is one of your brand’s greatest ways to generate revenue.

A few quick stats: 

  • 61.9% of emails are opened on mobile devices.
  • 60% of email campaigns are read on mobile.
  • 80% of people delete emails that aren’t optimized for mobile.
  • ROI: Marketers make $42 for every $1 spent on email marketing.
  • Segmented campaigns: Segmented email campaigns drive 30% more opens and 50% more click-throughs.
  • Email checking: 99% of people check their email every day.

In this post, I’ll outline the four principles of an effective email marketing framework to help you make your firearms marketing more effective.

1. Start with mobile

81% of smartphone users say email is the most popular activity they use their phone for. (Source: Pew Research) With this statistic in mind, it’s important for marketers in the firearm industry to design and develop emails with a mobile first strategy. Most popular email platforms like Klaviyo or HubSpot provide mobile-based templates built-in. Just make sure when testing your campaigns that you check them in a mobile browser to make sure they load fast, the type is large enough to read, and the call-to- actions look correct.

 

2. The significance of firearm email marketing and segmentation

When asked to rate the statement: “Most of the marketing emails I receive include no content or offers that are of interest to me.” 63% agree or strongly agree. (Source: HubSpot)

Data suggests that context is just as important as content. Don’t send offers for hunting products to people who are only interested in concealed carry or vice-versa if you have multiple product lines.

“Segmentation is the first step in personalization.”

Get started with segmentation by using forms that ask users to self-identify. Start by identifying your buyer personas and create lists within your database or marketing automation software around customer groups with the same interests.

For example, a form element that asks a website visitor to signup for your newsletter or downloadable user manual may look like this:

What best describes you?

  • Hunter
  • Recreational Shooter
  • Competition
  • Military
  • LEO

This will help you understand more about who your customers are so you can move closer to personalizing your offers.

 

3. The power of personalization

94% of businesses say personalization is critical to their current and future success. (Source: eConsultantcy).

After segmentation, the first step in personalization is to have a way to sort your database contacts according to their interests within the broader segment. The second is to be able to identify what behaviors (actions) they took on your website to identify other areas of your product offering they might be interested in.

Behavioral marketing (BM) is perhaps one the biggest advancements in email marketing in recent years. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and event driven email technology, digital firearm marketers can become even more targeted and precise. (Source: Email Vendor Selection) BM can offer a distinct competitive advantage to companies wishing to optimize their firearm digital marketing and automation further.

What is behavioral firearm email marketing?
Rather than maintaining simple ‘lists’ of customers, behavioral email marketing software allows you to build up an individual profile for each of your subscribers and sort them accordingly.

Behavioral email campaigns are based on the actions that your customers do (or do not take) when interacting with your business’ website. This allows you to send emails that truly matter to each individual recipient. (Source: Email Vendor Selection)

Using our example above, you may have a customer who has identified them self as a hunter—but who has also visited your web page that sells choke tubes for turkey hunting at a middle price point. With behavioral marketing, you would send them an offer for a choke tube in the context of turkey hunting at the price point they’re interested versus a generic choke tube offer (or nothing at all). By using context, you’ll provide a more meaningful interaction and meet your customer at the right place and the right time—when they are actively looking for a choke tube for turkey hunting.

Statistics show that contextual emails (such as transactional and trigger-based campaigns) have an average open rate of around 50%, while offer-based emails have an average open rate of around 22%.

 

Context Firearm Email Marketing

 

Behavioral emails are effective because they are triggered based on a prospect’s behavior. As a result, these emails are almost never a surprise. They are an expected reaction to an action taken by a user.

That’s the true power of behavioral emails – they are activated by the user, not the marketer. (Source: HubSpot)

 

4. The importance of data-driven analysis, optimization and automation

Analytics is the engine that powers the growth of your business. (Source: Hubspot)

Without a good and “understandable” analytics tool, you won’t know how to improve your email marketing efforts. Analytics helps you get away from “the send and pray you get a good click through rate” approach, that most conduct. Tools with A/B testing, dynamic content and the ability to use a customer’s name, past purchases and interests can help you understand what messages are working and what aren’t and help you become a better digital marketer in the process.

Add in an automated welcome series and you now have a 24/7/365 marketing program running.

When starting an email marketing program, begin with a mobile-first approach, start segmenting as soon as possible, personalize through behaviors and use automation and a robust analytic tool to send event-based emails. By incorporating these four principles and optimizing over time, you can turn your email marketing program into one of your most profitable marketing channels.

firearms marketing agency

8 Tips Before Choosing A Firearms Marketing Agency

By Firearms Marketing

Selecting the right firearms marketing agency can prove to be a challenging endeavor, particularly for busy business owners who find themselves juggling an array of responsibilities each day. The multifaceted nature of this decision adds an extra layer of complexity to their already hectic schedules:

  • Payroll you’ve got to make
  • The new armorer you have to hire
  • Review the CNC machine replacement
  • A 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, firearms 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. You’ve also seen a steady decline in online sales, most likely due to the recent Google algorithm update. 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 web design firm you called doesn’t work with firearm companies and they think “a slide” is one found down at the local park. Choosing a firearms marketing agency 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 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. When beginning any kind of marketing we don’t go far enough to define what the problem actually is. A good firearm 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.

Here are a few challenges we commonly hear:

A good 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 Firearms 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 a budget to achieve your goal. Use the SMART goal method to set specific benchmarks that will move your business forward.

firearms marketing agency3. Does the firearms marketing agency have a proven process?

Processes are important because they define a linear way of solving a problem and accomplishing an objective in the most efficient way possible. Most firearm marketing agencies 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 in a project management tool.

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 email, traffic and contact generation, SEO, influencer and social media and focus on solving challenges in one 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 best practices.

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 firearms 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 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 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 firearms 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, who can get the job done and who you can work with.

In conclusion, a firearms marketing agency will know how to get to the heart of the problem, help you set achievable goals, know the industries nuances, 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.

Position Your Firearm Brand

How To Position Your Firearm Brand

By Firearms Marketing

Most firearm companies struggle to carve out their own niche in the firearms industry and maximize their brand’s unique selling proposition (what makes you different from your competition) because they overlook a critical firearms marketing strategy used by today’s top brands.

With over 400* firearms and ammunition manufacturers (Source: First Research), 30+ different optic companies, 20+ suppressor companies and a thousand more who produce products in the $30+ Billion dollar firearms industry today, one might ask—if you’re starting a new firearms company—how is it possible to compete in this highly concentrated, regulated and competitive industry?

In this article, I want to draw your attention to one of marketing’s most valuable methodologies called “positioning”—and how you can use it to help your hunting or firearms brand break away from the pack.

For some context, let’s imagine you are trying to build a new shotgun brand for entry-level pheasant hunters that’s water-resistance, and that costs less than the current leading brands. I will use this example throughout the article, but first, let’s define what positioning is.

What is positioning?
The concept of “positioning” was created by market and branding pioneers Al Trout and Jack Reis back in the late 60’s and explained in their book: Positioning, The Battle for the Mind. If you haven’t read the book, I highly suggest checking it out.

Positioning is a marketing strategy that aims to make a brand occupy a distinct position, relative to competing brands, in the mind of the customer. Companies apply this strategy either by emphasizing the distinguishing features of their brand (what it is, what it does and how, etc.) or they may try to create a suitable image (inexpensive or premium, utilitarian or luxurious, entry-level or high-end, etc.) through outbound (advertising, trade show etc.) or inbound or content marketing. Once a brand is positioned, it is very difficult to reposition it without destroying its credibility. It is also sometimes called product positioning. 

So how do you go about finding your new product’s positioning? There are two initial steps that you need to do first.

 

marketing pyramid1. Define your purpose
What gets you out of bed in the morning besides the motivation to make money? What is the sole purpose of why your company exists? Customers are drawn to companies that stand for something other than just making a profit. (Source: Inc.) Is it to increase a hunter’s safety? Is it to bring a greater level of protection for concealed carry? Or using our shotgun example, is it to provide novice hunters a way to take up pleasant hunting without spending a fortune?

Whatever your purpose is, write it down and put it on your wall. When the mission isn’t going well and the vision seems like a mirage, a strong purpose will keep getting you out of bed and people coming back to work, day after day. (Source: Marty Neumeier)

 

2. Find the whitespace
Now that you know what your purpose is, you can define what your positioning is (positioning is tied very closely to purpose). Look for the “whitespace” in your intended market segment—meaning an open slot that other brands don’t occupy in your target customer’s minds.

As you look at the viability for your shotgun product—you know that there are three other shotgun brands in the market. One is higher priced, and the other two are positioned for more experienced hunters who are willing to pay a higher price leaving open a huge space for another brand to move in and offer an entry level shotgun at a slightly lower price point.

This is called finding the whitespace. A space in the market no other brand occupies.

 

3. Hack your competition’s positioning
A second step in finding and determining where the whitespace is—is to do some reconnaissance on your competition’s website, social media accounts and press releases to determine what piece of the market they seem to be going after.

If your competitors seem scattered and unfocused—meaning they are trying to be someone to everyone—than this can be used against them by focusing your brand messaging specifically at the customers you want to attract—in this case, entry-level pheasant hunters.

The narrower you can focus your brand and its message to a specific segment the more effective your marketing will be. (Source: Adage) You must seek to be known for “one thing,” that your customers will find viable, interesting and worth paying attention to. In today’s overcrowded and noisy marketplace of giveaways and me-too products, where the typical person is exposed to 250-500 advertisements a day—brands must find ways to stand out.

A great example taking place in the industry today is SilencerCo’s #fightthenoise campaign. This campaign’s goal is to pass legislation that lifts the NFA ban on suppressors. Not only is SilencerCo. the hottest brand going, but they are using this inventive marketing strategy to build awareness for a greater cause under the purpose of hearing/noise protection. In the process, this effort is allowing them to build and position their brand and sell silencers at the same time—while benefiting the industry as a whole. Brilliant.

 

silencerco

 

3. Define your positioning statement
A positioning statement is the What, Who, How and Why of your brand. By creating a positioning statement, you further distil your brand’s message that gives you the key differentiators to expand upon in your advertising, content marketing, and elevator pitches. This also helps you and your team to understand what it is that makes your product unique that supports your sales efforts. You can’t sell efficiently without a clear positioning statement.

It’s important to point out that our hypothetical shotgun company “wants families to spend more time together.” This purpose will allow the brand to use imagery that reflects its purpose and have a more unique and memorable brand focus in the segment. 

firearms-marketing-positioning

 

5. Qualitative customer interviews
Next, validate your assumptions by interviewing your intended customers. When it comes to positioning—it’s important to understand how your customers view your brand’s product and how they describe it. The adage, “It’s not what you say about your brand, it’s what they say about your brand” —is what counts. This is a crucial step in defining your positioning as it will further inform all future marketing initiatives and decisions. Interviews also eliminate any assumptions you may have and gives you and your team the understanding and confidence to create effective marketing.

What if I have no customers?
Start with your assumptions of who your product will appeal to. Upon launching your business, analyze and be prepared to pivot quickly if the messaging and target market is not resonating with your messaging. Draw upon quantitative industry data from the NSSF to get a better understanding of your intended customer. Other sources like Hoovers can also provide insight.

 

6. Define your buyer persona
I speak a lot about the importance of defining who your buyer persona in my articles. Once you have collected your interview data, it’s time to focus your efforts specifically on how your particular product solves their problems or how it will appeal to them.

Get as granular as you can to put your customers in the context of using your product and how your positioning will appeal to them.

  • Basic details about persona’s role
    What do they do for a living and how did they get there?
    What is their level of education?
    What are their biggest challenges?
    Where do they get their information?
  • Key information about the persona’s business/company
    List facts like employees, management structure, competitors etc.
    What does their brand stand for? Check their website (if applicable) to learn more.
  • Relevant background info, like education or hobbies
    What do they typically do in their spare time. Are they rushed for time, busy parents? Weekend warriors? Workaholics?

 

7. Implementation
Now that you have defined your positioning and buyer persona, you can begin mapping out how your positioning implements on your website. Your website is the hub of all your marketing efforts. It is your #1 salesman, working for you 24/7/365. The firearms and hunting industry lags behind other industries in their understanding and approach to fully utilizing the web as their main marketing channel. With over 72% of all purchases starting with a web search (Source: Pardot), your T.V. and print marketing should seek to drive your audience to your website through some incentive so your messaging and positioning can be analyzed and evaluated. This will help you determine if your marketing is getting traction.

Utilize your sales funnel to decide how to move your customers to your desired outcome. Begin creating messages for each stage of the sales funnel based on your positioning. Utilize analytics, heat mapping and tracking on your website to test each phase and include A/B testing to optimize the messaging and workflows to optimize your efforts—whether that be increasing blog subscribers, social media followers, social media shares or sales.

In conclusion, to find your positioning, define your brand’s purpose, find the white space, hack your competitors positioning, define your positioning statement, conduct customer interviews (quantitative and qualitative), define your buyers persona and implement your positioning through your sales funnel on your website.

By taking the time to understand your positioning, your brand will be better equipped to stand out in today’s highly competitive hunting and firearms industry.

* Some sources report 5,400 manufacturers. 

 

firearm sales

4 Questions About Marketing When Firearm Sales Slow Down

By Firearms Marketing

Photo credit: USARMS

The firearms industry is going through a period of adjustment following the exceptional surge in firearm sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the situation is further complicated by record high inflation. This has resulted in a multitude of conflicting reports regarding the industry’s overall health, where a few are reliable while most are not.

During times of sluggish sales, especially in a particular segment of the gun industry, it’s possible to boost your business cost-effectively through consistent and creative marketing efforts, provided you know where to begin.

In this post, I will address four questions that a friend in the firearms industry recently asked me about firearms marketing strategies during slow periods. I hope these answers will offer you valuable insights on how to enhance your online sales in a budget-friendly manner if your segment is experiencing a slow down.

Q1. What should a company think about when determining its marketing strategy in a slower economy?

A: It’s generally accepted that it costs three times more to find a new customer than it does to sell to an existing customer. In a slow economy (or when sales slow), focusing on your current customer base by using cross-sell/upsell tactics and customer-only incentives through email should be part of your plan to boost/sustain sales. Firearm enthusiasts tend to be fiercely loyal to the brands in which they put their trust. If you’re not showing love to your current customers via email marketing and social media—they may go somewhere else. Firearm manufacturers can no longer afford to have a one-way conversation with their customers, especially in a slow economy.

Q2. How does the slower economy affect, if at all, the mix of print vs. digital marketing?

A: A majority of firearm companies have not moved with their customers online. We need to remember firearm customers are also buyers of smartphones, music, cars, home repair services, technology etc. Over 60% of people begin research for these products and services on search engines. I believe traditional marketing is still important in the firearms industry because a lot of the opportunities other industries have available have been taken away from firearm brands (Facebook Ads, YouTube, and Google PPC). However, as firearm enthusiasts become younger, more urban and more ethnic, a magazine will not be the first place they go to research guns.

Q3. What are some low-budget but effective marketing tactics firearm companies should consider?

A: Influencer marketing has always been part of a smart marketing mix in the firearms industry. I believe it’s never been more important given the rise in fake news and manipulative advertising. Influencer marketing can be a low-cost way to reach hunters/shooters who have trusted followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

The second—and just as important—is combining email marketing with segmentation, abandoned cart, personalization and automated workflows. These programs have shown to have a high-rate of return on investment and are a highly effective way to convert new customers, retarget old customers and keep current ones engaged.

Q4. What marketing strategy or tactic is absolutely crucial these days — and why?

A. Today, companies still need a marketing budget that mixes print, tv and trade show—but when things slow down, digital and e-commerce can deliver more bang for the buck. This is especially important for manufacturers with smaller budgets and a small list of dealers. By focusing on helping your customers become better in whatever their particular interests are (recreational, competition, home defense, tactical etc.) along with an innovative product roadmap, firearm brands will be able to remain fresh and relevant.

Customers want to hear from the brands they trust. When your brand is the most trusted and top of mind—customers are more likely to choose your brand over any alternatives.

What do you think? Comment below or send me an email.

buyer persona outdoor hunting and shooting sports

Before You Start a Firearm Company, Ask Yourself These Questions

By Firearms Marketing

Most new business owners in the firearm industry come from an engineering background. When it comes time to discuss firearms 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 Springfield Armory, sponsor a woman-focused group like the Well Armed Women, pay $30,000 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.

firearms marketing magpul

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.

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.

 

start a firearm company

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. 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. However, they failed due to lack of planning.  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 business more successful. Talk to a firearms marketing agency to learn more. 

SEO for Firearms

Firearms SEO and Content Marketing – Why You Can’t Do One Without The Other

By Firearms Marketing

With the firearms industry coming off of four record years of growth—traffic on your website may be dropping, sales may be slowing, and panic may be beginning to set in.

You may have clicked on this post because you’re looking to get into digital marketing and you’ve heard that working on your firearms SEO may be the place to start.

Whatever best describes you, in this short and abbreviated post, I’ll explain the difference between SEO and content marketing and why you can’t do one without the other.

Firearms SEO

SEO is a firearms marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. (Source: Moz) By gaining visibility on search engines through organic (non-paid) results, your business can generate traffic, which in turn can equal sales. And with over 81% of all product searches beginning on the web, if you’re not showing up in search, your business may as well not exist.

Organic traffic in the firearms industry has a much higher rate of return because people searching are actively buying. This means their wallets are open and they are looking for a solution to their problem.

There are many factors involved in optimizing your website for search engines. Listed below are top ten must-dos to start. 

  1. Your website must be mobile responsive.
  2. Keywords that your prospects are searching for should be placed in the title tags of your website.
  3. Make sure your images are optimized to their lowest file size to decrease page load times and that they are also named using your keywords.
  4. An informative META description on your web page(s) that also include your keywords.
  5. Writing content on every page of your website that contains those same keywords at least five times (or 0.8%) within a 700-1000 word text block.
  6. Having a well-designed page structure and code base where load hogging scripts are compressed and placed beneath the web page’s fold (the visible area of your website when it pulls up).
  7. A fast server and content delivery network.
  8. A good user interface that also contains your keywords in the main headings <h1>, <h2>, <h3> etc.
  9. Keywords in your URLs when possible.
  10. A good sitemap that can be read by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others.

And that’s just ten. There are almost 200 other ranking factors that go into a well-optimized website.

 

firearms seo and content marketing makes a difference

 

Firearms SEO vs. Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. (Source: CMI)

SEO and content marketing is like a double-sided coin. Just like weight loss, you can’t just work out and expect to lose weight, you have to make smart eating decisions too— day after day, week after week, month after month to achieve your goals.

SEO and content marketing are somewhat similar.

You can’t gain and sustain ranked keywords without doing both SEO and content marketing—day after day, week after week, month after month to achieve your goals.

Here’s why. Google who controls over 60% of the entire planet’s traffic indicates you must create fresh and relevant content (Source: Google) for your site to attain and sustain keyword rankings.

Once again, ranked keywords = visibility = traffic = $$$.

When you optimize your website or are building a new one from the ground up—SEO is needed to start the fire where content is the fuel that keeps it going. Depending on how competitive the segment you play in (ARs, Outfitting, Concealed Carry, Optics, Safes, Lasers etc.) you may need more or less content to compete. Online dealers get this. Companies like Optics Planet, Brownells, and Lucky Gunner have large digital footprints and have been building content for years and in the process turned themselves into a brand which Google also seems to favor. 

Content marketing also helps to build backlinks, gives empowering information to social media followers and your email marketing subscribers, and attracts Influencers. Backlinks are important because they tell search engines that your site is more popular than your competitors hence, giving you higher rankings.

SEO and content are a double-sided coin. You can’t be successful with one without doing the other. They go together like gunpowder and brass, bows and arrows, turkey hunting and 12 gauges. If you hope to start building your own digital footprint through SEO and content for the future, the time to start is now.

 

AI firearms marketing 2023

What Does AI mean for Firearm Marketing?

By Firearms Marketing


Imagine knowing what email subject line always gets the highest open rate, what media buy offers the best value, and what combination of graphics, products, text, and CTAs produce the greatest results.

If you’re still skeptical on what you hear about artificial intelligence or AI for short, consider this post an introduction to help you understand what most are calling the “next industrial revolution.”

As more demands are put on marketers in the ultra-competitive firearms industry—an added advantage can mean the difference between who gets to market first and who doesn’t. We all know a great product goes a long way, but a great product with great marketing dominates.

We all know a great product goes a long way, but a great product with great marketing dominates.

For most of us, data can be a good thing—but it can also be a digital firearm marketer’s worse nightmare. With more and more data streaming in from social media, search engines, email marketing, automation, trade shows, banner ads, influencer platforms and others—data is or has become something of a curse. The term: “Paralysis by analysis” comes to mind.

That’s the irony with data-driven marketing. We have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets and dashboards upon dashboards—but do we really know what to do with it all? On any given day, you make a lot of small decisions that can have a significant impact on results:

  • What time should I send my email newsletter?
  • What topic should I write my next blog post on?
  • Should it be a blog post, or should it actually be a video?
  • What is a good social media post to grab attention?
  • And for that CTA in the conclusion, what color will actually make people click?

Thankfully, all of these questions can now be answered by artificial intelligence. (Source: HubSpot)


What is AI?

Terminator

“I’ll be back.”

Artificial intelligence first and foremost isn’t what you’ve been led to believe in the movies. It doesn’t mean we’ll be under the rule of evil sentient beings i.e. the Terminator—or an army of robots seeking to take over the world—not yet anyways. Titans like Elon Musk and others say its time to pump the brakes.

What it does mean is that man and machine will work together as a team.

Artificial intelligence is the “science of making machines smart,” says Demis Hassabis founder and CEO of AI company DeepMind (which was acquired by Google). At a basic level, “smart” means achieving a goal by mimicking human cognitive functions. That goal could be winning a board game, correctly identifying a cat in a photo, adeptly using data from sensors to drive a car or anything else a human can do.

There are many forms of AI already in existent. You might recognize a few already:

  • Siri by Apple
  • Maps by Apple
  • Watson by IBM
  • Einstein by Salesforce
  • Alexa by Amazon
  • Spotify Music Suggestions
  • Facebook face/tag recognition

How AI will help you

How AI correctly can be applied to the firearms industry is the same for other industries. Companies with large eCommerce stores like Guns.com or Brownells.com may be the ones to benefit most from AI to help them analyze user data and trends. Apps like Optimizely, CrazyEgg and others are being used to track customer behavior, create segmentation and content that optimize website sales.

Other cutting edge manufacturers like Beretta who was one of the first to adopt marketing automation can adopt AI to analyze trends through their programs to send cross-sell and upsell email offers to their contacts at the right place and at the right time.

Tools like Databox can aggregate data from your entire Martech stack and give you a way to improve KPIs across the board based on accurate and definitive data that can be understood—and provide predicable analysis. Perhaps even a print ad in Guns and Ammo may be possible to be optimized by generative image AIs like Adobe Firefly. However, the word “guns” or “firearm” violates their terms and conditions. A harbinger of bans and restrictions to come.  

 

AI Firearm Marketing Data

Business analytics by Databox combines data from multiple sources.

 

“AI is about automating known tasks without distraction. As humans, we get easily distracted. AI can operate without distractions and without wasting time, making AI teams more efficient,” says Digital Visionary, Kevin Kelly.

How AI can help you market more effectively

AI marketing assistants
If you’re looking to get started with AI firearms marketing, I recommend checking out ChatGPT, ChatSpot.ai, or turn on the Generative AI function in your Chrome Browser.

Here’s a recent inquiry I typed into Google’s search bar: What are the top articles on recoilweb.com? The results were interesting. This kind of research can help marketers and brands create more impactful content and strategies.  

AI firearms marketing

“Your marketing assistant in the future might well be an app that provides advanced analytics information to guide advertising or content-creation efforts to drive traffic to your company’s website,” says Dave Burnett of AOK Marketing.

These apps—most in their beginning stages—will continue to get smarter over time. They will help you save time, make smarter investment/media buying decisions and increase and accelerate revenue.

AI-Powered Websites

Imagine a website you speak to, rather than typing in a search or clicking on the nav bar. A future prospect may visit Springfield Armory’s website, tell the site what they are looking for and then the site serves them three pistols for self-defense along with some videos and training articles—specifically designed and tailored to that known user’s interests.

This type of work is already taking place with companies like Unbounce and CodeWP where all you do is provide direction and the site designs itself.

AI-Powered Marketing Programs

Want to write and design an entire email marketing campaign? No problem, HubSpot’s Campaign Assistant can write you a landing page, email series and ad copy.

HubSpot campaign assistantCampaign Assistant is HubSpot’s AI-powered tool that allows you to create landing page copy, marketing email copy, and ad copy for your next marketing campaign.

You provide information about your campaign, choose a tone of voice that resonates with your brand, and select which type of asset you want to generate, and the tool will produce either a landing page, email, or ad. 

Creating campaigns that used to take days can now be accomplished within hours. In the near future, I anticipate that marketing managers will have the ability to input an entire marketing plan, and AI will be capable of designing the copy, images, and assets (logo, website, emails and social media) all in a single automated process.

Better content through AI

Artificial intelligence platform Acrolinx uses a unique linguistic analytics engine to “read” all your content and provide immediate guidance to improve it. “Our technology is transforming how the world’s biggest brands create high-performing content,” says Dr. Andrew Bredenkamp, founder, and CEO. Other companies you should start becoming familiar with is MotivaAlbert, and BoomTrain.

Will AI take away our jobs?

  • 300 million jobs worldwide could be disrupted by AI, according to Goldman Sachs.
  • $17 trillion to $26 trillion will be added to the global economy by AI, according to McKinsey
  • 83 million jobs worldwide will be lost over the next 5 years because of AI—and 69 million will be created—according to the World Economic Forum. (Resulting in a loss of 14 million jobs during this time.)

Whether or not these distrustful globalist organizations are correct — what you should be doing right now is learning all you can about AI. (Check out Paul Roetzer’s AI Marketing Institute.) How to use it, how it works and how you as a marketer or business owners will fit into the disruptive changes coming soon to our world, industry and marketing as a whole.

As you start to drink out of the fire hose that is AI, it’s important as industry marketers and business owners to think ahead about how we can continue to push the industry forward in terms of technology, attract customers, delight current customers, and how all this wraps into protecting our 2nd amendment rights. 

AI is on the brink of making significant impacts across various domains. Historically, regulated industries have shown a delay of 5-8 years in adopting new technologies, but this time, the lag might be shortened to just 1 year. Businesses and marketing teams that proactively take the lead will gain an advantage in what promises to be an intriguing future.

What do you think about AI and how will it effect our industry? Please comment below. 

 

This article was originally published in April of 2017.

 

firearms defense marketing plan strategy

INFOGRAPHIC – A Simple Firearms Industry Marketing Strategy That Works

By Firearms Marketing

If you had $5,000 or $30,000 dollars to spend on firearms 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 and let it ride? This is a tough question I get all the time. Most business owners in the outdoor, firearms, hunting 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 6x return on investment within 6-9 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 Firearm Marketing Tips for 2024

5 “Must Do” Firearm Marketing Tips for 2024

Are you ready for 2024?
2024 will be a year marked by global conflicts, increasing crime rates, and a presidential election. Defense-minded, law-abiding citizens will seek ways to enhance their sense of security for the protection of their families, properties, and rights. Prepare for this heightened interest by proactively organizing your website and marketing strategies to capitalize on the upcoming surge.

DOWNLOAD GUIDE

 

 

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

 

firearms marketing customer service

Do These 8 Things To Build Your Firearms Customer Base

By Firearms Marketing

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eighty per cent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases, and a host of studies have logged the strong influence those reviews have on the decisions people make. The rise of social media has accelerated the trend to an astonishing degree: a dud product can become a laughingstock in a matter of hours. In the old days, you might have bought a Remington because that’s what dad had. Today, such considerations matter much less than reviews that you might find on Optics Planet, or Brownells. Each product now has to prove itself on its own. 

The very first thing you must do to build your customer base is to have an outstanding product or service that solves a problem, lends status or helps your customer survive in a conventional way—and make it really cool. The product must be valid and ready for the world otherwise you’ll crash and burn.

However, if you have a great product (√check) and are looking to maximize your marketing to increase sales and build your brand and customer base, then here are 8 branding ideas to help you do that. 

1. Be somebody

The old saying goes, “you can’t be everything to everyone.” Companies in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industry must find a way to stand out amongst the marketplace clutter and find the “whitespace.”  Prove to your prospective customers you are worth their time by demonstrating how you will guide them to achieve their goal, i.e better marksman, hunter, self-defense or law enforcement.

2. Make them feel something

The best way to connect in today’s digital world is through storytelling and contextual marketing. Our ancestors sat around a fire telling stories since the dawn of time, and this still continues to this day—except now we get it from the social media.  There is something intrinsically valuable to storytelling. When you connect with people at the heart level and make them feel something it will go a long way. Today’s marketing isn’t about highlighting features and benefits, it’s about “celebrating the benefit in the way it impacts other people’s lives,” says Simon Mainwaring, author of We First. Put your product in context of real everyday stories for greater impact.

For example, here is a great ad by Smith and Wesson, highlighting their customer promise.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” —Carl W. Buehner

 

3. Be authentic

The best way to be authentic is to just be your self. Too many brands today try to be something they’re not. Weave your personality into your content, messaging and imagery. Through authentic and good-willed communication, customers will innately share content and bring it to life.

4. Delight them after the sale

Do not have a “one and done” mentality. At the end of the sales process and after the project or product has been delivered, add value to your customers through events, continued education or through content that will solve their problems. Use social media to add value in the form of education, entertainment or problem solving. Show them you care well after the sale.

5. Make it all about them

Every product or service should be centered around what is called a buyer persona. If you don’t know your customer on a very personal level, you leave a lot of opportunity on the table. To truly make a product/service resonate with your customers your entire days’ activities should be based on solving their problems whatever they may be. Make your customer the hero of your business.

Here are a few examples:

  • I’m a new gun owner and I can’t figure out what handgun to buy to protect my family. A retailer may offer me a free training class or range session for me to ask questions, test different guns and get a comfort level when shooting. 
  • I’m a facility manager looking for tips and products to best comply with OSHA standards. A distributor may send a video to the customer with options, how-tos and a case study of their service offering. 
  • Knife choices can be difficult for those who are not sure what type of hunting blade they will need. One option is to send recommendations to help them choose the appropriate tool. 

6. Talk their language

Don’t use fancy terms and ‘gobblygook’. Talk their language. Using the examples above, meet them on the range, in their facility or in the field. Talk to them like an old friend. You have to earn your customer’s trust. 

7. Give them what they want

Do your absolute best to make a great product and don’t cut corners. If your customers ask for something—give it to them! Give them a way to sound off on what is needed to make your products better. We will typically run surveys for our clients. This is a great way to gather data, improve products and build trust. You can create a customer support portal with an area titled “Submit product ideas” to encourage participation in your product or service development.

8. Hire for passion

Last, but not least, customer service—word of mouth is the best form of marketing. If you have a great product, don’t get in your way by not supporting it. When you provide great customer support you are much more likely to have that experience passed on via word-of-mouth.

Install a CRM

So many brands overlook that they are sitting on top of interested customers who would still buy from you. Implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system, such as the HubSpot Service Hub, can help put your customers at the center of your marketing efforts. HubSpot CRM enables you to track customer interactions, manage leads effectively, and deliver personalized experiences. Leverage the power of CRM to understand your customers through surveys better, tailor your messaging, and build long-term relationships based on trust and loyalty.

  • CRM can boost conversion rates by 300%

A survey by Harvard Business Review concludes that customers want knowledgable frontline customer service reps and that the problem be resolved on the first call. On average, 40% of customers who suffer through bad experiences stop doing business with the offending company. This points to the importance of companies hiring people who align and know their brand(s) products best. Hire your customers. Three of the best examples out there is ETS, Seekins and Ruger to name a few. Go into any NSSF 5-star gun retailer like Royal Range here in Nashville, and you’ll find people as passionate about good equipment and the shooting sports as you are. You can’t train passion.

Is your product boring? Then the focus must be invested in storytelling, influencers and dramatizing your product. A great real-world example is Otis. Who gets excited about cleaning guns? Their social media feed takes a boring product and dramatizes to it another level. 

In conclusion, it all starts with a great product. If you can’t get to the starting line with a great product, you need to go back to the drawing board. To connect that great product or service with your customer—you must be somebody, you must be authentic, social, make it all about them—not you, talk their language, give them what they want and provide outstanding customer service above all else!

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.). Firearms 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